2011 College Football Predictions: Best/Worst Case Scenario for Each Top 25 Team

Pat MarrujoContributor IFebruary 11, 2011

2011 College Football Predictions: Best/Worst Case Scenario for Each Top 25 Team

0 of 25

    EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 06: The AFCA National Championship Trophy is displayed on the the field before the game between the Oregon Ducks and the Washington Huskies at Autzen Stadium on November 6, 2010 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    We are still seven months away from college football season, but the buzz is everywhere. Fans are pleading their case about why their team will be great in 2011. Just one month removed from the BCS national championship game and Americans already want their college football back.

    The 2011 season looks to be one of the most exciting yet. So many teams think that “this is the year.” But in the end there can only be one champion.

    Some of the earliest preseason polls are already popping up, with a lot of the usual suspects on them. This is a list about those teams.

    The following explains the best and worst case scenarios for each top 25 team.

25. Mississippi State Bulldogs

1 of 25

    JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 01:  The Mississippi Bulldogs players celebrate following their victory over the Michigan Wolverines at the Gator Bowl at EverBank Field on January 1, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida  (Photo by Rick Dole/Getty Images)
    Rick Dole/Getty Images

    Last season, Mississippi State was one of the most surprising teams in the country. They went 9-4 and manhandled Michigan in the Gator Bowl 52-14. The Bulldogs are returning seven players on both sides of the ball. But they lost their best offensive lineman, Derek Sherrod, and their best defensive lineman, Pernell McPhee.

    The Bulldogs, last season, had the 16th-best running attack in the country, led by star running back Vick Bullard. Their running offense was complimented by a very talented, hard-nosed defense that was 15th against the run last season.

    What makes me worry about Mississippi State is that it seems like every season an SEC team has a surprising season similar to their last one. Then they follow it up the next season with a mediocre performance at best. The SEC might be too strong for a team like the Bulldogs.

    Best Case:

    9-3

    Wins: Memphis, Auburn, Louisiana Tech, Georgia, UAB, Kentucky, UT Martin, Ole Miss, Arkansas

    Losses: LSU, South Carolina, Alabama

    Worst Case:

    6-6

    Wins: Memphis, Louisiana Tech, UAB, Kentucky, UT Martin, Ole Miss

    Losses: Auburn, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas

24. Nebraska Cornhuskers

2 of 25

    LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 30: Quarterback Taylor Martinez #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers throws over the Missouri Tigers defense during first half action of their game at Memorial Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska Defeated Missouri 31
    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    The Cornhuskers are one of the toughest teams to predict this season. Quarterback Taylor Martinez was at one time the leading candidate to be named the Heisman winner last season, but he faded midseason. They then ended on a bad note by losing to Washington 19-7 in the Holiday Bowl, a team they blew out early in the season.

    Their biggest losses were their star defensive backs Prince Amukamara and Eric Hagg. If they want to have success this season, they will have to rely on Taylor Martinez.

    At the end of last season, I saw a poorly coached team that played with no heart. The Big Ten is a lot tougher than the Big 12 north. So don’t be too surprised if the Huskers have a down year.

    Best Case:

    11-1

    Wins: Chattanooga, Fresno State, Washington, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State, Michigan, Iowa

    Loss: Ohio State

    Worst Case:

    6-6

    Wins: Chattanooga, Fresno State, Washington, Wyoming, Minnesota, Northwestern,

    Losses: Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, Michigan, Iowa

23. Arizona State Sun Devils

3 of 25

    TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 02:  Wide receiver Mike Willie #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils celebrates after scoring a touchdown reception during the college football game at Arizona Stadium on December 2, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Sun Devils are returning 19 starters from a team that went 6-6 last season, although that record is deceiving. The Sun Devils lost games against Wisconsin and USC due to extra-point fiascos, and then blew other upset opportunities against Oregon and Stanford due to turnovers and penalties.

