Preseason College Football Rankings 2011: 3 National Championship Sleepers
The favorites for the 2011 BCS National Championship reads like a who’s who of college football royalty. Oklahoma, Alabama and Florida State are all in the conversation.
The only thing more predictable in college football than teams like those being at the top of preseason rankings is unpredictability once the season begins. Any one loss can change the entire landscape. With that in mind, I have three sleeper teams that could be playing for the Waterford crystal football at the end of the season.
The school that is not so nicely referred to as Okie Lite by many has a team that can truly compete with its in-state rival Oklahoma this season.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon are among the best at their positions in the nation. If the defense can come up with stops with any regularity, the Cowboys will be in good shape.
They have enough big games on their schedule to get their BCS rating to where it needs to be and their “Bedlam” game against Oklahoma could turn into a play-in game for the national championship.
The Hokies are the anti-Oklahoma State in many ways. They have huge questions marks all throughout their offense and they are hopeful that their defense and special teams can carry them enough to give the offense a chance to win.
They also have a different schedule situation. The Hokies play in the ACC, a conference that has been much-maligned for their perceived weakness. They lack huge games on their schedule, so their hope is that they go undefeated in their relatively weak schedule and then get a win in the ACC Championship Game, likely against Florida State.
If other teams go undefeated, it might be tough for them to get into the national title game, but if they are the only team or one of two teams to go undefeated from a major conference, they might get in by default.
The Razorbacks have to be considered sleepers simply because of the conference they play in. There are no fewer than four “toss-up” games on Arkansas’ schedule, including a non-conference, neutral site game against Texas A&M. Some preseason rankings have the Hogs as a top ten team. That puts them third in the SEC in that category as most of those same rankings have Alabama and LSU ahead of them.
Losing Ryan Mallett will sting, but last year’s backup quarterback Tyler Wilson played well in his cameos and he should be fine. Running back Knile Davis will miss the season with an injury, but I’m guessing Bobby Petrino finds someone to fill his spot admirably.
A September 24th game against Alabama will be the first barometer game for Arkansas and then the season finale on November 25th against LSU might stand to be a national championship play-in game if both team’s seasons go as planned.
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