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College Football: Way Too Early Look at 2009

Gary LloydSenior Analyst IJanuary 6, 2009

We're still two days away from the BCS National Championship Game and nine away from the deadline for early entries into the 2009 NFL draft.

Meaning, it's way too early to project next season's rankings, but I'll give it a quick shot.

1. Florida Gators

Reason to believe the ranking: Tim Tebow could return for his senior season, and we should all know to not bet against him. Reason to doubt the ranking: Tebow could say goodbye to Gainesville and head for the NFL.

2. Texas Longhorns

Reason to believe the ranking: Colt McCoy will be the Heisman frontrunner upon his return to school, and he makes average receivers look good. Reason to doubt the ranking: If Texas’ defensive line does not reload, Big 12 quarterbacks may have all day to throw against the Longhorns’ young secondary.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

Reason to believe the ranking: The Tide defense will be among the best in the nation, while the running game will continue to open up a better passing game in 2009. Reason to doubt the ranking: Alabama loses three starting offensive linemen from one of the best lines in America. Young, inexperienced linemen will get their shot early in the spring.

4. USC Trojans

Reason to believe the ranking: Most of the skill players should be back, which means lots and lots of points. Reason to doubt the ranking: USC has to pretty much reload its entire defense, so it’ll have to find some young studs to fill all positions.

5. Ohio State Buckeyes

Reason to believe the ranking: Terrelle Pryor will have the ball in his hands at all times and will be ready to lead a team on his own. Reason to doubt the ranking: If Chris Wells decides to enter the NFL draft, then the Buckeyes will struggle mightily having to rely solely on Pryor’s arm.

6. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Reason to believe the ranking: Quarterback Zac Robinson is back to hand the ball of to Kendall Hunter and throw it deep to Dez Bryant, who should be the frontrunner for the Biletnikoff Award. Reason to doubt the ranking: The secondary will be very inexperienced, but that could be a good thing given how bad the Cowboys’ pass defense was this season. We’ll see.

7. Oklahoma Sooners

Reason to believe the ranking: Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray are back, so if Sam Bradford isn’t, then the running game will be successful for sure. Reason to doubt the ranking: The backs will be in place, but what about Bradford and the offensive line? Bradford is likely gone, as is the O-line. And like Oklahoma State, the secondary is a problem.

8. Ole Miss Rebels

Reason to believe the ranking: It was Houston Nutt’s first year in Oxford, and he has his most productive skill players back. Reason to doubt the ranking: The anchors of both offensive and defensive lines are gone in left tackle Michael Oher and nose tackle Peria Jerry. Can QB Jevan Snead be protected? Can the new NT draw extra blockers like Jerry did?

9. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Reason to believe the ranking: The Yellow Jackets return all the key components of a backfield that’s very tough to defend. Reason to doubt the ranking: The top defensive tackles and one of the best defensive ends in America are gone. Filling in for those three will be difficult.

10. Virginia Tech Hokies

Reason to believe the ranking: Elusive QB Tyrod Taylor is back and running the show solo with Sean Glennon now departed. The defense will be solid again, of course. Reason to doubt the ranking: Virginia Tech has always been sure of its linebackers, but 2009 doesn’t look so sure right now. Maybe a couple guys will step up for the defending ACC champions.

Best of the rest

11. Georgia Bulldogs

12. LSU Tigers

13. Pittsburgh Panthers

14. Penn State Nittany Lions

15. Texas Tech Red Raiders

16. Minnesota Golden Gophers

17. Iowa Hawkeyes

18. North Carolina Tar Heels

19. Florida State Seminoles

20. Oregon Ducks

21. Boise State Broncos

22. Kansas Jayhawks

23. Miami(FL) Hurricanes

24. South Florida Bulls

25. California Golden Bears

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