    The biggest impact player at Arizona State is linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Last season, he had attitude and penalty problems but was still a first team All-American. Burfict is fast, mean and reckless. He represents everything Sun Devil football is all about.

    Deemed the “sexy” pick by many, it is really hard to predict this team. Every game you are waiting for them to break through and start dominating, but they never seem to. The Devils could have a top 10 caliber team, but they could just as easily be a seller dweller this season in the Pac-12.

    Best Case

    11-1

    Wins: UC Davis, Missouri, Illinois, USC, Oregon State, Utah, Colorado, UCLA, Washington State, Arizona, California

    Loss: Oregon

    Worst Case:

    5-7

    Wins: UC Davis, Colorado, UCLA, Washington State, Arizona

    Losses: Missouri, Illinois, USC, Oregon State, Utah, Oregon, Colorado, UCLA, Washington State, California

22. Virginia Tech Hokies

4 of 25

    MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 03:  The Virginia Tech Hokies huddel in the endzone prior to playing against the Stanford Cardinal during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Stanford won 40-12. (Photo by Mike Ehrman
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Hokies are losing their starting quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, and their top two running backs. It sounds like the Hokies should have a lot to worry about. Fortunately for them, they play in the ACC.

    Frank Beamer always has the tendency to put a good team together every season. I don’t see how this will be any different. A game Hokies fans better not take lightly is on Sept. 3 versus Appalachian State. Everyone still remembers Virginia Tech’s embarrassing loss to James Madison, and they can’t let something like this happen two years in a row.

    Sure they might lose a game or two down the stretch, but they should benefit from having a weak schedule. There is not a ranked team on their schedule right now, and they will not have to play Florida State until the ACC Championship.

    Best Case:

    11-1

    Wins: Sept. 3: Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State, Marshall, Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Duke, North Carolina

    Loss: Miami

    Worst Case:

    8-4

    Wins: Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State, Marshall, Wake Forest, Boston College, Virginia, Duke

    Losses: Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Miami

21. Missouri Tigers

5 of 25

    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Runningback Henry Josey #41 of the Missouri Tigers dives into the endzone to score on a 10 yard rushing touchdown against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the second quarter of the Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2010 i
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Last season, Missouri had one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Blaine Gabbert and one of the best defensive units in the Big 12. They have lost Gabbert and a few key players on defense, but they are still returning 10 starters on offense and seven on the defensive side of the ball.

    Are the Tigers contenders in the Big 12? It might be tough. The Big 12 is no longer separated into two divisions, so Missouri will have to go up against the whole conference this season. The Big 12 is as tough as it has been in a long time.

    Fans are going to learn a lot from Missouri’s non-conference game against Arizona State. This is a must-win game for the Tigers as they will need the momentum for when they play Oklahoma just two weeks later.

    Best Case:

    10-2

    Wins: Miami (OH), Arizona State, Western Illinois, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech, Kansas

    Losses: Oklahoma, Texas A&M

    Worst Case:

    7-5

    Wins: Miami (OH), Western Illinois, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas

    Losses: Arizona State, Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M

20. Florida Gators

6 of 25

    TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1:  Quarterback Tyler Murphy #11 of the Florida Gators releases a pass against the Penn State Nittany Lions January 1, 2011 in the 25th Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Urban Meyer out, Will Muschamp in. Muschamp is also bringing Charlie Weis to be his offensive coordinator. Hopefully he can help save John Brantley after a disappointing season at quarterback for the Gators.

    The Gators definitely have the talent to get back in the national championship picture, but it is always tough in the SEC.

    I am not sure how confident I am with a new coach and struggling quarterback in a new system. I don't see the Gators bouncing back too much in 2011. They will have a good team, not a great team.

