2010 College Football Rankings: Boise State Up to No. 2

Mark Jones@@CanesReportSenior Analyst ISeptember 4, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 04:  Quarterback Kellen Moore #11 of the Boise State Broncos passes the ball against the TCU Horned Frogs during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 4, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With the first full day of college football kicking off today with 54 games on the slate, stadiums are already heating up for an array of intriguing season openers.

Although Thursday's eight games was the official start of the 2010 season, many of the major powers have yet to play their first game.

The debate among the preseason favorites has already been fired up for several weeks, in fact. However, there hasn't been as much interest among some of the non-BCS favorites as there usually seems to be.

So how do the top BCS schools and some of their lesser in-conference and top non-BCS opponents match up going into the 2010 season? More evenly matched than you'd think, perhaps.

Of course, perennial dynasties like Alabama, Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma, and Miami are all among the top 15, but some of the best teams over the last few years (Florida, Georgia Tech, LSU, and BYU, for example) are not in the same field.

Instead, typical BCS-busters, such as Boise State, TCU, Utah, and Houston, and some BCS teams that have been out of the National Championship picture lately, such as Wisconsin, Pitt, Arkansas, and South Carolina, are moving up to take their place.

Additionally, some BCS schools have continued to slip well past the No. 75 mark, as Illinois, Duke, Minnesota, Vanderbilt, and Washington State, to name a few, all seem poised for another disappointing season.

With that said, this 2010 preview rankings of all 120 FBS teams was not without controversy, and you'll probably have some opinions of your own. After reading, feel free to comment below with the rankings you disagree with.

Note: Top 25 teams have analysis included. 2010-2011 postseason bowl projections also included.

1. Alabama (SEC)

Without doubt, Alabama's Mark Ingram and Co. are the clear favorites to win it all again. However, without nine starters from last year's dominating defense, it could open up some holes.

Bowl Projection: BCS National Championship Game

2. Boise State (WAC)

Quarterback Kellen Moore will, for once, begin the year as one of the Heisman favorites, and with 22 out of 24 starters returning from the Broncos' 14-0 2009 season plus two talented BCS opponents on the schedule (Virginia Tech and Oregon State), Boise State's situation may finally be coming together.

Bowl Projection: Sugar Bowl (BCS)

3. Ohio State (Big Ten)

Terrelle Pryor leaves a lot to be wanted with this QB side, but his flexibility in the offensive system gives Ohio State the surprise factor against the much of the run-oriented Big Ten.

They'll have a tough schedule to deal with, though, hosting Miami and Penn State and visiting Wisconsin and Iowa, four top-25 teams.

Bowl Projection: BCS National Championship Game

4. Texas (Big 12)

Longtime star Colt McCoy is gone, leaving a gaping hole at quarterback that the Longhorns aren't used to, but RB Tre Newton will make up for that and more.

Outside of consecutive road games in October against Oklahoma and Nebraska, the schedule will be friendly, as well.

Bowl Projection: Fiesta Bowl (BCS)

5. Wisconsin (Big Ten)

This is a ranking that may surprise some people. If the defense can improve, then John Clay can carry this team. If not, however, I might have jumped on the bandwagon too soon.

Bowl Projection: Rose Bowl (BCS)

6. Iowa (Big Ten)

What, a third Big Ten team in the top six? Indeed, and be prepared to plenty of controversy if all three finish with an 11-1 record.

The defense is extremely impressive, Ricky Stanzi can easily improve on his injury-ended 2009 campaign, and the ground game duo between Adam Robinson and Jewel Hampton should overpower opposing teams.

Bowl Projection: Capital One Bowl

7. Oregon (Pac-10)

If the Ducks still had Jeremiah Masoli at the helm, then they could easily be a top-three team. While his suspension and following transfer rules that out, at least for now, perhaps only the deep Pac-10 could stop Oregon from a second consecutive Rose Bowl berth.

RB LaMichael James (1,546 yards, 14 TDs in 2009) has five returning offensive lineman in front of him...if that doesn't spell danger, I don't know what does.

Bowl Projection: Rose Bowl (BCS)

8. Oklahoma (Big 12)

The Sooners' uncharacteristic 8-5 record last season was a fluke in my book. The connection between QB Landry Jones and WR Ryan Broyles can easily carry the offense, and the defense is also extremely experienced.

Bowl Projection: Sugar Bowl (BCS)

9. TCU (Mtn West)

The offense has weapons across the board, but it's the defense that wins conference championships for TCU.

If they can get a few turnovers in their favor quickly, the Horned Frogs have a 45-1 record since 2005 when winning the turnover margin.

Tonight's match against Oregon State will make all the difference.

Bowl Projection: Fiesta Bowl (BCS)

10. Pittsburgh (Big East)

I would've had Pitt even higher, but Thursday's OT loss in Utah severely dampens their BCS hopes.

