Carter’s College Football Power Rankings: Week 1
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Like Ric Flair has always said: “To be the man, you have to beat the man.” And right now Alabama is dubbed “The Man.” Even though the defense lost quite a few guys, I still think they are strong enough to get through another great season and possibly go undefeated once again. Oh, and they have this guy named Mark Ingram who has a little bit of talent and won some big trophy last year.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
I’m expecting a lot out of their defense led by Dexter Larimore, Ross Homan, and Chimde Chekwa. I’m hoping Terrelle Pryor can passthe ball a little bit more just because I like quarterbacks who pass the ball a lot and teams with great offense, but OSU is a small exception. Jim Tressel is a genius and he always knows how to get the job done. I expect them to either play their final game in Pasadena or maybe in Glendale.
3. Boise State Broncos
This team is still the underdog no matter what other “big” school they play but I put them at number three because they return a lot of guys on both sides of the ball, including QB Kellen Moore who has plenty of talent. Chris Petersen is a great coach who can prepare these guys well. And I just love that blue turf they play on.
4. Oklahoma Sooners
I expect OU to have way more success in 2010 than they did in 2009. After what I saw out of Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles last year, I can expect more of the same thing this year. Broyles has all the talent in the world to be the Biletnikoff Award winner. The defense also remains solid with Jeremy Beal and Travis Lewis as the anchors. Bob Stoops is also one of the best coaches in the nation and, in my opinion, the best in the conference.
5. Florida Gators
Despite that they don’t have Tim Tebow anymore, I still think the Gators are going to have a pretty successful season once again and could contend for another SEC Championship. John Brantley looks to be pretty solid to fill the QB shoes. I’m looking for them to record a lot of sacks with three seniors (Marsh, Sanders, Trattou) and a junior (William Green) as their front four on defense. Plus, I just can’t count out a Urban Meyer-coached team.
6. Nebraska Cornhuskers
The Huskers will do it again with defense, after ranking in the top 10 nationally in four major defensive categories, including first in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. The kicking game will provide solid support. The question will once again be the offense led by Zac Lee. They ranked 101st nationally in passing and 62nd in rushing. Not very impressive. But if their defense can remain solid, they could compete for a Big 12 Championship once again.
7. Texas Longhorns
The defense under Will Muschamp have been championship caliber, and I’m expecting that to be the same story this season as well. Garrett Gilbert and Texas’ new-look offense will need to find their groove rather fast because they start a tough four-game stretch on September 18. They go to Texas Tech, then play a home game against UCLA before playing the Sooners in Dallas and Nebraska in Lincoln. If they can survive that road unblemished, they will once again be the favorite to win the Big 12 Championship and once again could play a 14th game in Glendale, Arizona.
8. Oregon Ducks
With LaMichael James back, I’m expecting the running game to remain as solid as it was in 2009. I’m still questioning the team’s leadership and chemistry with their off-the-field issues they went through in the offseason. If they can overcome Tennessee, USC, California, and Oregon State they could play for a National Championship in January instead of being stuck in Pasadena again.
9. Virginia Tech Hokies
These are my pick to win the ACC, hands down. If they can get past Boise State and survive a brutal November schedule, then the ACC Coastal Division is their and a Conference Championship is theirs as well. I like Tyrod Taylor’s skills as a mobile QB along with possible Heisman candidate Ryan Williams, add a strong offensive line like one they have right now, and their offense should shouldn’t be questioned. And with John Graves, Barquell Rivers and Rashad Carmichael returning, their pass-defense should be pretty solid, like it was last season.
10. TCU Horned Frogs
The Frogs should see themselves in the National Championship mix once again if their defense plays as good as it did last year. I’m expecting them to take the Mountain West once again like it’s nobody’s business because of the way they play defense and the returns of key players like QB Andy Dalton, solid receivers like Antoine Hicks and Jimmy Young, and defensive players like Wayne Daniels, Tank Carder, and safety Tejay Johnson. If they can beat Oregon State, BYU, and Utah, they MWC championship is theirs as well as another spot in a BCS bowl game.
Here’s how I see teams 11-25
11. Iowa Hawkeyes
If the Buckeyes have a loss in the later parts of November, Kirk Ferentz’s team could make a run at the Rose Bowl.
12. Florida State Seminoles
Bobby Bowden is out of the picture, but FSU will still be a pretty solid team. Christian Ponder is an excellent QB returning from injury.
13. Miami Hurricanes
If Jacory Harris remains healthy all season and keeps the interceptions down, the Hurricanes could be National Championship contenders. But that early road schedule looks pretty brutal. They have three straight road games against Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Clemson.
14. Georgia Bulldogs
Mark Richt’s team failed to meet expectations of being National Championship contenders last year. If they limit the turnovers and penalties, they should see double-digit wins once again.