    Best Case:

    9-3

    Wins: Florida Atlantic, UAB, Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Furman, Georgia, South Carolina

    Losses: Alabama, LSU, Florida State

    Worst Case:

    6-6

    Wins: Florida Atlantic, Tennessee, UAB, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Furman

    Losses: Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida State

19. Texas Longhorns

7 of 25

    AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  The Texas Longhorns walk off the field after a 34-12 loss against the UCLA Bruins at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Texas cannot have a more disappointing season than they had last year. But this season is a new beginning. New offensive coordinator in Bryan Harsin and a new defensive coordinator in Manny Diaz give the Longhorns coaching staff a new look.

    The Texas defense carried the team last season. They were the sixth-best defense in the nation and look to be just as dominant again this season.

    Quarterback Garret Gilbert has been less than impressive so far. If the team is going to progress any further, they need better play from Gilbert.

    Texas is in the same boat as Florida this year. They will have a good season, but a strong Big 12 schedule will make it tough for them to be players on the national scene.

    Best Case:

    9-3

    Wins: Rice, BYU, UCLA, Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas, Texas Tech, Missouri, Kansas State

    Losses: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M

    Worst Case:

    6-6

    Wins: Rice, BYU, UCLA, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State

    Losses: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Baylor, Missouri

18. Georgia Bulldogs

8 of 25

    ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 27:  Justin Houston #42 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates after returning a fumble for a touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Sanford Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Ima
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Last season was uncharacteristically average and bad for Georgia. I don’t expect the same from the Bulldogs this season.

    Georgia returns four starting lineman from a season ago and will probably start the top-ranked recruit in the country, Isaiah Crowell, at running back.

    The biggest loss the Bulldogs will have to overcome is that of wide receiver A.J. Green. I believe they will play to their strengths and emphasize the run game to make up for Green’s departure to the NFL.

    The biggest issue for Georgia last season was the defense. It was the first season they ran a 3-4, and it was not successful. One season later, they should be better prepared to run this defense. Georgia will bounce back in 2011.

    Best Case:

    10-2

    Wins: Coastal Carolina, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, New Mexico State, Auburn, Kentucky, Georgia Tech

    Losses: Boise State, South Carolina

    Worst Case:

    7-5

    Wins: Coastal Carolina, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, New Mexico State, Kentucky, Georgia Tech

    Losses: Boise State, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Florida, Auburn

17. Auburn Tigers

9 of 25

    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Demetruce McNeal #12 of the Auburn Tigers gestures against the Auburn Tigers the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game against the Oregon Ducks at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Phot
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Auburn Tigers are losing as much, if not more than anybody. Heisman winner Cam Newton is gone along with defensive lineman Nick Fairley and most of their offensive line.

    Gene Chizik might have the toughest job in college football this year, trying to keep the defending national champions in the BCS picture. It might not be possible. The Tigers are going to try to get it done on the ground this season, behind running back Michael Dyer.

    I don’t expect much out of the Tigers this season, as they are over-hyped.

    Best Case:

    8-4

    Wins: Utah State, Florida Atlantic, Ole Miss, Samford, Mississippi State, Clemson, Florida, Arkansas

    Losses: South Carolina, LSU, Georgia, Alabama

    Worst Case:

    5-7

    Wins: Utah State, Florida Atlantic, Ole Miss, Samford, Clemson

    Losses: Mississippi State, Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina, LSU, Georgia, Alabama

16. Michigan State Spartans

10 of 25

    STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 27: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans leads his team onto the field before a game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on November 27, 2010 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. The Spartans w
    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    The Spartans surprised many people when they went 11-1 and won a share of the Big Ten championship last season. Then they were annihilated by Alabama in the Capital One Bowl 49-7. It was a bad ending note on an otherwise great season.

    This year, the Spartans should be right in the thick of things again in the Big Ten race. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has proven himself as a great college player, but the team will have a tough time replacing All-American linebacker Greg Jones.

    The most important part of the season will come when the Spartans play Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska in the middle of the season. How they do during this stretch will define their team.

