Regardless of how erroneous they may turn out, preseason top 25 rankings are a commanding topic of debate every August.
After years of studying the game of college football, I have come to realize that the any set of rankings prior to the month of October are irrelevant, as they only cloud the judgment of the computers and media with votes that decide who plays in which bowl game.
With that said, it would be negligent of myself to not present my own set of preseason rankings.
They come with a twist, though.
These rankings will factor in how I feel the teams will finish at the end of the season.
For the fans of LSU, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Nebraska, and Brigham Young. I apologize but I am very unconventional, hard-headed, and honest.
Quite frankly, somebody has to have down seasons and I think your schools are ripe for such seasons.
Proceed to the show.
A quarterback quandary is brewing in Salt Lake City, as the Utes are still searching for QB Brian Johnson's replacement.
Johnson was a fixture behind center when healthy for the Utes, but has since graduated and the lack of an emerging passer in the race for the starting gig is worrisome.
Junior QB Corbin Louks appears to be the most ready, but JUCO transfer Terrance Cain is applying plenty of pressure. We can't count out true freshman Jordan Wynn, either.
Last year, the Utes finished 13-0. They were major college football's lone undefeated school but odds are that they will not finish that way in 2009.
A Mountain West crown is not out of the picture, though.
A trip to Oregon on Sept. 19 may give the Utes their first loss.
Utah also hits the road to face TCU and BYU in November.
Both of those games could prove to be deadly but I have a strong feeling that TCU and BYU, two teams on the cusp of making my top 25, will slip up somewhere along the lines.
Fans in Morgantown may be worried about replacing the ever-so shifty QB Pat White, but QB Jarrett Brown is guaranteed to make people forget about White by the month of October.
One can not just forget about Pat White, but the doubt left by his absence will be extinguished as soon as West Virginia marches into Auburn on September 19th.
QB Jarrett Brown, a 6'4", 225 lb. gunslinger is very nimble on his feet but he possesses a much stronger arm than White.
His arsenal at wide receiver is scary, as well.
While the offensive philosophy may be tweaked to better suit Brown's strong arm, we will not see a dip in RB Noel Devine's production.
The defense remains a liability though and could ultimately cost the Mountaineers a Big East crown.
T.J. Yates is the best quarterback you never heard of.
Head coach Butch Davis is slowly turning this program around and the loss of their top three wide receivers in 2008 will not dampen the hopes for those in Chapel Hill, thanks to the uncanny ability of QB T.J. Yates.
North Carolina enters 2009 with high hopes and a soft schedule. Two of their four non-conference opponents are The Citadel and Georgia Southern.
The Tar Heels could see a Matt Ryan-like breakout year for Yates. He has improved on his completion percentage and turnover ratio.
The fact that they are likely to be 6-0 when they march into Tallahassee on October 22 is intriguing enough.
What makes this team more intriguing is that they could possibly knock Florida State off in their own stadium.
Will it happen? Don't bet on it yet, but if this offense gets clicking and the DT Marvin Austin-led defense plays as good as it is advertised, watch out, ACC.
Bobby Petrino's first year with the Hogs was unimpressive considering the high expectations but when your quarterback is Casey Dick, reality sets in quicker than one would think.
2009 may renew some of those expectations now that he will be able to have Michigan transfer QB Ryan Mallett behind center.
Three of Arkansas' final four losses came by a field goal or less.
The defense should be able to keep the scoring down to a minimum since they have nine starters returning, including the entire defensive line and linebacker corps.
As it is with every SEC team, though, their season starts off with a bang.
The Razorbacks open with Missouri State but proceed to face Georgia (home), Alabama (away), Texas A&M (away), Auburn (home), Florida (away), and Ole Miss (away).
Finally, it appears that the Razorbacks could make some noise early with some upsets, particularly at Alabama.
Head coach Petrino's first season ended 5-7 but he could win eight games in his second season with the Hogs, maybe more.
The Big East may be ignored by all of the other major media outlets, but the Cincinnati Bearcats have a legitimate shot at running the table and finishing undefeated.
Unfortunately, if they do so, they are still unlikely to earn a BCS National Championship nod due to their conference strength of schedule.
A showdown with Oregon State in September and an in-conference clash with West Virginia will be the highlight of their season.
QB Tony Pike is a legitimate threat to pass for 3,000 yards, but the lack of experience on the defensive side of the ball will keep opponents into the game with Cincy.
Mind you, they did lose ten starters on defense.
Still, head coach Brian Kelly is one of the best in the game and he will find a way to win ball games in the lowly Big East.
