College Football top 25 Rankings by The Guru of College Football
1. Florida Gators
Yep, As a Vols fan I hate to say it. Florida is stacked. Tim Tebow is returning along with all 11 defensive starters. The Gators will be wearing the bulls eye this year with every team on their schedule circling their game with them. However, Florida has a favorable schedule this year, playing most of the big dogs at their house. A few games to watch out for this year will be 9/19 vs. the Vols,( Thanks to Lane Kiffin's comment's look for a blowout), 10/10 vs. LSU, and at Georgia on 10/31.
2. Texas Longhorns
With Colt McCoy one the most accurate passers in NCAA history at 76.7 percent return with top receiver Jordan Shipley expect little drop off in the Longhorns high octane attack this year. Like Florida with Tim Tebow I expect less running from quarterback star McCoy this year. Expect a running back by committee with Cody Johnson and Vondrell McGee taking charge. The Longhorns will need to have a little bit more of a ball control offense with losing three starters on the defensive line. The first few games will be cupcakes for Texas, but starting October 10th a brutal stretch of Colorado, Oklahoma, at Mizzu, and at Oklahoma State could decide the fate of their national championship hopes. Don't be surprised if Oklahoma State gives Texas a real scare Halloween this year.
3. Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State will be at least two touchdown favorites in 6 of their first 8 games. This will allow key players rest leading into November when they play Ohio State at home. Translation possible BCS champs. They lost some serious skills in the WR position, but the Nittany Lions bring back one of their stars in quarterback Daryll Clark. Returning for his senior year expect Clark to be more consistent in his play, especially since he will have Evan Royster running the rock. On defense the Lions may have the best linebacker core in the nation. Watch for linebacker Sean Lee to have a monster year.
4. Virginia Tech Hokies
If the Hokies can win their first game against Alabama they have a great shot at going undefeated this year as long as they can get some consistent play from quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor an athletic quarterback has big play potential every time he runs with the ball will be a threat, but struggles in the passing game. With 3 returning starters on the offensive line he should have some more time making decision while dropping back to pass. On the other side of the ball it is the same story with the Hokies, aggressive and hard hitting. Jason Worilds a hard rushing DE with 8 sacks last year and Stephan Virgil with 6 interceptions lead the Hokies returning starters. Expect no changes in Beamer Ball with the most impressive special teams for the past 10 years.
5. USC Trojans
I once heard Pete Carroll say, "USC doesn't rebuild, we reload". Well, will see about that this year. 8 defensive starters gone. Mark Sanchez gone. Offensive coordinator gone. They are however returning probably they best set of tailback's in the nation, Joe McKnight, C.J Gable and Stafon Johnson. All three are studs. With this set of backs I expect to see USC running the ball to open up the pass, compared to the last few season where they passed to open up the run. The run game will also help a defense who is only returning 3 starters. The Trojans travel to Ohio State early in the year on September 12th. Then a few weeks later they start a brutal stretch of at Cal, at Notre Dame, Oregon State at home who blew their BCS hopes last year, then at Oregon. Like Pete Carroll says "we don't rebuild, we reload", and I believe him. They will probably have more talent in the skill positions then every team they play this year, but they always seem to get knocked off by a team in the PAC-10 during they year. Watch that team to be Arizona State, they play them November 7th, right after that brutal stretch of games in October
6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
No, I don't think Notre Dame is the 6th best school in the country. However the have a huge following, voters love them, and with a schedule softer than Charmin toilet paper they will be in a BCS bowl game. The Irish will only have two top twenty five teams on their schedule. One will be a doozie, USC at home, and later on in the season at Pittsburgh. Anything short of a ten win season bye bye Charlie Weis. The Fighting Irish do have some play makers on offense, veteran Jimmy Clausen who was good last year, you can expect to be great, teaming up with wide receivers Michael Floyd and Golden Tate. The front line return 4 of the 5 starters which will help Clausen's chances as a Heisman hopeful. The one major weak spot is the lack of running back depth. Last year the Irish were pitiful in the running game, if one of the backs can step up this year watch out for ND. The Irish defense will be the weakest link on the team. They will have plenty of opportunity to cash in on mistakes though. Nine...yes nine of the twelve games they play this year, they will match up against a quarterback who did not start a game last year.
7. Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowboys are returning a plethora of returning starters. Quarterback Zac Robinson check, running back Kendall Hunter check, left offensive tackle Russell Okung check, Dez Bryant my projected number one wide receiver in the country check, corner back Perrish Cox check. If your a top ten team you need to have play makers, and Oklahoma State may have more play makers than anyone in the country. My only concern for the Cowboys is the defense. In a tight game are they going to be able to make the big stop? This question will fall upon the shoulders of Bill Young the new defensive coordinator from Miami.
8, Ole Miss Rebels
If there is such thing as a light schedule in the SEC, Ole Miss has it. No Florida, no Georgia, and they have Tennessee, LSU and Alabama all at home. The Rebels last year was the sexy pick of college football, this year they have to live up to the hype. Jevon Snead, who some in the SEC believe is the best quarterback(Steve Spurier) is back, along with Senior wide receivers Shay Hodge Dexter McCluster. Look to see a little bit more of the” Wild Rebel" a package that Houstan Nutt put in the offensive repertoire which gave defenses fits last year. If the offense can manufacture some points they will be in every game this year thanks to the stingiest defense in the land. Like last year their opponents will not be able to run the ball against Ole Miss(only 86 yards per game allowed)The Rebels will have the best defensive line in the nation. Both Ted Laurent and Greg Hardy are in movable walls, which leave the linebacker corp. Jonathan Cornell, Allen Walker and Patrick Trahan there to fill holes going one on one with whoever comes through them.
9. Ohio State Buckeyes
Jim Tressel may not be able to win the big games, but he sure is consistent with four ten win seasons in a row. Yes the buckeyes have lost a lot on offense, seven starters to be exact including Beanie Wells, but returning is Terrelle Pryor and running back Dan Herron who played very well while Beanie Wells was out with the foot injury. The jury is still out on Pryor, and no I am not a big fan of him at all, but he does have talent and Jim Tressel will use is athletic ability, along with his conservative play calling to keep the Buckeyes in games. With that being said, if the Buckeyes go down by two scores in a game you might as well just shut off the T.V, no returning wide receivers and although Pryor may be able to run the ball, he is better off passing the butter at the dinner table then passing the ball to victory. Luckily Ohio State doesn't have the schedule that will allow offenses to jump out to a two score lead, only USC on September 12th, and at Penn State November 7th have that kind of fire power.
10. Boise State Broncos
Not only will Boise State make some noise this year, but they will for the next two years. Looking at their roster you may think they are in a rebuilding era especially coming off a 12-1 season, and finish ranked number 11 in the land. They have only 2 seniors that are scheduled to start this year. However, 90% of their roster started last year. Quarterback Kellen Moore very efficient last year returns as a sophomore. Moore ha 25 touchdowns with only 10 picks last year, expect those numbers to go up. They only position that needs to be filled is at running back. Ian Johnson who proposed to his girlfriend after the final play in the fiesta bowl against Oklahoma has departed, but Jeremy Avery some may say played even better than Johnson was he was on the field. If the can beat Oregon on September 3rd, they will run the table, and based on their performances in bowl games, I can't see a way they are left out of the BCS, maybe even national title.
11. Oregon Ducks
The Ducks may not be flying this year, but they will be definitely running. The duo of JeremiahMasoli(QB) and LeGarrette Blount who rushed for over one thousand yards last year may be the most exciting duo in the PAC-10. They do have some holes to replace on the offensive line, but in the spread offense with the athleticism of Blount and Masoli it shouldn't' be much of an issue. Masoli with a descent arm if needed has some skill players on the outside in D.J Davis and Jamere Holland. Getting the running game going and ball control will be a necessity for first year coach Chip Kelly. Opposing offenses gained nearly 400 yards a game last year against the Ducks. Keeping there defense off the field who lost some key players, will play a huge part in Oregon's success this year. The Ducks get a break in the schedule with having USC, Utah, Cal and Oregon State traveling to Eugene. Eugene is one of the toughest places to play in the nation, I could only imagine what it will be like on Halloween when USC comes to town.
12. Oklahoma Sooners
Yes, I know that the Sooners return Heisman Trophy Sam Bradford and they have won the big 12 conference title four out of the past five years, but their schedule is murders row. They open up the year with BYU, a team that the Sooners better not sleep on, then a few weeks later it's at Miami (FL), Texas, at Kansas, at Nebraska, at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State at home to finish the year. With that killer schedule they have only one offensive linemen returning. Which may not be an issue because it seems that Oklahoma breeds offensive linemen. They will have returning a nice duo of backs in DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown who both had over one thousand yard seasons last year. With the new offensive line, expect a big drop off in Sam Bradford's numbers as I expect the Sooners will be running the ball more than they did last year. Even though the defense allowed almost 25 points a game last year the Sooners only allowed 95 yards rushing a game, and only 154 yards through the air. The problem was they were always on the field due to scoring over 51 points a game.