    Best Case:

    9-3

    Wins: Youngstown State, Florida Atlantic, Central Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Northwestern, Nebraska, Michigan

    Losses: Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Ohio State

    Worst Case:

    7-5

    Wins: Youngstown State, Florida Atlantic, Central Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Northwestern

    Losses: Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan

15. South Carolina Gamecocks

11 of 25

    ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  Stephen Garcia #5 of the South Carolina Gamecocks against the Florida State Seminoles during the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl at Georgia Dome on December 31, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The biggest question surrounding the program right now is whether or not coach Steve Spurrier will stick with Stephen Garcia at quarterback.

    The Gamecocks have plenty of talent around Garcia and proved it in their victories over Alabama and Florida last season. The Ole’ Ball Coach finally has the Gamecocks looking like the team he always expected them to be.

    If their offense can be consistent, there is no reason they cannot be one of the best teams in the SEC.

    Best Case:

    11-1

    Wins: East Carolina, Georgia, Navy, Vanderbilt, Auburn, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Florida, Clemson, The Citadel

    Loss: Arkansas

    Worst Case:

    8-4

    Wins: East Carolina, Navy, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Clemson, The Citadel

    Losses: Arkansas, Georgia, Auburn, Mississippi State

14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

12 of 25

    LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 27:  Wide receiver Michael Floyd #3 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates with wide receiver T.J. Jones #7 after making a one yard touchdown catch against the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 27, 20
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Notre Dame comes into the season as one of the most-hyped teams in college football. Last season, Brian Kelly made the Irish relevant again. He ended the season red hot, including a bowl win against Miami.

    The Irish return nine starters on offense and eight on defense. None of those returning starters are as important as quarterback Dayne Crist and wide receiver Michael Floyd. Before Crist’s season-ending knee injury, the two were among the most exciting tandems in the nation.

    This season is a little different than most for the Irish because they play a tough schedule. It is a good chance to prove to the world that the Notre Dame football legacy lives on, and they will be great again soon.

    Best Case:

    10-2

    Wins: South Florida, Purdue, Air Force, Navy, Wake Forest, Maryland, Boston College, Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh,

    Losses: USC, Stanford

    Worse Case:

    8-4

    Wins: South Florida, Purdue, Air Force, Navy, Wake Forest, Maryland, Boston College, Michigan

    Losses: USC, Stanford, Michigan State, Pittsburgh

13. Wisconsin Badgers

13 of 25

    IOWA CITY, IA - OCTOBER 23: Offensive lineman Gabe Carimi #68 of the Wisconsin Badgers holds the Heartland Trophy with his teammates as they celebrate their victory of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Iowa City, Io
    David Purdy/Getty Images

    Wisconsin might be a 2011 national championship favorite if it was not for their shocking loss against TCU in the Rose Bowl. But now the Badgers must regroup and prove why they are still worthy of national championship consideration.

    They are led by two stud running backs, Montee Ball and James White. They proved that they are big-time backs when former running back John Clay went down early in the season.

    Even though they lose most of an offensive line that was dubbed the “best in the country,” they should still be a tough offensive team. Just ask Indiana.

    Best Case:

    11-1

    Wins: UNLV, Oregon State, Northern Illinois, South Dakota, Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois, Penn State, Nebraska, Michigan State

    Loss: Ohio State

    Worst Case:

    8-4

    Wins: UNLV, Northern Illinois, South Dakota, Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois, Penn State,

    Losses: Oregon State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan State

12. Texas A&M Aggies

14 of 25

    ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 07:  Quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Texas A&M Aggies throws against the LSU Tigers during the AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on January 7, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Other than a three-game stretch when they lost to Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma State, the Aggies were dominant last season. So much that they are considered a serious contender for the 2011 Big Ten Championship.

    They are led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who surprised most fans and was one of the best quarterbacks in the conference last season.

    The biggest thing that stands in the Aggies way is their schedule. They already have to go through the gauntlet that is the Big 12 season, and they also have to play Arkansas midseason. Hold on A&M fans, it's going to be a wild and crazy season.