15. Wisconsin Badgers
We all know their offense is solid. If their defense can fill the holes with the right players, they can compete for a Big Ten Championship.
16. Arkansas Razorbacks
Ryan Mallett is pretty much the only reason why I have the team this high. He’s arguably the most talented QB in the entire nation and he’s looking to take this team places where they haven’t been in a while. The true tests for the year are Georgia and Alabama. If they can get past both teams, they could be playing a 13th game in Atlanta.
17. Pittsburgh Panthers
One of the more interesting teams in the NCAA. It’s either going to be them or Connecticut to take the Big East in 2010. Dave Wannstedt helped the school get the best recruiting class four of the past five years. If they overcome a tough non-conference schedule against Utah, Miami (FL), and Notre Dame they should be in the top five in November. You also can’t count out the tough game against WVU on November 26.
18. North Carolina Tar Heels
Normally, I’m more into teams who score a lot of points and put more into their offense but North Carolina is a small exceptions as far as teams I’m more interested in. UNC returns nine started from the only unit that ranked among the nation’s top 15 in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense, passing defense, and tackles for a loss. You think Nebraska could have a great defense this year…this UNC defense could match them in 2010. If they win three out of the four games against LSU, Clemson, Miami, Florida State, and Virginia Tech, they could be seeing an ACC Championship appearance. They could be a solid 10-win team if they stay healthy and if T.J.Yates steps it up a bit.
19. Connecticut Huskies
After what they went through last year, I gained much respect for their team and head coach Randy Edsall. They ended last year on a great note by winning their last four games and a Papajohn’s.com Bowl win over South Carolina. This is a team that will give you a a pure 60-minute fight and not quit even if they do fall short on occasion. Here’s what’s interesting: they lost five games last year…all of those losses were by four points or fewer.
20. Missouri Tigers
If Nebraska struggles to meet expectations, Missouri could be the team to beat in the Big 12 North. Blaine Gabbert is an excellent solid passing QB who wants to get the job done. With the loss of Derrick Washington, more pressure could be on Gabbert to run the offense and help get them over the hump. This hump wears red and white every Saturday and loves to eat corn a lot.
21. Auburn Tigers
Gene Chizik goes at it again with the Tigers and I’m expecting nice things from him and his fast offense. He’s begun to replenish Auburn’s depth with two solid recruiting classes. The only tough road game this year is the Iron Bowl against Alabama. But their home schedule could be more interesting with games against Clemson, South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia.
22. Penn State Nittany Lions
The Lions will have to get their act together in a hurry because their non-conference includes a Sept. 11 trip to Alabama. If they can hang with the defending national champions, they’ll have a chance to build confidence. But if not, you could almost kiss their national championship hopes goodbye. Are they going to be TRUE contenders in 2010 or just B+ team like they have been in years past? We will know that answer Sunday morning, September 12.
23. LSU Tigers
Lots is riding on the 2010 season for the Tigers as far as if they are really national championship contenders over the next years or two. We all know what kind of coach Les Miles is and what kind of success he’s been having (five season, 51 wins, one national championship) at LSU. With the returns of Jordan Jefferson, Terrence Toliver and two solid offensive linemen In Joe Barksdale and Josh Dworaczyk, the offense should rank higher than 112th national like it did a season ago.
24. Clemson Tigers
If the offensive line stays off the shelf and some of the younger guys emerge at receiver, the defense is good enough to keep the Tigers in most games. They have tough road games against Auburn, North Carolina, and Florida State. If they can win those, an 11-win season isn’t out of the question.
25. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
As I mentioned before, I like teams with coaches who love to teach offense which is why I like Brian Kelly. He’s succeeded everywhere else he’s been and I’m expecting the same thing during his stint with Notre Dame. He has a major reconstruction on his hands although he’s got plenty of talent to coach with. Expect this team to have at least eight wins in 2010, which is a step in the right direction.
Carter’s Preseason Heisman Trophy Race
1. Houston QB Case Keenum
2. Oregon State RB Jacquizz Rodgers
3. Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles
4. Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn
5. Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick
6. UTEP QB Donald Buckram
7. Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd
8. Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis
9. Texas A&M QB Jerrod Johnson
10. California RB Shane Vereen
11. Hawaii WR Greg Salas
12. Miami (FL) CB Brandon Harris
13. Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert
14. Nevada RB Vai Taua
15. Texas A&M WR Jeff Fuller
16. Pittsburgh DE Greg Romeus
17. Boise State QB Kellen Moore
18. Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams
19. Southern Miss QB DeAndre Brown
20. Michigan State LB Greg Jones
21. Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor
22. Wisconsin RB John Clay
23. Houston WR James Cleveland
24. LSU CB Patrick Peterson
25. Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett