I can't wait for College Football how about you?
Here I'll breakdown a few things in College Football they are:
- BCS Conference
- Top 25
- All American and All Conference Teams
- Early Heisman Standings
Badgers Ballers 2nd Revised Top 25:
1. Georgia-The 'Dawgs ended the year in style in blowing out a Hawaii team that didn't deserve to play in the Sugar Bowl. The Bulldogs look like they'll have a very potent offense in 08 led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Knowshon Moreno. Last year, Stafford struggled a bit in passing effiencincy, but expect an improvement this year. At running back expect Moreno to have around the same amount of carries he had late in the year because Georgia is expecting big things from freshman running back Caleb King. At the receiver position they return their leading receiver in Mohamed Massaquoi and their best tight end Tripp Chandler. The Georgia coaches though, are excited by the emergence of freshman receiver AJ Green, who was rated by many as the top high school receiver. The defense last year for Georgia was very strong, and expect an improvement this season. The Bulldogs had one of the best run defenses in the country last year and with the return of Geno Atkins and Kade Weston expect more of the same for Georgia. The strength of the Georgia defense should be the linebacker position. The linebackers are led by Dannell Ellerbe who had 93 tackles last year, but this unit has 2 other good linebackers. The secondary is led by conerback Asher Allen who was one of the top cover corners late in last year, and safety Reshad Jones. The biggest loss for the Bulldogs might be the loss of kicker Brandon Coutu. The thing that might be the only thing standing in the way of Georgia and a national championship is a very tough schedule. In non-conference the Bulldogs have to play @Arizona St., and in conference they play Tennessee, Florida, @Auburn, @LSU, and @South Carolina. If the Bulldogs can go through that schedule with only one loss they deserve a trip to the National Title Game.
2. USC-The Trojans lose 10 players to the NFL Draft, yet they are once again fighting for a National Title and once again they are expected at worst to play in the Rose Bowl. The Trojans key to sucess is the play of their quarterback, Mark Sanchez. Last year, Sanchez got some valuable experience so it's not like he's never started a game. The running game should once again be very good, it'll be lead by Joe McKnight, Stefan Johnson and CJ Gable. The weak point of USC offensively is their receivers. All of their receivers were big time players coming out of high school, but so far they really haven't been able to live up to expectations. If they can finally do it, then USC will have one of the better offenses in the nation, and the receiving trio of Vidal Hazleton, Patrick Turner and David Ausberry could become one of the best in the nation. We know one thing for certain the defense of USC will be very good. The defense returns two All-American candidates at linebacker in Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga. The Trojans also return All American Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison to form one of the best safety duos in America. The cornerbacks of Cary Harris and Shareece Wright aren't too bad either. Though they do lose one of the best defensive tackles from last year USC should be fine up front. Fili Moala is expected to become the Trojans next dominant defensive tackle and don't be suprised if he's one of the first players taken in next April's draft. Everson Griffen is also expected to step up after having a really solid freshman season. The Trojans have a much more favorable schedule then UGA, and after the game with OSU all the tough conference games are at home. If the Trojans do beat Ohio State they should be in the National Title game.
3. Ohio St.-Last year was supposed to be a "Rebuilding" season for the Buckeyes, obviously a rebuilding year is to win the Big Ten Title and go to a National Championship game. The Buckeyes offense will run on the back of Chris "Beanie" Wells who had a great first season as the Buckeyes starting running back. This season Wells should be a major contendor for the Heisman. Todd Boeckman looked great over the first 9 games, but he really struggled with turnovers late last year. The key for him is to not make mistakes. The offensive line looks solid once again as it'll be lead by Alex Boone. The receiving core returns it's top 3 receivers in Brian Robiskie, Brian Hartline and Ray Small. The defense should be very good for Ohio St with the return of nearly everybody from last years team. Though losing Vernon Gholsten will hurt, many of the OSU coaches think that his replacement Lawrence Wilson will be even better. Wilson was poised for a breakout year last year before getting hurt in the opener for OSU. The defense will have two top 10 picks on this team in James Laurinitas and Malcolm Jenkins so expect another succesful season from Ohio St on defense. OSU should be able to contend for a National Title. They do have to play @USC, but unlike USC many of their tougher games in the Big Ten are on the road as they have to travel to play Wisconsin and Illinois.
4. Oklahoma-Laughter roared across the nation as Oklahoma once again lost their bowl game and because of this Oklahoma is now known as Chokelahoma. Don't worry Sooners fans your team should contend for a Big 12 Title and possibly a National Title. The Sooners should be very good on offense, and it all starts up front with a very good offensive line. The line should give Sam Bradford plenty of time to throw and open up a lot of holes for the running backs to run. The running back situation is a bit of a mystery in, how are they going to divide the carries. The Sooners can go 4 deep at the running back position, but expect most of the carries to go to the experienced guys in Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray. Though losing Malcolm Kelley will hurt, the Sooners still return Joaquin Iglesias and one of the better tight ends in the country in Jermaine Gresham. The Sooners lose a lot of guys in the linebacking and defensive back cores, but the defense should still be good because of a dominant front 4. The front line is led by the two tackles in Gerald McCoy and DeMarcus Granger. If the secondary do as well as they did in practice, then the Sooners should be fine on defense. The Sooners have to play Texas, Kansas, Texas Tech and Cincinnati this season. The good thing all 4 of those games are at home.
5. Florida-Looking back it was simply amazing what Tim Tebow was able to do last season. He was able to carry the Gators last season to a 9 win season and along the way he became the first underclassman to win the Heisman. The Gators are going to go back to a two-quarterback system this season with Cam Newton coming in for Tim Tebow at times. The real key for the Gators to take the next step on offense is a legit running game. Chris Rainey looked really good in the Spring Game, but the Gators are hoping that Emmanuel Moody can become "the guy" at running back. One thing we know for sure the Gators are loaded at receiver. The Gators have one of the best receivers in Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy. The Gators also have two very good tight ends in Aaron Hernandez and Cornelious Ingram. The defense though has to improve after struggling mightily last year. The Gators do return 8 starters so the defense should be better. The weakness of this defense is defending the pass. The Gators allowed over 250 yards through the air, and that is terrible for a team that wants to contend for a SEC Title. The best player on the defense should be linebacker Brandon Spikes who looks like a guy that could be an All American, but the real key is to stop the pass and the Gators are hoping that the strong recruiting class will help in that regard. The schedule doesn't look as difficult as Georgia's schedule, but their are certainly some tests on it. The Gators have to play @Tennessee, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina. The good thing is the toughest opponents are at home.
6. Missouri-Last year was one of the best seasons in Missouri football, yet they got screwed by the BCS Committee and they had to play an Arkansas team that they were much better then. The Missouri offense should be specatacular next season. The Tigers are led by Heisman Candidate Chase Daniel and by receiver Jeremy Maclin. Last year, Daniel transformed into one of the best quarterbacks in the country as he threw for 33 touchdowns opposed to only 11 interceptions. The biggest question mark for the Tigers on offense is the running game with the loss of Tony Temple. The Tigers are hoping that senior Jimmy Jackson can improve on his 330 yards rushing from last year and step up this season. Chase Daniel should have plenty of guys to throw to though. Jeremy Maclin and Chase Coffman both return giving Missouri one of the best receivers and tight ends in the country, respectively. The Tigers are hoping that Danario Alexander after being injured a lot last year and give the Tigers a 3rd target. Alexander had 400 yard receiving despite being hurt most of last year. The Tigers could become a National Title Contendor if their defense is able to improve. The defense last year, struggled at times, but they are expected to improve this year with the return of 10 starters. The Tigers were one of the best teams last year in forcing turnovers and if they can do this again the defense should be a lot better. The Tigers have one of the best secondaries and the Tigers are hoping that can help them against teams that like to spread people out like Illinois, @Texas and Kansas. Missouri had a great year last year, maybe they can have an encore of sorts.
7. West Virginia-The Mountaineers had a tough stretch in December. First their National Title hopes were dashed by Pitt at home and then a few days later their coach Rich Rod left WVU for Michigan. It seemed like their bowl game had all the makings of a blowout, and it did with West Virginia completely blowing out Oklahoma. The 'Neers will be lead by Heisman quarterback candidate Pat White and by shifty running back Noel Devine who average 8 yards a carry last year. The Mountaineers lose their best receiver in Darius Reynaud and the fullback Owen Schmitt. The Mountaineers are hoping though that Dorrell Jalloh and Tito Gonzales are able to make up the production lost with Reynaud's departure. The offensive line though looks like it'll be really good with the return of 5 guys who have started at least one game. The defense should be taking a step back with the loss of their top defensive backs, and that's extremely bad for WVU considering that they play a 3-3-5 defense where they play 5 defensive backs at once. The Mountaineers return their linebackers so expect Reed Williams and Mortty Ivy to have big seasons. The Mountaineers also return Scooter Berry and Chris Nield who both contributed and should contribute this year as well. The key games on this season for WVU this season are Auburn, USF, Cincinnati, and @UConn.
8. Auburn-When Ryan Perrilloux got kicked off the LSU football team, it made the Auburn Tigers the favorite in the SEC West. I have realized that I ranked Auburn and LSU to low and have fixed it in my new top 25. The Tigers coaching staff believes that Kodi Burns will be able to lead the new spread, no huddle offense that will be run at Auburn this year under a new offensive coordinator. The Tigers have 4 very good running backs in Ben Tate, Brad Lester, Carl Stewart, and Mario Fannin. Fannin is the most versatile of the group and he is expected to line up a lot at the receiver position. The receiver position seems like it'll be the weak point of the offense. The Tigers do return though their top receiver in Rodgeriques Smith and their 2nd leading receiver Montez Billing, but the receiving core doesn't have that breakaway guy that a lot of offenses have, but the thing is that Auburn doesn't throw the ball a lot, and they probably won't this year with the strong group of running backs they have and a first year starter at quarterback. It appears though that Auburn will have one of the, if not the best defense in the SEC. The defensive line is led by tackle Sen'Derrick Marks and Antonio Coleman. The Tigers have one of the best linebackers in the SEC in Tray Blackmon, along with a good secondary led by Jerraud Powers and Aarion Savage. Auburn is the favorite in the SEC with one of the best defenses and with an offense that should be solid. The key games for Auburn are LSU, Tennessee, @West Virginia, Georgia and @Alabama.
9. LSU-The Tigers may have lost Ryan Perrilloux, but they have enough talent returning on offense along with a defense that should be solid that LSU can contend for a SEC West Title. The Tigers big question in who'll be the new starting quarterback. Most likely it'll be freshman Jarrett Lee who is extremely talented. Lee won't be asked to win games for the Tigers, but will be asked to not make mistakes and to give the ball to the many playmakers the Tigers have on offense. The Tigers have 4 good running backs led by Keiland Williams who rushed for 480 yards last year as the Tigers backup. The other good running backs for the Tigers are speedster Trindon Holliday, Charles Scott and Richard Murphy. All of these guys showed a lot of promise last year, as backup for LSU. The Tiger also have a lot of good receivers on the outside. The best receivers are Brandon LaFell and Demetrius Byrd, who both had over 600 yards receiving last season. The Tigers also return sophmore Terrance Toliver who showed a lot of promise last year as a freshman, and tight end Richard Dickson. The Tigers might've lost 6 starters off of last years great defense, but they should still have a good defense this season. The Tigers lose Glenn Dorsey and Ali Highsmith, yet they still have the best front 7 in the SEC. The Tigers have two good defensive ends in Tyson Jackson and Kirston Pittman, along with a very good defensive tackle in Ricky Jean-Francois. The Tigers best returnee on the linebacking core is Darry Beckwith, but the key for LSU's defense in 08 is to find two good cornerbacks. The leaders for those two jobs are Jai Eugene and Chris Hawkins, but they did struggle a bit in Spring Practice. What should help out the new cornerbacks though is the return of Chad Jackson and Harry Coleman. Coleman proved himself last year, when he was called on last year. The key games for LSU this season are @Auburn, @Florida, @South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia.
10. Wisconsin-The Wisconsin Badgers had a somewhat disappointing season last year finishing 9-4. This season Wisconsin has bigger goals and they are hoping for a BCS Bowl appearence. The Badgers have one of the best group of running backs where they can go 4 deep. The best of the bunch is PJ Hill who has rushed for 1000+ yards in his first two years on campus. The Badgers lost their leaders at the receiving position with the graduation of Luke Swan and Paul Hubbard, but Wisconsin expects Kyle Jefferson to take the next step after having a very good freshman season. The Badgers do have two well established tight ends in All American Travis Beckum and Garrett Graham. The offensive line should good once again, with the return of 4 starters. The Badgers are hoping that the defense can return to the form of 2006 unit, last year the defense endured multiple injuries as they struggled mightily last season. The Badgers have some playmakers on defense led with Matt Shaugnessy, Jonathon Cassilas, DeAndre Levy and Allen Langford. The Badgers are hoping that Jay Valai can continue the play that he had late in last year, and help solidify a shakey safety unit. The Badgers big games in 2008 are @Fresno St, Ohio St, Penn St, Illinois and @Michigan St.
