2010 College Football Predictions, Final Rankings: Pac-10, Conf. to Beat
Let me just say, I don't really believe in "preseason rankings."
CBS, and other major sites base it on last years opponents, with minimal differences for graduates, SOS, and predictions for the current season.
Rather than preseason rankings, the following list is how I see the top 25 after all of the classic rivalries, BCS controversy, flaunting destructive blowouts, overtime thrillers, huge comebacks, low-scoring slugfests, and high-scoring shootouts at the end of the '10-'11 season.
Earth-shattering Questions, Part 2 Intro
There are many burning questions leading up to this year's season.
Can Oregon survive without Jeremiah Masoli?
How will the Big 12 look in its final year?
Will USC fall apart after the departure of Pete Carroll?
Will Boise State's win streak finally shatter?
Will the Alabama Crimson Tide roll as back-to-back National Champions?
These questions and more will be answered throughout my predictions.
For every team, I'll list my projected record, projected losses (with other possible losses to fill said record in parentheses), strength of schedule, and an overview of the team.
(SOS rankings are credited to Phil Steele.)
I base my final rankings on a combination of overall record, conference record, and strenght of schedule.
I start off with a quick note on teams 26-30—what I like to call, the "not quite there yet" teams.
Be sure to leave comments on who you think makes the top 25, and who you'd have at the top!
No. 26-30: The "Not Quite There Yet" Teams
No. 30 Houston Cougars
Don't underestimate Case Keenum. He's got a rocket arm and he will use it to propel the Cougars to another great season.
No. 29 BYU Cougars
Replacing Max Hall will be too difficult for this non-AQ team to finish in the top 25.
No. 28 Stanford Cardinal
Andrew Luck is a potential All-American quarterback, but he simply doesn't have the weapons necessary to be a serious Pac-10 competitor again.
No. 27 Arizona Wildcats
There's a lot of questions surrounding Arizona right now. The Pac-10's a rough place—can Arizona stay among the best? An upset over Oregon will certainly help.
No. 26 Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati lost way too much to be a serious competitor again, including head coach Brian Kelly to Notre Dame. It'll take a while for the Bearcats to rebound.
No. 25 Penn State Nittany Lions
Projected record: 8-4 (5-3)
Projected losses: Alabama, Iowa, Ohio State, Northwestern
Strength of schedule: 16
Penn State is a toss up and there is no doubt my ranking is lower than others have projected. However, with a new quarterback and a fairly new defense, I don't see them finishing in the top 20.
Alabama, Iowa, and Ohio State are easy losses in my opinion, but Northwestern I'm picking in an upset.
Joe Pa is an extraordinary coach, but the offense simply won't produce this year like it has in years past. The offensive line looks solid and there will be decent support, but the quarterback situation won't help.
On defense, the front four look decent, but there will be a new linebacker crew on the field, and its an area of concern at this point.
I think the defense is better than the offense, but overall its pretty balanced. The year is gonna be rough for Penn State.
No. 24 LSU Tigars
Projected record: 8-4 (5-3)
Projected losses: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, West Virginia (UNC)
Strength of schedule: 10
I think it'll be a rough year for the Tigers as well. They return only nine starters this season, and have no preseason All-Americans.
Jordan Jefferson will be better, but he's still not a great quarterback.
The offensive and defensive lines will struggle this year as well.
The O-line was one of the worst in the SEC last year, and the defensive line, while it has talent, is almost completely new.
The secondary is the brightest spot on the team, and I think LSU will have to win a lot of games defensively this year.
The schedule does them no favors either. It'll be interesting to see how they fair against West Virginia and North Carolina, which are my two toss-up games that will decide their fate.
No. 23 USC Trojans
Projected record: 10-3 (6-3)
Projected losses: Oregon, ORE ST, Washington (Stanford, Arizona, ND)
Strength of schedule: 45
For the next two years, USC football essentially means nothing.
They can't make any bowl games, which will likely means sub-par recruiting and more transfers. Two 12-0 seasons wouldn't mean squat in the grand scheme of things. Technically, they can't even finish in the top 25 of the Coaches Poll.
But, setting that aside, I think they can go 10-3 this year.
I stated that they'd be 9-4 in my last two articles, but I've recently changed my mind about Stanford.
Andrew Luck just doesn't have a good enough supporting cast in my opinion.
Jake Locker wants to go out hot, and I'd expect the game of his life on October 2nd. The Trojans will fall to the Huskies two years in a row.