Randy Shannon may be on the hottest seat in all of college football.
Quintessentially, the Miami Hurricanes roster was full of post-high school kids yearning for direction last season. They still won seven games, though.
With a little more experience and possibly a spark from behind center with QB Jacory Harris, the Hurricanes have to run the gauntlet their first four games but if they survive, they could make a strong push for their first conference title since joining the ACC.
Their fate lies with how they play in September and the beginning of October.
The 'Canes first four games are at Florida State, vs. Georgia Tech, at Virginia Tech, and vs. Oklahoma.
Don't be surprised if you see former Miami hoops star Jimmy Graham on the sidelines this fall, either.
He will be given a chance to try-out at tight end since he exhausted his basketball eligibility.
At 6'8", 256 lbs., Graham has the physical tenacity of an Antonio Gates but will that translate onto the football field?
Regardless, the future is not now for Miami just yet.
Other than opening the season at home versus the Oregon Ducks, we can not truly believe that Boise State is worthy of BCS consideration.
While they have proved they belonged before, that was with Jared Zebransky behind center, not Kellen Moore.
Don't get me wrong, QB Kellen Moore is a prolific passer who musters enough arm strength to move the chains when necessary, but the defense and rushing attack is a concern.
The WAC is watered down this year, so of course, if Boise State wins versus Oregon, they could run the table.
Will they run the table? No.
Can they win 10 or 11 games? Yes.
Don't get too caught up with the thought of Boise State crashing the BCS again. They will get exposed somewhere in 2009.
You know what Kansas and Iowa State have in common?
They are the only two Big 12 North schools that have yet to play in a Big 12 Championship.
Quite possibly, fortunes will reverse for the Jayhawks, as I have them pegged to win the Big 12 north in QB Todd Reesing's senior year.
A soft non-conference schedule containing Northern Colorado, UTEP, and Duke will boost morale on the Kansas sideline.
In conference, they have to face Oklahoma and Texas but dodge the Cowboys of Oklahoma State.
They allowed 28.8 points per game a year ago.
By improving on that, the Jayhawks could come close to cementing their bid for a Big 12 crown.
P.S. Don't discount QB Todd Reesing as a Heisman dark horse either. He has 65 passing touchdowns in his last 26 games.
It would be a shame if head coach Bobby Bowden would have to forfeit wins due to NCAA sanctions—Even Steve Spurrier agrees with me.
But the Seminoles, looking to embark on a journey into the future with their old head coach, must not let the past sit unsettled in their stomachs.
This Florida State club is the best this decade.
Can they compete for a national championship?
We doubt that they will, though.
Florida State has the best offensive line in America but the QB controversy is still not talked about.
QB Christian Ponder is alright but he is not an efficient passer. Back-up E.J. Manuel reminds many of Charlie Ward but he is very inexperienced and raw.
The Seminoles could win nine games, maybe 10. But bouts with Miami, BYU, and Florida could cost them their opportunity to give head coach Bobby Bowden a legitimate run at a BCS berth.
The largest obstacle for Oregon will be dealing with the growing pains of its offensive line.
They lost OC Max Unger and OT Fenuki Tupou to the NFL Draft this past April and have struggled in spring and summer workouts with the offensive linemen remaining on the roster.
Woes at the quarterback position are terrifying, too.
Still, they do have a tough schedule but the 1, 2 punch of RBs LeGarrette Blount and LaMichael James.
It will be weird no longer seeing Mike Bellotti roaming the sidelines but new head coach Chip Kelly should do well in his first year.
Oregon has an impressive slate of non-conference games, with match-ups at Boise State and at home versus Purdue and Utah.
Those games are manageable and should be wins for the Ducks, as their stiffest competition will come in the Pac-10 versus California and Southern Cal.
Where is the love for Illinois?
Two years ago, they were playing in the Rose Bowl.
Now, their rejuvenated defense is another year older and QB Juice Williams is ready to put the Fighting Illini back on the map.
Should Illinois survive their first four games, they could embark on a journey towards a Big Ten crown, provided that they knock off either Penn State or Ohio State.
Juice Williams, the quarterback for Illinois, can be expected to throw his name in for the Big Tenn offensive player of the year too.
Illinois' non-conference schedule is not too difficult, but it is not as friendly as Penn State's, either.
Don't sleep on the Illini, people. They will be hanging around the top of the Big Ten throughout November.
Remember when QB Brady Quinn was connecting with WR Jeff Samardzija?
That is what it will look like in 2009 when QB Jimmy Clausen is throwing the ball on a rope to WR Golden Tate.
