Syndication: The Register Guard

When it comes to ranking college football teams, there's limited room to include Group of Five teams. That's safe to say for every top-25 projection from here to ... well, forever. You could chalk that up to the lingering after effects of realignment as the power conferences have gobbled up some of the best of the rest. 

In the last two years alone, Cincinnati, Houston, UCF (Big 12) and SMU (ACC) have matriculated to the Power Four, while BYU enters its second season in the Big 12 after 12 years as an independent.

It's called consolidation, folks, and it has diminished the Group of Five. 

Below we present the CBS Sports post-spring top 25 where 24 of the 25 teams are members of what now has become the Power Four in the wake of the Pac-12 dissolving. Independent Notre Dame is the only exception. Not surprisingly, nine of the top 10 are from the dominant leagues of that consolidation: the Big Ten and SEC. 

Thankfully for those Group of Five teams, the highest-ranked champion of those conferences (MAC, Mountain West, Conference USA, AAC and Sun Belt) will be guaranteed a spot in the 12-team College Football Playoff as the field expands this season. 

No Group of Five team made its way into these rankings, but below the post-spring top 25 we've highlighted teams from those conferences to keep an eye on as squads with a chance to join the fold when the season gets going. 

In terms of upheaval during the second portal window, well, there wasn't much. Hence, the lack of movement from the pre-spring top 25

Georgia remains the way-too-early, pre-spring, post-spring and likely preseason No. 1 team in the country. As was the case with the pre-spring rankings, right behind the Bulldogs is Ohio State after the Buckeyes enjoyed a monstrous offseason. We do, however, have a new team occupying the No. 3 slot in the rankings. 

The biggest risers included Miami and Clemson. Texas A&M made it in after being previously unranked. 

But for the powers that be, the rich get ranking richer.

