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For the past few weeks, I’ve been collecting the key information I need to put together my 2021 college football power ratings. This typically involves analyzing returning players and coaches, making adjustments based upon last year’s finish and the current perception of teams, then ensuring I have not assumed anything out of the realm of normalcy for each team’s recent history or conference strength.
For example, Alabama topped out at over 80 in my 2020 end-of-season ratings. I rarely have a team over 72-74 at the start of a season. The Tide’s loss of several NFL-bound players, including quarterback Mac Jones and Heisman-winning wide receiver Devonta Smith, combined with fewer losses for other teams due to eligibility rule changes has me figuring Alabama as still the country’s best team but at a rating of 70.5.
This is going to be an interesting season in that regard because while the perennial powers — Alabama, Clemson and Georgia, etc. — have lost a typical number of players to the NFL, the teams on the next level won’t be nearly as affected and should even benefit from the extra year of eligibility granted to players due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This experience difference has the potential to close the gap to some degree this season. You’ll see that this perception is reflected in my summer power ratings.