College Football Preseason Top 10...Without the East Coast Bias
The 2011 college football season is still six months away, but with spring rosters taking shape, it's time for some more rankings.
There have been a couple of rankings so far, but like most rankings, there has been a definite east coast/big 12 bias.
In terms of bowl performance, the best conference in BCS football was the Mountain West, who went 4-1. Ironically, the only Mountain West team to lose a bowl game is leaving the conference and joining the PAC-10.
I rank the conferences as follows:
1. The SEC (sent 10 teams to bowls, they went 5-5)
2. The Pac-10 (sent 4 teams to bowls, they went 2-2)
3. The Big-10 (sent 8 teams to bowls, they went 3-5)
4 The Big-12 (sent 8 teams to bowls, they went 3-5)
5. The ACC (sent 9 teams to bowls, they went 4-5)
6. The Big East (sent 6 teams to bowls, they went 4-2)
People are pointing to Oklahoma as resurgent powerhouse because they finally won a BCS game. They're not. They beat Connecticut. Everyone beat Connecticut.
Here's a pre-season top 10 without east coast bias.
Number 10: USC (2010 Finish 8-5)
USC loses some talent on both sides of the ball. Notably cornerback Shareece Wright, reciever David Ausberry and running back Allen Bradford.
However, the Trojans redshirted most of last years recruiting class and this year brings another great group of recruits.
USC had trouble holding leads late in games and lost three games by a total of seven points.
There was some discussion that the defensive schemes were too complex, and players were out of position.
Last year was a rebuilding year, this year USC will show they are still an elite program.
The 2011 schedule in the revamped Pac-12 south looks favorable for the Trojans with non-conference games against Minnesota, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Colorado.
I predict USC will go 10-2 with losses to Oregon and Stanford.
Number 9: TCU (2010 Finish 13-0)
TCU had the number one defense in the nation last year, allowing 12 points per game. They had the number four offense, scoring 41.6 per game.
They lose quarterback Andy Dalton who passed for 2,857 yards last season, and they will miss him.
But they do return the leading rusher, Ed Wesley and the leading receiver, Josh Boyce.
They also have a pretty weak schedule with teams like New Mexico, Air Force, Wyoming and BYU on the calendar.
Look for TCU to go 12-1.
Number 8: Georgia (2010 Finish 6-7)
Georgia went 6-7 last year. They lost their bowl game to UCF and they were one of five teams to lose to Colorado.
Why do I have them ranked number eight?
Aaron Murray is a Freshman quarterback who threw for 3,049 yards, 24 touchdowns and only eight interceptions against the strongest competition in the nation.
Look for him to get better next year.
Georgia is losing wide receiver AJ Green and linebacker Justin Houston early to the NFL draft. But most of the offensive line is staying, and I think Murray has the chance to be great next year.
Watch out for the Bulldogs next year.
Number 7: Stanford (2010 Finish 12-1) Will Shaw Have The Same Luck As Harbaugh?
Quarterback Andrew Luck threw for 3,338 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Does the Stanford train run out of Luck this season?
I don't think so. Their non-conference schedule includes teams like Duke, Colorado and Notre Dame.
Look for Stanford to play Oregon for the PAC-12 conference championship.
I don't think they'll win, but they'll finish 11-2.
Number 6: Auburn (2010 Finish 14-0) Fairley Certain They Forfeit Last Season
As of right now, Auburn is the National Champion.
In 14 years, when the SEC finishes their investigation, they will strip Auburn of the title.
Auburn loses Cam Newton who accounted for 50 touchdowns last season. They also lose Nick Fairley, the best defensive tackle in college football.
Auburn could manage the loss of one, but not both.
Newton threw 280 passes last season. His backup threw nine.
I predict they lost to Alabama and go 12-1.
Number 5: Nebraska (2010 Finish 10-4) No Holiday For The Huskers
Most people will remember this Nebraska team as getting soundly thrashed by Washington in the Holiday Bowl.
They're much better than that, as shown by their narrow loss to Oklahoma and their complete destruction of Missouri.
Nebraska plays in the Big-10 next year, and their schedule includes games against Tennessee at Chattanooga, Washington, Fresno State and Wyoming.
I predict they lose to Ohio State, but win the rest.
They bring back Freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez, but lose seniors Roy Helu Jr. who ran for 1,245 yards and leading wide receiver Niles Paul.
Look for Martinez to have a break-out season next year, and watch the resurgent blackshirts. Nebraska was ninth in total defense last year. They'll get better next season.
Number 4: Oklahoma (2010 Finish 12-2)
The challenge with Oklahoma is Landry Jones.
Jones threw for 4,718 yards last season as a sophomore. He had 38 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.
But, when he threw picks, he threw them in bunches. Like three against Oklahoma State (even though they won). Or two against Missouri, which they lost.
Oklahoma has a schedule that allows it to be a top five team. They play Ball State, Tulsa, Kansas, Texas Tech, Iowa State and Baylor.
They should beat everyone on their schedule except for Florida State.
Look for them to go 12-1 and play in another meaningless BCS Bowl.
Number 3: Ohio State (2010 Finish 12-1) Back To School
The Ohio State Five.
The five players suspended for the first five games of the season are all returning next year. They will miss games against Akron, Toledo, Miami (Fla), Colorado and Michigan State.
Can Ohio State win all five games without the Ohio State Five?
Look for Ohio State to run the table this year, and look for Terrelle Pryor to finally reach his potential as quarterback.
This is his team, his year and his chance to prove he's an elite college quarterback. He showed flashes of greatness last season, like his performance against Miami, his four 100 yard rushing games and his brilliant game against Iowa.
Look for Ohio State to go undefeated but not play for the national championship.
Number 2: Alabama (2010 Finish 10-3)
The Crimson Tide lose quarterback Greg McElroy and running back Mark Ingram.
Backup quarterback AJ McCarron looks like he can do the job, and running back Trent Richardson carried 112 times this season without a fumble.
The third ranked defense in the country is bringing back most of the defensive line and linebackers, along with the best recruiting class in the country.
And Nick Saban is one of the best college coaches.
Look for Alabama to go undefeated and represent the SEC in the national championship game.
Number 1: Oregon (2010 Finish 12-1) Respect The Duck
Oregon had the number one offense in the nation last season. They scored an average of 47 points per game and they gave up an average of 18.
They scored early and often, and were only tested once in the regular season.
The bring back quarterback Darron Thomas, running back LaMichael James and three of the best defensive backs in the nation.
Oregon is going to be better next season.
They will go undefeated, win the Pac-12 and win the National Championship.