Way-Too-Early Top 25

23. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Quarterback Everett Golson returns after missing the entire 2013 season because of academic reasons, and he'll have to be better than he was in 2012 (when he led the Irish to the BCS title game) if Notre Dame is going to survive one of the country's most demanding schedules. Next season, the Irish play Florida State (road), Stanford (home), Michigan (home), Arizona State (road), Louisville (home) and USC (road). Ouch. If nothing else, Golson's mobility figures to help the Irish's red zone scoring woes. The running game might be more consistent with freshman Greg Bryant returning from a knee injury to join a deep stable of tailbacks. Notre Dame expects to bring back eight starters on offense, but it will miss departing left tackle Zack Martin and top receiver TJ Jones. The Irish also will have to rebuild their defensive line with tackle Louis Nix III and end Stephon Tuitt leaving for the NFL draft. Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly lost both of his coordinators to head-coaching jobs, and he's reportedly bringing in former Georgia and Auburn defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

For more on how the Irish will look in 2014, check out Notre Dame's recruiting profile Insider and ESPN RecruitingNation's class rankings.

24. UCF Knights

On the heels of their first 11-win season and big upset of Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, the Knights should continue to dominate the AAC, especially with Louisville leaving for the ACC and Rutgers bailing for the Big Ten. The Knights might have been worthy of a preseason top-15 ranking this coming season – until junior quarterback Blake Bortles and junior tailback Storm Johnson announced they were leaving for the NFL draft. The Knights will bring back William Stanback, who ran for 443 yards with six touchdowns this past season. UCF will have to replace three departing starting offensive linemen, but it might bring back as many as 10 starters on defense. UCF will play a challenging nonconference schedule in 2014; it opens the season against Penn State in Dublin, Ireland and also plays Missouri (road) and BYU (home).

For more on how the Knights will look in 2014, check out UCF's recruiting profile Insider and ESPN RecruitingNation's class rankings.

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