AP Poll College Football 2011: 8 Teams That Have Potential to Run the Table
No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Alabama may be on a collision course to play in the BCS Championship in January.
But are they both going to be undefeated when that game rolls around?
If they want a shot at the title, being 12-0 or 13-0 is likely going to be a requirement. So if neither the Sooners nor Crimson Tide can dial up perfection, who else in the preseason AP Poll might be able to run the table?
Keep reading and see the eight teams from the AP Poll who have the potential to win every regular season game.
No. 1 Oklahoma
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There’s a reason the Sooners are the preseason No. 1 team, and the biggest reason is because of the surplus of top-flight talent at Oklahoma.
Good luck to Oklahoma’s opponents as the offense is going to pile on the points. Led by quarterback Landry Jones, the Sooners could roll through the season en route to the BCS Championship.
It is tough to hold onto the top spot all season, but the Sooners may have the right mix. Even without linebacker Travis Lewis for the first few games, the defense is formidable. One weakness could be the defensive backfield, but that group is skilled and should bond quickly.
Oklahoma is going to win a lot of games by double digits, but if the Sooners are in a close battle late their average special teams could be the difference between perfection and a loss.
Most likely loss: at Oklahoma State (Dec. 3). The road trip to Florida State (Sept. 17) is going to be tough, but the Cowboys will be explosive on offense again and they are tired of losing to OU.
No. 2 Alabama
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There may not be anyone better than Nick Saban at handling the demands and pressure that comes with navigating the pitfalls to go undefeated.
Saban is also well aware that this year’s Crimson Tide group is supremely talented, and he knows you can’t blow a golden opportunity.
Alabama’s potential run to 12-0 and the SEC Championship begins and ends with the defense. To put it nicely, the Tide defense is nasty. You can’t run on them and you can’t throw on them. So offenses are going to be frustrated all season.
The offensive line is large and experienced, and they will open up some huge running lanes for Trent Richardson, who is finally the featured back.
Alabama’s potential weakness is at quarterback where A.J. McCarron or Phillip Sims will take over for Greg McElroy. Whoever earns the starting nod should become comfortable pretty quickly and go from a weak spot to a strength.
Most likely loss: at Mississippi State (Nov. 12). It would be easy to pick the LSU game on Nov. 5, but it’s more likely Alabama will have a letdown a week later on the road.
No. 3 Oregon
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Wow, with that Oregon offensive prowess it’s easy to see how the Ducks could win big every week.
It all starts with quarterback Darron Thomas, who makes Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense click. Thomas is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the game and he can make defenses look silly.
Add into the mix Heisman candidate LaMichael James at running back and David Paulson at tight end and Oregon’s offense will likely average close to 50 points a game in 2011.
The defense was hit hard by graduation, and the unit’s best player (cornerback Cliff Harris) is suspended for the first game with LSU.
When it comes to big games, Oregon’s defensive line might not have what it takes.
Most likely loss: vs. LSU (Sept. 3). Odd, huh! How do you pick a team to potentially run the table, but Oregon is going to lose in the first week? That is exactly the point. If the Ducks get past LSU the only thing standing in the way is a tough road game with Stanford on Nov. 12.
No. 4 LSU
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Once again, LSU is overflowing with outstanding SEC talent. Les Miles has brought in a lot of athletes and he might have the right mix this fall.
The Tigers did lose some key players, most notably Patrick Peterson.
If LSU’s offense picks up where it left off in 2010, the Tigers are going to be a force.
We’ll all find out a lot on the opening weekend when LSU plays Oregon at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. If LSU’s defense plays its typical game then the game will rest on quarterback Jordan Jefferson and the offense.
Going undefeated is going to be very tough for the Tigers as they have one of the nation’s toughest schedules, including a road game at West Virginia.
Most likely loss: at Alabama (Nov. 5). If the Oregon game were being played at Death Valley it would be a no-brainer that the Tigers would win. It’s a little more questionable at the neutral site, but LSU’s defense should be too tough. So the charged road game with Alabama will be the biggest challenge.
No. 5 Boise State
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Boise State has enjoyed a nice run, but this may be the last chance the Broncos get in awhile for a shot at the elusive BCS Championship Game.
Boise’s schedule is a little tougher and that will help its cause. Senior quarterback Kellen Moore also helps a lot also. Moore is one of the nation’s most accurate quarterbacks and he runs Chris Petersen’s offense to perfection.
The defense is also stacked, especially one of the nation’s best lines.
The toughest in-conference game is going to be TCU on the blue carpet in Boise on Nov. 12.
Most likely loss: vs. Georgia (Sept. 3). The Broncos will be tested more in the Mountain West as compared to the Western Athletic Conference, but Boise’s opener against the SEC’s Georgia Bulldogs in Atlanta is going to be a serious challenge.
No. 6 Florida State
The Seminoles seem to be everyone’s “surprise” team. If everyone keeps picking you it’s hard to remain a surprise.
But after Jimbo Fisher took over for the legendary Bobby Bowden in Tallahassee and guided the Seminoles to its first 10-win season in seven years, the expectations have been ratcheted up because of that success.
FSU may be up to the challenge.
Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops has one of the best units in the ACC. The defensive line is athletic and is led by first-round talent defensive end Brandon Jenkins.
Fisher is the offensive mastermind and he is confident that E.J. Manuel will be a superstar at quarterback. There are about 82,000 FSU fans each Saturday who want to believe also.
Most likely loss: Oklahoma (Sept. 17). The game may be at Doak Campbell Stadium, but the Sooners are the preseason No. 1 for a reason. It was a year ago, but Oklahoma outclassed FSU 47-17 in Norman. The score won’t be that big, but there’s a good chance it will still be a 10-point win by the Sooners.
No. 13 Virginia Tech
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There’s a lot of speculation outside of Blacksburg on how much Virginia Tech’s offense will suffer without Tyrod Taylor at quarterback this fall.
Don’t worry. Logan Thomas is a legitimate quarterback with a bright future.
Thomas will get plenty of protection for his experienced line, and it helps to have wide receiver talent like Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale to settle down a young quarterback. Don’t forget that David Wilson is one of the ACC’s best running backs.
Bud Foster’s defense is led by All-American cornerback Jayron Hosley, who had nine interceptions last year.
If you take a good look at Virginia Tech’s schedule it’s easy to see how the Hokies could be 12-0 going into the ACC Championship game.
Most likely loss: Clemson (Oct. 1). Since the game is in Blacksburg this is a pretty big if. But there are a lot of football people who really like Clemson’s talent and the Tigers may match up the best with Tech. It’s more likely Virginia Tech’s first loss could come in the conference title game.
No. 16 Notre Dame
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Notre Dame is the biggest stretch on this list, but it might not take as many breaks as you think for the Irish to go 12-0.
The offense has been molded with the right players to fit what Brian Kelly wants to run. Kelly’s track record is exceptional, and he guided Cincinnati to a perfect record.
So he should be able to do it at Notre Dame.
Last year’s four-game winning streak at the end of the season showed how good Notre Dame could be.
Most likely loss: at Stanford (Nov. 26). The Cardinal whipped Notre Dame last year 37-14 in South Bend, and Stanford has back the core of that team. The Irish also has tough games with Michigan State (Sept. 17) and USC (Oct. 22).