The Top Ten is here.
What I Like: 16 starters are back from a team that went 10-3 last season, shared the Pac-10 title with USC, and put a shameful, bareassed whipping on Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl.
Nate Longshore DeSean Jackson is one of the best receivers in the country (and he's a nifty return man as well), he's got plenty of pass catching talent surrounding him, and Nate Longshore should be a much improved QB after an up and down season last year.
What I Don't: Marshawn Lynch is playing on Sundays now and Cal will have a bear of a time matching last season's production on the ground. Man, I am funny. Anyway, they return only one starter on the D-line, and they have a rough schedule with an opening date against Tennesse (SECRUlZZ!@!), and tough conference road tests against Oregon, UCLA, and Arizona State.
|And hippies. I do not like hippies.|
What I Like: Colt Brennan is a Heisman contender, his top three receivers are back, and this offense will be a top ranked unit from the start of the season on. Boise and Fresno come to them this season, and their OOC slate is, well, let's just say winnable.
What I Don't: DC Jerry Glanville is gone after improving the Hawaii D in his second year, allowing roughly 11 points per game less than in his first year as DC. But hey, when you can score at will, who cares if you can't stop anyone?
|Any mention of Hawaii requires a video from Elvis's Aloha From Hawaii.|
What I Like: Erik Ainge finally lived up to his potential last year, and Cutcliffe is confident enough in his abilities to install a no huddle offense.
What I Don't: The first three weeks of the season will be pivotal for UT to reaffirm their place among the college football elite. An opener at Cal, a home game against the plucky Golden Eagles of Southern Miss, and a trip to the Swamp start things off for the Vols, and trips to Alabama and (God, it's so weird to say this) Kentucky later on will be tough road contests as well. Only five starters return on defense, and the backfield is looking less impressive after the suspension of LaMarcus Coker.
What I Like: The SEC will finally see an Urban Meyer team running Urban Meyer's schemes with Urban Meyer's players. Their offensive production was suspect at times last year, but the Gators are still stocked with talent from the Zook years and Meyer hasn't done too shabby himself with recruiting.
What I Don't: Two starters back on a defense that kept the Gators in more than one close game while the offense floundered doesn't bode well. They're due for a post MNC let down, say 9-3ish and second in the division.
15. Ohio State
What I Like: Last year's D had only two starters back but still was one of the best in the country (if you disregard that whole Title Game incident, which I'm sure you are). This year they have six starters back, and should be as tough as always, while the O-Line is a strength of the offense and should help the new starters find their rhythm early on. The schedule is favorable, with no real test until a trip to Happy Valley at the end of October.
What I Don't: Smith, Ginn, Gonzalez, and Pittman are all in the NFL now, leaving talented but young players to pick up the reigns, and they face Michigan and Penn State on the road.
What I Like: Coaching staff upgrades, 9 returning starters on the offense, including record setters John Parker Wilson and DJ Hall, a deep and talented secondary, and a favorable home schedule make me happy and warm.
What I Don't: A young, small, and thin front seven adapting to new schemes forced to mature with a trip to sudden offensive powerhouse Vandy, visits from Arkansas and Georgia, and a neutral site game in Jacksonville against a similarly upgraded Florida State all in September makes me cold. So very cold.
What I Like: Last year's team went 12-1 under first year head coach Bret Bielema with a phenomenal defense and Freshman All-American PJ Hill in the backfield. Hill returns with an almost intact O-Line to block for him, and the top four receivers return, including 2nd Team All-Big 10 TE Travis Beckum.
What I Don't: I know this is a pound the ball team, but the QB situation bothers me. You don't lose a QB with a 29-7 record and not feel a little bit of drop off. The schedule is daunting as well, with what should be an improved Iowa coming to Camp Randall in week four, back to back road games at Illinois (whom Phil Steele hearts) and Penn State, and a three game stretch to close out the season at tOSU, vs Michigan, and at rival Minnesota.
|If you let PJ Hill into open space, just let him go 'cause, man, he is gone.|
What I Like: Seven returning starters on offense, including QB Dennis Dixon, RB Jonathan Stewart, and two of the top three leading receivers, and six on defense, plus a favorable home schedule means the Ducks could easily fight their way to the top of the non-USC Pac 10 pile.
What I Don't: Trips to Michigan (in week two), Arizona, and UCLA are daunting, and when last we heard from their defense they were busy not stopping BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl. Runner up to USC in the Pac-10 is really anyone's game this season.
What I Like:Fourteen returning starters, including QB Brian Brohm and his top four receivers from last year, and what should be a mostly painless transition from Bobby Petrino to Steve Kragthorpe. The key components of Petrino's staff are still there, and Kragthorpe was known for doing more with less at Tulsa. Now that he has the talent to run his wide open offenses this team should be back to running up scores and gawdy numbers in no time.
What I Don't Like: It is the first year under a new head coach, and the final three games are a particularly tough gauntlet, playing at West Virginia, at USF, and against Rutgers to close out the season.
20. South Carolina
What I Like: Spurrier finally has the veteran QB and experienced starters around him to completely install his offensive schemes, plus the defense returns 10 players with starting experience and they should be impressive this year.
What I Don't: The 'Cocks have a tough row to hoe this year, playing at Georgia in week two, and facing LSU, what should be an improved North Carolina under Butch Davis, Tennessee, and Arkansas all on the road.