The college football season is just around the corner, and with conferences hosting media days, college football is heating up. Here's an early look at who will be at the top in college football in 2009:
Florida Gators: They are the defending National Champions, and have a top quarterback. What's not to like about the Gators. Plus, the Gators return every starter on defense.
The only question mark is the offensive line. They must protect Tim Tebow. They also have to fill the hole that Percy Harvin left, and have to find production from their receivers. Florida is No. 1 in the new preseason poll.
Oklahoma Sooners: The Sooners lost in the National Championship game to the Gators, but return Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford. Plus, they also returned Jermaine Gresham, Gerald McCoy, and Trent Williams. All were key assets to the Sooners last season.
They must focus on protecting Bradford, as most of the offensive line is gone. They also have to get receivers to produce, and catch balls from Bradford. Oklahoma also has a strong front seven to help stop teams while they are on defense. Oklahoma is No. 3 in the new preseason poll.
Texas Longhorns: The Longhorns got ripped off by the BCS last season by not getting the nod to play in the BCS National Championship game. This season, that could be different.
They still have Colt McCoy, and a good defense, but must improve their defensive line with the loss of Brian Orakpo. They also must have a running back that can take the pressure off of Colt McCoy. Texas is No. 2 in the new preseason poll.
USC Trojans: USC always plays good defense. Can they do that after losing Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews, Rey Maualuga, and Kaluka Maiava? Perhaps they can, right?
They return three starters in free safety Taylor Mays, strong safety Josh Pinkard, and nosetackle Christian Tupou. Knowing Pete Carroll, this defense will still be very good in 2009 anyway.
The offense will either be led by new quarterbacks Aaron Corp or Matt Barkley. Aaron Corp sat out practice on Tuesday with a bruised knee. They don't have to worry that they won't be protected, because their offensive line is very good.
They also have good receivers to throw to, and a good running game to rely on led by Joe McKnight, C.J. Gable, and Stafon Johnson. USC is No. 4 in the new preseason poll.
Ohio State: Terrell Pryor leads the Buckeyes again, but Ohio State had some key losses this past offseason. Alex Boone, Malcolm Jenkins, Brian Hartline, James Laryngitis, Brian Rebuke, and Chris Wells are all key losses.
The Buckeyes will still have a good defense in the Big 10. They have a good defensive line, and a secondary that has a pair of three year starters coming back this season. The offense will be good this season, but Pryor will have to find new weapons at halfback, and wide receiver. Pryor is a good runner, and a decent passer, and will be called on to do both this season. Ohio State is ranked No. 6 in the new preseason poll.
LSU: LSU could be a sleeper this season, and could be a challenger to Florida in the SEC this season. They play Florida at home this season, and could give the Gators a battle, like Ole Miss gave the Gators last season. Some of the Tigers main losses include Tyson Jackson, Demetrius Byrd, Ricky Jean-Francois, Herman Johnson, and Quinn Johnson.
The Tigers also bring back wideout Brandon LaFell, and halfback Charles Scott. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson could be exciting to watch, too, as he returns to LSU as a sophomore. They also return three offensive linemen.
The defense could be exciting to watch this season, too. LSU has a tough schedule, as they face Florida, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Alabama. Look for LSU to be a dark horse team this season, and knock off teams' National Championship hopes. LSU is No. 9 in the new preseason poll.
Alabama: Alabama had a good season last season, only letting Utah ruin it in the Sugar Bowl last January. They lost John Parker Wilson at quarterback, and Greg McElroy will replace him. He has a good wide receiver in Julio Jones to throw to, which should take some pressure off of him.
They also lose offensive lineman Andre Smith, who was a big help on the line last season. Alabama has to find a way to replace him in 2009. Alabama's defense is what could lead them this season. However, they did lose Rashad Johnson. Alabama is No. 5 in the new preseason poll.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies are No.7 in the new preseason poll, but have lost their starting halfback Darren Evans for the whole season. Now, the Hokies will have to look to Ryan Williams and Josh Ogelsby for production at halfback.
At quarterback, the Hokies are set. Tyrod Taylor leads the offense. He has a good receiver in Danny Coale, and in tight end Greg Boone, who is one of the Hokies best players. The Hokies return eight starters on offense, but now without Evans, they have only seven.
The Hokies won't have to worry about the defense, they return seven starters. Their defense could carry them in 2009.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions, coached by Joe Paterno, are ranked No. 8 in the preseason poll. They lost in the Rose Bowl to USC last season, but return five starters on offense, and four starters on defense.
They must see consistent play out of quarterback Daryll Clark to be successful in 2009. Evan Royster was a good running back last season as he ran for over 1,000 yards. They lost their best receiver in Derrick Williams, and this season they will look to Stephon Green to fill that void.
The Nittany Lions lost Aaron Maybin, Sean Lee, and Derrick Williams as notable losses. Somehow, though, Paterno, always has a good defense, and I think they'll be fine this season. They have to fill the void on both the offensive and defensive lines to be a good team this season.
Clark, Royster, and Green are the leaders on offense, and will have to be successful in 2009 for the Nittany Lions to be successful this season.
Ole Miss: Ole Miss is ranked No. 10 in the preseason poll. They return their quarterback Jevan Snead, who could lead them to big success in 2009. Snead will have a few weapons to work with in halfback Shay Hodge, and wide receiver Dexter McCluster.
Most notably, though, Ole Miss lost Michael Oher, which is a big loss. They need to fill that hole on the offensive line. Look for Ole Miss to be a surprise in 2009, and make a BCS bowl behind Jevan Snead at quarterback.
Now tune into the 2009 college football season to see who will be the new BCS National Championship winner in 2010.
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