College Football 2011: 10 Teams With Legit Claims for Preseason No. 1
It is never too early to talk about the upcoming college football season and to predict what team is going to be the AP's preseason No. 1.
While only one team will lay claim to that position, all 10 teams on this list have a potential reason to be No. 1.
Many of the traditional powerhouses are looking strong again, and it should be another season full of important games and big upsets.
Feel free to comment below on what other teams could have a claim for that coveted No. 1 slot.
Order of slides is alphabetical.
Alabama Crimson Tide
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The Crimson Tide lost a lot of key players from last year but proved in their bowl appearance that they will be a contender in 2011.
Gone from Alabama's 2010 roster are running back Mark Ingram, wide receiver Julio Jones, quarterback Greg McElroy and defensive end Marcell Dareus.
The quarterback position has not been decided yet for Alabama, but both candidates will have most of last year's offensive line in front of them.
Alabama proved to the college football world that it still has the talent to compete when it smacked Michigan State 49-7.
After Oklahoma, Alabama seems like the team with the best chance of being ranked preseason No. 1.
Boise State Broncos
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Boise State is making a big move to the Mountain West, and that could help to gain them respect early on in the polls.
Kellen Moore will be back to lead a Broncos offense that will be up there with some of the best in the nation.
Had Boise State not fallen to Nevada, it could have had a chance to be national champions last year, and voters may look at that as a reason to put them first this year.
While I don't see Boise State being the No. 1 team when the polls come out, it does not seem that far our of reach for them to receive a few first-place votes.
Florida State Seminoles
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If the voters were to base the first slot on best recruiting class, then Florida State would be everyone's No. 1.
Jimbo Fisher brought in the top recruiting class in the nation, and if those players can mesh with the talent Florida State already has, then the Seminoles could be dangerous.
Christian Ponder is gone for the NFL, but fortunately E.J. Manuel already has experience after Ponder missed games last season.
The Seminoles have some tough out-of-conference games, but they could potentially run the table in the ACC.
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LSU will be bringing back a bunch of guys from last season, and that could be enough to claim the No. 1 slot in the preseason AP poll.
Ten offensive starters and eight defensive starters will return for the Tigers. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson will also be back and is sure to be much improved.
Obviously LSU will be seriously hurt by the loss of Patrick Peterson, the star cornerback, and could be vulnerable on defense.
With a coach like Les Miles on the sideline and plenty of players coming back, voters could put LSU first in their preseason poll.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
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A lot of people think Notre Dame is going to break through this year, and I consider myself included in that group.
Michael Floyd is one of the best wide receivers in the nation and will give Notre Dame a big play opportunity every time it has the ball.
Notre Dame also has a schedule that will allow it to move up in the rankings if it can win.
While it seems unlikely the Fighting Irish will receive any first-place votes at the beginning of the season, they could prove by the end of the year that they deserved more respect.
Ohio State Buckeyes
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Ohio State's ranking could vary by a lot depending on if the voters vote based on the team Ohio State has the first five games or the team it will have at the end of the year.
Ohio State will be without quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four other players until the sixth game of the year after the players were suspended for an incident last year.
Ohio State returns nine starters on the offensive side of the ball and could be a threat to compete for the national championship once these players are back.
If AP voters look at the Ohio State team that will be on the field in December, then the Buckeyes could receive some preseason No. 1 votes.
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Most people consider Oklahoma to be the front runner to grab that No. 1 spot after a very successful 2010 season.
The Sooners finished off last year 12-2 and have an amazing 14 players on offense and 15 players on defense with starting experience. This will give the Sooners a huge advantage early in the season, when players are still adjusting to the college game.
Landry Jones will be back to lead Oklahoma's passing attack, which will have its star receiver in Ryan Broyles back at school.
It will be difficult for the AP not to pick Oklahoma to be No. 1 after a stellar season and almost the entire cast back for another go-around.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
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Oklahoma State is returning its best two offensive weapons in Brandon Weeden at quarterback and Justin Blackmon at wide receiver.
The Cowboys set a bunch of school records last year, offensively speaking, and could potentially break those records again this year.
If the AP can get over the fact that the Cowboys defense is one of the weaker ones in the Big 12, then Oklahoma State could sneak in some No. 1 votes.
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When a team is returning its star quarterback and tailback and played in the national championship game the year before, it has to have a serious stake in that No. 1 slot.
Oregon fell by a field goal in this year's national championship game and returns running back LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Thomas.
The Ducks will be putting points up in bunches again next year and could claim the No. 1 slot.
If Oregon doesn't start off as preseason No. 1, it will have a chance to claim it with a victory over LSU in one of the most anticipated non-conference matchups of the year.
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It is only fair to include the team with the best player in the country on this list. Then throw in the fact that the player is a quarterback, and Stanford should be high up in the preseason rankings.
Andrew Luck decided to return to Stanford for another year even though many considered him to be a lock for the first pick in this year's NFL draft.
Obviously the Cardinal lost one of the key pieces of last year's team in coach Jim Harbaugh, and that could hurt them early on in the polls until they prove themselves.
If Stanford can build on the success of last year, it could have some potential to be No. 1 in the preseason.