College Football Rankings 2011: 10 Top-25 Teams That Will Disappoint
The 2011 season is still more than five months away, but it is already one of the most hyped of all time. Every fanbase in the nation seems to think that 2011 is “their year.”
Spring football is just starting up, so the earliest of preseason polls are popping up all over the web. In these polls, there are numerous teams that are over-hyped. Some of the hype comes from success in 2010, others are ranked simply because of their prestige.
The following are the 10 ranked teams that will disappoint in 2011.
The Tigers may have lost more from a season ago than any team in college football. They’re only returning four starters on both sides of the ball, yet they are still ranked in the top 20 in most preseason polls.
The most significant losses are all four of their starting offensive lineman, defensive tackle Nick Fairly and Heisman winner Cam Newton.
The only hope for the Tigers is that their highly rated recruiting class can make a big impact. However, it is difficult to put that much faith in freshman.
I don’t see how Auburn can remain a ranked team in 2011. They lack experience and have too many holes to endure a tough SEC season. Don’t expect more than seven wins from Auburn.
Florida State Seminoles
Head coach Jimbo Fisher is undoubtedly taking Florida State in the right direction—they are a program on the rise. That being said, they will not compete for a national title in 2011.
Just because the Seminoles can dominate a weak ACC does not mean that they are ready to compete with the upper echelon of teams.
Against the only two elite programs on their schedule last season, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech, the Seminoles gave up a combined 91 points.
However, last season, Florida State battled injuries at the defensive tackle position. I don’t think added depth will vault them ahead of teams like Oklahoma.
With a turnover-prone quarterback, E.J. Manuel, and an inconsistent defense, the Seminoles are still a few years away.
Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans surprised a lot of people and had a great season in 2011, with a record of 11-2. However, they were exposed in their bowl game, a 49-7 rout at the hands of Alabama.
Their only tough road game last season was against Iowa, a game in which the were defeated, 37-6. This season, they will travel to Ohio State, Notre Dame, Nebraska and again to Iowa.
After the loss of star linebackers Greg Jones and Eric Gordon, all signs point toward a disappointing season for the Spartans.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Mississippi State only won five games in 2009. They followed it up in 2010 with one of the most surprising turnarounds in college football, with a record of 9-4 including a bowl win against Michigan.
Many analysts like the Bulldogs in 2011 because of the return of running back Vick Ballard. Although Ballard is a great back, in 2010 he was not the reason the Bulldogs were so good. The reason was that Mississippi State played very good defense.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they are losing all three of their starting linebackers from a season ago. Without strong linebackers, it will be tough for them to compete during the brutal SEC season.
The Huskers live and die with their quarterback, Taylor Martinez. They are returning one of the best defenses in the nation for 2011, but they need Martinez if they expect their offense to do anything.
Nebraska will be playing their first ever season in the Big Ten. The competition will be much more fierce than that of the Big 12 North, and everyone will be looking to formally welcome Nebraska to the conference with a loss.
I am not too sure how well Nebraska’s offense will work in such a powerful conference. Unless Martinez can play like a Heisman candidate again, Nebraska will probably take a step back in 2011.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are returning 19 starters from a season ago and probably have their best team since 2006.
In 2011, they expect to compete for a BCS bowl, but this might be a bit far-fetched. The Irish play a tough schedule for a change—nine of their opponents were in bowl games last season.
The key players returning for the Irish are wide receiver Michael Floyd and linebacker Manti Te’o. They are also returning quarterback Dayne Crist, who has been out all offseason after he underwent knee surgery.
There has been controversy regarding whether he will return a starter or the Irish will start Tommy Rees in his place.
With so many tough games and questions at quarterback, I see the Irish losing around three games.
Ohio State Buckeyes
The Ohio State Buckeyes football team has had the most controversial offseason in college athletics. They will have five of their top players suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season and will also be without their coach, Jim Tressel, for the first two games.
There has been speculation that Tressel's suspension could grow as well.
I don’t think there is any doubt that Ohio State has the talent to be a top-10 team. But without key players like Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron and Devier Posey, it might be difficult to get through the first five games unscathed.
In those five games, the Buckeyes will have to play Miami (FL) on the road and also have two tough homes games against Colorado and Michigan State.
Ohio State expects to compete for the BCS title every season, but 2011 might not be the Buckeyes' year.
Stanford might be returning the best quarterback in all of college football with Andrew Luck, but the rest of the team is a major concern.
Stanford is losing their head coach, their two top receivers, three offensive line starters and seven starters on the defense side of the ball. That might be too much for the Cardinal to replace.
The Pac-12 is expected to be very strong in it's inaugural season, I’m not sure Stanford has what it takes this time around.
Stars like Luck, Stephan Taylor and Shayne Skov might be able to carry this team, but it seems unlikely.
TCU Horned Frogs
The Horned Frogs ended last season with an upset Rose Bowl victory against Wisconsin, but their 2011 squad is going to have a very different look.
They are only returning five players on each side of the ball next season and lost their starting quarterback, Andy Dalton.
Dalton was the emotional leader of the team and is the all-time wins leader as a starter at TCU—he will be impossible to completely replace.
This is going to be TCU’s last season as a mid-major conference team before moving to the Big East, so they will have a viable chance to run the table in 2011. But in order to do this, they will need to win at Boise State. I don’t see this happening.
Boise State will be the only mid-major BCS buster in 2011.
Last season, the Longhorns failed to make a bowl game for the first time ever under head coach Mack Brown. They responded to this by replacing six different assistant coaches. They will also have new offensive and defensive coordinators.
Along with a struggling quarterback, Garret Gilbert, and a true freshman feature back, Malcolm Brown, the Longhorns have a recipe for disaster.
Though I believe Texas will go bowling in 2011, they are by no means a ranked team.
So, many people have asked, is this the downfall of Texas? Don’t be ridiculous. Texas will bounce back, just not in 2011.