With the release of the first AP Top 25 Poll, we look at the teams that will climb and fall by the time it is all said and done in the ACC and SEC.
The final rankings never look anything like they did in the preseason.
Last year, Georgia started the year at the No. 1 spot before falling to No. 13 to close the season. Teams like Mississippi and Georgia Tech weren't even mentioned in the preseason AP poll, yet they finished 14 and 22 respectively.
The following is ACC SEC Football's projections for each team ranked in the ACC or SEC, and where they are expected to be at the end of the year.
(1) Florida - The Gators will break the trend of recent years and become the next preseason No. 1 to finish the year in the same spot. Final Ranking: (1)
(5) Alabama - The Crimson Tide are strong on defense, but with the need for replacements on the offensive line and a freshman quarterback, they will lose late and hurt their standings. Final Ranking: (11)
(7) Virginia Tech - While 2009 was supposed to be the Hokies year, the injury to Evans will hurt their offense, Taylor will be exposed as a mediocre passer, and the team will slump from the high expectations. Final Ranking (18)
(8) Mississippi - Like Virginia Tech, this is "the year" for Rebel fans who expect an SEC title game appearance. Ole Miss has not had to deal with this hype before, and their defense will not hold up to teams like Alabama and LSU. Final Ranking (14)
(11) LSU - With all the media spotlight on Alabama and Mississippi, LSU will emerge as the SEC West Champion. They have a strong defense and a lot of offensive firepower returning, most notably running back Charles Scott. Despite what is possibly the hardest conference schedule in the SEC, the Bayou Bengals will rise in 2009. Final Ranking (5)
(13) Georgia - The Bulldogs are going to surprise a lot of critics in 2009 as they play with one of the best offensive lines in the country. Because of so many injuries a year ago, Georgia has a ton of experience all over the field. Look for Georgia to post a solid season and rise in the rankings. Final Ranking (10)
(15) Georgia Tech - The Yellow Jackets should win the Coastal division of the ACC, and they have a very strong out of conference schedule which voters like. Georgia Tech has most of their key games at home which will lead to a great record. Expect a steady rise for Paul Johnson's team in 2009. Final Ranking (9)
(18) Florida State - In a weaker ACC Atlantic, Florida State will likely appear in the ACC Championship game. Their late season game with Florida could hurt their overall standings, but they should be a climber with a relatively easy conference schedule. Final Ranking (14)
(21) North Carolina - The Tar Heels have shown signs of improvement in the past few years, and this year TJ Yates returns for the starting quarterback position. North Carolina lost a lot of offense from a year ago and Yates may not be enough to build off a great 2008 season. Final Ranking (25)
There are a couple of teams not ranked who could crack the Top 25 by the end of the year.
In the ACC, Boston College and Clemson could be surprises and crash the party. Miami is also a sleeper to catch some teams off guard. But these three teams will likely get caught with a couple key losses that will keep them as mere ORV's (Others Receiving Votes).
The SEC has a couple teams who will most likely be ranked at some point in the year, but because of the tough schedule will not finish in the Top 25.
Arkansas may be the only team who has a manageable schedule down the stretch who could crack into the rankings. Their offense may be enough to get them a big win near the end of the season and get them ranked.
Perhaps no sport has so many shocking upsets and devastating losses as college football. The one thing we do know that will happen is the unexpected.
Enjoy watching the sleepers bust the rankings, the exposed teams drop like flies, and the powerhouses climb the tedious rankings of BCS football.