Oregon will beat them, as either Derron Thomas or Nate Costa will be an established leader by then, and should be able to win using their good defense as well.
Oregon State has the Rodgers brothers, and I'd expect somewhat of a shoot-out there.
A 10-3 season isn't a bad start for Lane Kiffin—you know, as long as he doesn't mess more things up with recruiting violations or accuse Chip Kelly of being a big fat cheater (*cough* Urban Meyer *cough*).
Will USC fall apart without Pete Carroll? No...not yet anyway.
No. 22 Georgia Bulldogs
Projected record: 9-3 (5-3)
Projected losses: Auburn, Florida, USC (Arkansas, Georgia Tech)
Strength of schedule: 44
Georgia is going to upset a lot of teams next year, including Arkansas, Georgia Tech, and possibly the rest of the SEC.
The offense is superb, led by Caleb King and AJ Green (dang that's catchy). It features three preseason All-Americans and four All-Conference players.
The defense only returns four starters, but that includes two preseason All-Americans.
The main problems are at the quarterback and linebacker postions. The quarterback battle will be between freshman Aaron Murray and junior Logan Gray. Both have little experience, but with the supporting cast, it'll be hard for either to fail.
The linebackers, though featuring Justin Houston, also have little experience and will likely be exploited throughout the season.
The offense will look to outscore opponents in 2010, and I suspect they get pretty far in the SEC race.
No. 21 Iowa Hawkeyes
Projected record: 9-3 (5-3)
Projected losses: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State (Penn State, Northwestern)
Strength of schedule: 35
Outlandish? Absolutely not. Don't be fooled by all of the returning starters.
The offense will still be the weaker unit, and may possibly be just as bad as last year.
They lost a lot of the offensive line, which certainly won't help Ricky Stanzi and comapany.
On defense, the Hawkeyes look as strong as ever. Four all-conference players, two of which are all-americans.
The entire defensive line is back, as well as most of the secondary. But, as mentioned before, you can't win every game on defense.
Without much offensive production, it'll be easy to lose to teams like Michigan, Michigan State, and maybe even Northwestern again. Look for a lot of slugfests without a lot of scoring in the Iowa games this year.
No. 20 Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Projected record: 9-3 (6-2)
Projected losses: Ohio State, GATech, VATech (Clemson, UNC, USF, Pitt)
Strength of schedule: 8
Miami is finally showing signs of the "good old days" again, but they face a really tough schedule.
Ohio State and VaTech being the worst.
Then FSU, UNC, and every game on the schedule after Maryland will present a challenge. Really, I only think the Hurricanes have a guaranteed four wins.
Jacory Harris has promise, but has to cut back on his interceptions.
I mean, the defense can only carry a team so far. Finishing in the top 15 may become a struggle for the 'Canes this year.
No. 19 Washington Huskies
Projected record: 9-3 (7-2)
Projected losses: Oregon, OSU, Nebraska (BYU, Stanford, UCLA)
Strength of schedule: 7
I feel like I want to root for Washington. Forget that they're Oregon's rivals, I like Jake Locker. He seems like a great guy, and I always love rootin' for the underdog. Besides, I can save my hate for the Beavers.
The Huskies have some great talent—Chris Polk, Jake Locker, and Jermaine Kearse head up a great offense.
It'll come down to the defense (who allowed over 26 ppg last season), and whether they hold teams back enough to let Locker and company get the advantage.
Then there's the schedule, which is absolutely brutal. BYU and Nebraska are both hard games. They have both USC and Oregon on the road.
It'll be a hard last season for Locker, and we'll get to see what he's really made of. I predict, as stated in the USC slide, an upset there. If Washington could somehow beat one of the Oregon teams, I think a Pac-10 championship is very possible.
If I was judging just based on talent, then they'd be top 15, but the schedule will take a lot out of the Huskies.
No. 18 Oregon State Beavers
Projected record: 8-4 (7-2)
Projected losses: BSU, TCU, Stanford, Oregon (Arizona, USC)
Strength of schedule: 6
The Rodgers brothers are freakin' good, and OSU is good enough to be a 10-2 team, but the schedule is one of the hardest in the nation.
This year, they go without Sean Canfield. Ryan Katz showed promise last year and I think he'll do alright.
Then, there's one of the best RB/WR tandems in college football—Jacquizz and James Rodgers. Those two define "go-to guys", as one person put it. The offense will be fine this year.
