Here we are again! College football season is just a few days away. So of course, I need to break out my top 25 for the upcoming year. This has been updated from the prior version made on the College Football group. Here we go:
1. Florida: Who doesn't have the Gators at number one going into this year? They return all but 4 of their starters on offense (one of which though is Percy Harvin). The amazing thing though is that they return their top 22 players on defense!!! Tim Tebow will be as good as ever as he tries to raise his stock for the NFL draft. Riley Cooper and Aaron Hernandez will be the leading receivers and they also have a multi-dimmensional running game. On defense, Brandon Spikes and Major Wright come back to be the leaders on a stellar defense which also has Carlos Dunlap on the pass rush and Joe Haden at corner. Their schedule will also help them in their efforts to reach the national title game. The only game that might give them trouble will be Oct. 10 when they visit LSU. There is also no Mississippi and no Alabama. If they are able to get past that tough test, you can pretty much put them down for going undefeated this season.
2. Texas: Last season was one that Longhorns fans are extremely angered about. Being pretty much screwed out of the national title game last year puts revenge in the eyes of all the fans. They should be in good shape as Colt McCoy, their top passer and rusher as well as the most accurate passer in d-1 history last year, returns to lead the offense. Not only that, but Jordan Shipley also comes back to give him a reliable target. On defense, Sergio Kindle, the team's second-best pass rusher behind Brian Orakpo who's now in the NFL), will be one of the catalysts along with Roddrick Muckelroy. As for the schedule, the Red River Rivalry game this year will be one of the biggest ever as the winner SHOULD make it to the BCS title game (Texas won last year yet got snubbed) and going to Oklahoma State will be one incredible match-up. Look for Texas to definitely be in the BCS picture come the end of the season.
3. USC: The Trojans have arguably been the best program of this decade (along with Florida and LSU) and this year, they will once again be in the title hunt. On offense, in an effort to replace Mark Sanchez, Coach Carroll has put the offense in the hands of true freshman Matt Barkley. Fortunately, he will have a fantastic running attack as they have 4-5 starter-quality running backs to rotate(the official starter will be Joe McKnight, according to ESPN) and Damian Williams is an All-American talent. On defense, however, they have to replace all three of their linebackers but Taylor Mays will always cause noise out there as he is (in my opinion) a top-three draft prospect. With the schedule, everyone has circled Sept. 12 as they go to Ohio State to play the Buckeyes. Also they have to travel to Notre Dame and to Oregon and both of those should also be incredible games. Even if they slip up once in those 3 road tests, they just might be able to make it to the title game.
4. Oklahoma: The Sooners lost the national title game last year to Florida and now want to avenge that loss. Fortunately for them, Sam Bradford, the reigning Heisman trophy winner, returns to lead the offense. Their entire running core returns with Chris Brown, Demarco Murray, and Moises Maidou, and Jermaine Gresham, another top-three prospect, will be the top target at TE. On defense, Gerald McCoy, and All-American, and Travis Lewis, last year's Big 12 freshman POY, will be forces to be reckoned with as well Dominique Franks. Looking at the schedule, the year starts off with a bang as they play BYU on a neutral site. Also, of course, there is the Red River Rivalry as mentioned earlier. Some other games that may give them trouble include trips to Miami and Texas Tech. But what may turn out to be the most crucial game could be the last game of the year against Oklahoma State. Both teams could be in the running for the Big 12 South so a win by either of them would be huge. Just like last year, the offense should be explosive and the defense will be one of the best and a title is not out of the picture.
5. Alabama: The Crimson Tide started off last year by winning their first 12 games but then lost their last two to Florida in the SEC title game and Utah in the Sugar Bowl. They are definitely looking to get back to where they were and possibly further. They will be putting in a brand new quarterback with Greg McElroy but he will have Mark Ingram coming back who was the perfect complement to Glen Coffee. Julio Jones is also one of the best wide receivers in the SEC and he's only a sophomore. The defense brings back Terrence Cody, an all-American, and Javier Arenas, an All-SEC corner as well as returner. With the schedule, they start off by facing Virginia Tech in Atlanta so we will see how they look up against top-level talent. The next big test will be on Oct. 10 when they go to face Mississippi. That game should decide who wins the SEC West. They also have to face LSU but it will be at home. This should be another exciting year down in Tuscaloosa as Alabama looks to get back to the top.
