College Football: Top 10 Teams to Watch This Season
Well, today's the day, ladies and gentlemen! The 2010 college football season begins tonight at 6:30 PM Eastern, when Presbyterian takes on Wake Forest.
However little press this game will get, it signals the beginning of another season of action, polls, and plenty of controversy.
Fans have been gearing up for months and patiently waiting for tonight (well, many will wait for this Saturday, when many more teams open their seasons).
With a new season comes new storylines. Here we'll take a look at the top 10 teams to watch this season.
10. Michigan Wolverines
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Some may question this one (some Ohio State fans, maybe?), but I think this team is worth a look this year.
Rich Rodriguez looks to coach the Wolverines to a winning season after two losing seasons on his watch.
With many in Ann Arbor calling for his head to roll; it'll be interesting to see if desperation, 15 returning starters, and improved play at QB can save Michigan from another year in the gutter.
9. Wisconsin Badgers
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Although Ohio State is the heavy favorite to win the Big Ten this year, Wisconsin is the one to look out for in 2010.
Led by quarterback Scott Tolzien, the Badgers return 16 starters and look to challenge Ohio State for the conference title, including a head-to-head matchup in Madison on Oct. 16, with the Big Ten championship possibly on the line.
8. North Carolina Tar Heels
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With 19 returning starters, the Tar Heels look to be the break-out team in the ACC and contend for the conference championship.
This year, Butch Davis's squad will have more on their plate than most. The NCAA is investigating possible improper benefits given to players by sports agents, and the University of North Carolina is investigating possible academic impropriety by others.
News has also broken that Davis has suspended top NFL prospect DT Marvin Austin, making matters worse as UNC prepares for a tough opener against LSU.
How will all of this affect the Heels' season? Your guess is as good as mine.
7. USC Trojans
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Oh, those Trojans. These guys enter the season under far worse circumstances than UNC.
After the NCAA slapped them with a two-year bowl ban and have been left out of the USA Today Coaches' Poll for the year, morale has certainly been depleted among many in Los Angeles.
New head coach Lane Kiffin has been given the task of keeping the Trojans competitive and rebuilding a shattered reputation after the Reggie Bush scandal.
We'll what 12 returning starters can do to maintain USC's place in the Pac-10.
6. Nebraska Cornhuskers
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After an almost-win against Texas in last year's Big 12 Championship and a 33-0 blowout of Arizona in the Holiday Bowl, expectations for the Huskers haven't been this high in quite a while.
Bo Pelini and his 17 returning starters look to contend for another Big 12 title all while filling the hole left Heisman candidate and No. 2 draft pick DT Ndamukong Suh.
With the return of the Blackshirt defense, Nebraska will be a definite contender for a BCS bowl.
5. Texas Longhorns
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They say "Everything's Bigger in Texas," and this year is no different. As usual, the Longhorns have a top-5 preseason ranking, as the Longhorns return 13 starters for the 2010 campaign.
Texas will have to make do without star QB Colt McCoy and WR Jordan Shipley, who both left for the NFL.
Garrett Gilbert gets the starting job this year. Texas looks to repeat as Big 12 champions, but will face stiff competition from Nebraska.
Can Texas continue to reign supreme, or will the Longhorns be tied up?
4. Boise State Broncos
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After another undefeated season, the Broncos enter the year with their highest-ever ranking (No. 3), but still face questions over their place in the BCS, coming from the non-BCS Western Athletic Conference.
Boise State will look to silence critics in the season opener, facing off against ACC powerhouse Virginia Tech at FedExField on Monday, Sept. 6.
The Broncos will return 21 starters this year. Will a victory over a BCS-conference power be enough to overcome a shaky WAC schedule? We could find out this season.
3. Florida Gators
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After a 13-1 campaign, the Gators face a tough year with the loss of Heisman-winning QB Tim Tebow along with key receivers Brandon James and David Nelson along with much of the defensive corps.
With John Brantley starting at QB and 12 other returning starters, questions abound as to whether Urban Meyer's 2010 squad can continue to compete with defending champion Alabama.
The Gators will face the Crimson Tide in a rematch of last year's SEC Championship Game on Oct. 2 in Tuscaloosa.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
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This one will certainly please the Ohio State fans angry at No. 10. The Buckeyes are widely considered the ones most likely to challenge Alabama, returning 16 starters, including QB Terrelle Pryor.
Jim Tressel's squad starts the year No. 2 and looks to continue its stranglehold on the Big Ten while having to fend off challenges from Wisconsin and possibly Iowa.
Look for the Buckeyes to come out swinging against Marshall in their opener tonight.
Could this be the year Ohio State once again goes undefeated and earns a trip to the BCS National Championship Game?
Could they face Alabama? Maybe.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
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Who other than the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide? Led by Nick Saban, the Tide returns 11 starters including defending Heisman-winning RB Mark Ingram and breakout QB Greg McElroy.
Of course the big question is: Can Alabama repeat? History isn't on their side, as no team has ever repeated in the BCS era (the last repeat winners were the 1994-1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers, under the Bowl Alliance system).
All eyes will turn to Tuscaloosa this fall as the Tide embarks on its 2010 campaign for another national title, facing fierce competition from any number of opponents, namely Ohio State.
This looks to be a very interesting season.