The struggle will come on defense, as it did last year. But, they return a preseason all-american DT in Stephen Paea, and they have several decent players in the secondary.
The OOC schedule is really, really tough. If the Beavers can keep it a fast paced game, TCU will lose. TCU wins with defense...if the Rodgers brothers can find holes, TCU may be in trouble.
And if the Beavs win all three OOC games, I think they have a shot at winning the Pac-10.
However, the likelihood of that happening is about as much as me marrying Megan Fox.
No. 17 Oklahoma Sooners
Projected record: 9-3 (5-3)
Projected losses: Texas, TAMU/ OSU, FSU
Strength of schedule: 22
Oklahoma will be a curious team in 2010, as a lot of questions surround them right now.
How will they replace Sam Bradford? Will the defense be able to carry the team to victory without an elite QB? Is a top 10 finish possible this year?
For one, Landry Jones did a great job filling in for Bradford last year, so no worries there.
Two, the defense may have to carry a big load due to a weaker offense, but it's not like the offense is really THAT bad.
And three, yes it is, but it'll take a lot. Texas will beat OU, as will Florida State, and then either Texas A&M or in-state rival Oklahoma State will.
If they can win two of those three (which is possible), a top 10 finish is guaranteed.
No. 16 North Carolina Tar Heels
Projected record: 9-3 (6-2)
Projected losses: LSU, Georgia Tech, VTech (FSU, NCST)
Strength of schedule: 24
North Carolina returns 19 starters and a killer defense. That defense has three preseason all-americans and another two all-conference players.
TJ Yates is also back at quarterback with a strong supporting cast, and an overall good looking team behind him.
The Tar Heels will improve off of last years 8-4 finish by going 9-3, and maybe even 10-2 if they edge out an upset against LSU.
The Tar Heels have great potential again this year, and hopefully won't blow it due to laughable aimless slips and trips like last season.
No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers
Projected record: 10-2 (6-2)
Projected losses: Ohio State, Iowa (Michigan, Northwestern)
Strength of schedule: 85
Wisconsin is a dark horse this year—a dark horse with a pathetic schedule.
John Clay is back, as well as the whole offensive line.
The defense is back as well, minus the d-line, but they were the key in Wisconsin's impressive run defense.
They're a more balanced team this year, and combined with an easy schedule, Wisconsin looks like the most unimpressive and predictable 10-win team.
No. 14 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Projected record: 9-3 (6-2)
Projected losses: VTech, Georgia, Clemson (Miami, UNC)
Strength of schedule: 27
Georgia Tech fans will be disappointed this year.
Jonathan Dwyer, Demaryius Thomas, and several outstanding defenders bolted for the NFL.
Thinking they can replace all that talent in one offseason would be foolish.
The running game will continue to be one of the best in the nation, but I can't imagine it not hurting without Dwyer.
The defense will be even worse than last year, and the running game won't be able to make up for all that single-handedly.
The schedule does them no favors either, as the ACC looks to be a tough conference this year.
Georgia will provide a good challenge in OOC play, and I think the Caleb King and AJ Green combo will be too much for the Yellow Jacket defense.
Unless they get the defense in order, Georgia Tech will struggle to place top 15.
No. 13 Oregon Ducks
Projected record: 10-2 (7-2)
Projected losses: Arizona, Cal (USC, Washington, OSU)
Strength of schedule: 55
Jeremiah Masoli is gone. While it sucks, it won't keep them from a 10-win season.
Both Darron Thomas and Nate Costa have shown great ability throughout the offseason. The Ducks found both Dennis Dixon and Jeremiah Masoli in situations like this, and continued their success.
The Quack Attack returns 19 starters, and will undoubtedly be more stable this season. LaMichael James will be back after cupcake New Mexico, and will have a solid offense around him.
The receiving crew and the entire offensive line returns as well.
On defense, they only lose two starters on the defensive line, and one linebacker.
While the defense may have been a bit shoddy last year, everyone will be more experienced and hopefully there won't be so many injury problems this year. Plus there's all americans Kenny Rowe and Casey Matthews returning to lead the veteran squad.
USC is the biggest threat, but I think the Ducks will manage. It's about time they win in LA, and the quarterback problem will be long gone by October 30th.
If the defense can keep Matt Barkley under control, the offense will take care of the rest.