    Best Case:

    10-2

    Wins: SMU, Idaho, Texas Tech, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Kansas, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas

    Losses: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State

    Worst Case:

    6-6

    Wins: SMU, Idaho, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Kansas

    Losses: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas

11. Arkansas Razorbacks

15 of 25

    COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 06:  Ryan Mallett #15 of the Arkansas Razorbacks celebrates after a touchdown against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 6, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lec
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Ryan Mallett is gone. Somebody needs to step up and take control of the high-powered Arkansas offense. The man for the job is Tyler Wilson. He proved he could get it done in a losing effort against Auburn last season. He threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns when Mallett went down with an injury.

    On the defensive side of the ball, the Razorbacks return eight starters. This unit has been inconsistent in the past.

    A lot rides on their defense if Arkansas wants to have a big year. If the defense and Wilson can step up, Arkansas has a chance to make a run at the BCS National Championship

    Best Case:

    11-1

    Wins: Missouri State, New Mexico, Troy, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Auburn, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi State, LSU

    Loss: Alabama

    Worst Case:

    7-5

    Wins: Missouri State, New Mexico, Troy, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Auburn, Tennessee

    Losses: Alabama, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Mississippi State, LSU

10. Oklahoma State Cowboys

16 of 25

    STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 27:  Quarterback Brandon Weeden #3 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys looks for an open receiver against the Oklahoma Sooners at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Image
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon are probably the most unstoppable quarterback/receiver duo in all of college football. They helped make Oklahoma State the third-best passing offense in the country last season, averaging 346 yards per game.

    The downside of the Oklahoma State football team is the defense. They lost six starters from last season's already-mediocre squad.

    If OSU wants to step up to the next level, their defense needs to improve. A strong defense is the only thing that stands between them and national championship possibilities.

    Best Case:

    11-1

    Wins: Louisiana-Lafayette, Arizona, Tulsa, Kansas, Baylor, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Texas A&M, Texas, Missouri

    Loss: Oklahoma

    Worst Case:

    9-3

    Wins: Louisiana-Lafayette, Arizona, Tulsa, Kansas, Baylor, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Missouri

    Losses: Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma

9. TCU Horned Frogs

17 of 25

    PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  The TCU Horned Frogs celebrate after defeating the Wisconsin Badgers 21-19 in the 97th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    TCU football is one of the hottest topics in college athletics. They are fresh off a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin and had the best defense in the nation last season.

    Stud quarterback Andy Dalton is gone now, so that defense needs to carry the Horned Frogs this season. Dalton will be replaced by sophomore Casey Pachall. Pachall has only thrown nine passes in his college football career, so he will have plenty to prove.

    The only thing standing in the way of TCU is a win at Boise State’s dreaded “smurf turf.”

    Best Case:

    12-0

    Wins: Baylor, SMU, Colorado State, Wyoming, Air Force, UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico, BYU, Boise State

    Losses: N/A

    Worst Case:

    11-1

    Wins: Baylor, SMU, Colorado State, Wyoming, Air Force, UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico, BYU

    Loss: Boise State

8. Boise State Broncos

18 of 25

    LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 22:  Billy Winn #90 of the Boise State Broncos holds up a trophy as he celebrates the team's 26-3 victory over the Utah Utes in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium December 22, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    The Broncos have one of the best returning players in college football, quarterback Kellen Moore. Although he may not be an NFL-style quarterback, he sure gets it done it for Boise State.

    Last season, he was masterful throwing for 3,845 yards with 35 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 71 percent. Truly impressive numbers.

    Unlike TCU, Boise State actually has three games during the regular season that have significance. In Week 1, they square off against Georgia, and then they show down against TCU later in the season in a game that will probably decide a BCS berth. Also they will get another shot at Nevada—the team that ruined their 2010 campaign.

