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Thursday, August 04, 2011
1) Oklahoma Sooners: The Sooners are loaded on offense, and they are led by Landry Jones who has to be at the top of most peoples list for the Heisman Trophy. A week two trip to Tallahassee could tell us everything we need to know about the Sooners.
2)LSU Tigers: Les Miles managed to navigate his teams through treacherous waters last season, and racked up another top 10 finish for his effort. This year LSU is the most experienced team in the SEC. However, they face a brutal schedule a neutral site season opener against Oregon could be enough to derail their season before it begins.
3)Oregon Ducks: I love my Ducks. Back again and most likely faster than ever the Oregon Ducks are looking to improve on last year’s loss in the National Title game. While Oregon faces a difficult schedule off the field sanctions could sink the dream season before it even begins.
4)Alabama Crimson Tide: Nick Saban is a helluva coach, and he consistently coaches one of the best defensive units in the country. Look no further than the way he bottled up Cam Newton for the first half of their game. The support pieces are in place for Alabama, but the question is who will step up and lead the way on the field.
5)Florida State Seminoles: It did not take long for the Florida State Seminoles to climb back into the national spotlight. A big shout out is in order to Jimbo Fisher for stepping in and putting his stamp on this program right away. A win over top ranked Oklahoma in week two could be the Welcome Home party that the Seminole Nation has been waiting for.
6)Boise State Broncos: So close and yet so far last year. A missed/made field goal depending on the angle who saw, and the Broncos could have played for the National Championship. Now Chris Peterson’s bunch has to shake off last year, and play 2011. The new conference (Mountain West) will provide new challenges, and a much tougher schedule than Boise State is used to. If the Broncos can manage another undefeated season, it will be tough to deny them a chance to play in the BCS Championship Game.
7)Oklahoma State Cowboys: This could be the year for Mike Gundy. The Cowboys are loaded with talented from top to bottom. Once again they feature amazing playmakers on the outside, who will look to use the Air Raid offense to their advantage.
8)Stanford Cardinals: Andrew Luck is back and that’s why the Cardinals remain in the top 10. However, the loss of Jim Harbaugh cannot be overlooked. Stanford is a team that could drop fast.
9Wisconsin Badgers: The addition of Russell Wilson will be felt immediately. Combine that punishing rushing game that the Badgers have become known for, and you have the potential for a dominating offense. The big question is will Wisconsin unleash their new weapon?
10)Texas A&M Aggies: Texas A&M could be a sneaky team this season, that takes the newly reformed Big 12 by storm. However, within Aggie nation the expectations will be extremely high.
11)Nebraska Cornhuskers: A lot of people have the Huskers earmarked as winners of the new B1G conference, but that may be jumping the gun. As of right now Nebraska is a good team, but the B1G will prove to be much tougher than Husker nation is willing to admit at this point.
12)South Carolina Gamecocks: This could be the year that the Gamecocks finally break through and Steve Spurrier climbs his way back to the top of the college football world. Perhaps the best RB in the country in their backfield and an athletic, quarterback guiding a high powered offense. If Garcia can keep himself out of trouble, South Carolina should have a direct path to the SEC Championship Game.
13)TCU Horned Frogs: Replacing Andy Dalton will not be easy, but it is doable. At this point TCU has an established system in place that allows them to reload rather than rebuild. This season will put that theory to the test.
14)Virginia Tech Hokies: If nothing else an extremely weak ACC Coastal Conference will keep Virginia Tech relevant all season. Replacing Tyrod Taylor will not be easy, but the Hokies will turn to their power running game to protect themselves.
15)Arkansas Razorbacks: It’s not often you can lose one of the best quarterbacks in school history, and actually improve but Arkansas has done exactly that. The Razorbacks feature arguably the best receiving core in the country, and they will give teams fits. The questions is can they get these playmakers the ball?
16)Ohio State Buckeyes: If we made this poll in May the Buckeyes would have been at the top of the poll, but a lot has changed over the summer for Ohio State, and most of the changes have been for the worse. An altered B1G could help the Buckeyes, but this could prove to be the worse season that Buckeye nation has seen in a long time.
17)Michigan State Spartans: Old Sparty has been knocking on the door of greatness for a few seasons now, but they never seem to be able to break through the glass ceiling. This year Michigan State will see more of the same. Inconsistent play at the quarterback position will continue to plague the Spartans.
18)Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Doesn’t it feel like the Notre Dame manages to make the pre-season poll every season? Once again Notre Dame is facing a difficult schedule, and to be honest I’m not sold on Brian Kelly’s new age Fun & Gun system.
19)Auburn Tigers: The defending national champs lost one obvious key piece in Cam Newton. However, the biggest loss of all may have come on the defensive line with Nick Fairley moving to play next to Suh with the Detroit Lions. That being said, there’s still a lot of talent in the coffers down in Auburn, and look for the Tigers to play the spoiler roll in the SEC.
20)Georgia Bulldogs: It’s time to put up or get out of town for Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt. Not that he’s done anything wrong, but repeated mediocrity will not be accepted between the hedges.
21)Mississippi State Bulldogs: Hoping the can sneak up on a few teams, the Bulldogs are looking to make a statement in the SEC this season, and land in a major bowl game.
22)Florida Gators: New coach, new system same results. That means the Gators will not be sitting in the lower half of this poll when the season is complete. In the wake of the Urban Meyer era, Will Muschamp may be the welcome voice of change that the Gators are looking for.
23)Missouri Tigers: Blaine Gabbert may be gone, but there’s still plenty of firepower left on offense. Throw in an aggressive defense and the Tigers could be in for a big season.
24)Texas Longhorns: Last year was the exception, not the rule for the Longhorns. This year anyone who steps on the field for Texas will earn that Longhorn on their helmet. Look for Texas to attack the season with a new vigor, and expect better results on the field. If they don’t improve Mack Brown could be looking for new employment.
25)Penn State Nitney Lions: Is this Joe Pa’s last season? If so can he go out with one final B1G title? It will not be easy, but Penn State will surprise some teams in the B1G and a Rose Bowl appearance should not be overlooked.