However, don't expect Arizona to fade out so easily after last years success (minus the terrible Holiday Bowl of course). They'll give Oregon a rough time, and will ultimately get revenge for last year's double OT loss.
Cal consistently gives the Ducks trouble, and will want payback for last years beating. Even without Jahvid Best, they're a good team, and I'm going with the upset here.
Overall, it looks like another 10-win season, and another trip to the Rose Bowl.
Can Oregon survive without it's superstar quarterback? Yes, but there won't be a National Championship run.
No. 12 Boise State Broncos
Projected record: 11-1 (8-0)
Projected losses: Virginia Tech (Oregon State)
Strength of schedule: 87
The madness ends in week one. Thank you God.
Virginia Tech will upset the Broncos week one, shocking the nation. But, is it really that much of a shock?
Yeah, the Broncos are fantastic on paper, but that's against one of the least talented conferences in college football, and a whole seven BCS teams in the last five years (3-4).
The Virginia Tech game isn't even in Boise, so there's no home field advantage either. No blue field blindness hurts the level of horsepower from the Broncos.
You can't even say they won a BCS bowl game last year, as they played another non-BCS team in TCU.
That was the stupidest match-up ever on the BCS's part in my opinion. We didn't get to see Boise State's skills compared to hardcore BCS schools.
Even with two quality BCS teams in the mix, the SOS is still a horrible 87. The WAC sucks, plain and simple. It'll be interesting to see what happens when they're in the Mountain West.
This year, however, the Broncos are returning 21 starters. Thats incredible.
This includes QB Kellen Moore, and two standout wideouts Austin Pettis and Titus Young. All three are preseason all-americans.
The defense will no doubt get better, and looks good already.
This year is either the end of Boise State's winning streak, or it'll shut up all the haters in the nation (myself included) by going undefeated again.
Will Boise State's win streak be shattered? Yes...finally.
No. 11 Arkansas Razorbacks
Projected record: 10-2 (6-2)
Projected losses: Georgia, Alabama (LSU, USC)
Strength of schedule: 33
Two words: Ryan. Mallett.
The guy has Heisman potential, and will be a high first round pick in next years draft if everything goes according to plan.
He has some great help around him, including the offensive line. Anybody doubting the Razorbacks this year needs a serious wake-up call. The success may not last, but it's definitely going to happen this year.
The defense still needs some work, but it returns a good deal of starters and may surprise a lot of people.
As long as they hold teams enough for Mallett to get the edge, the Razorbacks are going to be alright.
There's upset potential against Alabama. The defense should be worse than last year, and one of the Tide's greatest challenges will be against Arkansas. On top of that, Arkansas gets a bye week before playing 'Bama. That will be one of the best games of they year right there.
For now, a 10-2 season looks might fine.
No. 10 Pittsburgh Panthers
Projected record: 10-2 (7-0)
Projected losses: Miami (FL), Utah (USF, WV, Cincy)
Strength of schedule: 28
I think Pittsburgh is headed to a Big East championship—the only thing standing in their way is West Virginia.
If they beat WVU and lose two games, it'll come down to conference standings. That's good news for the Panthers who will have an undefeated conference record.
Utah could catch the Panthers off guard and I'm putting Pittsburgh on upset alert in week one. As stated earlier, the Utah team isn't that impressive...which is why it'll be easy for Pittsburgh to overlook them.
Miami (FL) has a strong team coming back as well, and could be top 15 if not for the tough schedule. Pittsburgh will face their first true challenge fighting it out against the 'Canes.
Other than that, the Big East should be a breeze until Cincy and West Virginia.
With four preseason all-americans and two other all-conference players, the Panthers are loaded for 2010.
No. 9 Florida State Seminoles
Projected record: 10-2 (8-0)
Projected losses: Oklahoma, Florida (Miami, UNC, Clemson, BC)
Strength of schedule: 11
Florida State is one of my surprise teams for 2010.
Most recognize all the talent, but may question the new coach.
Well, I actually don't know why all the preseaon rankings I've seen have them out of the top 15.
The Seminoles return 17 starters including QB Christian Ponder, preseason all-american guard Rodney Hudson, and a great looking front seven on defense.
Now don't get me wrong, I know the defense was terrible last year. But, with Mark Stoops in there, I think things are going to change. Maybe not dramatically, but certainly enough to show for it.
They'll break the 7-6 streak by going 10-2 this year. That's right, I went there. I truly believe Jimbo Fisher and Mark Stoops are a recipe for success.
