2011 National Champions: Alabama, Boise St., Ohio St., Oregon, Virgina Tech, or Texas?
The 2010 preseason college football polls are out already and the hype for the 2011 BCS National Title has begun.
An 'average' of most of the preseason polls released has Alabama, Ohio State, Boise State, Oregon, Virginia Tech, and Texas ranked in the top six.
But who will raise the crystal football as the NCAA Division I champions next Jan.?
Will Alabama be able to replace key losses in their defense and repeat as BCS National Champions?
Can Boise State actually compete for a National Title? Should the Broncos go undefeated, will the pollsters and the BCS give the Broncos their due and award them with a national title game invitation? If BSU gets the invite, can they win the biggest game the Bronco history?
In 2010, can Ohio State play the kind of football that gave them a Rose Bowl victory over Oregon? Can the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin in Madison and go undefeated to gain a national title game invitation?
Will the Oregon Ducks be able to regroup from the devastating loss to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl and win the Pac-10 again? Do the Ducks have a schedule that will allow them a chance at an undefeated season and a shot at the BCS title?
Can Virginia Tech reload on defense in time to beat Boise State in the season opener? Do the Hokies finally have a real shot at an undefeated season and get them to the title game?
Will Texas be able to replace Colt McCoy? Can the new quarterback and receivers step up and lead the Longhorns to another national title game?
The 2010 season is still over six months away.
Will two of these six teams play for the BCS National Title or will other teams emerge and grasp the crystal ball away from the preseason favorite?
Here's a team-by-team look at the current preseason favorites to play for the BCS National Title:
Alabama Crimson TIde
The Crimson Tide returns eight starters on offense including QB Greg McElroy and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. While the Tide rushing game should be as good as it gets, they must be more productive in the passing game if they hope to repeat as National Champions.
The Alabama defense lost LB Rolando McClain and CB Kareem Jackson when they both decided to forego the 2010 season and enter the NFL Draft.
Jackson's departure means Alabama will need to replace its top three cornerbacks from the national championship team that finished second in the nation in passing efficiency defense with sophomore safety Mark Barron, the lone returning starter in the secondary.
The only other returning defensive starters are sophomore weak side linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who is coming off knee surgery, and his replacement, true freshman Nico Johnson.
While the talent cupboard is full at Alabama, replacing most of the defense will take time and game experience to develop if the Tide hopes to be at or near the defensive levels of the 2010 championship team.
A marquee intersectional matchup with Penn State will highlight the Alabama 2010 non conference home schedule in the newly-expanded Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide also plays home games against San Jose State, Florida, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Georgia State, and Auburn.
But the Tide must travel to Duke, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, and LSU, all long and potentially dangerous road trips.
With the lack of returning defensive starters and a tough road schedule, it will be tough for the Crimson Tide to go undefeated in 2010.
Prediction: Alabama will NOT go undefeated again in 2010.
Boise State Broncos
Chris Petersen has been a college head football coach a total of four seasons. He's won the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award as the nation's best college football coach two of those four years. Petersen has lead the Broncos to a four-year record of 49-4 including two Fiesta Bowl wins and two undefeated seasons.
Can Petersen lead Boise State to another undefeated season? If you're a betting person, don't bet against it this year.
The Broncos return 21 of 22 starters from the 2009 undefeated season. The lone loss was Kyle Wilson, an All-American cornerback, but BSU has a deep roster of potential Wilson replacements.
The Broncos did sustain one other key loss when defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox left for Tennessee, but Petersen was quick to fill the position the very next day with Pete Kwiatkowski who was the Broncos' defensive line coach. The Broncos shouldn't lose much continuity in the process.
The greatest asset for the Broncos heading into the 2010 season is the return of their entire offense led by All-American and 2010 Heisman candidate Kellen Moore.
Moore led the nation's quarterbacks in passing efficiency in 2009 by throwing to a stable of outstanding receivers. Look for wide receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young to both be named to many 2010 All-American teams.
BSU's biggest game of the year may be the first game of the season when the Broncos travel to Fed Ex Field in Landover, Maryland to take on the Virginia Hokies.
Both teams are ranked in the top five in preseason polls.
Oregon State will produce the Broncos' other risky game, but Oregon State would have to beat Boise State "on the blue" in Boise, which is no easy task. BSU has a 44 home game winning streak and the nation's best home record over the past five years.
Prediction: Boise State will win a close game against Virginia Tech and beat Oregon State at home, leading the Broncos to their second undefeated season in a row.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Can the Buckeyes play the kind of football they played against Oregon in the 2010 Rose Bowl Game? Can Ohio State escape the season without losing a Big-10 game?
The Ohio State offense returns most of its starters in 2010, but the defense is the question mark.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor returns for his junior year and if he builds on his Rose Bowl victory performance, this could be Pryor's breakout year.
Pryor will only see two starters leave on offense, tight end Jake Ballard and left tackle Jim Cordle. Expect the Buckeye roster depth to fill these two holes relatively easy.
The defense does take a hit. The Buckeyes' lost five starters, including defensive end Thaddeus Gibson and safeties Anderson Russell and Kurt Coleman to the NFL while Cameron Heyward has decided to stay.
Replacing that many high quality defensive starters may prove to be very tough for Ohio State.
Getting a BCS title for the Buckeyes will be tough. With a fairly weak out of conference schedule this year and no USC, the Bucks' only ranked out of conference opponent are the Miami Hurricanes.
