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All 128 FBS college football teams ranked for 2015, from Ohio State to Charlotte

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After studying up and writing thousands of words about your team, here's how Bill thinks you stack up.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

At the end of each conference preview series, I looked at how I perceived that conference's balance of power heading into 2015. All of those individual conference rankings and team previews are here.

This was in no way based on schedules. These were not standings predictions. They were just how I would have ranked the teams after writing a big preview about each.

Now that I've written previews about each of FBS' 128 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.

Below, I've ranked all 128 FBS teams. This isn't a stat projection. It's my own opinion. This was like a series of ladder matches: who 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 (Utah State, which has since suffered injuries and suspensions), I did some rearranging.

Tier 1: Contenders

1. Ohio State
2. Alabama
3. Oregon
4. Baylor
5. Georgia
6. TCU

My TCU preview was built around the premise of the Horned Frogs being a little bit overrated. I don't trust them nearly enough to think of the Frogs as the No. 2 team in the country (as many preseason polls have done). But when push came to shove, I found that I still trust them more than any of the teams below.

Tier 2: Could easily be contenders with a couple of happy answers

7. Ole Miss
8. Auburn
10. LSU
11. Michigan State
12. Oklahoma
13. USC
14. Arkansas
15. Arizona State
16. Stanford
17. Florida State

If any of these end up 11-1 or 12-1, it wouldn't be much of a surprise. The biggest wildcard here, to me, is Les Miles' team. I found myself simultaneously wanting to put the Tigers in the top five and knock them out of the top 20. If they have a quarterback, and the new defensive coordinator clicks, they could be absolutely dynamite. But those are two huge ifs.

Stanford is another team with a wide range of possibilities. The offense should be far more stable, and the defense is super-talented, but the Cardinal have to replace so much starting experience on D.

Tier 3: A top-15 performance would not be surprising

18. Tennessee
19. Georgia Tech
20. Notre Dame
21. Wisconsin
22. Louisville
23. Mississippi State
24. Clemson
25. Virginia Tech
26. Boise State
27. Missouri
28. Nebraska
29. Michigan
30. Texas A&M
31. Penn State
32. BYU
33. Miami
34. Arizona

I find myself far more confident in Miami than some, and I still maintain (as I did in the preview) that the Hurricanes were hitting some pretty high notes before they dropped the FSU game and collapsed. If they are more mature and can handle setbacks a bit better this time, they'll have a chance at saving Al Golden's job. The upside is pretty obvious.

Tier 4: A couple will play at a top-25 level

35. Oklahoma State
36. Pitt
37. Florida
38. Texas
39. Minnesota
40. Cincinnati
41. Kansas State
42. South Carolina
43. Utah
44. West Virginia
45. NC State
46. Navy
47. Iowa
48. North Carolina
49. Maryland

In terms of my own perceptions vs. last year's F/+ rankings, I think no team varies more than Mike Gundy's squad.

OSU totally collapsed midseason last year and finished 75th overall. But the Cowboys were woefully inexperienced, and they were looking for a quarterback they could trust. They improved late, they're drastically more experienced, and between sophomore Mason Rudolph (who looked pretty good late) and veteran J.W. Walsh (who missed almost all of last season), I trust the QB position. They should rebound pretty significantly.

Tier 5: Top 40 is the goal (and that's OK)

50. Kentucky
51. Western Kentucky
52. California
53. Marshall
54. Rutgers
55. Georgia Southern
56. Central Florida
57. Northwestern
58. Washington State
59. Colorado State
60. Duke
61. Virginia
62. Memphis
63. Western Michigan
64. Utah State
65. Temple
66. East Carolina
67. Houston
68. Texas Tech
69. Boston College
70. Colorado
71. Arkansas State
72. Louisiana Tech
73. Toledo
74. Rice

This tier is a fun combination of risers (Kentucky, WKU, Georgia Southern, Colorado) and fallers (Memphis, Duke, and Boston College, at least temporarily).

The most interesting team on the list, however, might be P.J. Fleck's Western Michigan Broncos. Fleck is recruiting circles around the rest of the MAC, and WMU broke through earlier than expected last year, improving from 1-11 to 8-5. And now the Broncos have talent and experience (and a September 4 home game against Michigan State). What's the ceiling? High enough to overcome having to play at both Toledo and NIU?

Tier 6: Mid-major up-and-comers and power-conference dead weight

75. Indiana
76. San Diego State
77. Air Force
78. Northern Illinois
79. Illinois
80. Washington
81. UL-Lafayette
82. Appalachian State
83. Purdue
84. Middle Tennessee
85. Tulane
86. Old Dominion
87. UTEP
88. Oregon State
89. South Alabama
90. Iowa State
91. Bowling Green
92. Akron
93. New Mexico

Quite a few teams here have one impressive unit (ODU's offense, Tulane's defense, etc.) and one abomination. And quite a few power-conference teams here (Indiana, Illinois, Iowa State) might be replacing their head coaches in about four months. I still think Kevin Wilson's got a chance to succeed at Indiana, but his offense might be breaking in a few too many pieces. It will be interesting to see how much time he gets.


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Tier 7: :(

94. Vanderbilt
95. San Jose State
96. Tulsa
97. Ball State
98. Wake Forest
99. Syracuse
100. Texas State
101. Nevada
102. Florida Atlantic
103. Fresno State
104. UL-Monroe
105. Florida International
106. Ohio
107. Wyoming
108. Buffalo
109. Kansas
110. SMU
111. Idaho
112. Central Michigan
113. Southern Miss
114. Massachusetts
115. South Florida

San Jose State is basically a West Coast Western Michigan. The Spartans reeled in a top-60 recruiting class out of nowhere, better than Iowa's ... and now we wait to see how long it takes for a talent upgrade to actually make a difference.

Tier 8: :( :( :(

116. Hawaii
117. Kent State
118. Army
119. Troy
120. Connecticut
121. Miami (Ohio)
122. North Texas
123. UNLV
124. Georgia State
125. Eastern Michigan
126. New Mexico State
127. UTSA
128. Charlotte

I write most of my previews with a relatively optimistic tone, and I could tell you good things about most of these teams. I like Charlotte's potential on offenseI like UTSA's athleticism, and I still think Bob Diaco could still build something pretty decent at UConn, etc. But these teams certainly have the longest roads.

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