Oklahoma will be a good test early, and I think they'll take down the Seminoles providing a good wake-up call.
After that, I think it's smooth sailing until Miami and BC, both of whom gave them trouble last year.
If they beat both of them, Florida State will match up with Virginia Tech at the championship game.
The only other loss will come against Florida, but the Seminoles are at home, so who knows? "Anything can happen, any given Saturday."
No. 8 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Projected record: 11-1(7-1)
Projected losses: Oklahoma State (Texas, Missouri, Iowa State)
Strength of schedule: 76
The offense returns 10 starters, and hopefully will take the load off of the defense a bit this year.
Although the defense is without "King (Ndamu)Kong", they feature seven returning starters and two all-americans.
That being said, I can't decide which easy win the Cornhuskers will give up this season.
In '09 it was Texas Tech and Iowa State, so my guess is they'll lose another game like that this year.
My pick is Oklahoma State. The Texas game is without a doubt the biggest of the year. So it'll be easy to overlook the Cowboys one week later, which could spell disaster for the Huskers.
Then there's always Iowa State, who humiliated the Cornhuskers last year.
And yes, I think Texas will lose. Nebraska will definitely want revenge after that terrible Big 12 Championship game. A rematch without Colt McCoy? Chalk it up for the Cornhuskers.
How does Nebraska's final Big 12 year look? Very good indeed.
No. 7 West Virginia Mountaineers
Projected record: 11-1 (6-1)
Projected losses: Pittsburgh (LSU, USF)
Strength of schedule: 70
West Virginia has huge expectations this year.
Coming off a 9-3 season, fans are letting it be known that will not cut it this year. And honestly, a 11-1 record is very reasonable.
The Big East could be considered a weak conference, and other than Cincy and Pitt, the Mountaineers have no competition.
LSU will provide a good challenge, but its one the Mountaineers can overcome in my opinion. A lot of people will be overrating the Tigers this season, and hopefully West Virginia will be able to silence those people.
New quarterback Geno Smith has great potential, not to mention a great supporting cast.
The defense features two preseason all-americans, and two other all-conference players.
Barring earthquake-like tragedies, there's no way they fall below 10 wins this year. West Virginia will be in the national championship talks by the years end.
No. 6 Florida Gators
Projected record: 10-2 (6-2)
Projected losses: Alabama, South Carolina (Georgia, LSU, FSU)
Strength of schedule: 18
Anyone thinking the Gators fall apart this year because the christian kid is gone will be sorely mistaken.
Between three all-americans, one of the best offensive lines in the nation, and a killer secondary, the Gators appear unstoppable once again. Especially on defense.
The SEC is a tough conference, and there will be several challenges, but I only see three games as possible losses.
Alabama has home field advantage and is almost a sure win. LSU and Florida State will be tough, but not as tough as Florida's D.
South Carolina has a solid team, and is a dark horse in the SEC. They nearly shocked Florida last year, but they will earn the victory this time around. Some people say USC doesn't have the chops to deliver...look for Steve Spurrier to silence the haters against the Gators (did I really just do that?).
They take a step back by going 10-2, but they might be heading for a Sugar Bowl again. Of course, this time without the Bearcats. I'm guessing Cincinnati has had its full of sugar.
Will Florida miss a beat without Tim Tebow? Yes, indeed.
No. 5 TCU Horned Frogs
Projected record: 12-0 (8-0)
Projected losses: NA (Oregon State, BYU, Air Force)
Strength of schedule: 93
At first glance, the Horned Frogs look poised for a National Championship run, and they are—if not for Oregon State.
As stated in the OSU slide, there's serious upset potential in week one.
But TCU's defense may just prove too much, and I think the Horned Frogs run away slithering with that one.
After the Beavs, TCU is basically in the clear. BYU, Air Force, and Utah are the only teams that pose any sort of a challenge.
Utah won't be very strong this year, but Air Force has upset potential. They nearly shut down TCU las year, and return a lot of stars.
That being said, the SOS is still terribly low, and it's hard to respect teams with an SOS that low even if they are 12-0.
No. 4 Texas Longhorns
Projected record: 11-1 (6-2)
Projected losses: Nebraska (Oklahoma)
Strength of schedule: 62
As stated in the Nebraska slide, I think Texas falls on October 16th.
Nebraska's defense looks stronger, as does the offense. Not to mention the revenge factor for last year's Big 12 championship game.
