Explaining my preseason top 5

Alabama is No. 1, but some surprises fill out Phil Steele's list of top 5 teams

Updated: June 17, 2013, 4:35 PM ET
By Phil Steele | ESPN Insider

McCarron & Ash & Winston USA TODAY SportsWill Alabama, Texas and Florida State end the 2013 season in the top five of the polls?

Editor's note: This article was adapted from Phil Steele's college football preview magazine, which is available here.

There are many ways to rank college football teams in the preseason. While some analysts focus on where teams should start the season in the polls, my rankings are based on where teams will finish.

Another factor to keep in mind is that these are not completely reflective of my power ratings, which are based purely on talent. A great example from this year would be Northern Illinois, who I have ranked No. 26 in my preseason top 40 ahead of some quality BCS contenders like Arizona State, Ole Miss and Oregon State. In my power ratings they are only No. 54, but the reason they rank higher in my preseason poll is the fact they face my No. 124-ranked schedule out of 126 teams, and should win 10 or 11 games this year.

Keeping that in mind, here are my preseason top five teams for 2013:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

This year I am going for my third correct national champion pick in the past six years. Unlike most years, I am not going outside the box in 2013, instead picking the preseason favorite.

Phil Steele

ESPN Insider