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2023 College Football Power Rankings: SEC Dominates, Pac-12 Takes No. 2; Assessing Nonconference Schedules

2023 College Football Power Rankings: As the 2023 college football season approaches, the excitement and anticipation among fans and analysts alike continue to grow. Preseason rankings provide an early glimpse into the potential pecking order of individual teams, but the larger question remains: which conference will emerge as the dominant force this year? Let’s delve into the conference power rankings and evaluate the nonconference schedules that will shape the narrative of the upcoming season. The college football betting odds are already updated as the regular season takes place next week.

2023 College Football Power Rankings: Who Reigns Supreme?

For over a decade, the SEC has consistently fielded formidable teams that vie for the College Football Playoff Championship. The conference’s upper echelon is loaded with contenders, including No. 1 Georgia, No. 4 Alabama, and No. 5 LSU. However, the SEC’s strength doesn’t stop at the top; teams like No. 12 Tennessee, Ole Miss (No. 22), and Texas A&M (No. 23) are poised to make their mark. With explosive offenses like Arkansas and Tennessee, the SEC boasts depth beyond the spotlight.


Meanwhile, the Pac-12 is showcasing its quarterback depth and emerging as a noteworthy contender. Teams such as No. 6 USC, No. 10 Washington, No. 14 Utah, and No. 15 Oregon are shaping up to challenge for a playoff spot. While winning it all might be a stretch, the Pac-12’s improved depth promises captivating matchups, making “Pac-12 After Dark” a must-watch this season.

Big 10

The Big Ten possesses No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Ohio State, two formidable teams with championship aspirations. However, the conference’s depth falls short compared to the Pac-12. Penn State (No. 7) and No. 19 Wisconsin add to the conference’s strength, but the Big Ten’s CFP potential appears concentrated at the top.


In the ACC, No. 8 Florida State and No. 9 Clemson stand as legitimate CFP contenders. Supported by standout quarterbacks, both teams are well-equipped to contend for both national titles and individual honors. Yet, the ACC’s overall depth lacks compared to its top competitors.

Big 12

The Big 12, featuring No. 11 Texas, No. 16 Kansas State, No. 17 TCU, and No. 20 Oklahoma, showcases potential contenders. However, the Big 12’s propensity for self-cannibalization could hinder its chances of securing a CFP spot. Texas aims to leave its mark before departing for the SEC, while other teams look to stake their claim.


The AAC promises entertainment, with No. 24 Tulane and a competitive SMU leading the charge. UTSA and Memphis also seek to make their presence felt, creating an engaging narrative within the conference.

Sun Belt

In the Sun Belt, Coastal Carolina and Marshall emerge as strong contenders. Coastal Carolina’s transition under new leadership adds intrigue, while Marshall’s robust defense positions them as a force to be reckoned with. Keep an eye on dark horse James Madison and rising teams like South Alabama and Troy.

Nonconference Scheduling: A Balancing Act

The strength of the schedule plays a pivotal role in the College Football Playoff selection process. Unlike basketball, where teams play more games, football teams’ limited schedule demands strategic nonconference matchups. While conference games comprise the majority, nonconference games can significantly impact a team’s standing.

For teams eyeing the CFP, scheduling at least one quality nonconference opponent is crucial. It serves as an opportunity to showcase their abilities and earn the committee’s respect. On the other hand, non-CFP contenders focus on securing wins, as their conference games shape their overall record.

Assessing the Nonconference Schedules

SEC: The SEC’s decision to stick with eight conference games benefits its strength of schedule. While some matchups are lopsided, intriguing contests include No. 11 Texas facing No. 4 Alabama and the rematch between No. 8 Florida State and No. 5 LSU.

Pac-12: The Pac-12 displays ambition with matchups like No. 1 Georgia against No. 15 Oregon. The conference’s focus on nonconference games provides fans with exciting clashes and opportunities for upsets.

Big Ten: The Big Ten’s top-tier teams contribute to a strong nonconference slate. No. 2 Michigan’s challenge against No. 16 Kansas State and No. 3 Ohio State’s campaigns against formidable opponents reflect the conference’s commitment to competitive matchups.

ACC: No. 8 Florida State’s rematch with No. 9 Clemson headlines the ACC’s nonconference offerings. While the conference’s contenders engage in high-stakes battles, the overall strength of the schedule doesn’t match that of its competitors.

Big 12: As No. 11 Texas prepares for its final season in the conference, it faces quality nonconference opponents. The Big 12’s competitive matchups, including No. 16 Kansas State and No. 20 Oklahoma, contribute to an engaging schedule.

AAC and Sun Belt: These conferences demonstrate a commitment to competitive nonconference play. No. 24 Tulane, SMU, UTSA, and others seek to elevate their profiles through challenging matchups, creating an engaging narrative.

In conclusion, the 2023 college football season promises intense battles and compelling storylines. As teams jostle for supremacy within their conferences and beyond, nonconference scheduling serves as a crucial component in shaping the playoff landscape. Fans can anticipate thrilling matchups that will ultimately determine the contenders for the College Football Playoff Championship.