You are the team to beat. You are the team with high expectations. You are the team others circle on their schedule. You are the team that lets their fan base down with a single lose. You are a preseason top 25 team, and you have a lot to prove.
Goals, dreams, and ambitions start immediately after coaches and experts weigh in on who is the best of the nation, and all three of those words can fly out the window almost immediately in to the season.
These next eight USA Today Top 25 teams are looking at a strong chance of being disappointed to see themselves with the loss column filled up early. Just like any other sport, some one has to lose, and for the upcoming college football season, don't be surprised to see these programs see defeat before week four.
Somehow in the USA Today poll Penn State slid by teams like Arizona State and West Virginia, but it won't stay like that for long. Sorry, Joe Pa.
Squaring off against Indiana State obviously shouldn't be a huge problem, but it's what next week has to show that should put the Nittany Lions back in their cage. Just like last year Penn State will face a solid Alabama team and just like last year Tide will be rolled.
Not only is Alabama a top team, but Penn State's questions at the quarterback and running back position won't be solved by the second week of the season.
Its great for Penn State to schedule a competitive team before Big Ten play comes around, but it seems more than likely that they will start the season 1-1.
Playing in arguably the biggest game to start off the season, the Bulldogs look to avoid an early defeat when they square off against Boise State. Georgia is anything but counted out of this contest, but it will still be a grind to come out victorious against the experienced Broncos. Georgia will have to take care of the home field advantage (its not neutral if they're going to play in a place called the Georgia Dome) and shut down Kellen Moore in order to have a shot at winning, but shutting down Kellen Moore is something no team did last season.
Even if the Bulldogs do stay 1-0 after week one, they will have their hands full for another gritty opponent when the Gamecocks come to town. South Carolina, led by Stephen Garcia and Marcus Lattimore, expects to have a breakthrough season this year for a good reason. The offensive weapons that Steve Spurrier's crew possesses will most likely have the Bulldogs offense playing catchup from the start.
If Georgia can crawl passed two very talented teams, they deserve to be in the top ten, but Bulldogs fans shouldn't get their hopes up yet. Boise State and South Carolina both have offenses and the experience needed to give Georgia at least one lose before week four.
The Missouri Tigers will miss standout quarterback Blaine Gabbert this year, and it will show early. Mizzou kicks the first three weeks off with Miami (OH), Arizona State, and Western Illinois, and as easy as those games may sound it could be enough to trip up the Tigers.
Miami, who some predict to win the MAC, has the tools to challenge Mizzou through the air on a defense that returns only six starters. If Miami goes down to Mizzou, it would be expected, but the Tigers aren't off the hook until conference play. The following week Mizzou travels to Arizona State to play a game that will give the winning team a great chunk of momentum heading forward into the season.
The air will bombarded with passes from Steven Threet who led Arizona's 15th ranked passing offense, and that will pose a challenge to the young secondary. Arizona State's rush game can improve drastically this season now that Cameron Marshall and Deantre Lewis have experience after a year where both averaged 5+ yards a carry. If ASU can shutdown defensive ends Jacquies Smith and Brad Madison, the Devils have a great shot at coming out on top.
Just like was said earlier, Blaine Gabbert will be missed dearly this year, especially if the inexperienced James Franklin or Ashton Glaser can't get the offense rolling. It isn't the hardest early season for a top 25 team, but its still enough to set the Tigers back.
This just isn't the year for schools who call themselves the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State has come a far way and has a very fine team this year, nobody can deny that, but it is also going to be hard denying that MSU will have one loss by their fourth game. Mississippi State can get by Auburn, that is hardly the concern for the Bulldogs. The big question is can Mississippi State get by LSU, a team that could be playing to save their season if they happen to fall to Oregon.
Not only is LSU on the schedule for week three, but Mississippi State only has five days to recuperate from playing Auburn. LSU has the same deal, but instead of playing an SEC school the Tigers face Northwestern State. In that game the starters are more than likely to get at least the fourth quarter off to rest their bodies for Mississippi State.
Personal talent won't be the problem for the Bulldogs, its the early competition and the lack of time to prepare and heal that will give MSU one loss before week four.
It was fun, wasn't it Auburn?
Only returning four starters on both offense and defense, Gene Chizik will have his hands full putting together a depth chart that is half as good as last year's. The whole offensive line was nearly wiped out and that could cause a problem with last years second best offensive threat in Michael Dyer. Last year they weren't even in the preseason top 25, but this year is looking doubtful for Auburn to put together a Cinderella season.
Mississippi State provides early competition for "War Eagle" nation, and if they can get by the Bulldogs they travel to face an underrated Clemson team.
Sorry Irish, but your team will be fighting from behind for another season.
Notre Dame, who always gives themselves a competitive schedule, will be seeing two teams from the state of Michigan in weeks two and three that could trip them up early.
The Michigan Wolverines have proved the nation that they can have just as hot of a start as any other team in the nation. U of M's main tool Denard Robinson will more than likely be 100 percent since it is only the second week of the year, leaving the Irish defense hopeful that they will somehow find a way to catch him. Home field advantage will also be prominent in Ann Arbor not only because Michigan Stadium has enough seating to fit the whole city and some, but also due to the fact that it will be Michigan's first ever night game at home. That will be one fired up crowd.
If the Irish are still 2-0 after a trip to Michigan, Notre Dame will still have to fend off another foe from the Mitten State, but only this time it will be a stronger team. Kirk Cousins and the Michigan State Spartans will walk in to South Bend one year after their dramatic "Little Giants" win looking to give themselves great momentum for the Big Ten season.
Returning nine starters on defense and ten on offense their remains one huge question: "Who will be quarterback?" Right now the answer is senior Dayne Crist, and that leads to the question of "can Crist perform under pressure knowing someone is right behind him ready to take snaps?" Early on the passing game and running game will be two questions, and both of those could come to bite them against U of M or MSU.
The Seminoles kick off the season against Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern, two teams that high schools could challenge. After presumably whooping those two teams Florida State makes or breaks their season against the best team in the land, Oklahoma.
This is another team where lack of talent isn't the reason they go down early, it's just how powerful their opponent is. It will be interesting to see how Landry Jones and Co. will fare against a great FSU secondary, but the game will be decided on what the 'Noles do with the ball on offense. Losing Christian Ponder is a bummer for Seminole fans, and replacing the core of a great group of linebackers will be an even bigger scare.
Oklahoma is numero uno for a reason, as they are faster, stronger and more experienced than every opponent they will face, including Florida State.
And did I mention Oklahoma has two full weeks to prepare for this game? That could come in handy for the Sooners.
LSU vs. Oregon. What a way to kick off the season, huh?
In week one Oregon will be drawing tiger blood out of LSU at their home stadium setting them back on their BCS National Championship dreams.
There is not doubt LSU is testing themselves and boosting their BCS resume by scheduling Oregon and West Virginia, but they might be shooting themselves in the foot at the same time. The doubt and speculation at the quarterback position will haunt LSU early on for a couple of reasons.
One is that starting QB Jordan Jefferson could possibly be starring at a suspension for his part in a bar fight, and since Oregon is the first game he would most likely miss that contest.
The second is that LSU's passing game was ranked 107th in 2010-11. Not good for a team that also said goodbye to their 1,000 yard running back Stevan Ridley.
The secondary has a chance of shutting down Darron Thomas, but will their two new defensive tackle starters know how to hold LaMichael James to an ineffective game? Doubt it.