NCAA Football 2006: A year in preview (what, no Gophers?!)
1. Notre Dame- Brady Quinn lead the Irish from 81st to 10th in offense last year, this year he will be even better (leading Heisman candidate). With four of six returning offensive lineman and a dangerous duo in receivers 'The Shark' and Rhema McKnight Notre Dame's offense will more than make up for the hole in their defense created by the loss of leaders Hoyte and Mays (the other 9 returns are going to be a force in itself). The only ones that can beat Notre Dame this year is Notre Dame.
2. USC- One word: recruiting. Recruiting is the only thing that is saving UCS with me after the losses of Matt, Reggie and LenDale. It's hard not to be positive about their chances this year. Two national championships and a hell of a season last year will bring in some of the best around the country. Not #1 this year, but next year.
3. Ohio State- yeah, I'm Big Ten biased, so third might be a little high. Then would I rank Ohio State as high as number three, especially in a conference as hard as the Big 10? Because if you are the best in the Big 10, you can roll with the best of them, no matter what the AP press might say (Penn State #3 last year? Really?). With only two returning defensive starters the Buckeyes will have to prove their potential.
4. Oklahoma- Like the Big 10, the Big 12 turns out the best. Early predictions had Oklahoma as the ones to usurp Texas for the National Championship, and they were right. They just didn't mention the other three teams ahead of them. With a tailback that had a season that was called a disappointment that consisted of over 1,000 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns it makes you wonder what a good season will provide. Plus there is the fact that their defense is their strength. If they could only find a quarterback—
5. West Virginia — 8 offensive returners including double threat (4.4 40 yd dash) quarterback Pat White and two linemen to replace 300 pounders Chrissey and Figner- why is that good? They might just be able to get out there for down field blocks. Don't worry about defense (big hit to squad with loss of nose tackle Ernest Hunter) here, not that there was much to worry about anyway. Look for some surprises this season.
6. Miami- They say that defense wins games, but offense gets the credit. Not with Miami. With as many difficulties as the offense had last year, there is no where else to give credit than their incredible defense (that is returning 6 starters). Offense will keep them out of higher rankings.
7. Florida- Their defense is nasty (as long as it's healthy). And if the offensive line can step it up and keep the pressure off of quarterback Chris Leak, the might just silence the critics.
8. Texas- I'll keep this one simple. So long Vince; so long National Championship (pretty much the way it would have been last year, too).
9. LSU- skill won't be what hurts LSU this year. It will be having to play games at Florida, Auburn and Tennessee. And I say, it they can win those, just give them the title.
10. Auburn- When a displaced team that was 11-2 last has both it's starting quarterback and tailback returning you have to have a little bit of hope. The guys that get the yards will be great, it's the guys that are guarding them that will have the challenge. The rebuilding of both offensive and defensive lines will make the season a challenge, but even with an average performance Auburn will solidify itself in the Top 10.
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