By Ryan of The Sportmeisters
It’s game time! After weeks of OTAs and two-a-days, the NCAA season is finally starting this week with a host of good games, and cupcakes. Let's see what changes have been made in The Sportmeisters Top 25 since the preseason began.
1. Florida (Last Week: 1) Next Game: 9/5 vs. Charleston Southern
Tim Tebow took down a minor league promotion by creating a funnel cloud. Think he can’t take down a cupcake game by himself?
2. Oklahoma (Last Week: 2) Next Game: 9/5 vs. No. 25 BYU
No cupcake here, as OU tries out their new offensive line against an experienced defense in BYU. Sam Bradford’s Heisman defense starts today as well.
3. Texas (Last Week: 3) Next Game: 9/5 vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Many NCAA experts have them pegged to win the Big 12, but they won’t win National Championship points without a big offensive performance from QB Colt McCoy. Can they develop a solid running game though?
4. Ole Miss (Last Week: 4) Next Game: 9/6 at Memphis
I’m still riding the big bowl win vs. Texas Tech, but they will still have to find big replacements for DT Peria Jerry and OT Michael Oher.
5. USC (Last Week: 5) Next Game: 9/5 vs. San Jose State
QB Matt Barkley won out over Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain, but can he fill the shoes as a true freshman? The loss of WR Ronald Johnson for six weeks is a huge loss, and defensively, they’re still filling the void of losing their starting LB corps to the NFL.
6. Alabama (Last Week: 6) Next Game: 9/5 vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech
They are still smarting after two straight losses to end last season. New QB Greg McElroy has an easy transition with RB Mark Ingram and WR Julio Jones in his huddle. The learning curve is steep with ACC Contender Virginia Tech in town.
7. Oklahoma State (Last Week: 7) Next Game: 9/5 vs. No. 16 Georgia
The Big 12 is loaded, but a huge week one win against Georgia could give this team tons of confidence. WR Dez Bryant is an early contender for All-American WR honors. Many are talking OSU offense vs. Georgia defense, but OK State needs their defense to step up in 2009.
8. Ohio State (Last Week: 9) Next Game: 9/5 vs. Navy
The Midshipmen are masters at the triple option, but even they can’t stop the speed of QB Terrelle Pryor. Points to the Buckeyes' staff for telling their fans to root for Navy in what should be an easy rout.
9. Penn State (Last Week: 10) Next Game: 9/5 vs. Akron
The Spread HD is still moving strong, as long as Darryll Clark is the QB. Will defenses finally have caught up to him in 2009? Many have them picked for the Big 10 Title again.
10. Virginia Tech (Last Week: 8 ) Next Game: 9/5 vs. No. 6 Alabama
They were heavy favorites to claim the ACC title until the loss of RB Darren Evans with an ACL injury. The Hokies feel confident about their depth though, so don’t expect a huge drop-off in talent.
11. Oregon (Last Week: 11) Next Game: 9/3 at No. 22 Boise State
QB Jeremiah Masoli is a duel threat that teams will have to monitor all season. Look for him to come out firing and running in an attempt to make up for lost time last season against Boise State.
12. LSU (Last Week: 12) Next Game: 9/5 at Washington
They had an off season last year, due in part to the dismissal of QB Ryan Perriloux, which forced a QB by committee for the first part of the season. New defensive coordinator John Chavis has some high expectations he needs to meet early on.
13. Georgia Tech (Last Week: 14) Next Game: 9/5 vs. Jacksonville State
With VT hurting, the Yellow Jackets move quickly into top contention for the ACC Title. Will teams be more prepared for the triple option in year two of Paul Johnson’s regime? RB Jonathon Dwyer has All-American written all over him.
14. TCU (Last Week: 13) Next Game: 9/12 at Virginia
They have a tough first few weeks, but with eight returning starters on offense, and DE Jerry Hughes leading the defense, look for the Horned Frogs to make some early BCS noise.
15. UNC (Last Week: 15) Next Game: 9/5 vs. Citadel
The Tar Heels were up and down last season, but they look to be putting the pieces together for an ACC Championship run. A healthy TJ Yates at QB will go a long ways toward that goal.
16. Georgia (Last Week: 17) Next Game: 9/5 at No. 7 Oklahoma State
They have a huge matchup in week one, as their suspect defense will be challenged against the Cowboys' high-scoring attack. Expectations are high for QB Joe Cox to be the heir to Matt Stafford’s crown.
17. Iowa (Last Week: 16) Next Game: 9/5 vs. Northern Iowa
The feeling is the Big 10 is a two-team race, but Iowa could make noise if the pieces fall together. They have an experienced defense but will need big performances from RB Paki O’Meara and Adam Robinson to make up for the departure of Shonn Greene.
18. Kansas (Last Week: 18) Next Game: 9/5 vs. Northern Colorado
The Big 12 North is the weaker side, but with the Todd Reesing to Dezmon Briscoe connection in effect, Kansas should keep themselves afloat in the defensively-challenged Big 12.
19. Utah (Last Week: 19) Next Game: 9/3 vs. Utah State
The Utes are once again looking for a BCS bid, but will need big performances from eight new offensive starters in order to keep the BCS voters their way.
20. Nebraska (Last Week: 20) Next Game: 9/5 vs. FAU
They lost Quentin Castille but should still be a formidable foe, at least defensively, led by DT Ndamukong Suh.
21. California (Last Week: 21) Next Game: 9/5 vs. Maryland
QB Kevin Riley will have to step up this season, as teams will load up to stop RB Jahvid Best. The Bears lost to Maryland in 2008, so this is a revenge game for them.
22. Boise State (Last Week: 22) Next Game: 9/5 vs. No. 11 Oregon
They’re in a rebuilding year but boast a 49-game home winning-streak that the Ducks are looking to end after losing to them last season.
23. Florida State (Last Week: 23) Next Game: 9/7 vs. Miami
The Seminoles return a lot of experience offensively, but with 13 of 22 defensive starters freshmen or sophomores, can the offense step up when needed?
24. Texas Tech (Last Week: 24) Next Game: 9/5 vs. North Dakota
Texas Tech lost their top two offensive weapons but should not have any problem replacing them in their high-octane offense. Seven returning defensive starters should help them gain respectability.
25. BYU (Last Week: 25) Next Game: 9/5 at No. 2 Oklahoma
BYU teeters on the edge of the Top 25, and with a battle in Norman brewing, could be on the outside looking in for Week Two.