Still, Heisman candidates RB Dion Lewis and WR Jonathan Baldwin, coupled with a defense that lead in the NCAA in sacks last season, could be enough to overcome a brutal schedule (Miami, @ Notre Dame, Rutgers, West Virginia) and the pressure to not lose again.

Bowl Projection: Orange Bowl (BCS)

11. Utah (Mtn West)

Utah flexed their muscles in taking down Pitt on Thursday, with running backs Eddie Wide and Matt Isiata tearing up the Panthers' aggressive defense.

They still aren't yet in the clear, though, as they finish the season with a brutal stretch: @ Air Force, vs. TCU, @ Notre Dame, @ San Diego State, and vs. BYU.

Bowl Projection: Las Vegas Bowl

12. Nebraska (Big 12)

Even without Suh, the defense is massive, and running back Roy Helu could finally step onto the radar with another 1,200 yard, 10 TD season.

The Big 12 North is improving, though, and the Cornhuskers will also have to host Texas and visit Washington and Texas A&M in non-divisional affairs.

Bowl Projection: Cotton Bowl

13. Miami (ACC)

Miami's low No. 13 ranking can be mostly credited to the fact that they haven't topped a 9-4 record in the past five seasons, and would need to greatly improve on that if they want a BCS appearance.

QB Jacory Harris could be the determining factor with a talented defense and special teams unit but an uncertain offense.

Bowl Projection: Orange Bowl (BCS)

14. Arkansas (SEC)

It's taken several seasons, but Arkansas has finally returned to near the top of SEC for the first time since Darren McFadden left.

Transfer QB Ryan Mallett is quietly beginning the year as an overlooked Heisman candidate, but the true issue is the defense, which wasn't even close to SEC standards last season.

Bowl Projection: Capital One Bowl

15. Oregon State (Pac-10)

The Rodgers brothers (Jacquizz the RB and James the WR) combined for 2,500 yards and 30 TDs in 2009, and that was when the Beavers only posted an 8-5 record.

If Oregon State can put together a sufficient defense, they might be able to overcome two huge non-conference road games against TCU and Boise State in just the first three weeks of the season.

Bowl Projection: Alamo Bowl

16. Florida (SEC)

As with Oklahoma, the loss of superstar Tim Tebow in addition to Brandon Spikes are big blows, but the Gators have a talented replacement with QB John Brantley and WR Deonte Thompson.

Bowl Projection: Cotton Bowl

17. Virginia Tech (ACC)

Ryan Williams is one of the NCAA's best RBs, and QB Tyrod Taylor is a good impressionist of Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor.

The defense is far less proven that it usually is Blacksburg, so Monday's opener against Boise State may determine Tech's fate this season.

Bowl Projection: Chick-Fil-A Bowl

18. West Virginia (Big East)

The Mountaineers lack both the throwing and catching sides of a solid air attack, but speedy halfback Noel Devine will easily make up for that.

Nine starters are returning to the defense as well, and West Virginia's home-field advantage and easy non-conference schedule should both be beneficial.

Bowl Projection: Champs Sports Bowl

19. South Carolina (SEC)

The Gamecocks were shaky at first Thursday, but eventually caught their stride for a gigantic confidence-building victory over Southern Miss.

Fifteen starters are returning from last year, most notably Stephen Garcia at quarterback. The conference schedule will begin early, though, as they'll begin the SEC hosting Georgia next week.

Bowl Projection: Outback Bowl

20. USC (Pac-10)

We won't be seeing USC in a bowl game this year, but if they had to choose a season to have that probation, this might be a good time.

Pete Carroll is gone, and replacement Lane Kiffin has a star-lacking running game and inconsistent, inexperienced QB in Matt Barkley left to run the offense.

21. Georgia (SEC)

Contrary to the usual SEC team, Georgia's best player is a wide receiver, A.J. Green, but the gunslinger expected to be targeting him (QB Logan Gray) has thrown 12 career passes...and two of them were picked off.

The defense is also shaky by Georgia standards, but thankfully an easy schedule (non-conference games against Louisiana-Lafayette, Colorado, and Idaho State) should play to their advantage.

Bowl Projection: Chick-Fil-A Bowl

22. Houston (C-USA)

Case Keenum returns for yet another season after putting up unheard of numbers in 2009 (5,671 yards and 44 touchdowns...no, not a typo) and leading the Cougars with the nation's best offense in many categories.

He'll also have three returning receivers who totaled more than 1,000 yards last season.

However, the defense's switch to a 3-4 base formation may have been timely, as there were only nine teams out of 120 with a worse 'D' than Houston's last year.

