Question marks: Lingering issues for the top 25 teams

LSU's season-opening loss to Wisconsin was one of the biggest shocks in a wild Kickoff Week. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

During the college football offseason, we have ranked everything from the weakest position groups to the biggest roster surprises. This week, using the ESPN College Football Power Rankings as our guide, we answer this question: What's the biggest lingering question mark for each top-25 team?

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Nick Saban is going to be coy about whom he starts at quarterback for the time being. That's just the way it is. When asked if true freshman Jalen Hurts would line up first against Western Kentucky, Saban's answer was a resounding maybe. Hurts played well off the bench against USC, throwing for two TDs and running in two more scores, but redshirt freshman Blake Barnett still figures into the equation. For now, it seems Saban is content to let both play and develop. -- Alex Scarborough

2. Florida State Seminoles

Granted, the offensive line was at less than full strength and rebounded in Monday's win, but Ole Miss whipped the Seminoles up front through the early part of the game. Right tackle Rick Leonard is going to need some time to adjust as he transitions from defensive line, but Louisville linebacker Devonte Fields is waiting in Week 3. The Rebels have NFL talent on their defensive front, but there are still some clear issues the Seminoles will need to solve. -- Jared Shanker

3. Clemson Tigers

The good news for Clemson is that it seemed to answer its biggest fall camp question in its opener against Auburn, with the defensive front looking sharp. The offensive line, on the other hand? Things never quite looked in sync as Deshaun Watson was under routine pressure and found little space to run, while the receivers rarely got open against man coverage. This figures to be a template against the Tigers' offense until they prove they can pass protect a bit better and create big plays downfield. -- David Hale

4. Ohio State Buckeyes

J.T. Barrett wasn't sacked, the rushing attack had no problem racking up yardage and the school record books were under offensive assault in the season-opening win over Bowling Green. But Urban Meyer graded only one offensive lineman as giving a "Champion" effort after reviewing the film, and with much better defenses looming, Ohio State's three first-time starters will need to continue to grow up in a hurry. -- Austin Ward

5. Houston Cougars

Can the Cougars keep the playoff noise on the outside and avoid a letdown as they begin facing opponents that aren't the caliber of the one they beat in Week 1 (Oklahoma)? Any shot at the top four requires them to run the table, meaning there's zero margin for error the rest of the season. -- Sam Khan Jr.

6. Michigan Wolverines

Wilton Speight answered the quarterback question. Mike McCray, the Big Ten defensive player of the week, helped assuage fears about the linebacker position. What's left? Hawaii didn't provide much of a test for an offensive line that has improved steadily over its time in Ann Arbor. It might take a few weeks before we see how far they've come in two seasons under offensive coordinator Tim Drevno. -- Dan Murphy

7. Stanford Cardinal

Can the Cardinal survive the schedule? Head coach David Shaw called having a bye in Week 2 a "tremendous" challenge because after this week, they have to prepare for 11 straight games. That docket includes four consecutive conference games, a trip to Notre Dame and then five more conference games before closing out the season against Rice. -- Kevin Gemmell

8. Washington Huskies

Can we expect this for 11 more games? The Huskies looked dominant in all three phases against Rutgers. But with a soft nonconference schedule (Idaho this week, Portland State in Week 3) where they don't leave Husky Stadium, it remains to be seen if they can maintain that high level of play on the road and against stiffer competition. -- Gemmell

9. Georgia Bulldogs

Everyone wants to know who the starting quarterback is going to be in Athens. Even if freshman Jacob Eason is the more talented option, senior Greyson Lambert isn't out of the picture. Right now, the offense is all about running back Nick Chubb, but eventually, it's going to have to find a passing game or defenses are going to eventually slow Chubb down. These days, you have to have a balanced offense to succeed in the SEC. Head coach Kirby Smart wants to make sure he's absolutely comfortable before letting Eason loose. That could come during or after this weekend's Nichols State game. -- Edward Aschoff

10. Wisconsin Badgers

Bart Houston completed three clutch passes on the Badgers' game-winning drive against LSU. But he also threw two inexcusable interceptions earlier in the contest to let the Tigers back into the game. One pick was underthrown in the end zone, and the other was returned for a touchdown to give LSU a 14-13 lead. Those mistakes won't cut it when Wisconsin ventures through the Big Ten gantlet. -- Jesse Temple

11. Texas Longhorns

Are the Longhorns a legit Big 12 title contender? The upset of No. 10 Notre Dame will be a season-changer only if they're able to capitalize and win some big road games over the next month at Cal, at Oklahoma State and in Dallas against Oklahoma. If Texas can find a way to win all three and start 5-0, the Bevo bandwagon will be packed. -- Max Olson

12. Louisville Cardinals

The Cards absolutely dominated Charlotte 70-14, but if there is one area that we still do not know much about, it is the offensive line. Lamar Jackson scrambled a bunch early in the game as he was chased in the pocket, but Charlotte was completely overmatched, so it was not a good indicator of what the line will be able to do against good competition. -- Andrea Adelson