Losing Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley, two all-american offensive linemen, an all-american linebacker, and the sensational Rookie of the Year bound Earl Thomas, along with half your defensive linemen is not something you rebound from very easily.
In all truth though, Garrett Gilbert actually didn't do too shabby in the National Championship last year. After all, he didn't even expect to play.
On defense, the secondary looks really strong, but I worry for the defensive line and linebackers. The defense will most likely still be top 15, but don't be surprised to see it slip a bit.
Granted, Mack Brown is an excellent coach, an excellent recruiter, and it won't be like the Longhorns just fall off the map.
However, they will take a step back by going 11-1.
No. 3 Virginia Tech Hokies
Projected record: 11-1 (7-1)
Projected losses: North Carolina (Boise State, GTech, Miami)
Strength of schedule: 47
That's right—they'll beat Boise State.
Boise State won't have home field advantage this time, so no camouflage effect.
The offense is just loaded with talent in Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Williams, several receiving options, and a pretty good offensive line.
On defense, there's only four starters returning, but don't let that fool you.
I'm a little worried about the secondary, but the front seven looks to be really solid.
Boise State may be able to blast the secondary with Kellen Moore and company. But "not so fast!" The defense has a hole. It's a small one, but it's there.
The defense didn't get to the quarterback very well at all. A top 30 defense is good, and it'll improve over the offseason, but I smell an upset.
All good teams fall eventually, and if the Virginia Tech offense finds the holes and can somehow hold Kellen Moore back a bit, it's a win.
I don't doubt the talent on the Broncos team, but week one has upset potential, so don't be fooled into thinking Virginia Tech has a weak defense this year.
As for North Carolina?
The Tar Heels are at home, and more dangerous than ever. I don't think the Hokies will see TJ Yates coming.
The Georgia Tech game is huge, as well as the game against Miami (FL), and it's possible they underestimate the Tar Heels.
If not, the Hokies just might go 12-0 and undefeated in 2010-11.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
Projected record: 12-0 (8-0)
Projected losses: NA (Miami, Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa)
Strength of schedule: 61
How can you not like the look of Ohio State this year?
I mean seriously, all the pieces are in place—this is the year of the Buckeye. Believe me, I have bad blood with the Buckeyes, so this isn't easy for me to say.
Consider the offense—Terrelle Pryor will be out to prove January 1st was not a fluke, and running back Brandon Saine is a potential all-american.
That said, the receivers lack star quality. If teams can shut down the run, that means minimal scoring from OSU.
On defense, the Buckeyes return two all-americans, an outstanding secodary, and will remain a top five defense this year.
The only teams with a sincere shot at beating OSU are listed above.
The toughest will be Wisconsin and Iowa, as they're on the road. But Miami, Penn State, and even Michigan are played at home.
Wisconsin doesn't have the firepower to outscore Ohio State, and Iowa's passing game will be contained, then outshined by the Buckeye's running game.
I really can't see the Buckeyes losing a single game this year. I smell a National Championship game headed their way.
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Projected record: 12-0 (8-0)
Projected losses: NA (PSU, Arkansas, Florida, USC, LSU)
Strength of schedule: 15
I'm sorry, but are we really going to lose faith in the Tide because they lose their defensive stars? I sure ain't.
The offense returns at it's best, with two all-americans, and three all-conference players.
Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram, and Julio Jones will be the key playmakers, with a great offensive line coming back led by all-american James Carpenter.
The defense really won't struggle that much next year. Yes, they only return two starters, but one of those is all-american safety Mark Barron.
The defensive line is full of experience, and the linebackers will be led by Dont'a Hightower.
The secondary is the only unit that worries me. Both starting cornerbacks and the free safety will have minimal experience.
What they lack in experience will be made up in talent, however.
If Alabama can get past Florida and Arkansas, which will be difficult, it looks like a clear ride the SEC championship and a rematch with the Gators.
Win that, and its undefeated season number three, and possibly another National Championship, too.
Can Alabama repeat a National Championship? Heck yes.
Top 30 Teams by Conference
Pac-10: 6 (Oregon, USC, Oregon State, Washington, Arizona, Stanford)
ACC: 5 (Virginia Tech, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Miami)
SEC: 5 (Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU)
Big Ten: 4 (Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State)
Big XII: 3 (Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma)
Big East: 3 (West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati)
MWC: 2 (TCU, BYU)
WAC: 1 (Boise State)
CUSA: 1 (Houston)