11. Texas-The Longhorns last year on defense were god-awful on defense, and they are hoping that the hiring of Will Muschamp will help improve the unit. On offense the Longhorns return quarterback Colt McCoy who last year took somewhat a step back from his freshman season, but expect him to have another good year this season. The Longhorns need to find a replacement for Jamaal Charles if they want this offense to be near what it was last season. The guy they think that can be their new running back is Vondrell McGee, who showed great flashes as a freshman. The Longhorns lose a lot of their weapons on the outside in Limas Sweed, Nate Jones and Jermichael Finley. The Longhorns though do have two receivers they can count on in Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby. The offensive line should improve as well this season. The defense is the key to the success in 2008. The Longhorns pass defense was a joke last season, but it should improve with the return of many of their key players this season. Muschamp believes the key to the teams success is to get pressure on the quarterback more. Brian Orakpo is the star of the defense, and Muschamp is hoping that he can lead a defensive line that will be able to get pressure on the quarterback. Muschamp has also experimented with a 4-2-5 defense to help their weakness at defensive back. The key games for Texas are Oklahoma, Missouri, @Texas Tech, @Kansas, and Texas A&M.
12. Clemson-Will this be the year that Clemson finally doesn't choke and where they can finish the year on top of the ACC. They should, but as of right now we aren't sure if they will. Clemson returns a lot of good skilled players at the skill positions in 08. The Tigers will be lead by Cullen Harper who had an extremely good first year as starter of the Tigers. They also return their top 2 running backs in CJ Spiller and James Davis and then they add a Prep All American in Jamie Harper.The Tigers also return their top receiver in Aaron Kelley at receiver and their 2nd leading receiver in Tyler Grisham. The Tigers weakness is their offensive line where they only return one starter. They need to have a good offensive line to give Harper time and to open up holes for Spiller and Davis. The defense also appears to have one weak point just like the offense and that is the linebackers. They lose Nick Watkins and Termaine Billie from the linebacking core, and defensive end Phillip Merling. The Tigers do return all 4 starters in the defensive back core, hopefully for the Tigers sake they find a good group of linebackers because for the past couple of year, the linebackers have been leaders on the team. The key games for Clemson on the schedule are Alabama, @Wake Forest, @Florida St, @Boston College and South Carolina.
13. Virginia Tech-The Hokies might've lost most of their players from last year's ACC Championship team, but the Hokies still play in the worst BCS Conference and they have one of the best coaches in America in Frank Beamer. The Hokies though do have two experienced quarterbacks in Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon, and as of right now we don't know who'll be the starter. My guess is that it'll be Sean Glennon, who played very well late in last year and has more experience of Glennon. Though the Hokies did lose starting running back Brandon Ore, expect the Hokies to still have a very good running game with the return of 4 out of 5 starters on the offensive line, along with not having great experience at receiver. The Hokies don't have a lot returning player on offense, but with a solid quarterback and a good offensive line, expect the Hokies to at least be able to move the ball, and score some points. The Hokies lose a lot of talent on defense as well, but expect Frank Beamer to replace the defense again and put together a defense that can make big plays and force a lot of turnovers. The Hokies are hoping that seniors Brett Warren and Purnell Sturdiviant will be able to step in at linebacker, these guys at least bring experience with both of them being seniors. Up front the Hokies have All ACC Performer Orion Martin and Jason Worlids returning up front. The secondary looks like it'll be solid as well with the return of Macho Harris and safety Kam Chancellor. The key games for the Hokies this year are @Nebraska, @Florida St, @Boston College,@Miami(FL) and Virginia.
14. Texas Tech-Is this the year that the Texas Tech Red Raiders are able to break through and finally go to a BCS Bowl game? They finally have the chance with one of the best offenses returning in the country and this year they finally return a solid defense as well. The Tech offense will be lead by Graham Harrell who is in his 3rd year as the starting quarterback, he's one of the best quarterbacks in the country and is a legit Heisman Candidate. The Red Raiders also have a Heisman Candidate at receiver as well in the form of Michael Crabtree, who had one of the best freshman seasons in recent memory. The Red Raiders though do lose 1000 yard reciever Danny Amemdola, but Texas Tech does return two receivers that last year had over 600 yards receiving in Edward Britton and Eric Morris, they should offset the loss of losing Amemdola. The Red Raiders should have a decent running game led by Shannon Woods, but Texas Tech likes to air it out, and the running back is more important in helping in the receiving game. The defense looks to be very solid this year, and it's the main reason why people think Texas Tech could make a BCS Bowl this season. The key for the defense this season is to be able to stop the run. The Raiders were one of the best against stopping the pass, which was definantly helped by having to go against Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell everyday in practice. If the Red Raiders can at least find a way to at least limit the run, the Red Raiders should be able to challange Oklahoma in the Big 12 South. The key games for Texas Tech this season are @Texas A&M, @Kansas, @Oklahoma and Texas.
15. Oregon-I probably have Oregon higher then most people do and that's okay with me. I really feel that Oregon will have a solid football team this year despite losing Dennis Dixon and Jonathon Stewart. I really think whoever replaces Dixon will be fine. Chip Kelley is one of the best offensive coordinators in the country, and whoever he picks will become a very good quarterback in time. The odds on favorite right now has to be Justin Roper who looked great against USF in the Sun Bowl and has looked good in Spring Ball. The other guy that I think will contend in Nate Costa who is currently recovering from an injury to his leg, but when he does become healthy Justin Roper needs to watch out because Costa will challange him. The running game could be better this season even without Jonathon Stewart. LaGarette Blount and Jeremiah Johnson apprear like they'll make a great one-two punch of Oregon this seaon, and there is great depth behind them too, led by Andre Crenshaw. Oregon has a pretty good receiver in Jaison Williams who had over 800 yards receiving last year and they return a very good tight end in Ed Dickson. The problem though is that Oregon doesn't have much depth behind Williams with the loss of their #2 and #3 receivers Cameron Colvin and Garren Strong. The Ducks are hoping that Derrick Jones can have a breakout junior year after having a solid sophmore season. The defense for Oregon this season should be much improved. They have one of the best defensive backs in the country in rover Patrick Chung. They also have a very good corner in Jarius Byrd along with a safety that impressed many in Spring Ball in TJ Ward. The key games for Oregon this season are @Purdue, @USC, @Arizona St, @Cal and @Oregon State. The Duck have some tough games on the road, but I think they should be able to overcome it.
16. Penn St.-This was a rough offseason for Penn State, as they struggled with a lot of the off the field issues. I think PSU is more talented then this ranking, but I can't rank them higher with all the problems happening off the field. I expect Daryll Clark to be their starting quarterback this season, he should be better then Anthony Morelli was last season. Morelli struggled as he was inconsistant, and many PSU fans blame him for most of last seasons struggles. The Nittany Lions have a solid running duo in Evan Royster who was solid last season and freshman Stephen Green who impressed many at the Spring Game. The Nittany Lions should have a solid offensive line led by center AQ Shipley. The Lions also have a very good trio of receivers in Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, and Jordan Norwood. The offense will be better, but their are offenses in the Big Ten that are a better especially Wisconsin and Ohio St. The defense looks like it'll be very good again despite the loss of All American Sean Lee. PSU has a future top 10 pick at defensive end in Maurice Evans, and they have anothe good defensive end in Josh Gaines. Penn St has some very good backup linebackers so I think they should be able to at least find someone to do at least a decent job in replacing Lee. PSU has some solid defensive backs as well. Safety Anthony Scirrotto is the best of them, but they do have some other good defensive backs. AJ Wallace should be fine as a starting defensive back, but can Lydell Sargeant be a good #1 cornerback and shut down good receivers like Brian Robiskie, Rejus Benn or Kyle Jefferson. The key games for Penn St this season are Oregon St, Ilinois, Michigan, @Wisconsin, @Ohio St, and Michigan St.
17. Arizona St-Last year Arizona St. was a suprise in the Pac 10 winning the conference, but was Arizona St. really the 2nd or best team in the Pac 10? The answer is no, they had a favorable schedule and whenever they played a legit team they got destroyed. This season Arizona St. should be a better team with the return of many of their key players, but it might not show in the polls because of the tough schedule they have.The Sun Devils had a ton of trouble protecting the quarterback so Dennis Erickson is changing schemes this season to more a spread look with a lot 4 and 5 wide sets. The Sun Devils have a pretty good quarterback in Rudy Carpenter who had a good first year in Erickson's system despite being thrown to the ground 4 to 5 times a game. The Sun Devils should have a solid running game led by Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance. They also have some good wide receivers in Chris McGaha, Michael Jones and Kyle Williams, but like I said before the real key to this offense is the offensive line, which should be worse then last year with the graduation of 4 starters. It could be an interesting season for Arizona St on the offensive side of the ball this season. On defense Erickson is planning for his team to be in attack mode. The Sun Devils return two very good defensive ends in Dexter Davis and Luis Vasquez. The big reason that Arizona St wants to blitz a lot this season is because of the good secondary they have in Omar Bolden and safety Troy Nolan. The key games for Arizona St. this year are Georgia, @USC, Oregon, @Oregon State and UCLA.
18. BYU-The BYU Cougars seem like the team that is best equipped mid-major in going to a BCS Bowl. The Cougars have a very good offense led by quarterback Max Hall who threw for 26 touchdowns last year opposed to only 12 interceptions. The Cougars also return a very good rushing attack led by sophmore Harvey Unga who rushed for 1200 yards last season. They also return Manase Tonga who rushed for 8 touchdowns last season. The Cougars also return 5 of their top 6 receiving targets from last year. The best of the bunch is Austin Collie who had over 900 yards receiving last season. The Cougars also return tight end Dennis Pitta who had 800 yards receiving last season, along with their #2 receiver Michael Reed. Obvisouly, they won't have any trouble scoring on anybody, but they could have some trouble stopping opposing offenses with the return of only 3 starters on defense. The major question marks on defense are in the linebacking core and the secondary. In the secondary the Cougars are losing all 4 starters, and it appears they could have some major trouble against teams with a good passing attack. The linebacking core doesn't have as many problems as the secondary does, but it's not like their returning all 3 starters. Bronco Mendenhall is confident they he'll be able to replace the linebackers, and expects a big year from David Nixon. I'm not as confident as Mendenhall is, but time will tell. If BYU can get a consistant defense they have a shot to go to a BCS Bowl game, if not they should still be able to win the MWC. The key games for BYU this season are @Washington, UCLA, @TCU, @Utah and @Air Force.
19. Tennessee-I realized that I overranked Tennessee in my first preseason rankings. Tennessee should have a fairly good team this season, but I don't think they can compete with Florida and Georgia in the rough SEC East. The Vols are breaking in a new quarterback in Jonathon Crompton, but he has some good players around him that it shouldn't be a rough transition. Tennessee returns a pretty good running back in Arian Foster who rushed for over 1000 yards last season. The Vols also return much of their offensive line that was one of the best last year allowing only 4 sacks. The Volounteers also have a very good receiving in Lucas Taylor, and they return their 2nd and 3rd receivers in Austin Rodgers and Josh Briscoe. Expect Gerald Jones to become a bigger part of the offense this season in the receiving game, but also as a quarterback in a formation they are calling the G-Gun. The other major loss on offense was the loss of coordinator David Cutcliffe. The defense struggled a bit in 08, but they should be better this year, especially in the secondary. The best player in the secondary is sophmore Eric Berry, who should be able to challange for a spot on the All American team. The Vols in turn return 6 guys that have had experience starting in the secondary, so they shouldn't have trouble stopping the pass, but they do have some problems up front. The Vols have some good starters up front, but they have absoloutly no depth at those positions so if one gets injured the Vols could be screwed. The Vols also have to replace 1st round pick Jerod Mayo, if they can, and they have no injuries up front Tennessee should have a very good defense. The key games for Tennessee this year are @UCLA, Florida, @Auburn, @Georgia, Alabama and @South Carolina.
20. Illinois-Last season Illinois went from the cellar to the top of the Big Ten, which included a win over Ohio St. They then went to the Rose Bowl and were able to upset USC. Wait, they actually didn't. I'm a Big Ten fan, but Illinois didn't deserve a BCS bid last year. Yes, they were better then other BCS Contendors like Arizona St, and BC, but they certainly weren't one of the 10 best teams in the country. This season Illinois should be good once again, but they certainly won't have the season they had last season, with the Big Ten being much better and Illinois not being as good. The Illini do return an experienced quarterback in Juice Williams who had an up and down year. He looked great against Ohio St, but also looked terrible against Iowa. This season he needs to step up, especially with the loss of running back Rashard Mendenhall. The Ilini are hoping that Daniel Dufrene can at least give the Illini a respectable running game, but don't expect him to be able to replace the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. The Illini are hoping that Arrelious(Rejus) Benn can take the next step in his sophmore year and become an All Big Ten Performer. Jeff Cumberland should be able to produce as a receiver as well. The defense should take a step back this season, but the defense should still be solid. The Illini have a future star at defensive end in Martez Wilson, but even though this years Illinois defense is more athletic and more talented they are less experienced so there could be some major growing pains. The Illini do also lose All America and defensive leader J Lemen. He won't be able to be replaced and the Illini can't replace his production. The Illini do though have a very cornerback in Vontae Davis. The key games for Illinois this season are Missouri, @Penn State, @Wisconsin, and Ohio St.
21. Fresno St.-If Fresno St goes to a BCS Bowl game they earned it. The Bulldogs have put together a tough non-conference slate, and they'll be hard pressed to go undefeated this season. The Bulldogs will be lead by Tom Branstater who had a solid season last year at quarterback. The Bulldogs have a solid running game led by Ryan Mathews and Clifton Smith. The Bulldogs also have some really good receivers. The best targets are receiver Marlon Smith and tight end Bear Priscoe. The Bulldogs should have a very good offense this season, but the real question mark is the defense. The Bulldogs lost their best players on defense. Those guys are Marcus Riley and Tyler Clutts. If Fresno St wants to have a decent defense they need someone to step up and take a leadership role, the guys is likely safety Moses Harris. The Bulldogs really don't have the greatest defensive players returning, but if they want that BCS Bowl appearence they are going to need their defense to step up, I don't think they can do that, but I still think that Fresno State should be good enough to win the WAC. The key games for Fresno State are @Rutgers, Wisconsin, @UCLA, and @Boise St.