Notre Dame will not compete for a national championship. Heck, they may not even win a BCS bowl bid, but the fact of the matter is that the Fighting Irish will be a tough opponent for anyone this coming season.
The 2009 season could make double digit winners out of the Golden Domers provided that they can get past Michigan and Michigan State in consecutive weeks in September.
After the USC showdown, Notre Dame's most difficult match-up is at Pittsburgh.
Bet on Notre Dame closing out 2009 with six consecutive wins.
The fan base in Athens may miss QB Matthew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno, but the defense for the 'Dawgs will be highly intimidating in the SEC East.
Matt Stafford never brought a national title to Georgia, don't expect new starting QB Joe Cox to bring one either.
But, this situation reeks of Tennessee in 1998 when QB Peyton Manning had moved on to the NFL and QB Tee Martin, taking his place, led the Vols to a national championship.
Don't bet on the same scenario occurring for Georgia, but it could possibly happen.
Sept. 5 will showcase the Georgia Bulldogs at Oklahoma State. A loss for Georgia will not be too detrimental, since they do not face Florida until Halloween.
The 'Dawgs are one of the more underrated teams entering the 2009 season.
Just because they lost some big names to the NFL, don't count discount the fact that they are still talented enough to win nine games in the SEC.
Foswhitt Whittaker is the best running back in Texas since Cedric Benson, easily. Still, he and QB Colt McCoy are doomed for a letdown season in Austin.
This may be one of my bolder predictions, but the Texas Longhorns will give up plenty of points on defense due to the secondary.
The departure of DE Brian Orakpo hurts even if OLB Sergio Kindle is still there to rush the passer.
Texas should enter their match-up with Oklahoma undefeated,thanks in part to an early cupcake schedule.
From there on, though, it could be troublesome for the Longhorns since they have to face Oklahoma State and Kansas after the Red River Rivalry.
The TCU Horned Frogs are the only non-automatic qualifying FBS school we have crashing the BCS party.
With wins at Virginia and at Clemson, the Horned Frogs will be setting themselves up for a date with destiny—the Bowl Championship Series.
Of course, getting by those two ACC schools will be challenging but the most difficult challenges on their schedule come in October and November when they face BYU and Utah.
Led on defense by DE Jerry Hughes, TCU combines a great defense with a balanced offense. They play a Big Ten-style of football that is highly confrontational when on the gridiron.
QB Andy Dalton is a three-year starter, so the experience he has gained will only turn into momentum as we head into the 2009 season.
Ohio State will live and die with QB Terrelle Pryor's progression.
Pryor is not yet a legitimate threat to beat anyone with his arm, but it is his mobility that will get you.
Ohio State lost a lot of core pieces on both sides of the ball, but they will struggle mightily with their respectable schedule.
Of course, their marquee game comes on Sept. 12 when USC travels to Columbus.
USC will likely be favorites, but Pryor can prove a lot of naysayers, including this guy, wrong with a stellar performance followed up by a "W" for the Buckeyes.
This team will have its ups and downs, but they are clearly not ready to reclaim the Big Ten crown from Penn State.
USC is USC. They are the cream of the crop and set the standard for everyone else across America.
They do have imperfections, though.
The defense will likely be one of the best in the nation but will they score enough points to topple say, California, when it comes down to it?
QB Aaron Corp is expected to start, but true freshman QB Matt Barkley is pushing him hard, as this is being reported.
The USC Trojans are doomed for a let-down this year but, mark my words, they are just one year away from putting together another national championship run.
Alabama will not be missing QB John Parker Wilson much in 2009.
While they do open up the season in the Georgia Dome versus Virginia Tech, they do have enough talent (15 returning starters) to run the table from there on out, should they lose to the Hokies, which I think they will.
As you can see with the aforementioned statement, the Crimson Tide do not play Florida this regular season.
Still, bouts with Arkansas, LSU, and Ole Miss will be tough enough. The Ole Miss showdown is likely to decide who wins the SEC West.
FYI, look out for a WR named Marquis Maze. I think he could have a tremendous impact for 'Bama and cause headaches throughout the SEC, thanks to his electrifying speed.
The 2009 Oklahoma State Cowboys will resemble the 2008 Texas Tech Red Raiders: plenty of scoring, plenty of style.
The only difference between the two is that Oklahoma's prolific offense will be more balanced, thanks in part to RB Kendall Hunter, a dark horse Heisman candidate.
The former school of Barry Sanders will get its national television debut on Sept. 5 when they play host to the Georgia Bulldogs.
