College Football Preview

Well, it’s sort of a slow day outside of bald faced lies from Republicans, and I’ve filled time with baseball for the past few days, so I think I’ll finally offer up my own college football preview (and I’m a NCAAF fanatic, so be warned). Anyway, I’ll post it in the form of my own preseason top 25.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes: It might be a homer pick, but there are plenty of other reasons to expect big things from the Buckeyes again, starting with returning 20 starters. They may have lost defensive lineman Vernon Ghoulston to the NFL, but they still return All-American caliber players at LT (Alex Boone), CB (Malcolm Jenkins), RB (Chris Wells), and LB (Jame Laurinaitis). Indeed, Laurinaitis might be the best defensive player in the entire country, and Wells has a legitimate shot at the Heisman. They have to get through USC on the road, but then they get to play in a relatively weak Big 10, with the biggest road test coming at Illinois, hardly the picture of an intimidating environment. Penn State and Michigan make pilgrimages to The Shoe. Go Bucks!

2. Georgia Bulldogs: Maybe the hottest team in the country at the end of last season, and a trendy pick for success this year. The Bulldogs are a deep team with a lot of upside, and a tremendous coach. But playing in the SEC throws up quite a few roadblocks, including perpetual rival Florida. They’ve got the talent, but the opportuities to slip up are legion.

3. USC Trojans: The Pac-10 has seen it’s share of upsets lately, but this USC team looks particularly good, even after losing Sedrick Ellis and Keith Rivers to the NFL as top 10 picks. And new QB Matt Sanchez got invauable experience last year in subbing for an injured John David Booty. It hardly seems bold to predict the winner of the Ohio State-USC showdown to be a favorite for Miami.

4. Oklahoma Sooners: No doubt smarting after losing the Big 12 Championship last season, the Sooners will have motivation to overcome their reputation for lackluster performances at the end of the season. Bob Stoops may even be digging his own grave, as you have to wonder how long a reinvigorated Sooner fanbase will tolerate losses in Bowl games and conference title games keeping Oklahoma from the pantheon of truly first tier programs.

5. Florida Gators: They’ve got a Heisman incumbent at quarterback, and are just 2 years removed from a national Championship, but Florida lost some key defensive players, and it’s hard to say whether the rest of the offense is up to the tak of carrying Florida through the SEC. Or can Tim Tebow do it himself?

6. Missouri Tigers: The surprise Big 12 champions from a year ago return quarterback Chase Daniels, who immediately becomes Heisman fodder, and get to pray on a weak Big 12 North. Yes, they have to play Texas in Austin, but if Kansas falls off and Nebraska doesn’t improve under new coach Bo Pelini, Mizzou may not face a game that really matters until the Big 12 Championship game.

7. West Virginia Mountaineers: Rich Rodriguez maybe gone, but Pat White, Steve Slaton, and Owen Schmitt are still in Morgantown, and I think Mountaineer faithful can live with that. It helps that the Big East is more like the AFC East than the NFC East. In fact, West Virginia may wind up with only one opponent (Auburn) finishing the season in the top 25, and that’s a home game on 12 days rest.

8. Texas Longhorns: In his 3rd season, it’s Colt McCoy’s time to perform, but he’s got enough talent around him and a team with swagger to do it. The Big 12 looks better than usual, but even with splitting there big games (Kansas and Texas Tech are road games, while Missouri and Texas A&M come to Austin) there’s still plenty of landmines. Their match up with Arkansas looks a lot less glitzy with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones playing on Sunday’s, but there’s still the showdown in Dallas to keep in the back of their minds.

9. Clemson Tigers: An upstart team of sorts, Clemson has been putting together a series of good recruiting classes, and there’s no one else who looks particularly dominant in the ACC, but can a team that’s flirted with a breakthrough before finally put it all together, or will Terry Bowden come up short again?

10. LSU Tigers: Most people will have the defending champs higher, but after losing Glenn Dorsey, among others, and with the QB situation being what it is in Baton Rouge, I’d look for the Tigers to come out of a schedule that includes, Georgia and Alabama at home, to say nothing of trips to Auburn, Florida, and Arkansas, with at least 2 or 3 losses. That may be good enough to win the SEC West at the end of the day, but that will entail another match up with Florida or Georgia, or possibly even Tennessee, in which I’d peg LSU as the underdog.

11. Auburn

12. Wisconsin

13. Virginia Tech

14. Kansas

15. Arizona State

16. BYU

17. Tennessee

18. Illinois

19. Oregon

20. Texas Tech

21. Penn State

22. Fresno State

23. Alabama

24. Wake Forest

25. South Florida