22. Kansas-Kansas was able to go 12-1 last season and win the Orange Bowl. They are returning 16 starters so they should be the favorite for the Big 12 Title, right? The answer is no. Kansas played a super easy schedule, played the BCS System and had to play an up and down team from the worst BCS Conference. I'm going to give them credit, but I just don't think they can repear that this season. The Jayhawks return quarterback Todd Reesing who had a brilliant sophmore season, he'll have a harder time with a tougher schedule. The Jayhawks also lost 1000 yard back Brandon McAnderson, so their hoping that 800 yard back Jake Sharp will be able to become the featured back, but that won't likely happen so they'll continue to use a two back system with the 2nd back this season being Angus Quigley. The receiving core seems to be very good this season with the return Dexton Fields, Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier. The defense should be good again, but they won't be as good statisitically as they were last season. The Jayhawks lose their best defense player in Aqib Talib, and they'll be hard pressed to find a replacement. The interior line will have some problems, but they do return two good defensive ends in John Larson and Russel Brorson. The Jayhawks also return their starting linebackers, along with some of their defensive backs. The most important games for Kansas this season are @USF, @Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas and @Missouri.
23. Pitt-Pitt last season was going through a rough season before they were able to rebound and upset WVU in Morgantown. This season Pitt seems like the best equipped team to challange WVU for the Big East Title. The Pitt offense is built around a monster of a running back in LeSean McCoy. The quarterback situation seems to have been solved as the Panthers new quarterback will be Bill Stull who started the season at quarterback before getting injured. The Panthers also have great depth at receiver with Derek Kinder, Oderick Turner and Maurice Williams. The offense this season should be a lot better for Pitt. The defense last year was very good and they showed it off when they were able to shut down WVU and Pat White. Like the offense Pitt's defense revolves around one player, and that one player is Scott McKillop. The Panthers also return two good defensive tackles in Mick Williams and Rashaad Duncan. They also have a pretty solid end in Greg Romeus. The Panthers are expecting that safeties Dom DeCicco and Elijah Fields to improve and hopefully help improve the Pitt secondary. The key games for Pitt this season are @USF, @Cincinnati, @Notre Dame, West Virginia and @UConn.
24. Michigan St.-Mark Dantonio had a great first season at Michigan St. leading them to a 7-5 record, but it could've been so much better if MSU could've won some of the close games they had. Michigan should have a very good offense led by All American Candidate Javon Ringer, along with quarterback Brian Hoyer. Michigan St. also returns more of their offensive line from last season, so they should be able to protect Brian Hoyer and open holes for Javon Ringer. The Spartans lost a great receivier when Devin Thomas entered the NFL Draft, but they still have some decent receiviers. Mark Dell and BJ Cunningham don't have the game changing ability of Thomas or the experience, but they should be able to put up solid numbers. The Spartans are hoping that their defense can be better then it was in 08. The Spartans lose Jonal Saint-Dic(the sack master), Ervin Baldwin and Kaleb Thornhill from a solid defense, but expect the defense to improve this year. Dantonio is a defensive coach and with some good pieces returning the defense should improve. Michigan St. has a very good linebacker returning in Greg Jones, along with two good defensive backs in Otis Wiley and Kendell Davis-Clark. If the Michigan State Spartans can find some replacements on the defensive line the defense should be better in 08. The important games for Michigan Starte in 08 are @Cal, @Michigan, Ohio St., Wisconsin and @Penn St.
25. Cincinnati-The Bearcats had a breakout season last year finishing the season 10-3 and ending the year in the top 25. This season Cincinnati has a chance to repeat that success and they appear to be a darkhorse to win the Big East. The key for the Cincinnati offense this year is to replace quarterback Matt Mauck. The two candidates are senior Dustin Grutza and Notre Dame transfer Demetrius Jones. The Bearcats lose there top two running backs in Butler Benton and Greg Moore so they'll have to lean on the pass even more this year, and considering that there top rusher last season only rushed for 499 yards they'll have to throw the ball a lot. The defense should be very good as well. The defense will be lead by defensive tackle Terril Byrd who had 8 sacks. The Bearcats also have one of the best cornerbacks duos in Mike Mickens and DeAngelo Smith. The key for the Bearcats defense though is to once again force many turnovers like they did the previous season. The key games for Cincinnati the year is @Oklahoma, Rutgers, USF, @UConn, @WVU and @Pitt.
Other Teams to watch: Alabama(SEC) USF(Big East), South Carolina(SEC), Boise St.(WAC), Wake Forest(ACC)
All American Team:
QB: Tim Tebow Jr. Florida
RB: Chris Wells Jr. Ohio State
RB: Knowshon Moreno So. Georgia
OL: Duke Robinson Sr. Oklahoma
OL: Michael Oher Sr. Ole Miss
OL: Alex Mack Sr. Cal
OL: Andre Smith Jr. Alabama
OL: Ryan Stancheck Sr. West Virginia
TE: Travis Beckum Sr. Wisconsin
WR: Percy Harvin Jr. Florida
WR: Michael Crabtree So. Texas Tech
DL: Maurice Evans Jr. Penn State
DL: Gerald McCoy So. Oklahoma
DL: Filli Moala Sr. USC
DL: George Selvie Jr. USF
LB: Brian Cushing Sr. USC
LB: Rey Maualuga Sr. USC
LB: James Laurinaitis Sr. Ohio State
CB: Malcolm Jenkins Sr. Ohio State
CB: Vontae Davis Jr. Illinois
S: Patrick Chung Sr. Oregon
S: Taylor Mays Jr. USC
K: Thomas Weber So. Arizona State
P: Kevin Huber Sr. Cincinnati
The ACC is the worst BCS conference by far, they haven't won a BCS Bowl since '99 when FSU won the National Title, the ACC has a few decent teams, but they have no national title contendors, and they should only have one BCS Bowl this year. Even last year when the ACC was essentially handed a BCS win against Kansas they couldn't come out with a win. Pathetic. Going into this year Clemson and Virginia Tech have to be the two favorite. Clemson over the past few years have regularly chocked away a few games, while Virginia Tech has been the only consistant team in the conference.
ACC Atlantic Division:
1. Clemson-If Clemson can't win the ACC this year, I really don't think they ever will. The Tigers return an experienced quarterback, 2 experienced running backs and a 1,000 yard reciever just on offense. They also return a very experienced defense. The Clemson Tigers defense should be pretty good as well, they return most of the players from a pretty good defense from a year ago so expect Clemson to not only have a good offense, but a good defense as well. Looking at their schedule their toughest games appear to be vs Alabama in Atlanta, @Wake Forest, @Virginia and @Florida State.
2. Wake Forest-Wake Forest should have a really good defense this year with 9 starters returning. If Wake Forest wants to make a run at the ACC Title they will need to be able to score a lot of non-offensive touchdowns because their offense shouldn't be as good as it has the past few years. The Deacons lose their most dangerous player in reciever Kenneth Moore who had 94 catches last season, how much he meant to the Wake Forest recieving offense? The 2nd leading reciever had under 200 yards recieving. The Deacons though return their leading rusher in Josh Adams from a year ago. They also return junior Riley Skinner, who last year was extremely inconsistant throwing for 12 touchdowns, but for 13 interceptions. Wake Forest doesn't have the type of favorable schedule that Florida State has, they have to travel to both Florida State and Miami(Fl) and they get Virginia and Clemson at home. Consider the Deacons a darkhorse in the ACC.
3. Florida State-No matter who the quarteback is for Florida State expect great improvement in Year 2 of Jimbo Fisher as the Offensive Coordinator. The 'Noles return a pretty good running back in Antone Smith and two experienced recievers in Greg Carr and Preston Parker. The key for FSU will be the quarterback play and we will see if Drew Weatherford can give the Seminoles from decent quarterback play. The Seminoles should improve defensively with many of their young players improving from last year. Losing Geno Hayes will hurt, but expect freshman Nigel Bradham to make an impact this year, along with a very good freshman recruiting class. FSU has a favorable schedule this year with Clemson, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Florida all coming to Tallahassee this year. The key is to try to escape the first 3 games where many of Florida State's key players will be suspended. During that time the only game that poses a threat is the Wake Forest game. Expect some improvement this year from FSU.
4. Boston College-What a magical season for BC last year, they were able to win 11 games, win the ACC Atlantic Division and then win their bowl game! Expect this season to be a lot tougher. The key for BC is obviously trying to find a replacement for Matt Ryan who had a terrific season last year. The other key for BC is trying to find a good running back with Boston College's top 2 running back's graduating, and it appears that early enroller Josh Haden has the best shot. The quarterback situation is a lot less clear with 4 guys competing, but it appears last year's backup Chris Crane has the edge going into the Spring Game. The defense should be good once again with many of the players from last year's team returning. Overall, the Eagles should obviously take a step back from last year, but they do return enough key players that they should go bowling once again, and it helps that Clemson and Virginia Tech are both coming to Chestnut Hill.
5. Maryland-The Maryland Terps last year were able to go to a bowl and play competive against a top 25 Oregon State team, The Terps return quarterback Chris Turner and top reciever Darius Heyword-Bay. The problem offensively for the Terrapins will be to find a running game. If Maryland can find a running game to replace the losses of Lattimore and Ball the Maryland offense should be very explosive next season. The defense's hopes could have been sealed when do everything linebacker Erin Henderson decided to leave Maryland. Henderson meant so much to Maryland last season, and they'll need guys to step up big time if they want to be able to overcome the loss of him. The defense was a bit above average last season, but I don't think it can improve much with Henderson in the NFL. Overall, Maryland should be a better team then last year, but the problem is they really don't have any breaks in their schedule. Cal a team that struggled at the end of last year is the top team in Maryland's schedule, the good thing is that Cal has to travel to College Park. In ACC Play the Terrapins have to play at Clemson, at Virginia and then Wake Forest at home in succesive weeks, and then travel to Virginia Tech, play Florida State at home and end the year on the road at BC. This schedule is not easy even for an ACC team.
6. NC State-Tom O'Brien improved the Wolfpack drastically in his first year as NC State's head coach last season. The Wolfpack should have a solid backfield with Toney Baker and Jamelle Eugene both returning. The real question for NC State though is who is going to be their starting quarterback? Do the Wolfpack go with returning starter Daniel Evans or do the possibly go with 5 star quarterback prospect Mike Glennon. This question certainly won't be answered in the spring and the Wolfpack will have to address this situation before their first game against South Carolina. The Wolfpack were pretty bad offensively and will need some drastic improvements. Defensively it doesn't look much better the Wolfpack gave up 28 points a game last year, and I really don't see anyways for this team to improve enough to make a run at a conference title, they only real way the could go to the Title Game is to buy tickets. Even though right now the future doesn't look great, the future does look bright for the Wolfpack, Tom O'Brien will be able to rebuild this program and within a few years the Wolfpack will be going to bowls again. The amazing thing is that even though their offense and defense both weren't great they were able to still win 5 games and 3 games in conference, which is a good sign. This year the Wolfpack start off with a tough road trip to South Carolina, the non-conference shedule doesn't get much easier with home games against East Carolina and South Florida. In conference play they got a lot of breaks and the only team that they have to play on the road that it's in the upper half of the conference in Clemson, if NC State can get through the tough early season schedule they could possibly get 6 wins.
ACC Coastal Division:
1. Virginia Tech-What a tough position Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech were put into last year when 32 students were killed at Virginia Tech last April. This was obviously tough for the Hokies as they got off to a bad start getting blown out by LSU on the road 48-7 before rallying to win the ACC Title and to go on to the Orange. Although they lost to a Kansas team that definantly shouldn't have been there, the football team made Virginia Tech proud. Offensively, Virginia Tech will take a step back next year with many of their top skilled position players graduating. The good thing for Virginia Tech is that they have two experienced quarterbacks in Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor and they should to be able to manage this offense and to make some plays when they are needed to. What we can expect from a Frank Beamer team is that they will have a good defense. The defense will be able to force turnovers, force a lot of 3 outs, score points, and to help their offense to get good field position. The team should be able to have a shot at an ACC Title, but they have some tough games. In non-conference play the Hokies play at East Carolina and at Nebraska. They also have a tough stretch in the middle of the ACC season when the travel to Florida State and BC.
2. Miami-This could look very dumb if the 'Canes struggle again this year. The Hurricanes return two experienced running backs in Graig Cooper and Javarris James return. The Hurricanes have a few guys fighting for the starting quarterback in Robert Marve, Jacory Harris and Cannon Smith. They return little experienced recievers, but they return Sam Shields who had a solid sophmore year last year. Defensively the Hurricanes bring in a lot of young talent in, led by linebackers Arthur Brown and Sean Spence. They also bring in big time prospects Marcus Forsten, Brandon Harris and Ramon Buchanon. The team has a tough non-conference schedule having to play on the road against Texas A&M and Florida, but they get a ton of breaks in the conference play with their road games being NC State, Duke, Georgia Tech and Virginia. They also avoid Clemson on the schedule. Overall, Miami could get out to a tough start, but I really feel that this young talent will have matured by conference play starts and with a favorable schedule they'll be able to finish in the upper part of the Coastal Division.
