College football rankings 2017: All 130 teams ranked, from Alabama to Texas State

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Now that I've written previews about each of FBS' 130 teams, and now that I've broken down each conference's balance of power, it's time for the ultimate task of the preseason: breaking down FBS' balance of power.

Along the way, I created power rankings for each conference. You can find the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12, AAC, MWC, MAC, C-USA, and Sun Belt. Individual team previews are linked below and in each conference page.

Below, I've ranked all 130 FBS teams. As with each of the conference rankings, this isn't a stat projection. It's my own opinion. This was like a series of ladder matches: whom would I pick if these two teams played on a neutral field? I adhered mostly to the conference-specific power rankings I had already crafted, though in rare cases, I did some rearranging.

I am including projected S&P+ rankings as well, just so you can get a feel for where my own thoughts differ from my numbers.

TIER 1: CONTENDERS

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1. Alabama (projected S&P+ rank: 1)
2. Ohio State (2)
3. Florida State (3)
4. USC (7)
5. Clemson (6)

Power rankings are basically a trust exercise. I can talk myself into just about any team in the country, given enough effort, but if I had to bet my life savings on five teams that would produce the national title winner in 2017, it would be this group. This is who I trust the most.

TIER 2: COULD EASILY BE CONTENDERS, WITH A COUPLE OF HAPPY ANSWERS

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6. Washington (13)
7. Auburn (9)
8. Penn State (8)
9. Oklahoma (5)
10. LSU (4)
11. Michigan (10)
12. Stanford (12)
13. Wisconsin (11)
14. Oklahoma State (22)
15. Louisville (14)

This is a mix of recruiting powerhouses (Auburn, LSU, Michigan), recent successes (Washington, Penn State), and teams with elite units and players but severe questions on one side of the ball (OSU, Louisville). With a couple of breakout stars or a healthy two-deep, any one of them can be a contender in mid-November.

TIER 3: A TOP-10 PERFORMANCE WOULD NOT BE PARTICULARLY SURPRISING

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16. Texas (16)
17. NC State (27)
18. Georgia (20)
19. Notre Dame (20)
20. Miami (18)
21. Florida (15)
22. Texas A&M (19)

Super talented bounce-back candidates, up-and-comers looking for one more piece ... these teams are as likely to end in the 30s as the top-10, but at least one will break through.

TIER 4: A COUPLE WILL PLAY AT A TOP-15 LEVEL

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23. Northwestern (37)
24. Virginia Tech (25)
25. Oregon (23)
26. Kansas State (35)
27. TCU (21)
28. Mississippi State (30)
29. Tennessee (24)
30. Colorado State (43)
31. Boise State (29)

Comparing my picks to S&P+ projections is kind of fun. It’s like the NBA draft lottery, where most teams end up where they’re supposed to, and you have random, big leaps. I, uh, evidently like Northwestern a lot this year. And Colorado State.

TIER 5: A DECENT BOWL IS THE GOAL

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32. Minnesota (47)
33. Iowa (48)
34. Baylor (28)
35. Kentucky (41)
36. Arkansas (32)
37. Washington State (40)
38. Pitt (33)
39. Nebraska (42)
40. Colorado (50)
41. Utah (45)
42. North Carolina (38)
43. West Virginia (69)
44. Ole Miss (26)
45. South Carolina (36)
46. Georgia Tech (31)
47. Memphis (61)
48. BYU (46)
49. USF (56)
50. UCLA (34)
51. Missouri (53)
52. Toledo (59)
53. San Diego State (52)
54. Houston (49)
55. Vanderbilt (63)
56. Maryland (72)
57. Indiana (39)

With a few decent breaks, a few of these teams could make runs at division titles, particularly those in the Big Ten West or ACC Coastal. But for the most part, there’s little separation within this group. I didn’t think I disliked Indiana, Georgia Tech, or UCLA, then ended up having them quite a few spots lower than S&P+ projections.

TIER 6: MID-MAJOR UP-AND-COMERS AND POWER-CONFERENCE DEAD WEIGHT

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58. Temple (67)
59. WKU (51)
60. Troy (79)
61. Wyoming (80)
62. Oregon State (54)
63. Navy (71)
64. Iowa State (57)
65. Louisiana Tech (82)
66. Tulsa (77)
67. Appalachian State (62)
68. Syracuse (60)
69. MTSU (89)
70. Duke (65)
71. Arizona (68)
72. Southern Miss (84)
73. WMU (74)
74. Michigan State (44)
75. Wake Forest (64)
76. SMU (81)
77. UCF (78)
78. Cincinnati (75)
79. Arizona State (58)
80. Texas Tech (66)
81. Boston College (76)
82. Miami (Ohio) (88)
83. ECU (100)
84. Cal (55)
85. Arkansas State (83)
86. Purdue (87)
87. Virginia (70)
88. Utah State (73)
89. UTSA (91)
90. NIU (86)
91. Hawaii (109)
92. Air Force (116)
93. Illinois (85)
94. ODU (93)
95. Kansas (107)
96. FAU (99)
97. New Mexico (110)
98. Army (102)
99. EMU (96)
100. Tulane (94)
101. Bowling Green (95)
102. UNLV (118)
103. Georgia Southern (98)
104. Idaho (119)

As I said about this tier last year, the mid-majors in this bunch should expect to bowl; the power-conference squads probably won’t have that luxury.

TIER 7: :(

Coastal Carolina Instagram

105. Rutgers (92)
106. CMU (97)
107. Marshall (101)
108. North Texas (106)
109. Akron (122)
110. Nevada (117)
111. Ohio (103)
112. Ball State (90)
113. UConn (125)
114. South Alabama (108)
115. San Jose State (105)
116. FIU (104)
117. Fresno State (115)
118. Rice (120)
119. UL-Lafayette (112)
120. Coastal Carolina (114)
121. Georgia State (113)

Lots of first-year coaches, along with lots of second-year coaches hoping they win the Second-Year Leap lottery.

TIER 8: :( :( :(

Marvin Gentry, USA Today

122. UMass (111)
123. UTEP (126)
124. Buffalo (128)
125. Charlotte (127)
126. Kent State (123)
127. NMSU (124)
128. UL-Monroe (121)
129. UAB (130)
130. Texas State (129)

Last year, my two bottom teams (Hawaii and EMU) surprised. One of these teams will, too. Don’t ask me which one.