13. California Golden Bears
Cal is one of those teams this year that can contend for it all, or finish 4th in the PAC-10. The have superstar Jahvid Best returning who had a monstrous year with close to 1600 yards for the season, over 8 yards a carry as a sophomore, oh and bye the way, his missed a game. Kevin Riley who started for the Bears in the beginning of the year with descent numbers, but later benched returns for his junior season. Both Best and Riley will be behind a veteran line. What will separate the Golden Bears from previous years will be their defense. They were solid last year, but could be on the verge of great. Eight returning starters back including shutdown corner Syd'Quan Thompson. Michael Mohamed returns with his 87 tackles from a year ago, with Tyson Alaulo with his six sacks.
Cal's season will come down to two weeks. At Oregon on September 26th, then USC at home the following week. If they can win both of these games they head into a bye. The rest of the season should be a breeze until the play Oregon State at home on November 7th.
14. Alabama Crimson Tide
Defense, Defense, Defense. Alabama is loaded with returning starters, seniors, stars and 1st round picks for next years NFL draft on the defensive side of the ball. Terrence Cody nose tackle will be giving nightmare to opposing teams centers and quarterbacks the entire season, built like a house(365 lbs) but the quickness of a mountain tiger. If you can get past Cody you have Rolando McClain All American and senior Brandon Fanney as the backers. Julio Jones was a freshman last year who tore up the college scene with almost 1000 yards receiving. Now the only question is who get him the ball, and will Alabama be able to run the ball.
The Tide will be tested early, playing VaTech for the season opener. Expect the final score to be 3-2 in that game. They play 4 cupcakes until they go to Ole Miss in the Middle of the season. If Nick Saban can get the offense going, they should end up with a 10 plus win season with a stout defense keeping them in every game.
15. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Like Notre Dame, Rutgers is not a top fifteen team. However due to being in the New York market they do have a lot of followers and their schedule is embarrassing. They will play Howard, Florida International, Texas Southern and Army this year. I guess the girl scouts of America must have been doing a fund raiser, because Rutgers didn't schedule them.
Rutgers does have eight returning starters on offense, but lose all of their play makers. The will have to replace quarterback Mike Teel, and lose Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood. However with 5 returning offensive linemen and some serious depth at running back including Kordell Young the Knights have a good shot a running the table. Once Rutgers gets into Big East play they will some favorable match ups. When they play Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh will be coming off a short week, advantage Rutgers. They play South Florida November 12th at home, expect frigid conditions, advantage Rutgers. West Virginia will be coming off playing against Pittsburgh when the meet the Scarlet Knights, advantage Rutgers.
16. LSU Tigers
A lot of questions, and a tough schedule means 3rd in the SEC West this year for LSU. One bright spot the Tigers have on offense is senior running back Charles Scott returns with some breath taking stats against SEC defenses. Close to 1200 yards and 18 touchdowns is back. The tigers also return Jordan Jefferson who replaced Jarrett Lee at quarterback last year. At times Jefferson played great, and there were other times not so great. Consistent play from Jefferson will be key to the Tigers winning more than nine games this year. Speaking of consistency, they will need a whole lot more of that from their defense. They gave up 52 against Georgia, 51 to Florida, and 31 to Ole Miss. These are numbers you usually don't see against LSU. So in come John Chavis a new Defensive Coordinator. They have some nice starters returning, but need more big plays. Les Miles is one of the most underrated coaches in America, and he has his hands full this year in terms of talent and scheduling. October 3rd at Georgia, then Florida and Auburn at home. November 7th at Alabama, and November 21st at Ole Miss.
17. Georgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs are talented enough to be a top ten team, but with out a doubt have the toughest schedule of any BCS team. They start off the year at Oklahoma State, then right into SEC play against South Carolina who gave Georgia a real scare last year. Then a brutal stretch of games starting with LSU at home on October 3rd, then at the Vols(who will pick off the Bulldogs this year...again), at Vanderbilt, and then at Florida. They finish up the year at a much improved Georgia Tech, which was a real barn burner game last year 42-45, with Tech picking up the victory. Superstar wide receiver A.J Green returns after a phenomenal freshman season, but loses Matthew Stafford throwing him the ball...instead Joe Cox. They also lose Knowshon Moreno to the NFL and in...Caleb King. The good news for the bulldogs are that they are loaded on the offensive and defensive line.
