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This would normally be a tasty best-of-the-rest offseason piece to chew on: Who are the teams that could crack the top 25 -- those not listed in our way-too-early rankings projection immediately after Michigan won the national championship.

Ah, but the expanded College Football Playoff has changed everything. In any given top 25 list you'll see from here until Dec. 7 (Selection Sunday), almost half of the teams will be in that expanded playoff. Do the math. The field is tripled. Those 12 teams will all be ranked.

Then let's start the hype here. Using the logic above, the 10 teams you see below could all be in contention for the CFP, not just food for thought in January. Why not? Iowa can't score but is still winning 10 games. Any of three Group of Five teams listed (Memphis, Boise State, Liberty) could snag an automatic berth.

Somebody has to win the ACC. The Big 12 suddenly as 16 teams. The Big Ten and SEC can't grab all the berths, can they?

That's what makes this list more compelling. Some of these teams could be playing for a national championship, not just filling space in January. Chew on that for a while. 

At the end of his career, Kirk Ferentz is doing it with mirrors. That's because, on the offensive side, it's been a black hole. That might be the highest compliment to be paid for the Hawkeyes' coach, who will turn 69 by next season's kickoff. Iowa has won 10 games three times despite offenses that ranked 99th (2019), 121st (2021) and dead-last 133rd (2023). It took athletic director Beth Goetz to finally get rid of Ferentz's son, Brian, as offensive coordinator. Kirk has said a replacement could come this week. Who are we to doubt Ferentz the Magician keeping the Hawks in contention? The addition of Alabama transfer, freshman All-American and Iowa native son Kadyn Proctor at offensive tackle via the transfer portal can't be bad.
The Broncos did win the Mountain West, though it was with a middling 8-5 record. There is realistic momentum with player favorite Spencer Danielson getting the permanent gig after the firing of Andy Avalos. Danielson was Avalos' defensive coordinator who went 3-0 down the stretch after being named the interim coach. (The bowl game loss to UCLA came after he was named head coach.) Danielson became the first interim coach to win a conference title in FBS history. Quarterback Malachi Nelson transferred in from USC. Multi-talented Ashton Jeanty might be the best all-purpose back in the country.
Mark Stoops showed a willingness to leave, pulling out at Texas A&M when it became obvious whoever was calling the shots there had cooled on him. Prevail at Florida and/or Tennessee this season -- reasonable -- and the Wildcats should win eight games. At least. Kentucky hasn't been this consistently ranked in the AP Top 25 since the early 1950s (34 weeks since 2018) when somebody named Bear Bryant was around.
Jamey Chadwell would have led a College Football Playoff team last season if the 12-team bracket was in place. Look for the Flames to be an annual contender now as one of the best Group of Five programs. Chadwell got a huge boost when QB Kaidon Salter returned from the portal. That's reason enough to project the Flames winning Conference USA again and being a favorite to get in the expanded playoff in their sixth year as a full FBS member.
Lincoln Riley begins the season on some sort of hot seat. After starting 11-1 in what looked like the ultimate portal flip, Riley is now 8-7 in his last 15 games. Miller Moss provided some hope after the loss of Caleb Williams by throwing six touchdowns in the bowl game. But in migrating to Big Ten, the Trojans must get immediately tougher in both lines. USC was pushed around at times in the late, great Pac-12, and multiple defensive changes have come already this offseason.
Ryan Silverfield is coming off the best season of his career as a coach. Mike Norvell's former offensive line coach with the Tigers won 10 games, including the hometown Liberty Bowl. With Willie Fritz departed for Houston, Memphis just might be the class of the AAC. Silverfield's OL, which will protect Seth Henigan, is being retooled after getting picked apart by the portal.
Brent Pry will benefit from an increasing rarity to kick off 2024. The Hokies' second-year coach has -- as of now -- all 11 offensive starters returning. That includes QB Kyron Drones, a name so 2024 it is waiting for an NIL deal. The Hokies averaged 43 points per game in their last four contests. Pry added three defensive linemen from the portal. If you want a sneaky good pick for the ACC, go with the Hokies.    
Neal Brown hopped off the hot seat with an efficient nine-win season. Garrett Greene led an offense (434 yards per game) that was more productive than notable yard-gobblers Missouri and Oklahoma State last season. If momentum continues, the Mountaineers can dream about a CFP berth. In the wide-open Big 12, why not West Virginia?
The Badgers quickly faded out of sight in Luke Fickell's first season after a 4-1 start. Wisconsin slumped to a finish 7-6, and it enters the new, overloaded Big Ten almost as an afterthought. Both Wisconsin and QB Tyler Van Dyke, a Miami transfer, need to reinvent themselves. The question is whether Van Dyke ever invented himself in the first place while in South Florida.
In Year 3 under Mario Cristobal, it's not unrealistic to expect the Hurricanes to break through. Xavier Restrepo's return was huge, especially with Cam Ward transferring in. He can thrive behind a veteran offensive line. Redshirt sophomore Jacurri Brown threw for 181 yards in the bowl loss to Rutgers and stands as a nice depth piece. Running back Rodney Hill transferred in from Florida State with three years eligibility remaining.