College Football Preseason Top 10

Brian HarrisCorrespondent IJuly 2, 2008

1. Georgia

This team's got the whole package. Knowshon Moreno is an All-American back, and Matthew Stafford, talent-wise, is being mentioned as a top five draft pick.  Stafford, however, has not always lived up to his full potential.  Now would be the time to unleash that golden arm of his, with plenty of talent around him to distribute the ball to.

Georgia has a typical strong, fast SEC defense anchored by tackle Jeff Owens.  Unfortunately, the schedule is brutal, so even being the most talented team may not be enough for the Bulldogs.

The home slate is tough but manageable, but it isn't between the hedges that Georgia should worry about.  The Dogs visit one of the better Arizona State teams in years early in the season, and after October 18 have four straight tough games away from home.

If they survive this schedule unscathed, I would give Georgia the championship without actually playing the title game.


2. Oklahoma

Oklahoma often played like the best team in the country last season, and I expect them to continue that play with more consistency this year.  Sam Bradford is the most accurate passer in the country, and he is joined in the backfield by Demarco Murray, who is quite frankly a class up from last season's leading rusher Allen Patrick.

There's no more Curtis Lofton to anchor the defense, but Oklahoma has never had trouble replacing linebackers, and I don't expect that to change.

The toughest test will always be Texas, but this year the Longhorns are far from the only obstacle.  The Sooners travel to A&M, and although Texas Tech comes to Norman, this is definitely not the typical Red Raider team.

Still, the Sooners will be the best team on the field the entire season—it is up to them to play like it.


3. USC

For once, a Trojan team is more proven on the defensive side of the ball.  Even in the offensive-minded Pac-10, teams should have trouble moving the ball on this unit led by linebackers Brian Cushing and Ray Maualuga.

There is just as much talent on offense, but no one worthy of the title of star...yet.  Mark Sanchez will be the starting quarterback.  Talent-wise, he is better than above-average-but-nothing-more quarterback John David Booty—we'll see if he plays better.

I believe Joe McKnight needs to assert himself as the true starting tailback if this team is to succeed, instead of the by committee system they had going.  The Trojans feature plenty of underachieving, potentially All-American receivers too.

All the road games are against halfway-but-not-that-great teams, and while there is Arizona State and that world-stopping matchup with Ohio State, at least it's at home.  It should be another interesting season in LA.


4. Ohio State

If Ohio State beats USC, they will probably be in the BCS title game...again.  Michigan is wounded, and the Buckeyes should be able to simply out-talent every other team on the schedule.  Wisconsin, and possibly Michigan State or Illinois, should be the only troubling obstacles.

James Laurinaitis is back for some reason, so it will be just as impossible to run.  Malcolm Jenkins was, in my opinion, the best corner in the country LAST year, much less this year, so Mark Sanchez will have a true test to start the season.

Chris Wells is the epitome of a Big Ten running back—one man cannot tackle him.  43-year-old quarterback Todd Boeckman has somehow managed to get a 24th year of eligibility (sorry, could not go the whole time without taking some kind of shot at the Buckeyes).  As usual, all he needs to do is not mess up and this team will succeed.


5. Clemson

Clemson may not be the fifth-best team in the country, but I don't have much respect for the talent of the rest of the ACC.  As a result, Clemson is the fifth-best team in the country.

The offense is loaded with two of the top five backs in the country in James Davis and C.J. Spiller.  I am not a fan of the talent level of quarterback Cullen Harper, but there is no denying his ruthless efficiency.

The defense is good enough to stop the not-so-explosive offenses the ACC has to offer.

Clemson's schedule looks to be centered around dominating the state of South Carolina, with not only the Gamecocks on the slate, but SC State AND The Citadel as well.  They open the season against Alabama...from Georgia?  And the rest of the schedule is against the ACC...not even Virginia Tech I might add.

It should be a very good year for Clemson, but no school is better at underachieving.


6. Florida

As great as Tim Tebow is (brace yourselves Florida fans, I'm about to say something not good about him), last year it was evident that he cannot win every game by himself.  He may not even be the most important player on offense.

This offense is a two-man show with Tebow and do-it-all Percy Harvin.  This year they add USC transfer Emmanuel Moody at tailback.  It will be interesting to see what effect that will have on the offense.

The defense really needs to improve for Florida to even think about contending.  No matter how well the offense performs, the defense has to put up some kind of fight, as demonstrated in last year's Outback Bowl.

The schedule is a typical SEC schedule, although not as bad as Georgia's.  Having Florida State and Miami on the schedule nowadays is a nice addition to the non-conference schedule.


7. Texas

If Colt McCoy returns to his freshman form, Texas should be fine.  Jamaal Charles is gone, but Texas is a big state—I'm sure there is another talented tailback somewhere.  Until they find a replacement, Colt might be more like Tim.

Texas have to be careful in their opening game against Florida Atlantic.  Never underestimate a solid opponent with nothing to lose in the opening game.  Other than that Oklahoma team, Texas have to travel to Texas Tech, which will be a more difficult task than it has ever been.

The defense should be good enough to stop most teams, but it will be tested against the ridiculous Sooner and Red Raider offenses.


8. Texas Tech

This seems to be the first year that Tech has all the pieces for a truly unstoppable offense.  Graham Harrell is experienced enough to know the system by heart, which could be very deadly.  Add that to the fact that he is throwing to the best receiver in the country in Michael Crabtree, and you have the formula for easily the best passing attack in the country.

Not that it matters, but Tech also returns its leading rusher from last year, Shannon Woods.

The Red Raiders should be able to pass every team on their schedule off the field other than Oklahoma and Texas.  If they generate some kind of defense, even the two Big 12 powers better watch out.


9. South Florida

The Bulls lose corners Trae Williams, Mike Jenkins, and linebacker Ben Moffitt—and that's pretty much it.  This team was No. 2 in the country at one point last year and had a chance to win every regular season game they lost.

Matt Grothe is a decision-making problem away from being truly great, and defensive end George Selvie might already be there.  All the Bulls need are serviceable corners to combat a schedule not exactly littered with great passing attacks.

At Cincinnati will be tough, but there really isn't a team USF should not beat, with the exception of West Virginia in Morgantown.  The thing is, USF seems to have West Virginia's number...just a thought.


10. West Virginia

West Virginia will be best if it takes Rich Rodriguez' departure personally, as they did in the Fiesta Bowl.  There's no Owen Schmitt on offense, which will probably be a bigger deal than no Steve Slaton.

I honestly think Noel Devine will do an equal if not better job than Slaton did at tailback, although the depth is no longer there.  I expect the offense to run with about the same efficiency as last year—after all, Pat White is still Pat White.

The defense could be an issue as several players were lost to graduation, the draft, and dismissal from the team.

Luckily for the Mountaineers, the two toughest tests—USF and Auburn—are both at home.  All the road games are manageable, but I've got a feeling this is not quite the team that beat Oklahoma.


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