Florida and Texas Will Not Meet for the Title (and My Top 25)
There, do I have your attention? I thought that headline would do the trick. It seems like every pundit and their mom is picking a Longhorn-Gator matchup in the BCS National Championship, and while I certainly don't blame them with all the talent both teams return, I have a hard time believing that not one, but two teams are going to go wire-to-wire.
It's almost impossible to get through the SEC or the Big 12 with only one loss, and I don't see it happening this year either, even with the bevy of playmakers both teams have. Will one of them go undefeated? Yeah, that's feasible. But both of them? Highly unlikely.
And now, my Top 25.
1. Florida: Is this really any shocker? Jesus, er, Tebow at QB and the entire two-deep depth chart back from a hellacious defense.
2. Texas: Having McCoy and Shipley back is great, but finding a dependable back is a must if McCoy is going to avoid getting banged up in the running game.
3. Oklahoma: Yeah, they have to replace most of their offensive line. But the decade's most consistent program always finds a way to reload. Plus it doesn't hurt having Demarco Murray, Chris Brown (the one who doesn't hit women), and Sam Bradford back.
4. USC: I think this may be a bit high for a team starting a freshmen QB and replacing a lot of great players on defense. Then again, when all your recruiting classes are made up entirely of Parade All-Americans, it's not like you're replacing them with slouches. The running game should be lethal, but Matt Barkely needs more targets to step up in the passing game.
5. Ohio State: Breakout year by Terrelle Pryor? Imminent. The question is, can he make a statement when the Trojans come to town next week?
6. Alabama: Replacing dependable-but-unspectacular John Parker Wilson falls to Greg McElroy, who is more gifted than Wilson, but lacks the experience. Luckily the defense is stacked, especially with Terrence Cody up front.
7. LSU: This may seem like a bit of a reach here, but LSU is one of those teams that rides a rollercoaster in terms of their record, and I think this is another season where they are on the upswing. I also think hiring John Chavis to be the defensive coordinator was a good move as well.
8. Virginia Tech: Tyrod Taylor needs to have the lightbulb go on in the passing game to take the next step, but losing Darren Evans hurts. Ryan Williams has the potential to be pretty good, so the dropoff may not be as awful as some fear.
9. Ole Miss: A talented offense comes back, but I try to stay away from teams that are the media's trendy choice. Good thing for the Rebels that they get Alabama and LSU at home and won't have to play Florida till the conference title game (if they make it).
10. Oklahoma State: Despite bringing back Zac Robinson and company from a polific offense, the fact remains that the defense was just plain awful last year. Until the Cowboys prove they can stop anybody, they'll have a hard time winning the big games.
11. Penn State: Awesome QB in Clark, but do they have the horses to protect him? And what young guys step up to catch his throws?
12. Georgia: Everyone talks about Stafford being gone, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Stafford had a cannon, but he also made some questionable throws with it. Joe Cox has been impressing throughout his time in Athens, and he's ready to take over.
13. California: Jahvid Best might be the best tailback in the land, but if this team is going to get over the hump, it will be because quarterback Kevin Riley's play goes to a new level, not because of Best's jaw-dropping ability.
14. Oregon: This is the team, not USC, that could be winning the Pac-10 this year. As quarterback Jeremiah Masoli goes, so will the Ducks. In my opinion, Masoli could be a better Dennis Dixon (and remember that Dixon might have won the Heisman had he not blown out his knee).
15. Georgia Tech: Jonathan Dwyer will be a continue to be a beast this year, but can the Yellowjackets get through what should be a tougher ACC than usual?
16. Boise State: With other potential BCS busters BYU and TCU playing tougher schedules, the Broncos have a chance to crash the party again....if they can get by Oregon tonight.
17. TCU: I'll be honest here...I don't know much about these guys. Getting past Virginia and Clemson, who they play in the opening month, will go a long way in getting them into the BCS, though. And with a defense as stingy as theirs, the Horned Frogs shouldn't have too big of a problem.
18. Florida State: I'm still not sold that this is the year they break through and get back towards the top of the ACC, but how cool would it be if they and Nebraska bounce back in the same year? The offense better make some strides under Head Coach-in-Waiting Jimbo Fisher.
19. North Carolina: This year will be the test as to whether the Tar Heels are the real deal under Butch Davis. Last year, there was promise, but they also failed to finish (four losses by seven points or less)
20. Utah: No Brian Johnson at QB means no BCS for the Utes.
21. Iowa: Yeah, Shonne Greene is gone, but the defense should be tougher and Greene's backups from last year are no slouches. The Big 10 is ripe for the picking.
22. Nebraska: Multiple offense and a defense with a year in the system under it's belt. Could be a good year in Lincoln, and my final season prediction for the Huskers will come before Saturday's game against Florida Atlantic.
23. Notre Dame: A bevy of playmakers (and there should be, with those recruiting classes) is looking to restore ND to it's place in the college football hierarchy. And with that Bill Snyder-esque schedule, they could do it.
24. BYU: I think a tough schedule (starting with Oklahoma on Saturday) will prevent Brigham Young from replicating last year's stellar season.
25. Kansas: Todd Reesing, Jake Sharp, and Dezmon Briscoe are aiming to win the Big 12 North, but the offensive line is young and the Jayhawks lost all of their starting linebackers (and they were pretty good too).
I'm back tomorrow for some national predictions and observations, then a complete Nebraska schedule breakdown on Saturday morning.
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