These are pretty much my final rankings before the season starts, although I might make a few slight changes. These are a little different than my previous rankings after I took a different approach to them.
All 11 starters on defense return for the Gators, along with QB Tim Tebow, RB Chris Rainey, RB Jeffrey Demps and most of the offensive line. No doubt the No. 1 pick for 2009.
USC will find an answer at QB, and they already have very good answers everywhere else on offense. The defense will reload talent, again and be one of the best in the nation—again.
QB Colt McCoy returns on offense, along with almost everyone else there for the Longhorns (inluding his favorite target and roomate, WR Jordan Shipley). The defense returns most of its starters and has plenty of talent to answer any questions.
With QB Sam Bradford, RBs DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown and TE Jermaine Gresham all returning, along with almost everyone on defense, it looks like OU should be number one. But they have some questions at OL and WR that will hold them back a little.
Almost everyone returns from one of 2008's best defenses, and Julio Jones will be back on offense. Alabama also has QB Greg McElroy, who is unknown to most people but is a good player, and many talented running backs.
6. Ohio State
QB Terrelle Pryor, plenty of good RBs and an excellent offensive line will form a great rushing offense, and Pryor won't be bad at passing either. The defense, despite losing some big names, has seven starters returning and plenty of talent.
7. Ole Miss
Jevan Snead is a very good QB, and RBs Cordera Eason and Brandon Bolden and WR Dexter McCluster are back too. The defense also returns eight starters from a very good year. Now, can Houston Nutt and his team live up to expectations this time?
8. Virginia Tech
QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Darren Evans, talented WRs and a solid offensive line give the Hokies a good-looking offense, if Taylor can improve his passing. One of 2008's best defenses returns seven starters.
9. Oklahoma State
QB Zac Robinson, RB Kendall Hunter and WR Dez Bryant are all potential Heisman canidates, and Oklahoma State will have an excellent offensive line, too. Ten of last year's 12 top tacklers return on defense, so the defense will be decent.
10. Penn State
QB Daryll Clark, RB Evan Royster and RB Stephfon Green will be one of the nation's best offensive backfields, and PSU has some big names along the OL too. LBs Sean Lee and Navorro Bowman and DT Jared Odrick form an excellent front seven.
WR Brandon LaFell and OT Ciron Black lead their respective units (both very talented), and LSU has an excellent set of RBs. The defense looks like it will be dangerous after a down year, returning seven starters and doing very well over the offseason.
12. Boise State
QB Kellen Moore was very good last year and will be even better in 2009, and he has plenty of good WRs to throw to. With the rotation that the Broncos used on defense last year, they really lose only two "starters" from an excellent squad.
QB Jeremiah Masoli and RB LeGarrette Blount lead one of the nation's best offenses in 2009, especially at rushing. The Ducks' defense has a good secondary, and the front seven should be able to reload pretty well.
QB Joe Cox, plenty of good RBs, WR AJ Green and one of the nation's top offensive lines form a dangerous offense. Georgia's defense returns seven starters from an excellent year. Their linebackers should be some of the nation's best.
RB Jahvid Best is the best RB in the nation, and he should have a decent line to run behind. QB Kevin Riley needs to improve his passing. Cal will have a very good secondary and defensive line, but they lose key linebackers.
16. Georgia Tech
All of the key players that made Georgia Tech's crazy triple option offense work return, including almost the whole offensive line. Six starters return from an excellent defense that will still be excellent in 2009.
QB Ricky Stanzi has been improving well throughout camp, RB Jewel Hampton did very good behind Shonn Greene last year, and the offensive line is one of the nation's best. Iowa also returns eight starters from one of the 2008's best defenses.
18. Florida State
Florida State has a solid offensive backfield with QB Christian Ponder and plenty of good RBs behind one of the nation's best offensive lines. Despite some losses on defense, the Seminoles have the talent to rebuild very well there.
RB CJ Spiller is back, along with most of the offensive line and some talented receivers. Clemson just has to find a good quarterback now. The Tigers return nine starters from one of the 2008's best defenses.
QB Andy Dalton, RB Joseph Turner, RB Ryan Christian and WR Jimmy Young all return to form a very dangerous offense in 2009. Despite losing seven starters on defense, DE Jerry Hughes, CB Nick Sanders and CB Rafael Priest should help rebuild well.
QB Todd Reesing, RB Jake Sharp, WR Dezmon Briscoe and WR Kerry Meier form one of the nation's best offenses. Kansas will have a good secondary with S Darrell Stuckey and a new 4-2-5 defense, but they need to rebuild their linebackers.
RB Matt Asiata and most of the offensive line return, but Utah's offense won't be that dangerous in 2009. On defense, Utah returns seven starters from one of the nation's top squads.
Pitt has a very talented offensive line and wide receivers, but QB Bill Stull needs to improve his play in 2009. The defense should be very good, returning seven starters from a very good defensive season in 2008.
QB Zach Lee leads what should be a pretty good rushing attack, but there won't be a lot of firepower on this offense. DT Ndamukong Suh is one of the nation's top defensive tackles and leads an excellent Nebraska defense.
QB Max Hall and RB Harvey Unga return, but before they can succeed BYU's offensive line must be rebuilt. The Cougars return eight starters on defense from an okay 2008 defensive season.
Just misses: Notre Dame, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Miami FL, North Carolina, Oregon State, Arizona, Houston, Texas Tech
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