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January 27, 2020
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Best college football teams in 2020 after LSU’s national title

Best college football teams in 2020 after LSU's national title
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NEW ORLEANS — College football season came to a close Monday night at the Superdome, with LSU winning its fourth national championship and first in 12 years, completing a perfect season behind Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow and snapping Clemson’s 29-game winning streak with a 42-25 rout.

It all begins anew in eight months. Below is The Post’s very early top 10 for next season.

1. Clemson Tigers (2019 record: 14-1)

The disappointment will fade. Clemson has still won two titles in four years, and now adds the best recruiting class in the country. Trevor Lawrence will again begin the year at the top of Heisman Trophy lists and will have at least two experienced receivers back in Amari Rodgers and Justyn Ross. Several underclassmen on the top-ranked scoring defense received valuable experience, and the Tigers add blue-chip freshmen like defensive tackle Bryan Bresee and defensive end Myles Murphy.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (13-1)

The Buckeyes will remain loaded, led by Heisman Trophy finalist Justin Fields and game-breaking wide receiver Chris Olave. The return of stout cornerback Shaun Wade solidifies the seemingly always-elite secondary and Ohio State will welcome the fourth-ranked recruiting class in the country, which includes the nation’s top wide receiver, 6-foot-2 dynamo Julian Fleming.

3. LSU Tigers (15-0)

Yes, Burrow moves on to the pros. Leading receiver Justin Jefferson and safety Grant Delpit may join him. But Ed Orgeron’s roster will remain full of next-level prospects, from consensus All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. to wideouts Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall Jr. The big question mark is at quarterback, where former four-star recruit Myles Brennan takes over. Fortunately for the Tigers, passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Joe Brady is expected back after reportedly agreeing to a big contract extension.

4. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-2)

Doubt the Crimson Tide at your own risk. Tua Tagovailoa’s season-ending hip injury, combined with a rare pedestrian defense, led to a rare two-loss campaign. Don’t expect another down year, especially with Alabama expecting key juniors at wide receiver (DeVonta Smith), left tackle (Alex Leatherwood), linebacker (Dylan Moses) and running back (Najee Harris) to return. Tagovailoa is headed to the NFL, creating an interesting battle at quarterback between five-star early enrollee Bryce Young and this year’s backup Mac Jones, who performed well once Tagovailoa went down.

5. Penn State Nittany Lions (11-2)

It’s all about getting by Ohio State again for the Nittany Lions. The players are in place to make it happen, especially with linebacker Micah Parsons back, cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields passing on the NFL and quarterback Sean Clifford taking a step forward after a strong first season under center.

6. Oklahoma Sooners (12-2)

The biggest return is head coach Lincoln Riley, who is staying in college rather than pursuing a job in the NFL. He has yet to win a playoff game in three tries, but he finds a way to get there. Riley will be working with an inexperienced quarterback, but what Spencer Rattler lacks in experience, he makes up with talent, and he will have an experienced group up front to help get his feet wet.

7. Oregon Ducks (12-2)

As UCLA and USC continue to fade, Oregon has emerged as the Pac-12 powerhouse. Coach Mario Cristobal is recruiting well, and while he loses quarterback Justin Herbert, he may have a premier defense. Kayvon Thibodeaux is a future first-round pick at defensive end, and five-star freshmen linebackers Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell should produce immediately.

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-2)

The Irish’s 11-2 season went overlooked, in part because it lost to the two best teams on its schedule, Michigan and Georgia. But the hype will be back next year, thanks to the return of quarterback Ian Book, who owns a lifetime record of 20-3.

9. Florida Gators (11-2)

Dan Mullen has taken the first step: Made Florida a contender again, producing 21 wins in his first two seasons. Now is the time for the next step: Slay Georgia and win the SEC East. How he handles a precarious quarterback situation, going with established starter Kyle Trask or hot-shot, high-ceiling youngster Emory Jones, could determine how next year goes.

10. Georgia Bulldogs (12-2)

The defense returns several difference-making starters, most notably impressive freshman linebacker Azeez Ojulari (5.5 sacks), and should be one the nation’s best units after finishing this year ranked second in points allowed per game (12.6). The offense, meanwhile, is an unknown. Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman will replace Jake Fromm under center and be surrounded by a lot of new faces after running back D’Andre Swift and offensive linemen Andrew Thomas and Solomon Kindley left early for the NFL.

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