6. Virginia Tech: The Hokies are by far the best team in the ACC but they want to go farther than that. Tyrod Taylor comes back to be the leader of the offense. Losing Darren Evans for the season is definitely a huge blow but the Hokies survived last year after finding out that Brandon Ore had to leave and Evans stepped in so they might be OK. All of the receivers come back also, led by Jarrett Boykin. Virginia Tech always has a good defense and this year should be no different. They will have to replace Victor Harris but do keep their top pass rusher Jason Worilds and Cody Grimm. Looking at the schedule, as mentioned earlier, they have to play Alabama at a neutral site so we will see if the loss to Evans was as big as it seems. Also, they play Nebraska and Miami at home before starting ACC play where they will go to Georgia Tech. Watch out also for their trip to East Carolina. The Pirates upset VT last year.
7. Mississippi: The Rebels have extremely high expectations this year after winning their last 6 games last year and returning 16 starters. One of those 16 is Jevan Snead, who has one of the best arms in the country and is definitely in Heisman contention. Dexter McCluster is also coming back and he is to Mississippi like Percy Harvin was to Florida; a.k.a. Mr. Everything. The defense will also bring back Greg Hardy for the pass rush as well as Kendrick Lewis who led the team in tackles and interceptions last year. Looking at the schedule, Ole Miss has a great chance to do extremely well this upcoming year. All of the tough opponents from the SEC West come into Oxford such as Alabama and LSU. The out-of-conference schedule also includes two FCS teams so it should be a good year for the Rebels this year.
8. Penn State: The Nittany Lions definitely have the talent to win the Big 10 this year. On offense, 1st team Big 10 quarterback Daryll Clark returns after a stellar junior year. He is joined by RB Evan Royster who is also in Heisman contention. The entire starting receiving corps needs to be replaced though. On defense, "Linebacker U" is led by LB Sean Lee who missed all of last year with an injury so he will be fired up and ready to go. Alongside him is Navorro Bowman and Jared Odrick will be leading the line. They will have to replace Aaron Maybin though (who will be great with my Buffalo Bills). The biggest game on the schedule is Nov. 7 when Ohio State comes to Happy Valley. That game should decide the Big 10. Also, watch out for when they have to go to Illinois to start conference play and when they end the year against Michigan State.
9. Ohio State: The Buckeyes come into the year with yet another strong roster looking at another BCS bowl. Terrelle Pryor comes back with a year of starting experience under his belt. They do have to replace Chris "Beanie" Wells in the running game plus Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline at wide receiver. On defense, Jame Lauranitis, Marcus Freeman, and Malcolm Jenkins are all gone so that will definitely take some work to replace such talent. Luckily, Jim Tressel did a great job in recruiting with one of the best incoming classes of the year so they should be all set. Looking at the schedule, two games stand out. First, USC comes to Columbus and the Buckeyes will try to get revenge over last year's loss. Next, they have to go to Penn State to face the Nittany Lions in the game that could decide the Big 10. In the end, the schedule is fairly easy so they should be in the title picture near the end of the year.
10. California: The Golden Bears have an extremely experienced roster this year with 15 starters coming back so they should make noise in the upcoming year. The star of the offense in Jahvid Best, arguably the best running back in the country. Kevin Riley is also coming back at quarterback and has both his starting receivers returning. On defense, Tyson Alualu is the leader of the front seven to shut down the run while Syd'Quan Thompson and Darian Hagan return to lead the secondary as they combined for 29 pbu and 7 int. Two games stand out on their schedule as potential roadblocks and they are the two games that start conference play. First, they start off with a trip to Autzen Stadium to face Oregon which is one of the toughest places to play. The next week, they come back home to face USC in a game that could decide the Pac 10. If they somehow come away unscathed or with one loss, they could potentially have a big big year. If they lose both, it might go downhill fast.