18. Pittsburgh Panthers
I'm not sure who is scheduling games for the Big East this year, but who ever it is they should be fired and grow a set. Not only will the Panthers play week teams in the conference like Syracuse and Louisville, but they will play Navy, Buffalo and Youngstown State. The only tough games they have this year will be South Florida, Rutgers and Notre Dame. If they played in the SEC they would have only 4 wins, instead Big East and a top 25 team. A lot of people had questions regarding Dave Wannstedt's coaching abilities, he put some of those critics to rest last year with a 9 win season. His first successful season as coach at Pitt. Pittsburgh has average talent all over the field, the only superstars they have on the team are on defense. Both Defensive ends return, both studs in Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard. If Wannstedt can put another successful season together he will get the rest of those critics off his back, including myself.
19. BYU Cougars
BYU has more seniors than your grandmas nursing home, which always translates into a successful season. They unlike the Big East have scheduled some tough out of conference games, such as at Oklahoma September 5th, and Tulane the next week, and the following week Florida State at home. I predict they will win 2 out of 3 of these games. The Cougars have Max Hall returning a sleeper for the Heisman Trophy this year. He accounted for 35... yes 35 touchdowns last year. Every quarterbacks favorite target should be a tightend, and BYU has a stellar one in Dennis Pitta a projected all American this year. The Cougars have six starting seniors on defense, expect this unit to step up big this year.
20. Florida State Seminoles
Florida State is on probation this year, so who knows how the team will react. This is why I have them sitting ranked at number 20. Christian Ponder returns and if he can become a leader of this team and play more consistently, the Seminoles can make some noise. They return all of their offensive linemen(including Rodney Hudson All American) which will give Ponder time to make decision. Florida State seems always to have the athletes, but need to find players to step up on defense who only has three returning starters.
21. Kansas Jayhawks
Mark Mangino one of my favorite coaches in college football, not only because he is an underrated coach who turned this program around, but he also reminds me of the penguin from Batman. Kansas returns Todd Reesing who threw for 32 touchdowns last year and only 13 picks. Reesing will have some talent to throw the ball to in this wide open offense. Kerry Meier hauled in close to 100 catches last year, and Dezmon Briscoe who set a school record with 15 touchdown catches. Kansas does get some of their big games at home, such as Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Mizzu. However the schedule at the end of the year is a ruff one, and not to many players returning of defense is why the fall out of the top twenty.
22. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The Yellow Jackets will have the best running game in the country this year. Last year they averaged 151 yards a game, and compiled 32 rushing touchdowns. A majority of these stats will return for another season in ACC Player of the year Jonathan Dwyer. Last year he averaged 7 yards a carry on 200 attempts almost 1400 yards and 16 touchdowns. 2nd year coach Paul Johnson returns the option for it's second year, which will only be more improved. The only issue with Georgia Tech is if they get down in games, as what happened in last years Chick-fil-A Bowl game against LSU. If the Yellow Jackets can become more even balanced they could be a force to reckon with in the ACC.
23. Oregon State Beavers
The Beavers will definitely have some fire power on the offensive side of the ball. Returning are the Rodgers brothers, and they are powerful one two punch. Jacquizz Rodgers, the PAC 10 offensive player of the year will need to have another outstanding year in order for the Beavers to have a shot at the PAC-10 crown.
24. Nebraska Cornhuskers
2nd year coach Bill Pelini has the cornhuskers moving in the right direction. They still have a way to go to be that dominant team they were in the 90's. The Cornhuskers are returning potentially one of the best defensive lineman in the nation in Ndamukong Suh who lead the team in tackles and sacks, but he also lead the team in interceptions, and had two of them returned to the house. Although Nebraska doesn't have much depth at linebacker, their entire secondary is returning. On the offensive side of the ball, they have some playmakers returning, but there success depends on Zac Lee at quarterback. If Lee can get the job done the Cornhuskers will have another successful year.
25. Clemson Tigers
Oh those Tigers, it seems every year it's their year to make a run. Tommy Bowden is out and fans in South Carolina were disappointed for yet another year. So maybe flying under the radar Clemson can pull off big things. Potential All American C.J Spiller returns for senior season and in front of him will be the same five offensive linemen from last year. This will help new quarterback Willy Korn, who can not be any worse than Cullen Harper was. There are some question marks about the defense, but with Spiller and that line Clemson should be a team to contend with in the ACC.