Bowl Projection: Liberty Bowl

23. Missouri (Big 12)

What's the only team in the Big 12 North that has had five straight winning seasons? That's right, it's the Tigers, and they have good chances to do it again in 2010.

QB Blaine Gabbert is solid, and quick RB Derrick Washington will run behind four returning offensive linemen.

Four pushover out-of-conference opponents will make up for the fact that all but one of Missouri's final seven games is against a team that didn't have at least six overall wins last season in a BCS conference.

Bowl Projection: Alamo Bowl

24. Penn State (Big Ten)

Halfback Evan Royster is a talented back, with 5.7 ypc in 2009, and the Nittany Lions have five legitimate WRs.

But newcomer Kevin Newsome, who is expected to start at quarterback, needs to develop quickly as Penn State visits Alabama just two weeks in.

Bowl Projection: Outback Bowl

25. Auburn (SEC)

The Tigers are on the rise again, and a big overlooked factor is center Ryan Pugh. He'll have a far less experienced RB in Onterio McCalebb this year than last season's Ben Tate, though.

The quarterback situation is unproven enough to lower 2009 star WR Darvin Adams' value.

Bowl Projection: Gator Bowl

26. Florida State (Bowl: Champs Sports Bowl)

27. Arizona (Bowl: Holiday Bowl)

28. Texas Tech (Bowl: Insight Bowl)

29. Northwestern (Bowl: Insight Bowl)

30. Boston College (Bowl: Sun Bowl)

31. Washington (Bowl: Las Vegas Bowl)

32. Georgia Tech (Bowl: Meineke Car Care Bowl)

33. LSU (Bowl: Liberty Bowl)

34. Rutgers (Bowl: Meineke Car Care Bowl)

35. Navy (Bowl: Poinsettia Bowl)

36. Ole Miss (Bowl: Music City Bowl)

37. Texas A&M (Bowl: Dallas Football Classic)

38. Notre Dame (Bowl: PapaJohns.com)

39. North Carolina (Bowl: Music City Bowl)

40. Kansas (Bowl: Holiday Bowl)

41. Air Force (Bowl: Independence Bowl)

42. Kansas State (Bowl: Texas Bowl)

43. Temple (Bowl: Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl)

44. Michigan State (Bowl: Gator Bowl)

45. Connecticut (Bowl: Pinstripe Bowl)

46. BYU (Bowl: Poinsettia Bowl)

47. Central Florida (Bowl: Hawaii Bowl)

48. UCLA (Bowl: Sun Bowl)

49. North Carolina State (Independence Bowl)

50. MIchigan (Bowl: Texas Bowl)

51. Baylor (Bowl: Pinstripe Bowl)

52. Stanford (Bowl: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl)

53. Northern Illinois (Bowl: GMAC Bowl)

54. South Florida (Bowl: St. Petersburg Bowl)

55. SMU (Bowl: Armed Forces Bowl)

56. Tennessee

57. Cincinnati (Bowl: PapaJohns.com Bowl)

58. Central Michigan (Bowl: Humanitarian Bowl)

59. Clemson

60. Purdue

61. San Diego State (Bowl: Armed Forces Bowl)

62. Middle Tennessee State (Bowl: New Orleans Bowl)

63. Marshall (Bowl: St. Petersburg Bowl)

64. Nevada (Bowl: Humanitarian Bowl)

65. Kentucky

66. Louisville

67. Maryland

68. Florida Atlantic (Bowl: GMAC Bowl)

69. Indiana

70. Southern Mississippi (Bowl: New Orleans Bowl)

71. Fresno State (Bowl: Hawaii Bowl)

72. Tulsa (Bowl: EagleBank Bowl)

73. Wyoming (Bowl: New Mexico Bowl)

74. Oklahoma State

75. Syracuse

76. Mississippi State

77. Arizona State

78. Virginia

79. California

80. Army (Bowl: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl)

81. UTEP (Bowl: Dallas Football Classic)

82. Iowa State

83. Florida International (Bowl: Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl)

84. UAB

85. Kent State (Bowl: EagleBank Bowl)

86. Wake Forest

87. Toledo

88. Colorado

89. East Carolina

90. Illinois

91. Louisiana-Lafayette

92. Utah State (Bowl: New Mexico Bowl)

93. Colorado State

94. Idaho

95. Duke

96. Ohio

97. Minnesota

98. Western Michigan

99. Vanderbilt

100. Louisiana Tech

101. Arkansas State

102. Bowling Green

103. Troy

104. Ball State

105. Washington State

106. Rice

107. New Mexico

108. Buffalo

109. Louisiana-Monroe

110. New Mexico State

111. UNLV

112. Hawaii

113. Miami, Ohio

114. Memphis

115. North Texas

116. Akron

117. Tulane

118. Eastern Michigan

119. San Jose State

120. Western Kentucky


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