College Football Rankings 2011: 10 Teams That Could Win the National Title
After another phenomenal year of college football we are closing in on another one that should be just as exciting as the last.
Every team starts with a new slate. Some come into the season looking like heavy favorites to lift that glass football in the national championship game.
But like last year a surprise team got off to a hot start and continued dominance through the season. The Auburn Tigers who weren't even picked to finish first in the SEC West ended up beating the Oregon Ducks to hoist the national championship trophy.
With plenty of exciting players to watch and great games here are my top 10 favorite teams to win the whole thing next year.
This is the second edition of this article.
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10. Florida State Seminoles
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Florida State Seminoles are my Wild Card pick for the national championship this year.
The Seminoles have improved vastly under Jimbo Fisher who was promoted to head coach last year but Florida State still has to replace starting quarterback Christian Ponder.
The quarterback replacing him is going to be EJ Manuel. Manuel is a junior and has not had much playing time except for the occasional mop up duty and some playing time when Ponder was injured.
Manuel coming out of high school was a highly touted dual threat quarterback that chose the Seminoles over other high profile schools.
With all the potential in the world Manuel could do some serious damage this year with Bert Reed catching Manuel's passes. Reed is one of the faster wide receivers in the nation who also creates plays on special teams to returning punts and kicks.
On the defensive side of the ball defensive end Brandon Jenkins is bound to cause havoc again this year after a 13.5 sack output last season.
The rest of Florida State's defense is solid and could provide some support for Manuel who might have some trouble at first at the reins of the offense.
9. Texas A&M Aggies
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Coach Mike Sherman has brought the Texas A&M Aggies a long way and he is still bringing them to maximum potential.
After losing three straight games Sherman replaced starting quarterback Jerrod Johnson with Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill then lead them to seven straight victories with huge wins over Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas on Thanksgiving.
The Aggies also have workhorse running back Cyrus Gray who is now a senior running the ball. Last year he had over a 1,000 yards and looks to improve this year.
A&M's defense is also solid but did lose a big piece with linebacker Von Miller being drafted.
The game to watch for Texas A&M is in Week 3 when they play Oklahoma State in what should be a classic shootout.
If A&M can get past that and a couple other tough games then they could be legitimate national championship contenders.
8. Oklahoma State Cowboys
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Another Big 12 team that is very dangerous and has a chance to win the national championship is Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State has tons of offensive fire power with Brandon Weeden at quarterback and Justin Blackmon at wide receiver.
Blackmon might be the best receiver in the country and Weeden has precise accuracy. Sophomore running back Joseph Randle could break out for a big season this year after an impressive freshman campaign.
Oklahoma State's only problem is defense. Last year the defense allowed an average of 26 points per game. Even though the offense is explosive and scores 40 points per game the defense will have to step up this year for the Cowboys to have a chance.
The Cowboys most important game is against Texas A&M in Week 4. After that game is a pretty easy road except for the last game against the Oklahoma Sooners.
7. South Carolina Gamecocks
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Here is the interesting fact of the day. An SEC team has won the national championship the past four years and it could continue with South Carolina.
The Gamecocks are one of the most offensively balanced teams in the country. Quarterback Stephen Garcia has a weapon to thrown down field to and a weapon behind him to run the ball all over defenses.
The down field threat is wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery averaged over 17 yards per catch while catching for over 1,300 yards. He is a freak of nature with almost tight end size but has the speed and athleticism of a receiver.
The back field threat is running back Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore was a workhorse his freshman year rushing for over 1,100 yards. He's bound to have an even more productive year in 2012 with all of his power.
South Carolina's defense can be good at times but as we saw last year in the SEC title game it can be exploited big time. Defensive tackle Melvin Ingram is a sack artist that compiled nine sacks last year and could easily break that barrier this year with his talent.
The Gamecocks have a pretty easy schedule this year. A game that could effect there national championship hopes could be against Georgia in Athens in the second week of the season.
6. LSU Tigers
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Every year since there 2007 championship it seems as if the LSU Tigers have the potential to win the SEC and even make a trip to the BCS.
But every year they disappoint and lose a couple of games here and there and they don't look like they can compete against opponents like Alabama and Florida.
But with coach Les Miles on the hot seat this could be the Tigers year.
First off Jordan Jefferson will have to become the leader of a struggling offense and be able to throw the ball with accuracy while still making plays with his feet.
Another threat that I look for on LSU is Russell Shepard. I expect Shepard to become a threat at both running the ball, catching the ball and even throwing the ball a little bit as he is such a dangerous athlete. He clocks in at a 4.36 40 and has very impressive hands while catching the ball.
Two huge losses for LSU are both on defense. Middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard who lead the team and the SEC in tackles was recently drafted and cornerback Patrick Peterson was also recently drafted with the fifth pick in the draft.
Les Miles does a good job recruiting and developing players into very solid players especially on the defensive side of the ball. If that can happen the LSU defense could be very solid.
A game that could make or break the Tigers season is there first game against the Oregon Ducks in Arlington, Texas at the Dallas Cowboys stadium. It will be a tough game but with if a win happens then they could go on to win the national championship.
5. Boise State Broncos
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The question comes up every year: When will the Boise State Broncos be invited to the national championship game?