While Deion Sanders preens, NIL distracts and realignment sets in, there is one constant in college football: Georgia remains the best program in the land. Have we forgotten there is a realistic run at stake for a third title in four years? Kirby Smart recently became the game's highest-paid coach ($13 million per season). Maybe it's me, but Carson Beck seems underrated as a passer. That will change as Dominic Lovett, Rara Thomas and Miami transfer Colbie Young rule the skies for contested balls. There may never be another Brock Bowers at tight end, but Oscar Delp is no slouch. Meanwhile, the defense continues to meet Smart's dominating standards. Pre-spring ranking: 1
There was a temptation to move the Buckeyes up to No. 1. Considering its portal conquests and Ryan Day's staff hires, Ohio State may have had the best offseason. Chip Kelly is firmly in place as the play caller. The goals are clearly set. (Beat Michigan or bust.) Day didn't name a starting quarterback after the spring game, though, so what does that say about prized Kansas State transfer Will Howard? Pre-spring ranking: 2
The Ducks will contend for the Big Ten in their first season as a league member. In Year 3 under Dan Lanning, Oregon isn't lacking much. The transfer class, which included a late addition in Michigan State defensive tackle Derrick Harmon, is one of the best in the country. The quarterback room is still one of the deepest in college football with veteran Dillon Gabriel leading the charge as former five-star prospect Dante Moore waits in the wings.  Pre-spring ranking: 4
There are no excuses for Texas, at least offensively. Quinn Ewers is a Heisman Trophy candidate. Arch Manning made the country's biggest statement for a backup quarterback in the spring game. Peyton and Eli's nephew threw for 355 yards, including a pair of 75-yard scores. If the defense can just play at an average level in the program's SEC debut season, pencil the Longhorns in for another playoff spot. Pre-spring ranking: 3
In Year 1 post-Saban, the expectations will not change as Kalen DeBoer takes over. Can't wait to see how DeBoer's downfield passing game translates to Jalen Milroe, who is the leading returning passer in that category (10.0 yards per attempt). When does the excellence run out? For the third time in four years, exactly 10 'Bama players were selected in the NFL Draft. Pre-spring ranking: 5
They played a spring game in Oxford, Mississippi, and a frat party broke out. MC Lane Kiffin staged a carnival during the Groves Bowl Games. He can make a joke out of a lot of things, but the pressure is on this season. This might be the most talented Ole Miss team ever. Thankfully, Joey Chestnut will not be a factor in the fall. The Rebels will eat what they kill. Pre-spring ranking: 6
Eli Drinkwitz, the 2023 SEC Coach of the Year, returns a blossoming powerhouse after an 11-win season. Luther Burden might be the best wide receiver in the SEC. Super freshman edge rusher Williams Nwaneri has been called Mizzou's best recruit -- ever. The loss of defensive coordinator Blake Baker to LSU will hurt, but the Tigers should easily be 4-0 when they visit Texas A&M on Oct. 5. Pre-spring ranking: 8
A playoff berth in Marcus Freeman's third year will relieve whatever pressure there was after a pair of two nine-win seasons. (Only two other coaches in Notre Dame  history have started their Irish career that way.) Duke transfer Riley Leonard gives Freeman a smart, heady, difference-maker at quarterback who should prosper with the return of offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock. Pre-spring ranking: 7
Penn State spent freely to lure talented offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki to Happy Valley. But can quarterback Drew Allar become more mobile? Kotelnicki is known for his creativity with quarterbacks. Former Indiana coach Tom Allen takes over as defensive coordinator. Oh, and when you weren't paying attention, James Franklin got another raise. Pre-spring ranking: 9
What to do for an encore after losing a Heisman winner (Jayden Daniels) and two first-round receivers (Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas)? Reload. Baker is expected to improve a leaky defense. Garrett Nussmeier is no Daniels, but he is capable with loads of potential. Pre-spring ranking: 10
The betting man's favorite to win the Big 12 in the program's first season as a member. Quarterback Cam Rising returns from a devastating knee injury. As usual, the defense will knock your socks off. Kyle Whittingham begins Year 21 at Utah with a chance to win three conference titles in two leagues in the last four years. Pre-spring ranking: 12
The defending champs come back to earth a bit after 40 wins the last three seasons, a national championship and 13 players taken in the 2024 NFL Draft. The Wolverines are still hovering around playoff contention. Sherrone Moore takes over as both the winningest active head coach (4-0!) and also a full-time rookie head coach. Pre-spring ranking: 11
The issue here is the Sooners making progress while also assimilating into the SEC. There is loads of anticipation for new quarterback Jackson Arnold. The offensive line was impacted by the portal. As for incoming talent, Purdue transfer receiver Deion Burks looks like a game breaker. Pre-spring ranking:13
It's hard to figure out the Tigers. They should be favored to win the ACC, but what more is expected? Coach Dabo Swinney continues to buck the portal trend. If quarterback Cade Klubnik continues to be capable, the defense could lead the Tigers to great things as eight starters return. Pre-spring ranking: 17
Brent Brennan got his dream job after Jedd Fisch went to Washington, and his arrival helped maintain the core of a 10-win team. Quarterback Noah Fifita is Big 12 Player of the Year material. Tetairoa McMillan is the leading returning Power Four receiver (if you don't count Louisville's Caullin Lacy, who transferred to the Cardinals from South Alabama). Pre-spring ranking: 14
Nico Iamaleava is expected to start earning his reported $8 million NIL salary immediately. If so, Josh Heupel's offense will return to its 2022 level with Iamaleava having able targets in Squirrel White, Bru McCoy and Tulane transfer Chris Brazzell II (four catches, 89 yards in the spring game). Pre-spring ranking: 16
Might as well replace Miami as the subject to college football's longest-lasting question: Is [Insert team here] back? Obviously not quite yet, but the No. 6 recruiting class provides optimism. Washington State transfer QB Cam Ward opens up the offense to all kinds of possibilities, while Oregon State transfer RB Damien Martinez was a huge get. Pre-spring ranking: 22.
DeBoer showed what was possible at Washington. Fisch now tries to replicate a championship run while adjusting to the Big Ten. Quarterback Will Rogers re-committed to the Huskies after coming from Mississippi State. He wasn't great in the spring game but is the only proven QB on the roster. Celebrated freshman Demond Williams Jr. is the future, though. Pre-spring ranking: 16. 
Chris Kleiman has built a rushing powerhouse for 2024. Quarterback Avery Johnson is as slick as they come as a runner entering his first full season as a starter. DJ Giddens rushed for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Colorado's Dylan Edwards was one of the biggest acquisitions nationally in the portal. Pre-spring ranking: 18
While the administration tries to buy its way out of the ACC, coach Mike Norvell is dutifully following up a 13-1 season. Transfer (again) quarterback DJ Uiagalelei has plenty to prove. He also has plenty of transfer help on offense. Malik Benson caught 13 passes for Alabama, while Roydell Williams ran for a career-high 560 yards for the Crimson Tide. EDGE Marvin Jones Jr. comes over from Georgia to follow in his father's footsteps and provide a boost to the defense. Pre-spring ranking: 20
If quarterback Jalon Daniels stays healthy, and that's a big if, the Jayhawks can dream of Big 12 contention. It will be a landmark season regardless. Because of stadium renovations, Kansas will not play any true home games at Memorial Stadium. Arrowhead Stadium, one of the alternate sites, has already been approved for a first-round CFP game should KU host. Pre-spring ranking: 21
If the transfer portal is an indicator, the Mustangs are more than ready for the Power Four. Rhett Lashlee has landed talents from Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, Oregon and Ohio State. The offensive line needs to be rebuilt, but the rest of the offense is elite. Quarterbacks Preston Stone and Kevin Jennings threw for almost 4,000 yards. Three accomplished running backs combined for 16 rushing touchdowns. Pre-spring ranking: 19
We're just going to assume new coach Mike Elko brings a sense of continuity to the Aggies. Defense is his specialty – including four years as Aggies' DC under Jimbo Fisher. Elko stole talented offensive coordinator Collin Klein from Kansas State. If the promise ever meets the inve$tment, A&M will win the national championship. Elko will settle for improving quarterback Connor Weigman and perhaps winning eight. The schedule is brutal. Pre-spring ranking: NR
This is a faith-based projection. Never underestimate coach Dave Doeren, who just posted his fourth nine-win season. Tackling machine Payton Wilson is gone, but the Wolfpack will remain competitive with Coastal Carolina star Grayson McCall now at quarterback. He'll throw to Ohio State transfer Noah Rogers. Pre-spring ranking: 22
Mike Gundy has won at least 10 games in eight of his 19 seasons. There have been 29 wins in the last three years. Running back Ollie Gordon II will be a prime Heisman candidate. Quarterback Alan Bowman is back for his seventh season. As usual, the Cowboys will light it up offensively, but Oklahoma State always seems to falter defensively at key times, especially late. Pre-spring ranking: 24

Dropped out: Virginia Tech 
Group of Five teams to watch: Boise State, Liberty, Tulane, Memphis, Appalachian State