I originally was going to put Auburn at No. 1, but considering they suspended two potential starting linebackers for the first 3 games, I have to believe this will hurt them considerably in game 3 vs. LSU. I don't think it is enough that they won't have a chance to play for the national title, but it could have an effect on the defensive unity past the 3rd game. Other off field issues lead me to believe this team will under achieve.
1. Texas-If Mack Brown can tweak the offense to suit the new quarterback as he did with VY, this should be another undefeated season for Texas. They seem to be loaded at every other position on offense and defense.
2. Ohio St.-Offensively, they should be able to outscore 90% of the teams on their schedule. The defense on the other hand is a source for concern after loosing 9 starters from last year. They won't have time to settle in with an almost sure loss in week 2 at Texas. However, the rest of the schedule looks favorable. If they can win at Iowa, they should be able to position themselves for a shot at a national title.
3. Southern Cal.-There's a lot of new talent on this team as well. The key word there is talent. Pete Carroll has been recruiting like a mad man. Besides an opening game at Arkansas, they shouldn't be tested again until November. The offensive and defensive line play should be enough to get them through until the new faces can gel.
4. LSU-The only real question with this team is who will start at quarterback. The last image of this team is a 40-3 stomping of Miami. Sure, Miami didn't have their head in the game, but even when they are average, no one beats Miami by 37 points. I expect one loss somewhere along the line. Possibly at Florida or Tennessee.
5. Notre Dame-Line play on both sides of the ball has to be better this year, and I expect it to be. There are a lot of names associated with this ND team, but the ones that will matter will be on the line of scrimmage. Skill players should once again be lights out.
6. Florida-The greatest improvement a team makes is usually between year one and year two. I expect that to be the case for Florida. The defense should be awesome again, and the offense should show vast improvement after receiving pointers from Coach Rod.
7. Auburn-As I stated above, I think all the pieces are there, but I have to question how they will perform as a team, with so many off the field issues.
8. Iowa-14 returning starters makes this an interesting team. They really have a two game schedule. Home vs. Ohio St., and a road game at Michigan. Both lines are experienced and talented. They have a proven winners in Drew Tate at quarterback, and Albert Young at running back. I won't be surprised to see them in a BCS game this year.
9. Miami-Miami doesn't handle embarrassment very well. I expect them to be motivated to prove themselves after last years Peach Bowl. Quarterback play should be improved, and there is no question as to the talent on this team.
10. West Virginia-I think this is a pretty fair placement for this team. It wouldn't be impossible to go undefeated, but I would expect this team to have at least one loss if it was playing in one of the power conferences. That being said, they have a great chance to go undefeated. I believe they have the talent to be placed in the top 10.
11. Cal-Is this the year they overtake USC? Could be. They don't have the sexy reputation of USC, but they have the talent to hang with anyone in the country.
12. Georgia- Damn if the SEC isn't deepest conference in college football. I believe this will be a slight rebuilding year, but because of the heart they showed in the Sugar Bowl to come back I have a hard time counting them out.
13. Louisville- Of course I put them at 13 in the hopes of somehow jinxing them. They go into the season with one of the most explosive offenses in the country. They have the knowledge that the back up quarterback can run the offense very well, even with cotton stuffed up his nose. For the sake of the conference, they need to beat Miami in the worst way. Unlike Phil Steele, I have some questions about the defense. Those should be answered by November 2nd.
14. Tennessee- I believe that last year was last year. There is too much tradition and talent for this team to do anything less than 9 wins. If they are able to get some consistent production from the quarterback position, they could challenge for an SEC title.
15. Florida State-With as much talent as they have, I can only point to the coaching staff as to the reason they are not in the top 5. How much longer will Bowden allow his son to run this offense? Another poor year could signal the end to both of their careers.
16. Virginia Tech- This is a solid team up and down. It's another team with only a question mark at quarterback. The ACC should be much improved this year. VT might be one year away from a conference championship.
17. Penn. St.- No Michael Robinson running the offense is the big reason I have them down so far. Several freshman played a big role on this team last year. Unusual for Joe Pa. Unless they can find a quarterback, I expect an 8-4 season.
18. Michigan-I'm not sure what to think of Michigan. They have experience coming back at several key positions. 14 starters return, along with 48 letterman. But with the teams I have already put ahead of them, they could be looking at an 8 win season.
19. TCU- The skill players are almost the same as last year. If they can get past Utah on the road, they could be looking at an undefeated season. Will it be enough to move them into the BCS picture?
20. Alabama-This team would be scary if it had as good an offense as it does defense. They are going to need to outscore their opponents to win some close games. I just didn't see that last year. I saw a quarterback running for his life, and a field goal kicker getting more Tang than an astronaut for some of the field goals he hit last year. I just don't think they are going to score enough to make a run for the SEC title.
21. Clemson-Expectations are high for Clemson this year. I think they have one of the best backs in the country in James Davis. The lack of a proven quarterback will keep them from competing with the best of the ACC.
22. Oklahoma- The loss of Bomar surely hurts, but the loss of the offensive lineman that was his roommate and partner in crime, so to speak, probably hurts even more. The offensive line didn't look all that good to me last year, and I think they will need every lineman they have before it is all said and done.
23. Boston College-This is probably too low for BC, but they are going to have to string a few wins together against the elite of the ACC to get over the hump.
24. Fresno St.-Respect the goatee! I think a lot of Pat Hill and the program he is building at Fresno St. They should be good enough to stay in the top 25 most of the year.
25. Texas Tech- Why not? When their quarterback is hot, they can score with anyone. How the defense holds up will be the question.
Ok, bring it on. Tell me where I'm wrong. Tell me where I'm right.