3. Virginia-Virginia got off to a terrible start last year starting off by getting dominated by Wyoming, but after that Virginia was able to rebound and go to a January 1st bowl and was able to win 9 games. From that team Virginia loses a lot on defense with the headline loss being top 5 pick Chris Long. They lose Jameel Sowell this year, who currently isn't in school because of academic issues, expect Peter Lethel to start at quarterback. They return running backs Cedric Peerman and Mikell Simpson, giving the Cavs a legit running game. The Cavs also lose their top 2 recievers so expect this to be somewhat of an rebuilding year for Virginia, but this team should be able to still go to a bowl game.
4. North Carolina-People all around College Football consider UNC to be a sleeping giant. Many believe that when UNC will be able to get a good coach, they will be able to challange for BCS Bowls. The Tar Heels will have a 3 man quarterback battle between TJ Yates, Mike Paulus and Cam Sexton, but expect TJ Yates to be the starter. On the outside he has Hakeem Nicks to continue to blossom into an excellent reciever. The running game situation will improve this year with the return of sophmore running backs Johnny White and Anthony Elzy. The defense should improve as well, but really watch out for Marvin Williams to have a breakout year, after he had a very good freshman year. The schedule will get easier this year with the road games being Miami, Duke, Maryland and Virginia, but they do have to travel to Rutgers in non-conference play. This UNC team is talented, but inexperienced, this team could possibly make a run at a bowl game.
5. Georgia Tech-Georgia Tech is going to be running a completely new system with Paul Johnson as coach. With Taylor Bennett transferring, the Ramblin' Wreck have two quarterbacks battling to be their starting quarterback and that is true freshman Josh Nesbitt and Auburn transfer Calvin Booker. Expect a lot of guys to have around 500 yards rushing next year, since that's what Paul Johnson wants. Expect John Dwyer though, to be the leading rusher next year. The Yellow Jackets lost James Johnson who decided not to play his senior year of football, leaviing little experience for Georgia Tech in their recievers, but it's not a huge deal with Georgia Tech expected to be running the ball 75-80% of the time. The defense will also be taking a different look next year with Jon Tenuta leaving, as Defensive Coordinator. Georgia Tech were known as a blitzing defense under Tenuta, and it'll be interesting what they watch under their new Defensive Coordinator. This year will be a down year for Georgia Tech, expect the bowl streak to end this year.
6. Duke-With David Cutcliffe on board as the new coach expect some improvement from the Duke Blue Devils. Let's start at the quarterback position where the Devils have a pretty good quarterback in Thaddeus Lewis, who last year threw for 21 touchdowns against only 10 interceptions, despite playing on a 1-10 football team. The running game was pretty bad last year, but expect improvement with lead rusher Re'quan Boyette returning for his senior year. Young's top target last year was Eron Riley, and he returns for his senior year after having a very solid junior year having 800 yards recieving. The defense was pretty good last year, but expect improvement. Duke should be better then last year, they will still not make a bowl game, but they should have a chance to get an ACC win and possibly to have 4 wins this year. This season really depends on the play of their defense.
All ACC Team:
Offense QB: Cullen Harper Sr. Clemson RB: James Davis Sr. Clemson
RB: Josh Adams So. Wake Forest
OL: Edwin Williams Sr. Maryland
OL: Jason Fox Sr. Miami
OL: Rodney Hudson So. Florida State
OL: Sergio Render Jr. Virginia Tech
OL: Andrew Gardner Sr. Georgia Tech
TE: Ryan Purvis Sr. Boston College
WR: Hakeem Nicks So. North Carolina WR: Aaron Kelly Sr. Clemson Defense: DL: Ricky Sapp Jr. Clemson DL: Vance Walker Sr. Georgia Tech DL: Michael Johnson Sr. Georgia Tech DL: Ron Brace Sr. Boston College LB: Derek Nicholson Sr. Florida State LB: Aaron Curry Sr. Wake Forest LB: Colin McCarthy Jr. Miami CB: Victor Harris Sr. Virginia Tech CB: Alphonso Smith Sr. Wake Forest S: Myron Rolle Jr. Florida State S: Michael Hamlin Sr. Clemson Special Teams: K: Sam Swank Sr. Wake Forest
P: Graham Gano Sr. Florida State
The past few years Rich Rodriguez and WVU has dominated the Big East. Now Rich Rod is gone to Michigan, but WVU still has Pat White and I really think that'll be enough for WVU to continue there success in the conference.
1. West Virginia-This pick is just based on the fact that West Virginia still has Pat White one of the 5 best quarterbacks in the country. The Mountaineers do lose though their 2nd leading rusher in Steve Slaton and leading reciever in Darius Reynaud. I think that Noel Devine should be able to replace Steve Slaton, and we all saw what Devine could do when he was given the ball 20-30 times in the Fiesta Bowl. Reynaud will be more difficult to replace, and the new #1 reciever is expected to be Dorrell Jollah, while the new #2 reciever is expected to be Tito Gonzales. The defense is expected to take a step back with only 4 returning starters on the defensive side of the ball. Though the defense should take a step back this season, expect Pat White and Noel Devine to be able to carry West Virginia to another Big East Title. The biggest conference game on the schedule is the road game against Pitt, while the headliner in the non-conference is a home game against Auburn.
2. Pitt-The first 11 games for Pitt were pretty bad as they went 4-7 and during those games they suffered numerous injuries. Then the entire outlook changed for this season, on the last game of the regular season when Pitt went up against West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl in Morgatown, West Virginia. In this game many felt that Pat White and Steve Slaton should be able to just run right over Pitt, but that didn't happen West Virginia put up their lowest point total all year, struggled all night and lost their chance at a National Title with a 13-9 loss. The strength of the Pitt offense will surely be the running game led by LeSean McCoy who last year as a freshman ran for 1300 yards. The Pitt Panthers also return their top 2 recievers in Oderick Turner and TJ Porter. The key for the Pitt offense is who'll be the quarterback, it appears to be a two man battle between Pat Bostick and Bill Stull, with Bill Stull having the advantage right now. The defense last year was the strength for Pitt ranking 10th in total defense last year, and the Pitt defense showed how good they were by shutting down West Virginia, expect it to be the strength of Pitt this year as well. If Pitt wants to win it's offense will have to surely improve from it's 107 ranking in total offense, Pitt though catches a break in the scheduling having to play WVU at home this year. The headliner in the non-conference schedule is a trip to South Bend to play Notre Dame.
3. Cincinnati-The Bearcats are still basking in what was the greatest year in Beacats football last year as they were able to win 10 games and finish ranked in the top 20. This year the Bearcats return 16 starters from that team so expect Cincy to once again have a football team capable of being ranked in the top 25. The key for Cincy is finding a good starting quarterback, and it appears that Demetrius Jones a transfer from Notre Dame seems to be the front runner, but Dustin Grutza is still battling him for the job, The Bearcats lost a trio of running backs, so they need to find a new running back to take some burden off the starting quarterback. The recievers seem to be the strong point of Cincinnati with the return of their top 3 recievers in Dominick Goodman, Marcus Barnett and Marshawn Gilyard. The defense like last year appears to once again be very good for Cincinnati. The Bearcats last year which lead the country in takaways will need, to force many turnovers again to help a young quarterback on offense. The question mark on the defense is the defensive line. With both defensive ends Angelo Craig and Anthony Hoke graduating, along with the suspension of All American Terrill Boyd. The key for Cincinnati this year is to try to find an effective quarterback and a good defensive line, if Terrill Boyd is reinstated that would help out the defense greatly. The huge game in non-conference play is the road game against Oklahoma, and they end the year with a road trip to Hawaii as well. In conference the key games for Cincinnati seem to be the road trips to West Virginia, Louisville and UConn, along with a home game against Pitt.
4. South Florida-Last year the South Florida Bulls reached epic heights being ranked at one time #2 in the country. That was before they fell apart and finished the season getting blown out by 35 against Oregon in the Sun Bowl. The offense will once again be lead by quarterback Matt Grothe who last year had over 2600 yards throwing and 800 yards rushing. The Bulls also return sophmore running back Mike Ford, who last year as a freshman rushed for over 600 yards. The Bulls also return their top 2 recievers in Carlton Mitchell and Jessie Hester. The defense should be better then last year, which struggled at the end of last year to stop teams. The key is to try to replace Mike Jenkins, who should be a 1st round pick in the Draft. They do return All American George Selvie though. Overall, it should be interesting to see which USF team shows up? The team that beat West Virginia and was #2 in the country, or the team that struggled to stop Oregon and their 4th string quarterback in the Sun Bowl. If the Bulls want to win the Big East they'll need to beat West Virginia in Morgantown.
5. Rutgers-Rutgers fate may have been sealed when Ray Rice announced that he was skipping his senior year and headed to the NFL, he took with him his 2000 yards from last year. Rutgers though does return an experienced quarterback in Mike Teel and two 1000 yard recievers in Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt. It's going to be hard enough to replace Ray Rice, but it'll be even higher because Rutgers also losses 3 of their offensive line. The defense was decent last year, but I really think the defense will have to take a big step forward for Rutgers to have a shot to win the Big East. Rutgers starts off the year against a top 25 team in Fresno State so we'll know right away how good Rutgers will be. Rutgers has the toughest Big East road schedule with having to play Cincinnati, Pitt, West Virginia and USF on the road. You will notice those are who I think will be the top 4 teams in the Big East.
6. UConn-Last year the UConn Huskies shocked the world and became Co-Big East Champs last year and was able to win 9 games. The Huskies on offense will be lead by their solid running game led by Andre Dixon and Donald Brown who both ran for over 800 yards last year. The quarterback will be Tyler Lorenzen who last year had a solid first year as a starter. The top returning receiver is Terence Jeffers who last year had over 400 yards receiving. Defensively UConn was really good last year and that was a huge key in their success. This year the defense shouldn't be as good, but don't expect a huge step back this year. The big game for UConn in the non-conference schedule is a home game against Virginia, while the important games in the conference play are the home games against Pitt, West Virginia and Cincinnati. While the biggest road game is a road trip to USF. UConn could suprise again and make a run at 10 games, for that to happen the defense will have to be as good or better then last year's defense.
7. Louisville-Last year was a disaster for the Cardinals, as many picked them to win the Big East and to be a darkhorse to go to the National Title game. It ended bad with a 5-7 record and no bowl for Brian Brohm in his senior year. Last year the defense was horrid for the Cardinals, they hope that former Michigan Defensive Coordinator Ron English will be able to improve the defense, and there is no doubt he knows how to coach defense, but this unit is pretty bad. The offense should be solid, but not as good as last year's unit with the loss of Brian Brohm and most of the key parts on the unit. Hunter Cantwell should be a solid quarterback and when give the chance he produced, the good thing for Louisville is that they return experienced running backs. The bad news they have little experience at the reciever position. Louisville could contend for a bowl berth, with help from a favorable schedule with West Virginia, Cincinnati and South Florida at home.
8. Syracuse-This could be Greg Robinson's last year unless he is able to make a bowl game this year. The thing is I don't know if he can win a Big East game. They return Andrew Robinson at quarterback who had a solid first year as a starter. The Orange return their top reciever from a year ago in sophmore Mike Williams, but they lose 800 yard reciever Taj Smith to graduation. The Orange had little running game last year, and I really don't think there will be much of an improvement even with a returning starter. The defense wasn't very good, and considering that Greg Robinson is known as a defense coach it's shocking it's that bad, I don't think it'll get better and I think Greg Robinson will be looking for a job this spring. The Orange have some chances to get some wins when they play Northwestern, Northeastern, Akron, Louisville and Notre Dame, I wouldn't be shocked if Syracuse didn't win a Big East game.
All Big East Team: Offense: QB: Pat White Sr. West Virginia RB: LeSean McCoy So. Pitt RB: Noel Devine So. West Virginia OL: Ryan Stanchek Sr. West Virginia OL: Greg Isdaner Jr. West Virginia OL: Mike Dent Sr. West Virginia OL: Ryan Schmidt Jr. USF OL: William Beaty Sr. UConn TE: Steve Brouse Sr. UConn WR: Kenny Britt Jr. Rutgers WR: Tiquan Underwood Sr. Rutgers Defense: DL: George Selvie Jr. USF DL: Terril Byrd Sr. Cincinnati DL: Arthur Jones Jr. Syracuse DL: Jamaal Westerman Sr. Rutgers LB: Scott McKillop Sr. Pitt LB: Tyrone McKenzie Sr. USF LB: Scott Lutrus Jr. UConn CB: Mike Mikens Sr. Cincinnati CB: Tyller Roberts Sr. USF S: Nate Allen Sr. USF S: Courtney Greene Jr. Rutgers Special Teams: K: Pat McAfee Sr. West Virginia P: Kevin Huber Sr. Cincinnati
There are many questions heading into this Big Ten season. Can OSU win a Title? Can Wisconsin finally put together a run to make a BCS Game? Can Penn St overcome all the offseason problems? Can Illinois repeat the magic of last year? How will Rich Rod do at Michigan? And most importantly will the Big Ten be able to overcome a dissapointing seeason? The Answer: They can with 5 teams that have a shot to be top 25 teams, and that doesn't include Michigan who will rebuild this year.
