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Rivals Rankings Week: Predictions as team rankings races heat up

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position

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Antonio Alfano

With Rivals.com’s rankings release week winding down, we turn an eye to the team rankings and to the future. Below, National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney takes a look at the way things stand now and makes five predictions on how things may shake out come National Signing Day,

More Rivals Rankings Week:

Monday: Updated Top 10 | Debating Smith vs. Thibodeaux

Tuesday: 2019 Rivals100 revealed | Mind of Mike

Wednesday: 2019 Rivals250 revealed

Thursday: 2019 position rankings revealed

ALABAMA STAYS NO. 1 AND EXTENDS LEAD

Cue the broken record: Alabama is lining up to win another team rankings recruiting title with a strong close during the early signing period and then wrapping things up on National Signing Day. This is getting old already - except for Crimson Tide fans.

Alabama already has the top-ranked class in the country led by five-star defensive tackle Antonio Alfano and 18 four-star pledges but we’re talking about coach Nick Saban’s program really loading up in the final weeks.

Five-stars Trey Sanders, Evan Neal, Ishmael Sopsher, Clay Webb, Nakobe Dean, Kayvon Thibodeaux and George Pickens are all within striking distance. Some are already considered Alabama leans. Others are on the board as well including some high-level four-star prospects like tight end Keon Zipperer, defensive backs Noa Pola-Gates, Jeffery Carter and others.

It’s been written before and it will be written again: The Crimson Tide should close with a fury.

MICHIGAN SNAPS STREAK IN BIG TEN

It is hard to fathom but Michigan has not won a Big Ten team recruiting title since 2007, more than a decade ago, as Ohio State has completely dominated atop the rankings but this cycle could change everything.

The Wolverines have a healthy lead over Penn State and Ohio State in the Big Ten rankings and they might not be done with five-star defensive end Zach Harrison as the biggest remaining target as he decides between Michigan and Ohio State. It’s big news that Tennessee commit Chris Akporghene is in Ann Arbor this weekend as he might flip to the Wolverines.

A bunch of other four-stars are also high on Michigan’s list including receiver Kyle Ford, offensive lineman Trevor Keegan, linebacker Kalen Deloach, a Florida State commitment, and many others. Ohio State could see a bump with clarity on its coaching staff - with Ryan Day taking over for Urban Meyer - but Michigan could be tough to beat.

TEXAS WINS BIG 12 TITLE WITH NO FIVE-STARS

There has been only one time in Rivals.com history dating back to 2002 - and it was in 2003 - that a Big 12 team without any five-star signees won the league's recruiting title over a program with at least one five-star, but it could happen again in the 2019 class if Texas holds off Oklahoma.

The Sooners have three five-star pledges in wide receivers Theo Wease and Trejan Bridges along with quarterback Spencer Rattler but Oklahoma is currently second in the rankings to Texas, which has no five-star pledges but 14 four-stars (Oklahoma has eight).

The Longhorns are still in the running for five-star athlete Bru McCoy out of Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei but one of the biggest targets left is four-star running back Noah Cain out of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy among others. Watch out because the Sooners could load up late because a lot of top players are still on the board but Texas is not going to give up the No. 1 spot easily.

OREGON WINS PAC-12 EASILY

Oregon has never won a Pac-12 team recruiting title in Rivals.com history as USC has largely dominated the conference but the Ducks should win it - and possibly pretty easily - in the coming weeks.

No five-stars are committed to any Pac-12 schools yet but that might change in the coming week when Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux makes his decision on Dec. 15. The Ducks are definitely a front-runner but Alabama, Florida and Florida State are not giving up, either.

One player to watch in Oregon’s class is four-star Mase Funa, who is being seriously pressed by USC late in his recruitment although he’s stuck with the Ducks so far. Four-star cornerback Jeremiah Criddell has decommitted from Oregon but one source said they would be “shocked” if he didn’t end up back in the class. Oregon is rolling and looks to be easily cruising into the early signing period with a possible pledge from Thibodeaux coming soon.

ARKANSAS WILL NOT DROP OFF

Arkansas had a terrible 2-10 season with wins over only Eastern Illinois and Tulsa but recruiting has not taken a hit. If anything, the Razorbacks are doing surprisingly and phenomenally well on the trail with the No. 11 class nationally - and coach Chad Morris and his staff are not done yet.

Four-star defensive back Jalen Catalon is close to an Arkansas lock and the Razorbacks are working hard on flipping Mississippi State pledge Gregory Brooks, Jr. Arkansas is not done recruiting junior college offensive linemen, another quarterback after striking out on Kelly Bryant and possibly a linebacker down the stretch. Morris is doing really well on the recruiting trail as he looks to rebuild quickly in Fayetteville.