    Best Case:

    12-0

    Wins: Toledo, Tulsa, Fresno State, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, Hawaii, Idaho, TCU, Georgia, Nevada,

    Losses: N/A

    Worse Case:

    9-3

    Wins: Toledo, Tulsa, Fresno State, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, Hawaii, Idaho, Utah State

    Losses: TCU, Georgia, Nevada

7. Stanford Cardinal

19 of 25

    MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 03:  Ed Reynolds #29 and Corey Galewood #2 of the Stanford Cardinal celebrates after Stanford won 40-12 against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida.  (P
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Cardinal were thought by many to be the third-best team in the country last season. But the Cardinal have lost a lot of their offensive lineman, seven starting defensive players from last year's team, and head coach Jim Harbaugh.

    But luckily for them, quarterback Andrew Luck decided to return to Stanford for another season. It is a risky move for Luck, because he was almost guaranteed to be the top pick in the draft this season. Now he must prove he can do it again.

    The Cardinal were great last season due to their great offensive line play. With many of their key linemen gone, I don’t think 2011 will be as easy of a season for the Cardinal. Andrew Luck doesn’t want to be this season's Jake Locker and blow his draft stock because of a down year.

    Best Case:

    11-1

    Wins: San Jose State, Duke, Arizona, UCLA, Colorado, Washington State, Washington, Oregon State, California, USC, Notre Dame

    Loss: Oregon

    Worst Case:

    9-3

    Wins: San Jose State, Duke, Arizona, UCLA, Colorado, Washington State, Washington, Oregon State, California,

    Losses: USC, Notre Dame, Oregon

6. Ohio State Buckeyes

20 of 25

    NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04:  (M) Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes is helped off the field by teammates Etienne Sabino #6 and Andrew Sweat #42 after the Buckeyes 31-26 victory against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the Allstate Su
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    The Ohio State Buckeyes will start 2011 without Terrelle Pryor and four starters that were suspended for NCAA rules infractions for the first five games. This might be tough to overcome against teams like Miami (Fla.) and Michigan State.

    If the Buckeyes get through this stretch clean, then they will probably be favorites to win the Big Ten.

    The Buckeyes finally beat an SEC team in a bowl game last season. Maybe they can have a perfect season and finally beat one in the BCS National Championship? Anything is possible with the Buckeyes.

    Best Case:

    12-0

    Wins: Akron, Toledo, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, Miami (Fla.), Michigan State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan

    Losses: N/A

    Worst Case:

    8-4

    Wins: Akron, Toledo, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, Michigan

    Losses: Miami (Fl), Michigan State, Nebraska, Wisconsin,

5. Oregon Ducks

21 of 25

    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  LaMichael James #21 of the Oregon Ducks reacts during their game against the Auburn Tigers during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    The Oregon Ducks have gotten the reputation as the most electrifying team in college athletics. They are returning the two most important parts of their offense—quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James.

    The Ducks will have a test early when they play LSU in Week 1. This is one of the only games the Ducks could possibly lose this year. It's not that the Ducks have a weak schedule, they are just that good.

    They return too many good key players and have one of the best coaches in college football, Chip Kelly. The Oregon Ducks should play for the national championship again this season, barring disaster.

    Best Case:

    12-0

    Wins: Nevada, Missouri State, Arizona, California, Arizona State, Colorado, Washington State, Washington, LSU, Stanford, USC, Oregon State

    Losses: N/A

    Worst Case:

    8-4

    Wins: Nevada, Missouri State, Arizona, California, Colorado, Washington State, Washington, Oregon State

    Losses: LSU, Stanford, USC, Arizona State

4. LSU Tigers

22 of 25

    ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 07:  Members of the Louisiana State University Tigers celebrate after defeating the Texas A&M Aggies 41-24 during the AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on January 7, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Image
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Les Miles’ LSU Tigers have an experienced team returning for their 2011 campaign. They will bring back 10 starters on offense and eight on defense.