1. Ohio St-Ohio St will not only contend for a Big Ten Title, but they should contend for a National Title. They return 20 starters from a team that made the Title Game last year. They have an experienced defense, a good quarterback, good receivers, and a Heisman Favorite running back in Chris "Beanie" Wells. The biggest loss is defensive end Vernon Gholstein, but he should be replaced by Lawrence Wilson, who many though would be the one to explode last year. When your biggest concern is replacing a fullback, you should be a good team, and OSU will be a good team, but unlike last year they'll have a tough schedule. They play at USC, at Wisconsin, at Illinois, and get Penn St at home. They also have their yearly meeting from the men from up north the Michigan Wolverines, expect the Michigan game to be a blowout and expect many OSU games to be blowouts. They could though fall victim to one of those Big Ten teams, especially Wisconsin and Illinois.
2. Wisconsin-Last year, was somewhat of a disappointment for Wisconsin as they finished the yea at 9-4. Years ago, they would've held a parade for a season like that, but not anymore. That's how far Barry Alvarez has taken Wisconsin. The Badgers on offense will be lead by their All American tight end Travis Beckum and their great set of running backs. The best of the bunch is PJ Hill who was bit by injuries last year, but was still able to rush for over 1200 yards, including a 132 yard performance against Tennessee in the Outback Bowl on only 16 carries. The offensive line should be good as always, but watch out for 5 star freshman Josh Oglesby to get some playing time. The key for Wisconsin will be to find a good quarterback, and so far Allan Evridge has looked like a guy that could step in and produce right away. The key for Wisconsin too make a Big Ten Title run is for the defense to return to their 2006 form. Last year the defense was hurt by injuries, but had a bad habit of giving up big plays. Despite the defense finished 22 in the country in total defense, they still gave up over 20 points a game. The key games for Wisconsin are at Fresno State in non conference, and three home games against Ohio St, Penn St and Illinois. This could be a special season in Madison.
3. Penn St-What a bad offseason for JoePa and PSU in Happy Valley. Many of their players got into trouble and they had to kick off a fair amount of them, well at least they can get down to football. Penn St should be led by a very good defense led by All American candidate Maurice Evans and safety Anthony Scirrotto. The big loss was the loss of Sean Lee to injury this fall, but the good news for PSU was that Lee was a linebacker and Penn St has great depth at linebacker. The offense will have to play well if PSU wants to keep up with Wisconsin and Ohio State. The quarterback Darryl Clark was impressive and made impact plays from the quarterback position that Penn St has been lacking since Michael Robinson was at quarterback. The running game will see to be good once again with a good offensive line and a solid running back in Evan Royster returning and the emergence of big play threat Stephen Green. The receivers will be a strong point for PSU with the return of Deon Butler, Derrick Williams and Jordan Norwood. The schedule this year is not as favorable as last year's with a home game against Oregon State, and road trips to Ohio State and Wisconsin. They also play Illinois at home.
4. Illinois-What a great year for the Ilini! They were able to beat #1 Ohio State in Columbus, go to the Rose Bowl and win 6 games in the Big Ten. This year though expect Illinois to take a step back with their best players on both sides of the ball last year leaving in Rashard Mendenhall and J Lemen. They return Juice Williams on offense, and if Illinois wants to stay competitive Juice will need to be able to have a very good year. He get's some help from the outside in the form of sophmore Arrelious "Rejus" Benn. The key is to find a good replacement for Mendenhall in the backfield and that'll be very difficult. They'll be turning to Daniel Dufrene to be their new running back. Expect the defense to take a step back as well, with the loss of J Lemen, who was their leader, captain and best player. The defense still has some good players led by Vontae Davis, but don't expect the same Illini defense. The schedule will be harder with trips to Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan. They also have a home game against OSU who will be wanting revenge.
5. Michigan St-The Spartans should be the best team in the state of Michigan this year. They return one of the best running backs in the Big Ten and have a solid quarterback along with a solid defense returning. Javon Ringer is the headliner on the offense after rushing for 1400+ yards last year. They also return Brett Hoyer who last year threw for 20 touchdowns. The big loss is the loss of Devin Thomas considered the top reciever prospect in the upcoming draft. Expect Mark Dell to become their new go to guy after having a solid freshman year. The defense last year was one of the best in the country in getting sacks, expect a similar attacking defense with Mark Dantonio still as coach, though losing the "Sack Master" in Jonal St.-Dic will hurt. This could be the breakout year for Michigan St. with returning a solid offense and a solid defense, Michigan State could win 9 or 10 games this year. The schedule is tough early with a road trip to Cal, and they do have Wisconsin and Ohio St coming to East Lansing, but they do have to play PSU on the road.
6. Michigan-What! Michigan not picked in the top 2, there not even in the top 5. How dumb could I be? Well, this is going to be a rough year for Michigan. They lose nearly everybody from a very good offense, and it appears that a Walk On, yes you read right a Walk On that didn't get any offers from any D1 schools will be the starting quarterback . The Wolverines have a nice amount of running backs led by Carlos Brown. They pretty much lose everybody from their recieving corps and their offensive line so it could be tough protecting the quarterback. Defensively, Michigan shouldn't be as good because of the lose of their Defensive Coordinator Ron English and they weren't very good to begin with. So this will be a tough year for Michigan, they should still make a bowl game, but they could lose in Week 1 to a pretty good Utah team. Though I think they'll make a bowl, don't be shocked if their sitting at home in December.
7. Purdue-The last year for Joe Tiller, it would be great if he could ride off into the sunset with a Big Ten Title. but don't expect it with a good returning quarterback and not much else. They return a very good quarterback in Curtis Painter and they do return a solid running back in Korey Sheets, but they lose their top two recievers in Dorien Bryant and Dustin Keller. So Joe Tiller will have to find two good recievers and judging by his recent success, I'm guessing he will. On to the defense. The defense shouldn't be great, but it should be above average, but in reality I think Purdue will be needing to put 30 points a game if the want to win a lot of games. In non-conference the Boilermakers play Oregon and in conference they have a tough trip to Ohio St, along with a game at MSU. They also have two tough home games against Penn State and Michigan, along with their annual game vs Notre Dame. I expect Purdue to go bowling seeing as how it's Tiller's last year.
8. Indiana-Last year the Hoosiers won for Coach Hep, and their goal was to play 13 games. They were able to do that, sadly they weren't able to beat Oklahoma St. The Hoosiers offense will rest squarely on the shoulders of Kellen Lewis with the loss of James Hardy to the NFL. The question for Lewis is will he be able to produce the way he did last season, after being suspended this spring. The Hoosiers do return one of the fastest players in the Big Ten in Marcus Thigpen, and he'll be expected to take a much larger load with the loss of Hardy. On defense they aren't expected to lead the league in defense after allowing 26 points a game last year. Can Indiana go to a bowl again? Of course. The key is will Lewis be back and if he is, Indiana could be looking at 7 wins again and be going to a 2nd straight bowl game in a long time. The key is to win the games they are supposed to.
9. Iowa-Oh, how far the mighty have fallen. A few years ago Iowa was a contendor in the Big Ten, now there one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. Is Kirk Ferentz job in jeopardy? No, but there could be some unrest in Iowa City if he doesn't produce this year. The key for Iowa is to score, their defense was good last year and it should be good this year, but if the Hawkeyes can't score they won't be able to win this year. The key if to find an effective quarterback. Jake Christensen had a solid first year as a starter, but he was erractic completing only 53% of his passes. He's being pushed this spring Ricky Stanzi and Marvin McNutt. Next key is to find a good running back after losing Albert Young who was the only real threat last year on offense. They also lose his backup in Damien Sims, behind those two Iowa has 22 carries returning. At reciever Iowa returns Darrell Johnson-Koulianos who last year led them in receiving as a freshman, their 2nd leading receiver last year was also a freshman in James Cleveland, so the Hawkeyes also have an inexperienced group of receivers. The Hawkeyes don't have a challanging non-conference schedule, and they have some winnable games in the Big Ten, we'll see if Kirk Ferentz rebuild Iowa back into what it was a few years ago.
10. Northwestern-Last year Pat Fitzgerald had a very good 2nd season leading the Wildcats to a 6 win season. The offense will be lead by quarterback C.J. Bacher who looked great at times, but looked awful as well. The running game should be good as well if Tyrell Sutton can stay healthy, we all saw how good he was when he was a Freshman when he is able to get carries. The Wildcats return their top reciever in Eric Peterman, but offense isn't Northwestern's problems it's defense. Last year the defense gave up over 30 points a game, and it'll be interesting if they can improve at all. If they can Northwestern could possibly win 6 games again. They got some bad luck with many of the top teams traveling to Evanston and the Wildcats having to play the lower teams on the road, so it'll be harder then last year for sure.
11. Minnesota-The one good thing about being last, is that there's nowhere to go, but up. The Gophers return a quarterback in Adam Weber who has special player written all over him and we saw at times how good he can be. The problem is the Gophers won't really have much of a running game and they will have to throw the ball a lot. The guy making the catches will be Eric Decker who had a solid Junior year. The defense was terrible last year, a joke to be realistic. The good news is that they bring in a lot of good highly thought of JUCO recruits, that will contribute right away. Minnesota will be better then next year, they return a solid group of players and they have some games they can win. How much better we really don't know.
All Big Ten Team: Offense: QB: Kellen Lewis Jr. Indiana RB: Chris Wells Jr. Ohio State RB: Javon Ringer Sr. Michigan State OL: Alex Boone Sr. Ohio State OL: Kraig Urbik Sr. Wisconsin OL: A.Q. Shipley Sr. Penn State OL: Sean Sester Sr. Purdue OL: Xavier Fulton Sr. Illinois TE: Travis Beckum Sr. Wisconsin WR: Brian Robiskie Sr. Ohio State WR: Arrelious Benn So. Illinois Defense: DL: Maurice Evans Jr. Penn State DL: Mitch King Sr. Iowa DL: Matt Shaugnessy Sr. Wisconsin DL: Greg Middleton Jr. Indiana LB: James Laurinitas Sr. Ohio State LB: Marcus Freeman Sr. Ohio State LB: Jonathon Casillas Sr. Wisconsin CB: Malcolm Jenkins Sr. Ohio State CB: Vontae Davis Jr. Illinois S: Otis Wiley Sr. Michigan State S: Anthony Scirrotto Sr. Penn State Special Teams: K: Austin Starr Sr. Indiana
P: Jermey Boone Jr. Penn State
The Big XII in my opinion really has 4 teams that could win the conference with Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri. I feel that Kansas should take a step back this year, but they should be a very solid team.
Big XII North:
1. Missouri-The Missouri Tigers had one of their greatest seasons ever last year, and for it they got screwed from a BCS Bowl, The Tigers return All America Chase Daniel, and Mr. Everything in now Sophmore Jeremy Macklin. They also return tight end Chase Coffman. The one glaring weakness for Mizzou is there running back situation, the Tigers don't have a set running back with Tony Temple graduating. Defensively is a bit shakey for the Tigers, last year it wasn't a huge problem with the Tigers averaging 40 points a game. This year though I think it could hurt them, but the thing for them is they don't have a hard schedule missing out on Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Texas A&M. Mizzou is a favorite for the Big XII Title, they can win it, but only if their defense will improve.
2. Kansas-Last year the Kansas Jayhawks ended the season at 12-1, they won the Orange Bowl and now return 16 starters. So they should be a Big 12 favorite, right? Wrong! This team played a super easy schedule and despite the fact that they did beat a decent Virginia Tech team, remember the ACC last year was a joke, and Virginia Tech lost by 41 to LSU at the start of the year. They do return Quarterback Todd Reesing and 2nd leading rushed Jake Sharp from last years team, but they lose top reciever Marcus Henry and top rusher Brandon McAnderson. They also lose Offensive Tackle Anthony Collins to the NFL. The Jayhawks do return Reciever Dexton Fields to replace Marcus Henry. The defense looks like it'll be good with the return of 9 starters from last years team. The team does lose though, All American Aqib Talib to the NFL. I really don't know how good Kansas will be this year, they played a pathetic schedule and used the schedule to play in a BCS Bowl that they didn't deserve. We'll see how Kansas is this year, as they actually play a pretty tough schedule. They play at USF in the non conference schedule and then have to play at Oklahoma, Texas, at Nebraska, Texas and then at Missouri. We'll see if last year was a fluke, as the Jayhawks know they can't catch anybody by suprise.
3. Nebraska-There are many words to describe Nebraska's season, an easy way to describe it is disaster. The Cornhuskers offense should be very good this year led by Joe Ganz, who came on late to throw for 16 touchdowns last year. They also return steady running back Marlon Lucky who ran for over 1000 yards last year. The question mark on the offense will be, who'll Ganz be throwing the ball too. Nate Swift should be the top target after having over 500+ yards receiving last year. If the Huskers want to be a team that could make a January bowl they need the defense to transform to the Blackshirts of the great Nebraska teams. The defense should improve last year, but that's expected after how bad the defense was last year. Expect Pelini to improve the defense, but don't expect the defense to be improved enough to lead Nebraska to a Big 12 Title. The schedule should be tough again with V. Tech visiting Nebraska in non-conference play, and having to play Missouri, Kansas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
4. Colorado-Last year the 'Buffs were able to make a bowl game after having a terrible first year, but according to Colin Cowherd Colorado will never be good because of too many hippies in Boulder, interested heres a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6t3VKLL-OY . The offense will be lead by the coaches son, Cody Hawkins who had a solid first year as a starter throwing for over 20 touchdowns. The running game should be solid again as their lead by Hugh Charles, but he will be pushed for playing time by heralded freshman Darrell Scott. The 'Buffs return their top 2 recievers so Hawkins should have no trouble getting the ball to experienced receivers on the outside. Last year the defense struggled, but it should be helped by heralded recruits like Jon Major, Lynn Kotoa and Shaun Mohler. The defense shouldn't be great, but it should be decent enough to allow the 'Buffs to go bowling again. In non-conference they have to play WVU, and FSU. While in conference they play Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Texas A&M. Expect Hawkins to continue to lead a revitalization in Colorado, unless Boulder continues to have too many hippies.
