Alabama Crimson Tide and the Top 11 College Football Teams for 2011
The NCAA is primed for a fantastic college football season in 2011, with a number of powerhouse teams that return plenty of talent like the Alabama Crimson Tide and Oregon Ducks.
This year will carry on the momentum that a fantastic bowl season provided last year, capped off by a down-to-the-wire BCS Championship game.
A number of big-name programs from different conferences including the SEC, Pac 12, and Big 12 will make noise in the national spotlight this year.
Let's take a look at the preseason top 11 teams in college football for 2011.
11. Texas A&M Aggies
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The Texas A&M Aggies will be one of the most experienced teams in college football in 2011.
After a solid 9-4 season in 2010, they return 10 starters on offense and eight starters on defense.
Von Miller was a highly-touted prospect and was selected second in the NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.
He and his fellow linebacker Michael Hodges will be the only glaring hole that is in need of filling for the Aggies.
If Damontre Moore and Jonathan Stewart are up to the task, this defense will be stellar once again.
Experience and a manageable schedule with some winnable national-level games will make for an above-average season in College Station this season.
10. Wisconsin Badgers
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The Wisconsin Badgers were expected to take a small step back after a monumental 2010 season.
Only returning 11 starters total, the team will be a bit inexperienced, and was expected to struggle a little bit as new starters learn how to deal with Big Ten talent.
Then, the news surfaced that former North Carolina State standout quarterback Russell Wilson will be joining the Badgers in 2011.
The magnitude of this news is beyond comprehension.
Wilson is the type of quarterback that is rarely seen in a Badger uniform. Rather than managing games, he has the ability to win games.
His ability to run will only add to the already potent running game in Wisconsin.
Watch out for Wilson and the Badgers in 2011.
9. Michigan State Spartans
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With the controversy surrounding the Ohio State football program, it is time for the Michigan State Spartans to become a consistent force in the Big Ten in 2011.
Following a share of the Big Ten title in 2010 that surprised many, the Spartans need to avoid taking a step back.
With an impressive senior quarterback leading the team in Kirk Cousins, a dynamic runner in Edwin Baker, and a couple of All-Conference defensive selections in Johnny Adams and Trenton Robinson, this team is definitely not short on talent.
The problem for this program has been consistency.
The Spartans may not be able to repeat the 11-2 season from 2010.
Still, with only three teams on the schedule that match up talent-wise, Michigan State has the potential to stick in the top 10 in 2011.
8. Florida State Seminoles
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Usually when a team loses an experienced starting quarterback, it leads to worries about the replacement.
In the case of the Florida State Seminoles, there is a proven man for the job ready to step in.
E.J. Manuel, according to nationalchamps.net, has started in six games while Christian Ponder had dealt with injuries, and the team is 4-2 in those games.
That's not to shabby for a back-up making spot starts.
They also return eight starters on each side of the ball, making them the favorite in the ACC this year.
The Seminoles will host the Oklahoma Sooners early on this year. This game will be a barometer for Florida State. If they can compete with, or even defeat, Oklahoma it will prove their national relevance at an early stage of the season.
If Florida State can take down the Sooners, look for a one or two loss season and a BCS Bowl bid.
7. Oklahoma State Cowboys
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Last season, the Oklahoma State Cowboys ranked second in the nation in passing.
This year, nearly every player that helped produce those results returns to the team.
They return 10 starters on offense and six on defense, including potential Heisman contenders in quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
Oklahoma State will be able to score with the best of offensive attacks in 2011. The problem is the porous defense.
If the defense can manage to take a small step and turn into an opportunistic unit that takes advantage of the opposing team's mistakes, the Cowboys could make a run at a Big 12 title.
With three difficult road games on the conference schedule consisting of trips to Texas, Texas A&M, and Missouri, the Cowboys will have their hands full.
What we do know is that they will probably score more often than any other team in the country. That is enough to put them in the top 10 for 2011.
6. Oregon Ducks
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The Oregon Ducks, coming off of a heartbreaking loss in the BCS National Championship, will be near the top of the rankings again in 2011.
Oregon's one disadvantage may be their schedule.