11. Boise State
Key Returns: QB Kellen Moore, RB Jeremy Avery, SS Jeron Johnson
Key Losses: RB Ian Johnson, WR Jeremy Childs
Tough games: Week 1 vs. Oregon, Week 7 at Tulsa, Week 13 vs Nevada (could decide the WAC)
12. Oklahoma State
Key Returns: QB Zac Robinson, RB Kendall Hunter, WR Dez Bryant
Key Losses: CB Jacob Lacey, DT Tonga Tea
Tough Games: Week 1 vs Georgia, Week 9 vs Texas, Week 13 at Oklahoma
Key Returns: WR AJ Green, LB Rennie Curran, DT Geno Atkins
Key Losses: QB Matthew Stafford, RB Knowshon Moreno
Tough Games: Week 1 at Oklahoma State, Week 5 vs LSU, Week 9 vs Florida (Jacksonville), Week 13 at Georgia Tech
14. Georgia Tech
Key Returns: RB Jonathan Dwyer, QB Josh Nesbitt, SS Morgan Burnett
Key Losses: DE Michael Johnson, DT Vance Walker
Tough Games: Week 3 at Miami, Week 6 at Florida State, Week 13 vs Georgia
Key Returns: QB Max Hall, RB Harvey Unga, TE Dennis Pitta, DE Jan Jorgensen
Key Losses: WR Austin Collie, LB David Nixon
Tough Games: Week 1 vs Oklahoma (Arlington), Week 8 vs TCU, Week 13 vs Utah
Key Returns: QB Andy Dalton, WR Jimmy Young, DE Jerry Hughes
Key Losses: RB Aaron Brown, LB Jason Phillips
Tough Games: Week 4 at Clemson, Week 8 at BYU, Week 11 vs Utah
Key Returns: QB Jordan Jefferson, RB Charles Scott, WR Brandon LaFell
Key Losses: WR Demetrius Byrd, DE Tyson Jackson
Tough Games: Week 5 at Georgia, Week 6 at Florida, Week 10 at Alabama, Week 12 at Mississippi
Key Returns: RB Matt Asiata, LB Mike Wright, LB Stevenson Sylvester
Key Losses: QB Brian Johnson, K Louie Sakoda
Tough Games: Week 3 at Oregon, Week 11 at TCU, Week 13 at BYU
19. Notre Dame:
Key Returns: QB Jimmy Clausen, WR Golden Tate, SS Kyle McCarthy
Key Losses: LB Maurice Crum, DL Pat Kuntz
Tough Games: Week 2 at Michigan, Week 3 vs Michigan State, Week 7 vs USC
Key Returns: QB Ricky Stanzi, LB Pat Angerer, CB Amari Spievey
Key Losses: RB Shonn Greene, CB Bradley Fletcher
Tough Games: Week 4 at Penn State, Week 8 at Michigan State, Week 11 at Ohio State
Key Returns: QB Jeremiah Massoli, RB LeGarrette Blount, CB Walter Thurmond
Key Losses: RB Jeremiah Johnson, CB Jarius Byrd
Tough Games: Week 1 at Boise State, Week 4 vs California, Week 9 vs USC, Week 14 vs Oregon State
Key Returns: DT Ndamkong Suh, RB Roy Helu, SS Larry Asante
Key Losses: QB Joe Ganz, WR Nate Swift
Tough Games: Week 3 at Virginia Tech, Week 11 at Kansas, Week 13 at Colorado (could decide the Big 12 North)
23. Florida State
Key Returns: QB Christian Ponder, W Taiwan Easterling, DE Markus White
Key Losses: LB Derek Nicholson, DE Everette Brown
Tough Games: Week 3 at BYU, Week 8 at North Carolina, Week 13 at Florida
24. Michigan State
Key Returns: LB Greg Jones, WR Blair White, FS Dan Fortener
Key Losses: RB Javon Ringer, QB Brian Hoyer
Tough Games: Week 3 at Notre Dame, Week 6 at Illinois, Week 12 vs Penn State
25. North Carolina
Key Returns: QB TJ Yates, LB Quan Sturdivant, FS Deunta Williams
Key Losses: WR Hakeem Nicks, SS Trimane Goddard
Tough Games: Week 4 at Georgia Tech, Week 9 at Virginia Tech, Week 13 at NC State
Please tell me what you think.
Top 25 for 2009
Posted on: September 2, 2009 11:02 pm