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All 130 teams ranked for 2018, from Alabama to UTEP

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Every team in FBS, ranked by the guy who’s written thousands of detailed words about every single one of them.

Southern Miss v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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 each 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 also including projected S&P+ rankings in parentheses, just so you can get a feel for where my own thoughts differ from my numbers.

Tier 1: Sure contenders

SEC Championship - Auburn v Georgia Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

1. Alabama (2)
2. Clemson (3)
3. Ohio State (1)*
4. Georgia (6)

Alabama and Clemson definitely start out in this elite tier, and I talked myself into Kirby Smart’s Dawgs maybe being capable of another big run while writing their preview.

* I probably would have had Ohio State in the top spot. But at press time, we don’t know about any potential staffing changes, so we’ll just stick them at No. 3 with a big asterisk for now.

Tier 2: Could easily be contenders, with happy answers to a few questions

UTEP v Oklahoma Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

5. Oklahoma (9)
6. Auburn (5)
7. Washington (4)
8. Wisconsin (12)
9. Michigan (10)
10. Mississippi State (14)
11. Notre Dame (7)
12. Miami (13)
13. Penn State (8)

Oklahoma needs a quarterback, Auburn needs a running back, etc. At least a few of these teams will roll.

If someone outside of these top two tiers becomes a major contender, it’ll be a little surprise. (I had Georgia 18th and in tier 3 last year, so surprises do happen.)

Tier 3: A top-10 performance wouldn’t be particularly surprising

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Day Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

14. TCU (22)
15. Florida State (18)
16. USC (15)
17. LSU (16)
18. Michigan State (11)
19. Texas (27)
20. Stanford (20)

These teams need several happy answers to become contenders. But at least one or two will make conference title runs.

Tier 4: A couple will play top-15 ball

NCAA Football: Las Vegas Bowl-Boise State vs Oregon Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

21. South Carolina (35)
22. FAU (31)
23. Oregon (23)
24. Boise State (26)
25. West Virginia (43)
26. Utah (28)
27. Iowa (36)
28. Oklahoma State (19)
29. UCF (17)
30. Texas A&M (24)

Most of the P5 teams here will end up in the 7-5/8-4 range, but at least one will surge. And it wouldn’t be a surprise if either Boise State or UCF went unbeaten (again). (FAU plays at OU, so we’ll say 11-1 is the ceiling.)

Tier 5: A nice bowl is the goal

31. NC State (37)
32. Missouri (30)
33. Louisville (29)
34. Iowa State (46)
35. Northwestern (38)
36. Wake Forest (34)
37. Purdue (54)
38. Virginia Tech (21)
39. Memphis (42)
40. Arizona (33)
41. UCLA (39)
42. San Diego State (55)
43. Ole Miss (25)
44. Florida (32)
45. Duke (40)
46. Fresno State (44)
47. Houston (59)
48. Kansas State (61)
49. Texas Tech (47)
50. Boston College (48)
51. Pittsburgh (45)
52. Indiana (58)
53. Arkansas (52)
54. Georgia Tech (53)
55. Ohio (68)
56. North Carolina (51)
57. California (65)
58. Toledo (49)
59. Northern Illinois (69)
60. Kentucky (64)
61. Washington State (41)
62. Temple (81)
63. Nebraska (60)
64. USF (56)

Last year for this tier, I wrote, “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.” Yeah, that still basically fits.

Tier 6: Mid-major up-and-comers and Power 5 stragglers

NCAA Football: Arizona Bowl-New Mexico State vs Utah State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

65. Marshall (62)
66. Syracuse (71)
67. Arkansas State (66)
68. Army (92)
69. Troy (78)
70. Utah State (77)
71. Baylor (50)
72. Navy (85)
73. North Texas (86)
74. SMU (74)
75. Colorado (89)
76. Appalachian State (63)
77. Virginia (73)
78. Tennessee (79)
79. Arizona State (57)
80. Wyoming (72)
81. Louisiana Tech (70)
82. Vanderbilt (75)
83. UAB (91)
84. Maryland (80)**
85. Rutgers (84)
86. Colorado State (95)
87. BYU (76)
88. Tulane (98)
89. Minnesota (67)
90. Buffalo (93)
91. Middle Tennessee (83)
92. Southern Miss (94)
93. FIU (120)
94. Massachusetts (102)
95. UNLV (105)
96. Illinois (99)
97. New Mexico State (100)
98. Miami (Ohio) (82)
99. UTSA (104)
100. WMU (87)
101. Tulsa (108)
102. Nevada (101)
103. Cincinnati (88)
104. EMU (96)
105. WKU (90)
106. UL-Monroe (107)

For the G5 teams here, a bowl is the goal. For P5 teams ... hey, pull an upset and beat your rival.

** Due to the uncertain status of Maryland’s coaching situation, I bumped the Terrapins further down within the Big Ten order than where I had them in early July.

Tier 7: :(

NCAA Football: Missouri at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

107. Oregon State (110)
108. Air Force (112)
109. Bowling Green (97)
110. South Alabama (109)
111. Kansas (103)
112. UL-Lafayette (121)
113. New Mexico (111)
114. Georgia State (113)
115. CMU (116)
116. Akron (119)
117. UConn (124)
118. Georgia Southern (106)
119. Hawaii (122)
120. Old Dominion (114)
121. Coastal Carolina (118)

Last year, I had Fresno State at 117th, and then the Bulldogs ripped off a division title run in Jeff Tedford’s first year. So congrats in advance to UConn for winning the AAC East.

Tier 8: :( :( :(

NCAA Football: Kent State at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

122. Ball State (117)
123. Rice (128)
124. Texas State (123)
125. San Jose State (129)
126. Charlotte (126)
127. Kent State (127)
128. East Carolina (125)
129. Liberty (115)
130. UTEP (130)

One team from this tier always surprises. Good luck figuring out which one.