For starters, they open the season with an SEC contender in LSU at a neutral site. They will be able to manage their Pac 12 schedule, but playing at Stanford this season may push them into a runner-up finish in the conference.
The return of leaders like running back LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Thomas will ease the losses of players like linebacker Casey Matthews and wide receiver Jeff Maehl.
Still, there will be an adjustment period, and they may not have time for it.
Despite the adversity, expect the Ducks to be fueled by their talent to another solid season.
5. LSU Tigers
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The LSU Tigers are looking to capitalize on experience this season in the SEC.
Despite the key losses of cornerback Patrick Peterson and both starting defensive tackles, the defense should have its usual intensity.
There are still questions on offense.
Jordan Jefferson has yet to find the consistency that head coach Les Miles has wanted out of his quarterback.
If Jefferson can pull off a magical senior season, this team could be contending for a national title.
If he struggles like he has, they will still likely find success as they somehow always seem to do. Still, in this scenario, it will not be the season that everyone around the LSU football program is expecting in 2011.
The first game of the season is crucial. A win against Oregon could be a sign of big things to come. A loss to could turn 2011 into a mediocre season.
4. Boise State Broncos
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The Boise State Broncos never cease to amaze the college football world.
Despite the unfair circumstances surrounding them as a team in a non-BCS conference, the Broncos seem to be in the national spotlight every season.
This year, in an attempt to fight against the non-BCS stereotype, they will be taking on the Georgia Bulldogs in their first game.
A win could provide the momentum this team needs to earn a shot at a BCS bowl.
The best part about the team returning 14 starters from last year is that 13 of them will be seniors this season.
All signs point to senior quarterback Kellen Moore leading his team to a magical season.
3. Stanford Cardinal
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The Stanford Cardinal may have the roster and schedule to top the 12-1 season they produced in 2010.
With Andrew Luck, one of the best quarterbacks in the country, surprisingly returning to school, this team is the favorite in the Pac 12.
The Oregon Ducks were the only team that beat Stanford last year.
This year, taking on the defending Pac 10 champs at home, Stanford will get over the hump and defeat the Ducks.
Luck is on Stanford's side this season with one of the easier schedules in the Pac 12.
The defense needs to improve, but if they can avoid 52-point outbursts like the one that led to their only loss last season, the Cardinal are in store for an epic season behind their star quarterback.
2. Oklahoma Sooners
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The Oklahoma Sooners have all the tools to breeze through the Big 12 and win another conference title.
After losing Sam Bradford early in the season two years ago, quarterback Landry Jones struggled a bit as the leader of the offense.
Last year, he proved that he does have all the tools be one of the best quarterbacks in the country, leading the Sooners to a 12-2 record and a Fiesta Bowl blowout win.
This year, Jones gets most of his weapons back on the offensive side. The only key contributor he loses is running back DeMarco Murray.
With the return of wide receivers Ryan Broyles, Kenny Stills, and Trey Franks hopefully offsetting the loss of Murray, the offense should be one of the most efficient in the country.
The questions on defense come in the secondary, where there will be two new safeties.
This aspect of the defense could decide the fate of their season.
Nonetheless, this team has the talent to go undefeated in 2011.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
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The Alabama Crimson Tide will come back with a vengeance in 2011 after watching arch rival Auburn reach the top last year.
We all know Nick Saban's blood has been boiling since the Auburn Tigers beat his team last season.
The strength of the team will be defense. They return 10 starters, with playmakers at each level.
Dont'a Hightower will anchor this ferocious defensive pack at middle linebacker, but the safety combination of Mark Barron and Robert Lester is the best in the country.
If the Crimson Tide can find the right quarterback for the job, this team may be unstoppable. Some candidates include sophomore AJ McCarron and redshirt freshman Phillip Sims.
Running back Trent Richardson figures to have a breakout season with the departure of Mark Ingram. He has repeatedly shown his all-around running skills in the shadow of Ingram, but now takes over as the cog in the backfield.
Alabama will be the best team in college football in 2011. If they can fend off difficult SEC opponents on their way to a BCS Championship appearance, they will prove their superiority no matter who they play.