Big-10 conference play is where the trouble lurks for the Buckeyes.
Can Ohio State beat what is expected to be a very tough Wisconsin team in Madison? Iowa looks like a sure contender for the Big-10 title, but can the Buckeyes beat the Hawkeyes in Iowa City?
Ohio State plays Penn State this year in Columbus, but the Nittany Lions will present the Buckeyes with another tough test even at home.
Will the Buckeyes lose to another upset minded Big-10 team in 2010 like they did last year against Purdue?
Prediction: Ohio State may not lose another "shocker" like they did last year, but count on the Buckeyes to come up short in the Big-10 title race.
Chip Kelly returns for his second year as the Oregon Ducks' head coach and the Ducks look like they will improve on Kelly's first year record.
The 2009 season ended with a very disappointing loss to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. The team that played the Buckeyes in Pasadena didn't look like the same team that was the Pac-10 champions.
Consider the Ohio State game to be a learning experience for Oregon and expect Kelly's second season to produce another Pac-10 title.
With Oregon bringing back LaMichael James and quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, the offense won't be the problem.
The defense has to tighten up in the pass-happy Pac- 10 and that will be the key for Oregon to repeat as Pac-10 champions.
Two of the Ducks' non conference games are against 'cream puffs' and will both be played in Eugene. Consider those games nothing more than a little scrimmage. But Oregon will travel across the country to battle Tennessee in Knoxville and also must travel to Los Angeles for a game with USC.
The Pac-10 looks to be improved in 2010 and the Ducks get Stanford, UCLA, Washington, and Arizona in Autzen Stadium. Besides USC, Oregon will play Arizona State, California, Oregon State and the hapless Cougars of Washington State on the road.
Perhaps their toughest game of the year will be their last game in Corvallis against Oregon State in the traditional rivalry game that almost always produces a surprise.
Prediction: The Ducks win the Pac-10 but will not go undefeated. They will play the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 2011 Rose Bowl.
What's the one thing we can all count on from the 2010 Texas Longhorns football team? Good looking cheerleaders.
The rest is a bit of a crap shoot.
Texas starts the post Colt McCoy era with sophomore quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who's only real game experience came in the BCS National Championship Game. The good news was that Gilbert held his own until the fourth quarter. The bad news? When the wheels came off, they left the stadium.
Was the Alabama game a preview of what we can expect from Gilbert in his first year as the Longhorns' starting quarterback? Will the shell shocking he got from the Crimson Tide carry over into the 2010 season?
Look for Texas to miss Colt McCoy’s leadership and production even more than expected.
Texas also loses their primary receiver in Jordan Shipley. Shipley was McCoy's roommate and primary target and the two combined for a great deal of the Texas offense during the last couple of years.
Those are huge shoes to fill.
You can bet that the Texas roster has plenty of talent to fill the holes caused by graduation, but the experience level of those replacements will be the Longhorns' greatest concern heading into the 2010 season.
The season opener for Texas is against Rice in Houston. The Longhorns' other non conference games are against Wyoming, UCLA, and Florida Atlantic in Austin.
The Longhorns will play Oklahoma in Dallas as one of their 'home' games, but get Oklahoma State and Texas A&M in Austin in 2010.
Texas must travel to Lincoln to play Nebraska, as well as road games against Texas Tech and Kansas State.
Prediction: Texas loses at least two, along with chances for a repeat Big 12 Championship.
Virginia Tech Hokies
The key for Virginia Tech to make a run at a national title starts on Labor Day in Landover, Maryland and the highly anticipated matchup with the Boise State Broncos. Both teams are ranked in the top five in most preseason polls.
But the Hokies have a lot of reasons to be excited about their chances in 2010.
Strong defense and special teams have become the definitions of Beamer Ball. That combination is about to be put to the test with a great deal of player turnover in these departments.
The Hokies return only five starters on the defensive side of the ball and only one in the secondary. Virginia Tech's always tough defense will face its biggest test in the first game against perhaps the nation's best offense in the Broncos from Boise State. Replacing six key defensive players will test the Hokies right out of the box.
The opposite is true for the other side of the football as the Hokies are loaded with talent. Tyrod Taylor enters his fourth year as a starter, and did a wonderful job cutting back on the interceptions his junior season.
All-Conference running back Ryan Williams emerged as the Rookie of the Year in the ACC after star running back Darren Evans was lost for the year to injury.
The receivers will no longer be young freshmen but will return in 2010 as veterans. The biggest offensive concern is replacing two All-ACC lineman and two quality tight ends.
With defense and special teams being the biggest question marks for the Hokies, it presents a new challenge for Frank Beamer. But if there is one area of expertise where Beamer excels it's at defense. Look for the Hokies to do an admirable job in replacing their key defensive players.
Other than the season opener against Boise State, the Hokies must travel to Miami. Those two programs will offer Virginia Tech their biggest challenges.
Virginia Tech is no longer looked at as the sole team to beat in the ACC Coastal Division, but expect the Hokies to finish on top once again.
Prediction: Virginia Tech loses a close game to Boise State and then skates to the ACC title.
Conclusion: Which two teams will play in the 2011 BCS National Title Game?
Boise State will go undefeated and finally get the respect of the BCS and the pollsters and be awarded with an invitation to play in the BCS national championship game in Glendale, Arizona.
Who will they play? A one-loss Alabama Crimson Tide team.
And who will win the 2011 BCS National Title?
Take your pick. It's a toss up.