Well first off they have to go undefeated for that happen or else they will never get a shot. Secondly multiple teams have to have one loss or more for the Broncos to have a chance.
The Broncos do have a great chance of going undefeated this year because of quarterback Kellen Moore who is one of the most productive quarterbacks in the country. Running back Doug Martin is also a very special to the Broncos offense.
Last year Martin ran for over 1,200 yards with an average of 6.26 yards per carry. With Moore and Martin running the offense the Broncos should put up gaudy numbers on the offensive side of the ball.
The defensive leader of the Broncos is safety Jeron Johnson. Johnson is a hard hitter that is also a ball hawk. Coach Chris Petersen also does a good job replacing players on both sides of the ball but especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Boise States first game will be the toughest they will probably have all season. On September 3rd the Broncos face the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, Georgia. If the Broncos win this game they have a pretty simple schedule until they play MWC rival TCU.
If Boise State can go undefeated and other teams lose at least one game the Broncos could be looking at a berth in the national championship game.
4. Stanford Cardinal
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Lead by the best quarterback in the country Andrew Luck, the Stanford Cardinal could make a run to the national championship.
But Luck isn't the only player that will help lead the Cardinal to a national championship.
Behind Luck is Stepfan Taylor who ran for over 1,000 yards last year. With Taylor in the back field it helps Luck with play action because of how dangerous Taylor can be. Luck can also break the pocket and can be very mobile at times.
Another offensive threat to look out for is Chris Owusu. Owusu is a very dangerous receiver that also has skills on returning kicks to. Every year he gets stronger and he already has the dangerous speed to beat any defense.
Defensively Stanford is a hard hitting team that plays fundamental defense. They are very physical and do not like to get run over by anyone. Linebacker Shayne Skov is the main piece of the defense. Skov had 84 tackles and seven and half sacks and that was all as a middle linebacker.
A game that could decide the Cardinal fate is in Week 10 against other Pac-10 powerhouse the Oregon Ducks. If Stanford can't stop the Ducks dynamic offense they can say good bye to there national championship hopes.
3. Oregon Ducks
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Maybe the most dynamic offense in the country, the Oregon Ducks are looking to make it the national championship again after last years appearance.
The Ducks offense scores points off the charts. Last year the Ducks averaged 47 points and probably will score at the same rate this year.
Running back LaMichael James is the core of the offense. James ran for over 1,600 yards last season and had 21 touchdowns. But its not only the running game that makes Oregon dangerous. Quarterback Darron Thomas threw for 30 touchdowns last season and is also a running threat.
A key loss for the Ducks is wide receiver Jeff Maehl. I get a feeling that he will missed a lot in that offense because of the key receptions he had and the chemistry he had with Thomas.
This offense still is going to score more points total than anyone else though even with the loss of Maehl.
Defensively the Ducks are underrated. Linebacker Kenny Rowe had seven sacks and 48 tackles and looks to have an even better year this year. And maybe the most heralded cornerback in college football right now Cliff Harris is bound to have a huge year on defense and on special teams.
The key game for the Ducks is on week one against LSU. This is a game that you could be the national championship game if they didn't play each other. If the Ducks win against LSU they could make a serious splash in the national championship game, again.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide
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This might be a little bit high for the Alabama Crimson Tide but they are definitely are going into the season with a chip on there shoulder after the tornadoes that caused destruction in Tuscaloosa.
But it's not just the chip on Alabama's shoulder they have the talent to win to.
Running back Trent Richardson is a danger anytime he gets his hands on the ball. Richardson reportedly power cleans over 365 pounds, squats 600 pounds, bench presses 475 pounds and runs a 4.4 40. He is an athletic freak that ran for over 700 yards in a back up role to Mark Ingram.
At quarterback Phillip Sims and AJ McCarron will duke it out for the starting spot. McCarron is more of a pocket quarterback that has a strong arm. He has the most experience out of him and Sims. Sims is more a dual quarterback and has no playing experience. Either way Alabama goes both quarterbacks could have a nice a season with Richardson behind them.
Defensively the Tide are going to be maybe the best in the nation. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower leads the defense with safety Mark Barron also being a leader on the defensive side of the ball. This defense could carry the Tide to a national championship if the offense does somewhat well.
The key game for the Tide is against the LSU Tigers in week nine. This game could decide who wins the SEC and who would get a berth in the national championship game.
1. Oklahoma Sooners
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The team most likely to win the national championship this year are the Oklahoma Sooners.
The Sooners are led by quarterback Landry Jones who is a very underrated quarterback. Jones threw for 38 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions while completing over 65 percent of his passes. Jones has a weapon to throw to in Ryan Broyles.
Broyles is a speedy receiver who had 131 receptions last year and over 1,600 yards receiving. Broyles is bound to have another huge year and he could even break those ridiculous numbers he had last year.
The Sooners running game is young and inexperienced after senior DeMarco Murray was drafted. But sophomore Roy Finch looks as if he has some talent and could be a threat with his speed.
Defensively the Sooners have lost many players but coach Bob Stoops always does a fine job of filling in places where needed. One player to look out for is defensive back Jamell Fleming. In his first year as a starter in 2010 he had five interceptions and 70 tackles.
The game to watch for Oklahoma is against Florida State in Week 2. If the Sooners can win in Tallahassee agains the Seminoles the Sooners could easily make it to the national championship game.