College Football Power Rankings: Preseason
RANK TEAM RECORD
1 Florida The last time a team repeated as consensus national champions? Nebraska in 1995. With Brandon Spikes returning to lead the defense, and Tim Tebow back at QB, don’t bet against the Gators.
2 Texas Colt McCoy is back for his senior season. Will he top his impressive totals from 2008 (3,859 passing yards, 34 TDs, 561 rushing yards, 11 rushing TDs)? If he does, the Horns will be in the BCS title mix again.
3 Oklahoma The last time the Sooners won a big game? Well, it’s been a while. But with Sam Bradford returning at QB, Oklahoma has a chance to exorcise some demons. Texas on Oct. 17 would be a good start.
4 USC And the dynasty rolls on. Despite breaking in a new QB, USC is the Pac-10 favorites. After playing San Jose State on Sept. 5, the Trojans jump right into the fire with a trip to Columbus on Sept. 12.
5 Alabama It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. And nobody knows that better than Bama. After a 12-0 regular season, the Tide went 0-2 to end 2008. Alabama opens with Virginia Tech on Sept. 5.
6 Ohio State The Buckeyes want to prove they’re a different team in 2009. What better way to do that than beating USC at The Shoe on Sept. 12. Win, and the nation sees a contender. Lose … and … well, you know.
7 Virginia Tech The ACC’s best team? No doubt about it. That’s not saying much, however. The Hokies will once again lean on their defense and their strong special teams. Will that be enough to contend for a BCS title?
8 Mississippi The Rebs’ motto in ’09? “Unsatisfied,” says QB Jevan Snead. The goal is to reach Atlanta and the SEC title game. It helps that Ole Miss’ two rivals for the division (Bama and LSU) visit Oxford.
9 Penn State Akron. Syracuse. Temple. Eastern Illinois. That’s the Nittany Lions’ nonconference schedule. Can you say 4-0? With a star-studded returning cast, JoePa’s team should be a title contender in ’09.
10 LSU QB Jordan Jefferson will be watched closely this season. So will the Tigers’ defense, which surrendered an un-LSU-like 24 ppg in 2008. New D-coordinator John Chavis hopes to turn things around this fall.
11 Oklahoma State Offense? Check. Stars? Check. Defense? We’ll get back to you. To hang with Oklahoma and Texas in the Big 12 South, the Cowboys will need to improve on a D which allowed 28 ppg in ’08.
12 California Jahvid Best is expected to be a strong Heisman contender and the best running back in the nation. He’ll need to be both for the Golden Bears to wrestle the Pac-10 title away from USC.
13 Oregon Mike Bellotti won’t be on the sidelines this fall, but don’t expect the Ducks to fall off the map under new head man Chip Kelly. We’ll know more after a tough opener on Boise’s blue turf.
14 Georgia Georgia was the preseason team to beat last year. That’s not the case in 2009. That’s what happens when you lose Knowshon Moreno and Matt Stafford. But it’s way too early to sleep on these Dawgs.
15 Boise State Mark your calendars: Boise State-Oregon, Sept. 3, ESPN. The Broncos hope to crash the BCS party, and their showdown with the Ducks in the season opener will play a big part in determining if they get there.
16 Georgia Tech Paul Johnson led the Jackets to a 9-4 record in his first season. What does he have for an encore? If you’re a Tech fan, Oct. 17 is already circled on your calendar. That’s when Va. Tech visits GT.
17 TCU The Frogs finished 11-2 last year, with their two losses coming against OU and Utah. TCU is the team to beat in the Mountain West but returns only four starters from its top-ranked D from ’08.
18 Notre Dame The pressure is on in South Bend. Charlie Weis is feeling it. Jimmy Clausen knows all about it. Can the Irish deliver? The schedule helps so we may see ND return to a BCS bowl game. Then again …
19 Nebraska Joe Ganz is gone, and the Huskers give the QB keys to Zac Lee in ’09. He’s thrown only two passes at Nebraska, but the running game, anchored by a solid offensive line, should help with the transition.
20 Florida State Labor Day. Season opener. FSU-Miami. Need we say more? “We love that the first game is Miami,” QB Christian Ponder said. “It definitely helps to use as motivation through the summer.”
21 Iowa Will Iowa improve on its nine-win season? The Hawkeyes will have to do it the hard way, as the road schedule includes trips to Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State.
22 North Carolina The preseason Coastal Division talk revolves around Ga. Tech and Va. Tech. Can UNC crash the party and win the division? The defense returns nine starters and should lead the way in 2009.
23 Brigham Young Max Hall and Harvey Unga return, so the Cougs should score points. It’s the defense, which surrendered 79 points in its final two games of ’08, that’s a concern. That’s not good news with OU up on Sept. 5.
24 Miami (FL) Now this is what you call a tough stretch. Will the Canes go winless until Oct. 10? It’s possible. The schedule is brutal, with Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma on deck.
25 Kansas McCoy and Bradford get the hype, but don’t forget about Todd Reesing. In 2008, he passed for 3,888 yards and 32 TDs. Kansas is expected to compete for the North so expect more of the same in ’09.