    Although the big difference this season will be new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe, he needs to somehow produce an offense that can throw the ball. Many fans think the answer could be junior college transfer quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

    Whether the 2010 starter Jordan Jefferson or Mettenberger is given the job, the Tigers should still have a sold season.

    The LSU Tigers need to beat Oregon to open the season if they want to keep the hope alive for a 2011 BCS National Championship.

    Best Case:

    12-0

    Wins: NM State, Mississippi State, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Ole Miss, Oregon, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas

    Losses: N/A

    Worst Case:

    9-3

    Wins: NM State, Mississippi State, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Ole Miss, Florida, Auburn

    Losses: Alabama, Arkansas, Oregon

3. Florida State Seminoles

23 of 25

    ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  Head coach Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles reacts after their 26-17 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks during the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl at Georgia Dome on December 31, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Florida State might be one of the most over-hyped teams in 2011. The Seminoles are returning nine starters on both sides of ball from a team that won 10 games last season.

    The Seminoles will probably win a lot of games due to their weak ACC schedule. But a lot of FSU fans are talking about a national championship in 2011.

    It is definitely possible, but I don’t thing they are strong enough to make it happen. Christian Ponder will be a big loss at quarterback. E.J. Manuel will need to step up if the Seminoles want to make it to the big game.

    Best Case:

    11-1

    Wins: ULM, Charleston Southern, Maryland, Wake Forest, NC State, Boston College, Virginia, Duke, Florida, Clemson, Miami (Fl)

    Losses: Oklahoma

    Worst Case:

    8-4

    Wins: ULM, Charleston Southern, Maryland, Wake Forest, NC State, Boston College, Virginia, Duke

    Losses: Oklahoma, Miami (Fl), Florida, Clemson

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

24 of 25

    TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 02:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide leads his team onto the field to face the Florida Gators at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 2, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Alabama Crimson Tide may have lost some of their best players to the draft this season. But they have recruited so well the past few years, it should not make any difference.

    The quarterback position is the biggest question mark of all for the Crimson Tide. A.J. McCarron is the early favorite to win the job. Even if McCarron isn’t great, Bama should still be fine.

    They return running back Trent Richardson, who will be enjoying his first season as the featured back for the Crimson Tide.

    Like most seasons, Alabama will need to roll through the gauntlet that is the SEC regular season if they want to make the national championship game. The key date to circle is Nov. 5, when they will take on the LSU Tigers at home.

    Best Case:

    12-0

    Wins: Kent State, North Texas, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Miss State, Georgia Southern, Penn State, Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Auburn

    Losses: N/A

    Worst Case:

    10-2

    Wins: Kent State, North Texas, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Miss State, Georgia Southern, Penn State, Florida, Auburn

    Losses: Arkansas, LSU

1. Oklahoma Sooners

25 of 25

    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Tight end James Hanna #82 of the Oklahoma Sooners catches a touchdown pass in the first quarter past Jerome Junior #15 of the Connecticut Huskies during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    The Oklahoma Sooners seem to be the consensus preseason top-ranked team. What’s not to like about them?

    The Sooners are returning their star quarterback, Landry Jones, and 29 players total who started on offense or defense at least once last season. Bob Stoops has one of the best teams he has ever had in Norman. If Oklahoma is going to lose a game this season, I see it coming sometime during the tough Big 12 season.

    This appears to be one of the best seasons the Big 12 Conference has had in a long time. Any team that makes it through undefeated deserves to go to the BCS National Championship game.

    Their toughest game this season will probably be against their in-state rivals Oklahoma State. It will be an exciting way to close out a great season.

    Best Case:

    12-0

    Wins: Tulsa, Missouri, Ball State, Kansas, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor, Florida State, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State

    Losses: N/A

    Worst Case:

    9-3

    Wins: Tulsa, Missouri, Ball State, Kansas, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas

    Losses: Florida State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State