5. Kansas St.-The Wildcats had a dissapointing year last year, many thought they could win the Big 12 North, but the team got off to a great start blowing out Texas on the road, but the season faded after that and after KSU got blown out by Fresno St. that guaranteed they wouldn't be playing in a bowl game. The Wildcats should have solid quarterback play with Josh Freeman at the helm, the running game should take a step back with the loss of 1000 yard rusher James Johnson. The Wildcats lose do everything receiver Jordy Nelson, and there hoping Deon Murphey to step up, and they do return 3rd receiver Jeron Mastrud. The defense has to improve drasitically after ranking 114th in defense. If they want to make a bowl game they need their defense to step up, their hoping the JC transfers to help out the Wildcats. The scheduling was easier after KSU backed out of a game with Fresno State, they do play Louisville though in non-conference play. In conference play they play Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
6. Iowa St.-Last year was a really rough year for the Cyclones, Gene Chizik should be expecting another rough season. The Cyclones lose their top 2 offensive threats from last year in quarterback in Bret Meyer and receiver Todd Blythe, and the thing is their offense was pretty bad to begin with. The only real good thing for the Cyclones is that they return their top 2 rushers so they'll have to lean on their running game and hopes it produces with the Cyclones not having many experience at the other positions on offense. The defense wasn't much better, and that's bad considering that Chizik is known as a defensive coach, we'll see if Chizik can't move the defense in a postive direction, for his sake we better hope so. This should be another rough season for Iowa State, they are expected to struggle and if Chizik can't get this team to win 6 games that would be a great coaching job.
Big XII South:
1. Oklahoma-The Sooners once again chocked in a BCS Game getting blown out by WVU, and in this game the 'Neers made the Sooners look flat footed. OU this year returns the Best freshman in College Football History in Sam Bradford. In the backfield they still have Demarco Murray and Chris Brown. They also add stud recruits Jerime Calhoun and Justin Johnson. Though losing Kelley will hurt they still have Joaquin Iglesias and return that great group of Tight Ends. The defense will be good as always for the Sooners and the real key is will the Sooners not choke this year.
2. Texas-The Longhorns should be a lot better defensively this year and that's really the key. They were a joke last year and really couldn't do anything right. Enter Will Muschamp: Muschamp helped form great defenses at Auburn and should do the same at Texas. Expect a lot better defense in Texas, The offense should be good and expect improvement from Colt McCoy who had a sophmore slump last year. Vondrell McGee looks like the guy who'll be the new starting running back, but expect him to split time with Chris Ogbonnaya. The reciever aren't going to be as strong as last year, but they have two targets they can count on in Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley. Overall, the 'Horns could make a run to the Big XII Title, but it all depends on the defense. If the defense can play well, watch out because the 'Horns could win the Big XII.
3. Texas Tech-The Texas Tech Red Raiders return almost all the parts of last year, except for 2nd leading reciever Danny Amendola. They return Quarterback Graham Harrell, and Heisman darkhorse Michael Crabtree who set countless freshman records last year when he won the Biletnikoff Trophy as the countries best reciever. The offense will be able to put up tons of points, the key is how will the defense fair. Last year the defense allowed 25 points a game and if they want to be able to win a Big XII title they need to improve that significantly. The Red Raiders this year look like the best team Mike Leach has ever had at Texas Tech. They return a good quarterback in Graham Harrell and a very good reciever in Michael Crabtree. The key games for Texas Tech will be the road games at Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas A&M, while the key home game appears to be a date with in state rival Texas.
4. Texas A&M-The Aggies have a new coach in Mike Sherman and it should be interesting to see if Mike Sherman keeps the current offense intact or if he runs the offense he ran in the NFL. If he was smart he would continue to run the system that they ran last year because the Aggies have a two very good running backs, a dual threat quarterback and an inexperienced group of receivers. The running game should be so good led by the 270 pound bruiser Jovorskie Lane and the speedster Mike Goodson. The Aggies top returning receiver is running back Mike Goodson. The Aggies lose their top 2 receivers and their tight end Martellus Bennett. The defense struggled a little bit last year ranking 47th last year, expect improvement this year from the Aggies, and expect the Aggies to be a borderline top 25 team. The key games for the Aggies are the non-conference game with Miami and conference games with Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech.
5. Oklahoma St.-The Cowboys season last year was best known for their coaches rant even a local toyota dealer made a commercial of it here's a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QMGPnTNtyA . The Cowboys offense should once again be very explosive led by dual threat quarterback Zac Robinson. The running game should also be very solid once again despite the loss of their top running back Dantrell Savage. The reason is because they still have Robinson and a solid sophmore in Kendall Hunter. The receivers should be solid again even with the loss of Adarious Bowman. The reason is because they return their 2nd and 3rd receivers in Desmond Bryant and Brandon Pettigrew. The key for the Cowboys like always will be the defense because they can score with anybody, but they pretty much can't stop anybody. If the Cowboys could they could possibly win 10 games this year. They key games are non-conference games are Troy and Houston and conference games against Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Missouri.
6. Baylor-The Bears came off another bad season and they welcome new coach Art Briles. One thing for sure is that the Bears will have an experienced quarterback with Miami transfer Kirby Freeman and returning starter Blake Szymanski. The other key is to replace running threat Brandon Whitaker. Jay Finley and Jacoby Jones are the major challengers. The Bears do return though their top two receivers in Brad Taylor and Thomas White. The defense was fairly good last year ranking 30th in the country, if the defense can have a performance like that the Bears could win more then 3 games. The Bears have 3 tough non-conference games against Wake Forest, Washington State, and UConn. The conference games that are key are Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Missouri.
Expect the same old same old in the Pac 10 and that is USC being at the top of the conference and challenging for the National Title. The rest of the conference is wide open. I’ll try to do my best to break it down. 1. USC-The Trojans lost 10 players to the NFL, but they are still considered the heavy favorite in the Pac 10 because they are still bringing in great classes and they have Pete Carroll as coach. The offense has a new quarterback in Mark Sanchez who as a high school senior was the #1 High School Quarterback, and even though he’s high on talent he’s low on experience. He has a great group of running backs that can go 7 deep, the best of them are Joe McKnight and C.J. Gable. The big question is who’s going to be catching the passes thrown by Mark Sanchez. The Trojans lost their best receiver in Tight End Fred Davis, but they do return Vidal Hazleton, Patrick Turner and David Ausberry. These guys were big coming out of High School, but they haven’t proved much on the college scene. The Trojans defense should be dominant this year, and even if the offense struggles a little bit, the offense still should be able to carry them to a top 10 finish. The Trojans have two All-American linebackers in Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga. The Trojans also have a future star at defensive tackle in Fili Maola, and also a future star at defensive end in sophomore Everson Griffin. The defensive backs should be good once again led by All-American Taylor Mays and returning cornerbacks Cary Harris and Shareece Wright. The Trojans can make a title run, it’s really dependant on the 2<sup>nd</sup> game of the year against OSU, if they can survive that game the Trojans have a shot at another BCS Title.
2. Oregon-The Ducks arguably were the best team in the country when they were healthy, alas, we will never because Dennis Dixon went down against Arizona and the Oregon season went down with him. Though they did bring some momentum into this season with a blowout win against USF in the Sun Bowl. The biggest question is who will Chip Kelley(Oregon Offensive Coordinator) mold into a superstar quarterback. The leader has to be Justin Roper who played extremely well against USF, we’ll see if he can continue what he did in that game. On his heels is Nate Costa who’s recovering from an injury to the knee. The running game should be fine even without Jonathon Stewart. The Ducks return Jeremiah Johnson, Legarrette Blount and a two time Juco-All American in Andre Crenshaw. At receiver the Ducks return their top threat in Jaison Williams who last year had over 800 yards receiving. They also return tight end Ed Dickson who was their 2<sup>nd</sup> leading receiver. The Ducks are hoping that Derrick Jones can step up this year after having a steady sophomore season, and hopefully give them another target on the outside. The Ducks struggled a bit on defense, but expect them to improve drastically this season, they will be lead by a very good secondary. The big name on the defense is All-American Patrick Chung and Lott Trophy Candidate Nick Reed. The defense looks improved in nearly all aspects, so expect the Ducks defense to be the strength at least early on. If the Ducks want to make some noise this year, they’ll obviously have to beat ASU and USC. Both of these games are on the road, but I think they can beat an ASU team that I really don’t think much of.
3. Arizona St.-Last year, the Sun Devils were benefited by a favorable schedule, where they beat everybody they were supposed to and got killed by all the legitimate teams in the conference. The Sun Devils offense will be lead by Rudy Carpenter, who was on the ground a lot last year, after having to go through 55 sacks last year, which was a school-record by the way. To try to cut down on this the Sun Devils are trying to spread the field, with the offensive line expected to be worse with 4 new starters. The running game looks solid with the return of Keegan Herring, who last year ran for 800 yards. He should be able to break the 1000 yard mark with the loss of solid backup Ryan Torain. The receiving corps looks solid with the return of 3 of their top 4 receivers from last year. The best of the bunch is Chris McGaha and Michael Jones. The defense should be solid once again with the return of defensive backs Omar Bolden, who had a great freshman campaign and Troy Nolan. The defense should be anchored by the return of both defensive ends in Luis Vasquez and Dexter Davis. These two guys should be able to get pressure on the quarterback forcing him to make quick decisions. Until Arizona St. proves they can beat a top 20 team, they are nothing, but a solid football team. I think they’ll be blown out by USC and beaten by Oregon in a close game at home.
4. Oregon St.-The offense of Oregon St. should be really good in 2008, they have extremely talented receivers, a running back already called the next great Oregon State running back. The only problem: Who’ll play quarterback? The Beavers are choosing between two guys, Sean Canfield and Lyle Moevao. The receivers will be lead by Sammie Stroughter who received a medical redshirt from last year, two years ago he was an All-American and was the biggest reason Oregon St. was able to upset USC. The other headliners are James Rodgers and Darrell Catchings. The running game should be solid, despite the loss of Yvenson Bernard mainly because of the return of running back Ryan McCants. The defense last year was extremely talented, but with the loss of most of their front 7 expect some rebuilding. It will help early that they return of most of their defensive backs. The Beavers should be good again this season. The Beavers have an early test against PSU on the road, if the Beavers can at least put a good effort and stay in the game, the Beavers can keep up that momentum throughout the rest of the season.
5. UCLA-Last year, was a disappointment. After upsetting USC to end the 06 season, the Bruins weren’t able to put it together and they struggled on their way to a 6-7 season, which included an embarrassing loss to Notre Dame. The big question for UCLA is, Who will be the quarterback? Patrick Cowan was named the starter before wrecking his knee, and his status in unknown. Right after this their backup Ben Olson also was injured, but he’s expected to be back when summer workouts start in June. The Bruins have a nice set of running backs led by Kahlil Bell and Chane Moline. Another huge question mark is, who will the quarterback throw the ball too? The loss of their top 2 receivers will drastically hurt, and there hoping that junior Dominque Johnson can have a breakout year. The defense should be solid once again, with the help of a solid front line. The line is led by tackles Bringham Harwell and Tom Blake, along with defensive end Brian Price. The defensive line will need to get some pressure on the offensive because of the loss of 3 starters on the defense backfield, one guy that they can count on is cornerback Alterraun Verner. The linebacking core is led Reggie Carter. This season is mainly about setting the new system in place, the Bruins should make a bowl game this season, but if they don’t it’s not shocking at all. The Bruins could finish 5<sup>th</sup>, but they could finish as low as 8<sup>th</sup>.
6. Washington-The Huskies lose a lot of their key position players, and finished last in the Pac 10, yet I pick them to finish 6<sup>th</sup>. Why? Jake Locker. Locker last year put together a solid freshman year, and expect him to take another step this season in his sophomore year. The running game will be lead by Jake Locker who rushed for 900 yards last year. They have two extremely talented young players though, that will battle for time at running back. Brandon Johnson will be the guy given the first chance, and expect this guy to have a solid year. The other running back will Chris Polk, who is expected to be used in a Reggie Bush type style. At receiver the Huskies are hoping that D’Andre Goodwin can be the go to-guy after showing flashes as a freshman. The defense is hoping that they are able to take some steps this year, and they can with the return of a lot of key players. They return leading tackler E.J. Savannah, and with a lot of their guys growing up, expect the back 7 of the defense to be very solid in 08 under new defensive coordinator Ed Donnatell. The defensive line is the weakness of the defense, with only one returning player that played key time last year, but if the defensive line can mature this defense can be very solid. If Washington wants to be good this year, they need some talented guys to step up, by this ranking you can tell that I think they will.
7. Arizona-Mike Stoops is hoping this is the season that the Wildcats can finally break through, and go to a bowl game. The offense should be very good led by Willie Tuitama and receivers Mike Thomas and Terrell Turner. The Wildcats are hoping that they can finally have a decent running game to help support the explosive passing game. Nicholas Grisby is the guy that the Wildcats hope can have a breakout season. Grisby ran for 700 yards last season as a freshman, but Arizona’s coaching staff is hoping he get over the 1000 yard mark. The Wildcats will be running a lot of 4 and 5 wide receiver sets, to help complement their strength at receiver. The defense for Arizona is not even close to being set, unlike the Arizona offense. The defense has only 3 returnees in safeties Cam Nelson and Nate Ness, and linebacker Ronnie Palmer. The other parts of the defense are right now not certain, and the staff is just hoping for a defense that can at least stop the opponent somewhat. The Wildcats have a shot to make a bowl game this season. With a light schedule, and having many of the best teams playing in Tucson, the Wildcats have a great shot at finally breaking through.
