College Football Preseason Rankings: Teams Ready to Break Into Top 25
The 2010 NCAA football season will be here shortly—in only a few short weeks (which will feel like centuries for super fans), the pigskin will resurface as the most aesthetically pleasing entity on television and in your backyard.
Fans anxiously await as their teams gear up for another eventful season of rivalries, upsets and big plays.
This year, talented teams look to challenge titans like Alabama, Florida and Texas—some, however, hope to simply break into the top 25 teams in the country.
Here is a list of the unranked teams that will likely contend for spots in the top 25 in 2010.
The Oklahoma Sooners suffered a major blow in 2009 when Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Sam Bradford sat most of the season out due to injury.
Bradford's absence led to an uncharacteristically average season for the Sooners, who went 8-5, good for fourth in the Big 12 South.
This year, the Sooners' offense is young and healthy.
Sophomore quarterback Landry Jones will lead the Sooners' offense, but the Sooners' defensive line, which was fairly weak last year, will need someone to step up.
Sooner coach Bob Stoops should have no problem breaking into the top 25, and perhaps even the top 10.
The Navy Midshipmen had a successful 10-win season in 2009, beating the Missouri Tigers at the Texas Bowl in Houston.
Now, the Midshipmen look to further their successes by taking ownership of a top 25 spot.
To break in, the Midshipmen will probably have to win more than 10 games, as their schedule is not half as challenging as the Big 12 and SEC schedules.
Quarterback Ricky Dobbs and a threatening triple-option offense will be challenging for any team that has trouble stopping the run.
The Midshipmen have to play excellent defense to get a nod for the top 25.
The Missouri Tigers have been an impressive team the last three seasons, but have failed to pull any major upsets.
This year, the Tigers will have an experienced offense, and a potentially threatening defensive line led by Aldon Smith.
Avoiding the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma State Cowboys, the Tigers have a schedule that could yield 10 or 11 wins, which would certainly put them in the top 25.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a lot to prove this year—they have a new coach in Brian Kelly, and have a legacy that has suffered greatly during the past two decades.
The Irish have not won a major bowl game in 16 years, and have not won a national championship since 1988.
This year, the Irish have a demanding schedule that includes games against Utah, Navy and USC.
If the Irish win 10 games, they will be in the top 25 without question.
A traditionally strong SEC team, the Georgia Bulldogs have struggled to out-play the Florida Gators.
Now, the Bulldogs hope to squash a Tebow-less Florida team, as well as re-take a spot in the top 25.
The Bulldogs will return two first-team All-Americans, but have a new starting quarterback in Aaron Murray.
If the Bulldogs can win nine or 10 games with their challenging schedule, they should be a shoo-in for the top 25.
North Carolina Tar Heels
The North Carolina Tar Heels, like some of the previously mentioned teams, had a decent year at 8-5 in 2009.
This year, the Tar Heels are still on the cusp of the top 25—they need to win big in the ACC to earn a spot at the top.
An extremely challenging schedule that includes Florida State, Virginia Tech and LSU will either make the Tar Heels a top 25 team or another one of the forgotten.
The Washington Huskies have an extremely difficult schedule ahead of them this year.
Last year, the Huskies did poorly, finishing 5-7—but this year, the oft-ignored Pac-10 team has a chance to break into the top 25 with a strong offense in quarterback Jake Locker, Jermaine Kearse and Chris Polk.
Another strong Pac-10 team, the Arizona Wildcats were a strong top 25 team for part of last year, but a 33-0 loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers at the 2009 Holiday Bowl dropped them from the rankings.
This year, the Wildcats will likely break into the top 25 again, provided they win eight or nine games.
Upsets over Iowa and USC would surely send the Wildcats to the top 25, and perhaps even the top 15.
Oregon State Beavers
The Oregon State Beavers will also be contenders for the top of the Pac-10 and the top 25.
The Beavers were ranked for some time last year, but lost their bowl game 44-20 to the Brigham Young Cougars.
This year, the Beavers kick off their season against TCU. An early win against the Horned Frogs would surely put the Beavers on the fast track to the top 25.
The Houston Cougars went 10-4 last year, but belong to a conference that features relatively easy schedules.
If the Cougars want to break into the top 25 this year, they will have to win more than 10 games, and win big games like the one they will play against Texas Tech to finish the season.