In a game that we think they should win, Oklahoma State will have to focus on exposing the secondary of the Bulldogs, which will result in more zone coverage for QB Zac Robinson to scramble through and RB Kendall Hunter to dash against.
The Cowboys do not have another big time game until Halloween when they host Texas. Oklahoma State wraps the season up with their annual rivalry game at Oklahoma.
Still, the Sooners will likely have a hiccup somewhere along the line and we think it will be at Baylor on Oct. 24 as they look ahead to the Longhorns.
Couple that with a loss to Oklahoma, and we have a Cowboys squad that should be good enough to win 10 regular season games.
P.S. WR Dez Bryant is a Heisman candidate as well.
The 2009 season hinges on whether or not QB Kevin Riley can live up to the expectations bestowed upon him.
He will have plenty of help from the backfield since RB Jahvid Best will be setting the turf afire.
But Cal, with its best team since head coach Jeff Tedford arrived, will be their own worst enemy when it comes to taking the Pac-10 crown from USC.
Cal certainly must avenge its loss from a year ago at Maryland when they meet up with the Terps again, this time in Berkeley, to start the season.
A Sept. 19 game at Minnesota could threaten the Golden Bears' hopes of running the table undefeated, as long as they keep the Golden Gophers offense in check.
They follow that up with a game at Oregon and then home to USC.
If the Bears can scathe through those match-ups unharmed, they could be headed towards an undefeated season.
The defense is led by CB Syd'Quan Thompson, a dynamic ballhawk who makes it a tendency to intercept the pigskin.
Will Cal win its first Pac-10 title in a long time?
It all depends on QB Kevin Riley and his progression.
Just a little while back, Ole Miss stars WR Dexter McCluster and DE Greg Hardy were injured in an automobile accident.
The injuries sustained were minor, thank goodness, and any chance of it derailing the big plans at Ole Miss quickly diminished.
Any time a school not named Florida, LSU, or Alabama tries to emerge in the SEC, they get shot down.
Remember when Kentucky thought they had a chance to take a division crown with Andre Woodson at quarterback?
What about the Vanderbilt Commodores when Jay Cutler was gunning the pigskin?
This time around, the Ole Miss Runnin' Rebels have their best QB since Eli Manning.
QB Jevan Snead, a legitimate No. 1 pick for next year's NFL Draft, can throw with the best of them, including Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford.
In his first ever start against the Gators last season, Snead led an energized charge to upset Tim Tebow's Florida squad.
Can he do it again in 2009?
We will not find out unless Ole Miss wins the SEC West and faces Florida in the SEC championship, a game that could decide a national title berth.
Virginia Tech will lead the charge to an ACC crown.
Whether or not QB Tyrod Taylor can be good enough to make a push towards the national championship is yet to be seen.
Oklahoma will not have a cake walk into the national championship, that is for certain.
The Sooners are tasked with match-ups against BYU (home), Miami, Fl. (away), Texas (away), Kansas (away), and Oklahoma State (home).
QB Sam Bradford will be a heavy favorite to win the Heisman Trophy... Again.
The Sooners, who we expect to lose just one game, could lose a handful of games but we doubt it.
Defensively, the Sooners front seven is as good as any in the nation, but the young secondary could prove to be a liability.
Could Oklahoma, with one loss, possibly land in the national championship over say, Penn State, who could be undefeated?
At the end of the day, Penn State has enough talent to run amok in the Big Ten and make a concerted push to finishing 2009 undefeated.
Last year, Iowa mashed the hopes of Happy Valley by giving Penn State its first loss of the season.
Who will it be this year?
Penn State lost plenty of key pieces from last year's Big Ten championship squad, but will replenish that talent quickly.
The defense will be better off without S Anthony Scirrotto and CB Lydell Sargeant.
LB Sean Lee will be returning from a knee injury that kept him out all of last year and he will have the chance to become Penn State's all-time leading tackler.
RB Stephfon Green will provide the lightning to RB Evan Royster's thunder.
A combination of a soft non-conference schedule and a somewhat less-threatening Big Ten schedule could help cruise the Nittany Lions into the national championship.
If Penn State loses though, there could be a scramble among Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, and California as to who will get a shot at Florida in the big game.
QB Tim Tebow has his eyes set on another national championship, not the Heisman Trophy.
In order to win another title, the Gators will have to exceed expectations on defense.
Everyone is talking about LB Brandon Spikes, but do not disregard the pass rushing duo of Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap.
Also, CB Joe Haden is a threat to pick off the football and reach the end zone.
The 2009 Florida Gators have an opportunity to be as good as the 2001 Miami Hurricanes and a national championship will solidify them the team of this decade.