8. Cal-Cal was ranked #2 and were poised to be #1 when they were playing Oregon State at home. Kevin Riley started to scramble and was trying to make a play, but he was tackled. Without any timeouts Cal's chances of being #1 went down the drain soon the season would follow as the Golden Bears struggled losing 6 of their last 7 games. The Golden Bears have two experienced quarterbacks in senior Nate Longshore who had a very good sophmore year, but followed that up with a bad junior season and Kevin Riley who led Cal to a come from behind victory against Air Force in their bowl game. The Golden Bears are inexperienced at every other positions, but they are adapting the spread offense this season with new offensive coordinator in Frank Cignetti. The most logical solution at running back is Javhid Best who was Justin Forsett's backup last year. At receiver the Bears lost their top 3 receivers in DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan. The Bears are hoping that Florida transfer Nyan Boatang can live up to his potential and that Michael Calvin can step up this year for the Bears. The Bears were awful last season, but they are changing to a 3-4 defense with the strength at linebacker. The best of the bunch is Zack Forsett. Cal will get an early test against a good offense in Michigan State in week 1, and they have to go on the road to play Maryland as well. This season Cal is just trying to make a bowl game year as they try to build for the future.
9. Stanford-Consider Jim Harbough's first season at Stanford a success. The Cardinal were able to win 3 conference games, and were able to upset USC on the road 24-23. Stanford returns 20 starters from last year's team so they should be able to improve this season. On offense the Cardinal are hoping that Tavita Pritchard can produce, and if he can't they'll likely put in Michigan transfer Jason Forcier. The Cardinal have a super good receiver on the outside, and it'll be in the quarterbacks interest to give him the ball. Richard Sherman had 39 catches last season and he should improve this year. The Cardinal struggled last year running the football with their leading rusher only rushing for 343 yards. Jeremy Stewart is expected to step in his 2nd year at running back. The defense should be much better next year with the return of 12 players who started at least 4 games last year. The best of the bunch is Pannel Egboh who had 13.5 tackles for loss last season. The Cardinal also return their top 3 safeties and a solid group of linebackers. If Stanford can have a decent offense they could challenge for a bowl game with a defense that is fairly good.
10. Washington State-The Cougars are hoping that new coach can bring Washington St. football back to respectability. Last year, Washington State had a very good offense, but they'll take a step back with new starting quarterback in senior Gary Rodgers. The running game is an unknown right now with Chris Ivory and Dwight Tardy both having injury problems and Ivory having academic problems as well. The Cougars defense was pretty terrible last year, but they should improve with 8 starters returning. The Cougars are switching to a 4-3 defense with a new coaching philosophy. Andy Mattingly had a great year last season at linebacker, but he's moving to defensive end because of his ability to get pressure on the quarterback. The Cougars return though 3 starters at linebacker led by middle linebacker in Gary Trent. The secondary has a lot of questions, and it'll be the weak point of the defense. The Cougars will struggle this season with a new coaching staff. They just need to set a foundation this season.
All Pac 10 Team: Offense: QB: Jake Locker So. Washington RB: Joe McKnight So. USC RB: Kahlil Bell Sr. UCLA OL: Alex Mack Sr. Cal OL: Max Unger Sr. Oregon OL: Jeff Byers Sr. USC OL: Alex Fletcher Sr. Stanford OL: Eben Britton Jr. Arizona TE: Ed Dickson Jr. Oregon WR: Brandon Gibson Sr. Washington State WR: Jaison Williams Sr. Oregon Defense: DL: Nick Reed Sr. Oregon DL: Fili Moala Sr. USC DL: Dexter Davis Jr. Arizona State DL: Everson Griffen So. USC LB: Zack Follett Sr. Cal LB: Rey Maualuga Sr. USC LB: Brian Cushing Sr. USC CB: Jairus Byrd Sr. Oregon CB: Omar Bolden So. Arizona State S: Patrick Chung Sr. Oregon S: Taylor Mays Jr. USC Special Teams: K: Thomas Weber So. Arizona State P: Keenyn Crier So. Arizona
SEC:The SEC is once again the best conference in the country. They have 4 teams that I think can win the conference in Georgia, Florida, LSU and Auburn. SEC East: 1. Georgia-The 'Dawgs ended the year in style in blowing out a Hawaii team that didn't deserve to play in the Sugar Bowl. The Bulldogs look like they'll have a very potent offense in 08 led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Knowshon Moreno. Last year, Stafford struggled a bit in passing effiencincy, but expect an improvement this year. At running back expect Moreno to have around the same amount of carries he had late in the year because Georgia is expecting big things from freshman running back Caleb King. At the receiver position they return their leading receiver in Mohamed Massaquoi and their best tight end Tripp Chandler. The Georgia coaches though, are excited by the emergence of freshman receiver AJ Green, who was rated by many as the top high school receiver. The defense last year for Georgia was very strong, and expect an improvement this season. The Bulldogs had one of the best run defenses in the country last year and with the return of Geno Atkins and Kade Weston expect more of the same for Georgia. The strength of the Georgia defense should be the linebacker position. The linebackers are led by Dannell Ellerbe who had 93 tackles last year, but this unit has 2 other good linebackers. The secondary is led by conerback Asher Allen who was one of the top cover corners late in last year, and safety Reshad Jones. The biggest loss for the Bulldogs might be the loss of kicker Brandon Coutu. The thing that might be the only thing standing in the way of Georgia and a national championship is a very tough schedule. In non-conference the Bulldogs have to play @Arizona St., and in conference they play Tennessee, Florida, @Auburn, @LSU, and South Carolina. If the Bulldogs can go through that schedule with only one loss they deserve a trip to the National Title Game.
2. Florida-Looking back it was simply amazing what Tim Tebow was able to do last season. He was able to carry the Gators last season to a 9 win season and along the way he became the first underclassman to win the Heisman. The Gators are going to go back to a two-quarterback system this season with Cam Newton coming in for Tim Tebow at times. The real key for the Gators to take the next step on offense is a legit running game. Chris Rainey looked really good in the Spring Game, but the Gators are hoping that Emmanuel Moody can become "the guy" at running back. One thing we know for sure the Gators are loaded at receiver. The Gators have one of the best receivers in Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy. The Gators also have two very good tight ends in Aaron Hernandez and Cornelious Ingram. The defense though has to improve after struggling mightily last year. The Gators do return 8 starters so the defense should be better. The weakness of this defense is defending the pass. The Gators allowed over 250 yards through the air, and that is terrible for a team that wants to contend for a SEC Title. The best player on the defense should be linebacker Brandon Spikes who looks like a guy that could be an All American, but the real key is to stop the pass and the Gators are hoping that the strong recruiting class will help in that regard. The schedule doesn't look as difficult as Georgia's schedule, but their are certainly some tests on it. The Gators have to play @Tennessee, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina. The good thing is the toughest opponents are at home.
3. Tennessee-I realized that I overranked Tennessee in my first preseason rankings. Tennessee should have a fairly good team this season, but I don't think they can compete with Florida and Georgia in the rough SEC East. The Vols are breaking in a new quarterback in Jonathon Crompton, but he has some good players around him that it shouldn't be a rough transition. Tennessee returns a pretty good running back in Arian Foster who rushed for over 1000 yards last season. The Vols also return much of their offensive line that was one of the best last year allowing only 4 sacks. The Volounteers also have a very good receiving in Lucas Taylor, and they return their 2nd and 3rd receivers in Austin Rodgers and Josh Briscoe. Expect Gerald Jones to become a bigger part of the offense this season in the receiving game, but also as a quarterback in a formation they are calling the G-Gun. The other major loss on offense was the loss of coordinator David Cutcliffe. The defense struggled a bit in 08, but they should be better this year, especially in the secondary. The best player in the secondary is sophmore Eric Berry, who should be able to challange for a spot on the All American team. The Vols in turn return 6 guys that have had experience starting in the secondary, so they shouldn't have trouble stopping the pass, but they do have some problems up front. The Vols have some good starters up front, but they have absoloutly no depth at those positions so if one gets injured the Vols could be screwed. The Vols also have to replace 1st round pick Jerod Mayo, if they can, and they have no injuries up front Tennessee should have a very good defense. The key games for Tennessee this year are @UCLA, Florida, @Auburn, @Georgia, Alabama and @South Carolina.
4.. South Carolina-Last year was a tough year for the Gamecocks as they had a great start and rose into the top 10, during this time they were able to beat Georgia in Athens, but after that the season just fell apart. South Carolina had troubles all season with quarterback problems and they enter the spring with Quarterback problems again. The quarterback to start the year at least should be Tommy Beecher. Beecher will be pushed by junior Chris Smelley(started a few games last season) and controversial freshman Stephen Garcia. The running game looks solid with Mike Davis and sophomore Brian Maddox. The strength of South Carolina this year should be the receivers where they'll be lead by Kenny McKinley and tight end Jared Cook. Also, the offensive line should be a lot better with the return of 4 starters. Defensively expect the defense to at least give the offense a chance. The defense will be lead by Jasper Brinkley who was having a great season, until he got hurt. Brinkley is an All American candidate when healthy. The Gamecocks have two good defensive backs in cornerback Captain Munerlyn and safety Emmanuel Cook. The Gamecocks are hoping though, that Eric Norwood can make a good transition from defensive end to linebacker. It seems that every year South Carolina has a handful of close games so if you’re a Gamecock fan expect a lot of games where you're sweating till the whistle blows. Overall, South Carolina should be pretty good this year, they have a lot of their tougher games at home with Tennessee and LSU all coming to William-Brice Stadium, and playing UGA and Clemson on the road. We will see if the 'Ol Ball Coach can finally break through this year.
5. Kentucky-Kentucky could struggle this season in the post-Andre Woodson era. Woodson gave Kentucky a chance to beat anybody, and Kentucky has had two straight bowl wins, which is pretty good in the commonwealth. It appears that Brian Hartline has the best opportunity to replace Andre Woodson, since he has the most experience. Not only that, but Kentucky also loses their top rusher Rafael Little, and their top receivers in Keenan Burton, Steve Johnson and tight end Jacob Tamme. The Wildcats are hoping that Dicky Lyons can produce at receiver and Tony Dixon can give them a solid running game. Kentucky’s offense will be a work in progress. The Kentucky defense should be a lot better. The Wildcats defense is led by a very good secondary. The best defensive back is Trevard Lindley, who has All SEC potential. The Wildcats have a good defensive end in Jeremy Jarmon as well. The biggest loss on defense is linebacker is Wesley Woodard, the leading tackler for Kentucky the past few years. The Wildcats are thinking that Braxton Kelley can move over and replace Woodard. The important games this season for Kentucky are @Louisville, South Carolina, @Mississippi St., Georgia, and @Florida.
6. Vanderbilt-Last season, Vanderbilt won 5 games and they probably should have gone to a bowl game, but they didn’t. They had inconsistent quarterback play and that cost them at the end. Chris Nickson has all the talent in the world, but he has yet to put it together for Vanderbilt at quarterback, and that’s why the ‘Dores put in Mackenzi Adams in late, who isn’t as talented as Nickson, but is much more consistant. The biggest losses on the offensive side of the ball are All-Time SEC leader in receptions Earl Bennett and 1<sup>st</sup> round pick Chris Williams. Vanderbilt hopes that Jeff Jennings could give Vanderbilt a solid running game, but as of right now Vanderbilt’s offense is a work in progress. Vanderbilt though should have a solid defense. The secondary is one of the best in the SEC. They have a very good cornerback in DJ Moore, and two good defensive ends in Broderick Stewart and Steven Stone. The other positions aren’t settled yet, but if the Commodores can find solid replacements at those positions Vanderbilt will have a solid defense and they could go to a bowl game. The games that Vanderbilt is most likely to win are @Miami(OH), South Carolina, Rice, @Ole Miss, Duke and @Kentucky.
SEC West: 1. Auburn-When Ryan Perrilloux got kicked off the LSU football team, it made the Auburn Tigers the favorite in the SEC West. The Tigers coaching staff believes that Kodi Burns will be able to lead the new spread, no huddle offense that will be run at Auburn this year under a new offensive coordinator. The Tigers have 4 very good running backs in Ben Tate, Brad Lester, Carl Stewart, and Mario Fannin. Fannin is the most versatile of the group and he is expected to line up a lot at the receiver position. The receiver position seems like it'll be the weak point of the offense. The Tigers do return though their top receiver in Rodgeriques Smith and their 2nd leading receiver Montez Billing, but the receiving core doesn't have that breakaway guy that a lot of offenses have, but the thing is that Auburn doesn't throw the ball a lot, and they probably won't this year with the strong group of running backs they have and a first year starter at quarterback. It appears though that Auburn will have one of the, if not the best defense in the SEC. The defensive line is led by tackle Sen'Derrick Marks and Antonio Coleman. The Tigers have one of the best linebackers in the SEC in Tray Blackmon, along with a good secondary led by Jerraud Powers and Aarion Savage. Auburn is the favorite in the SEC with one of the best defenses and with an offense that should be solid. The key games for Auburn are LSU, Tennessee, @West Virginia, Georgia and @Alabama.