13. Michigan State Spartans

Beyond superstar defensive lineman Malik McDowell and two other upperclassmen, the Spartans are leaning on a pair of graduate transfers and a slew of freshmen to fill out the depth chart. They have potential, but it remains to be seen how they'll stand up to an offensive front like Notre Dame's or some of the other big bodies they'll see during the Big Ten schedule. -- Murphy

14. Ole Miss Rebels

Season-ending injuries to cornerback Ken Webster and running back Eric Swinney have totally changed the dynamic of this football team. While losing Webster is huge for this defense, there's more depth to help at that position. Swinney's absence will really hurt this offense because the Rebels are terribly thin at running back. Coaches were hoping Swinney and starter Akeem Judd would form a fearsome duo in the backfield and give the Rebels more of an inside attack with their size. For Ole Miss' offense to be more consistent, it needs an inside running presence after the Rebels had the second-fewest inside runs of any Power 5 team in 2015 (183). -- Aschoff

15. Texas A&M Aggies

Trevor Knight had a decent debut as the Aggies quarterback but can they expect improvement from the graduate transfer? He threw one bad interception and completed only 52 percent of his passes. He'll have to get better in both areas if the Aggies plan to make noise in the SEC West. -- Khan

16. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame's defense gave up 50 points to a freshman quarterback making his debut. Sure, 13 of those points came in overtimes, but the unit simply has to have the offense's back when it scores 47 points itself (37 in regulation). Brian Kelly is all-in with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, but the heat will surely turn up if the Irish show more of the same after giving up 132 points in their past three games. -- Matt Fortuna

17. Oklahoma Sooners

The Sooners were exposed in several areas in the loss to Houston, but nowhere more than at cornerback. Oklahoma has one terrific corner in Jordan Thomas, but neither Dakota Austin nor true freshman Parrish Cobb proved reliable when isolated against the Cougars. If the Sooners are going to re-emerge into a playoff contender, they're going to have to find another reliable corner opposite Thomas. -- Jake Trotter

18. Iowa Hawkeyes

Yes, Iowa largely dominated Miami (Ohio) 45-21 in the season opener. Still, if the Hawkeyes want to truly compete for a Big Ten championship, the defense can't allow teams like the RedHawks to put together three separate touchdown drives that each lasted at least 12 plays and averaged nearly seven minutes. -- Temple

19. Tennessee Volunteers

The offense looked lost and sometimes overwhelmed against Appalachian State. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who was held under 200 yards passing, was sacked twice and completed just one pass of 25-plus yards. What's more troubling is that Dobbs never got on the move enough. He's best when he can run the football, yet he ran for minus-4 yards on nine carries last week. Some of that was on him, some on the play calling and some on the offensive line. Tennessee has to get Dobbs more mobile and able to use his feet. -- Aschoff

20. TCU Horned Frogs

Should we worry about the defense? Watching the Horned Frogs give up 41 points and 7 yards per play against FCS South Dakota State was a bit of a shock, because this is supposed to be one of the Big 12's best defenses. Gary Patterson said his D did a poor job on the most basic stuff: lining up correctly and tackling. With Arkansas coming to town Saturday, the Horned Frogs will need to tighten up and make progress in practice this week. -- Olson

21. Oklahoma State Cowboys

The Cowboys may well have improved at running the football since last season, when they averaged 3.58 yards per attempt to rank 114th nationally. We just didn't see it Saturday. In Oklahoma State's 61-7 win over Southeastern Louisiana, it rushed for 144 yards on 38 attempts (3.79 per carry). Its first four scoring drives included six running plays. No back got the ball more than seven times. So, yes, the jury remains out. -- Mitch Sherman

22. LSU Tigers

The Tigers simply have to get more effective play from their quarterback and offensive line. The preseason championship hopes are not out of the question yet, but LSU has no time to waste in getting its offense on track. If Brandon Harris can't get it together -- and if his line fails to take several big steps forward -- it doesn't matter how brilliantly Leonard Fournette and the defense play. The Tigers will be done for. -- David Ching

23. Baylor Bears

We didn't learn much about the Bears after their shellacking of Northwestern State. So the same questions remain. Do the Bears have enough depth and enough focus with the off-the-field distractions to still contend in the Big 12? -- Trotter

24. UCLA Bruins

Do the Bruins have the maturity as a team to operate at a high level? The overtime loss to Texas A&M was riddled with mistakes and mental errors. But when things were clicking, the Bruins looked solid. Consistency will be a question mark moving forward. -- Gemmell

25. Oregon Ducks

Will it be more of the same defensively? Oregon's defensive faults from 2015 were on full display when they blew a 31-point halftime lead to TCU in their bowl game. And even though the Ducks blew out UC Davis in Week 1, giving up 28 points to an FCS squad didn't sit well. With their next 11 games featuring Power 5 opponents, it's worth asking if the defense will be able to keep the Ducks in games, or will the offense need to drop 53 each week. -- Gemmell