2. LSU-The Tigers may have lost Ryan Perrilloux, but they have enough talent returning on offense along with a defense that should be solid that LSU can contend for a SEC West Title. The Tigers big question in who'll be the new starting quarterback. Most likely it'll be freshman Jarrett Lee who is extremely talented. Lee won't be asked to win games for the Tigers, but will be asked to not make mistakes and to give the ball to the many playmakers the Tigers have on offense. The Tigers have 4 good running backs led by Keiland Williams who rushed for 480 yards last year as the Tigers backup. The other good running backs for the Tigers are speedster Trindon Holliday, Charles Scott and Richard Murphy. All of these guys showed a lot of promise last year, as backup for LSU. The Tiger also have a lot of good receivers on the outside. The best receivers are Brandon LaFell and Demetrius Byrd, who both had over 600 yards receiving last season. The Tigers also return sophmore Terrance Toliver who showed a lot of promise last year as a freshman, and tight end Richard Dickson. The Tigers might've lost 6 starters off of last years great defense, but they should still have a good defense this season. The Tigers lose Glenn Dorsey and Ali Highsmith, yet they still have the best front 7 in the SEC. The Tigers have two good defensive ends in Tyson Jackson and Kirston Pittman, along with a very good defensive tackle in Ricky Jean-Francois. The Tigers best returnee on the linebacking core is Darry Beckwith, but the key for LSU's defense in 08 is to find two good cornerbacks. The leaders for those two jobs are Jai Eugene and Chris Hawkins, but they did struggle a bit in Spring Practice. What should help out the new cornerbacks though is the return of Chad Jackson and Harry Coleman. Coleman proved himself last year, when he was called on last year. The key games for LSU this season are @Auburn, @Florida, @South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia.
3. Alabama-The Crimson Tide should be a lot better in 2008 in the 2nd year of Nick Saban. Teams usually improve drasitically in the 2nd year with Nick Saban as the coach. Alabama has a solid quarterback in John Parker Wilson, but he needs to be much more consistant. He looked very good at times, but he also looked very bad at times as well. I think in year 2 under Saban he'll be more consistant. Alabama is hoping that Terry Grant can get over 1000 yards this season. In the Spring Game he looked very good, and it appears that he's improved drastically this season. The other key is to replace the receivers they lost. Losing DJ Hall, Matt Caddell and Keith Brown was huge. Watch out for Julio Jones to make an impact their. The biggest key on the defensive end is the linebacking core, The Linebackers weren't great in 08, and they need to improve. They also have depth issues at the position as well. Rolando McClain had a great first year at linebacker, but his supporting cast wasn't too great. I think that Saban will improve the defense mightily this season. The key games for Alabama this season are Clemson, @Georgia, @Tennessee, @LSU and Auburn
4. Mississippi St.-Last year, Mississippi was able to turn everything around winning 8 games. A big reason was because of the development of then sophomore Wes Carroll. They should have a very good running game lead by Anthony Dixon, but they will have another good running back Robert Elliot. The Bulldogs aren’t as loaded t receiver, but they have a solid receiver in Jamayal Smith. The defense should be good once again with 8 returning starters. The big loss was defensive end Titus Brown. Anthony Johnson is a very good defensive back, and they have a very good duo at defensive tackle in Kyle Love and Jessie Bowman. Along with a solid middle linebacker in Jamar Chaney. Mississippi State should be a solid team again this season. They have a good offense and a good defense, that should be good enough for another bowl game, Sly Croom has really built up this program. The most important games for Miss. State this season are Auburn, @Georgia Tech, @Tennessee, Kentucky, @Alabama, Arkansas and of course the rivalry game @Ole Miss.
5. Ole Miss-The Rebels are hoping that Houston Nutt will be able to turn around Ole Miss and bring them back to respectability. Jevan Snead is expected to be able to step right away and to produce away. Snead was never able to get able a chance at Texas, but many feel that he is talented and will be a good quarterback. The Rebels seem to have two running backs that will be able to produce in Cordero Eason and Enrique Davis. Davis was a former Auburn recruit that decided to go to Ole Miss after a year at prep school. The Rebels return their top 5 receivers so Snead won’t have to throw the ball to inexperienced receivers, the best of them is Mike Wallace. The defense has a lot of problems, and that’ll hold back Ole Miss this season. The defensive line struggled, but there is talent there. The guy that everybody expects to step up and finally produce is Jerrell Powe. It gets worse on defense, though. The linebackers had trouble all of last season and are hitting the JUCO to try to get some experience at that position. The defensive backs have such bad depth that they made a receiver and a running back to the defensive backfield. The most winnable and important games for Ole Miss this season are Memphis, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, @Arkansas, Auburn and @Mississippi State.
6. Arkansas-Arkansas will have a tough season this year, but Petrino will get it turned around out eventually. Casey Dick looked good in spring, but he hasn’t proven that he can be a consistant quarterback. Michael Smith should be a solid running back this season, but he’s won’t come close to replacing Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. The Razorbacks also lost their top 2 receivers and their top returning receiver only had 17 catches last season. What am I saying? Arkansas will struggle on offense, that’s a certainty. The Razorbacks also lot a ton on defense as well. They lost their entire secondary, and they lost a lot of their linebacking core. Their defensive line seems like it’ll be pretty good this season, but Arkansas will struggle this season on defense and on offense this year. It’s a rebuilding year for Arkansas and Bobby Petrino this year. The most important games and winnable games for Arkansas this year are Western Illinois, @UL Monroe, @Texas, Alabama, @Kentucky, Mississippi and Tulsa.
All SEC Team: Offense: QB: Tim Tebow Jr. Florida RB: Knowshon Moreno So. Georgia RB: Arian Foster Sr. Tennessee OL: Michael Oher Sr. Ole Miss OL: Andre Smith Jr. Alabama OL: Ciron Black Jr. LSU OL: Jonathon Luigs Sr. Arkansas OL: Anthony Parker Sr. Tennessee TE: Cornelius Ingram Sr. Florida WR: Percy Harvin Jr. Florda WR: Lucas Taylor Sr. Tennessee Defense: DL: Sen’Derrick Marks Jr. Auburn DL: Greg Hardy Jr. Ole Miss DL: Ricky Jean-Francois Jr. LSU DL: Kirston Pittman Sr. LSU LB: Brandon Spikes Jr. Florida LB: Tray Blackmon Jr. Auburn LB: Jasper Brinkley Sr. South Carolina CB: Asher Allen Jr. Georgia CB: Jerraud Powers Sr. Auburn S: Eric Berry Jr. Tennessee S: Captain Munnerlyn Jr. South Carolina Special Teams: K: Wes Bynum So. Auburn P: Chas Henry So. Florida
Finally, my Heisman Candidates and my breakdown is over. Tim Tebow should start on top of everybody's Preseason Heisman lists, even though it'll be a lot harder for him to win it last year. Matt Ryan was the midseason favorite before interceptions and some inconsistancy cost BC games against FSU and Maryland. Dennis Dixon would've certainly won if he had been able to keep up what he was doing after the Arizona St. game, but alas he got hurt. Darren McFadden wasn't really putting up specatcular stats throughout the entire season, expect for the two games against LSU and South Carolina. So Tebow won it, and he had great stats and was an excellent choice to win it, too bad I don't think he'll win it this year.
1. Tim Tebow-The defending Heisman Winner will try to become the first player since Archie Griffen to win the Heisman two times. This year Tebow's stats won't be as good as last year, because unlike last year Florida should have a consistant running game led by Emmanual Moody and Chris Rainey. Because of this Tebow will not have anywhere close to the amount of rushing touchdowns and his amount rushing yards. His passing yards should be very similar seeing as he returns many of the weapons he had from last year, led by Percy Harvin. Even if Tebow doesn't win it he should still be in the race based on the fact that his team is a national title contendor and because he will still put up good numbers. The game that could make or breaks Tebow's hopes is most likely the game against Georgia in Jacksonville.
2. Chris Wells-Halfway through the season Chris Wells was having a nice season, he was going to rush for over 1,000 yards and the Buckeyes were winning, but all that changed in the 2nd half of the season. In the 2nd half of the year Chris "Beanie" Wells exploded against Michigan State, Penn State and Michigan. He ended the season with over 1500 yards and thus has put him squarely into the Heisman Race. If Chris Wells wants to win the Heisman he'll have to put up numbers similar to 2nd half of the season, instead of the 1st half of the year. Another important part is the Buckeyes have to be in the National Title race and knowing that they return 20 starters they should be again. The final key for Wells to have a shot for the Heisman is that he must come up big when the Buckeyes need him, and he did through most of last year. He'll have a chance to show off his skills on the national stage when OSU plays USC, Wisconsin, PSU and Illinois.
3. Chase Daniel-Last year Chase Daniel had a record breaking season last year throwing for 33 touchdowns last year and for over 4000 yards. It also helped that Missouri was able to win 12 games, with that Daniel was able to be a Heisman Finalist. This year Missouri returns most of their skilled position players from last year, led by Jeromy Maclin and Chase Coffman. The player missing is 1,000 yard rusher Tony Temple so Daniel probably would be able to throw the ball and therefore put up better stats. This year Missouri doesn't have to play Oklahoma this year, but they do travel to play Texas and they start the year with Illinois at home.
4. Pat White-Last year WVU was the Pat White show as Pat White had a great junior year rushed for 1300 yards and throwing for another 1700. With losing his top receiver Darius Reynaud and his running back Steve Slaton, Pat White will have to carry an even greater load then last year, but we saw that even without Slaton they will have a good running back. Just ask Oklahoma, they'd agree with me after the way Devine tore up their defense. The key games for WVU this year that are important for Pat White's Heisman hopes are the mid season game with Auburn in Morgantown and the road game against Pitt.
5. Knowshon Moreno-Knowshon Moreno had a great freshman year last year, helping to lead UGA to a Sugar Bowl victory and a top 5 finish in the polls. Moreno who rushed for 1200 yards last year, was an afterthought early in the year, but after he had a great performance against Florida everybody knew who he was. Expect Moreno to be in the Heisman discussion mainly because his team will be in the national title hunt. Moreno should put up good stats, but don't expect the stats to take your breath away because this year Moreno will have to share the backfield with highly touted freshman Caleb King. Moreno will have a lot of games that he can be in the spotlight, the big games in Georgia's schedule are Arizona State, Florida, Auburn, Tennessee and LSU.
6. Sam Bradford-Last year Sam Bradford had the greatest freshman season for a quarterback ever. He was able to throw for over 3000 yards and throw for 36 touchdowns. He was able to lead Oklahoma to a Big XII championship, and despite that he struggled a bit against WVU he still had a great season. Bradford losses one of his top targets in Malcolm Kelley, but returns Joaquin Iglesias and Jermaine Gresham. The big, important games on Oklahoma's schedule for Bradford are the early season matchup with one of last season's best defenses in Cincinnati, Texas and Texas Tech. If Bradford plays well in those games and plays well this season he could make a run at the Heisman.
7. Michael Crabtree-Last year Michael Crabtree had probably the best freshman season for a reciever. He was able to score 22 touchdowns and have over 1900 yards recieving. The amazing part is that his stats will most likely be better this year with the loss of 2nd leading reciever Danny Amendola. Saying that I expect Michael Crabtree to have over 2000 yards recieving and that will surely put him into the Heisman talks, though his stats are a bit inflated by the system Texas Tech runs. The key games for Crabtree's Heisman hopes are road games against Kansas, and Oklahoma, along with a home game against Texas.
8. PJ Hill-Last year PJ Hill had a somewhat down season running for a bit over 1200 yards. The problem for him last year was that he was never really able to get healthy and in reality he only played in 9 games, so considering that 1200 yards was pretty good. The thing that might keep Hill from competing for the Heisman is that he has to share the backfield with 3 really good running backs, but the only thing is PJ should get the most carries and he should still have a chance to get 1500+ yards. The important games for Hill seem to be the back to back night games for Hill at home against Ohio St and Penn St, two teams known for their stingy defense. The only good thing for Wisconsin and PJ Hill about those games, is that they are 20-1 in their past 21 night games, so don't be suprised if Wisconsin is able to win both of those games.
9. Percy Harvin-It'll be very difficult for Percy Harvin to win the Heisman. Having Tim Tebow on your team will do that for you, but he deserves consideration because he is one of the better players in all of college football. Considering what he did last year: He had over 800 yards receiving and over 750 yards rushing.....that's pretty good in itself. This year expect Harvin's running total to go down by a lot with Emmanual Moody and Chris Rainey getting the bulk of the carries, but expect his receiving totals to go up with the loss of their 2nd leading reciever Andre Caldwell. The only way I can really see Harvin winning the Heisman is if he has an amazing game against Georgia and is able put no doubt in anyone's mind in who's the best player on the field. Harvin=great player, but no likely to win the Heisman.
10. Todd Reesing-Yeah, I know Todd Reesing had a great last year and threw for 33 touchdowns and lead a Kansas team to an Orange Bowl win. I also know Kansas returns 16 starters, I also know that Kansas last year wasn't very good, used the BCS System and played a Virginia Tech squad from the weak ACC that had lose by 41 to LSU at the start of the year. Reesing had a great season last year and was able to put up great stats, but let's see how he does against tougher competition. This year Kansas doesn't play an easy schedule like last year and actually finally have some good teams on the schedule. The teams that Kansas play this year that are important for Reesing's Heisman hopes are USF, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech and Missouri. Kansas fans enjoy that great year last year, because it's not going to happen very often.
Other Heisman Contendors: Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez, Todd Boeckman, Graham Harrell, Noel Devine