2008 Preseason Top 25 (teams 18-25)
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18 – Kansas Jayhawks…For the first time in their history, Kansas will be playing with a target on its’ back. The Jayhawks beat nearly every team on their schedule a year ago, and that means one thing: payback! With that said, Kansas will still win most of their games in 2008. The fact is that they have a lot of good players coming back including their quarterback, Junior Todd Reesing. Kansas’ schedule is more difficult in 2008. They have a tricky out of conference game at South Florida and also pick Oklahoma back up, a team they didn’t face in 2007.
19 – Illinois Fighting Illini…Ron Zook has resurrected the Illini football program and that rising should keep going up in 2008. The reason I see Illinois staying around is that top notch athletes have been brought in on the recruiting trail. It is no secret that the teams with the best players often win, and Illinois is finally capitalizing on the hordes of talent in the Illinois and Midwest area. Veteran QB Juice Williams, a Chicago native, will have to throw more in 2008 as the Illini look to replace stud RB Rashard Mendenhall. The defense will need to be reloaded – that is where the talent thing comes in.
20 – BYU Cougars…If I am going to give West Virginia a hard time for playing an easy schedule, then I have to be fair and get on BYU, as well. Outside of road trips to Washington and TCU, and a home date with UCLA, the Cougars play no other team from a major conference. So if BYU puts up big offensive numbers this season, as they do every season, just keep in mind why. I don’t see them doing the same thing in the Big 12 or SEC – but that’s just me. The team itself sees the return of ten starters on offense. Quarterback Max Hall started a year ago as a sophomore, and should be better in his junior campaign with a nother year of learning the offense under his belt.
21 – Wake Forest Demon Deacons…One of these years, people are going to start taking Wake Forest seriously. Under Coach Jim Grobe, the Deacs are a team that is just plain tough to match up with. The misdirection offense is hard to gauge, and the defense plays fundamentally sound football most every down. The Deacons have perhaps the top passer in the league returning in 2006 ACC rookie of the year, Riley Skinner, as well as all-world kicker and punter Sam Swank. Look for the Deacons to once again give their ACC Atlantic foes fits in 2008.
22 – Penn State Nittany Lions…Penn State is an interesting program. Even though JoePa is still kicking rear ends, I feel like most Pennsylvanians are just kind of waiting around for him to retire. PSU has 16 starters returning for 2008, and could put together a solid season with any luck at all. That luck certainly wasn’t around in spring practice, however, when perhaps the lions’ best player, Sean Lee, went down with an ACL injury and will miss 2008. Oregon State comes to town for an interesting out of conference game in week 2. Penn State must travel to Ohio State and Wisconsin.
23 – Alabama Crimson Tide…Losing to your arch-rival six years in a row has to be a very bad feeling, but so is the case of the Tide against Auburn. Still, “Roll Tide” can be heard all across the heart of Dixie, and Alabama fans and players alike feel like thebest is yet to come under second year Coach Nick Saban. UA returns one of the best offensive lines in the SEC, and veteran quarterback John Parker Wilson behind them. But some wonder if Wilson is good enough to win big games for Alabama. We’ll see as the Tide schedule is full of big ones – including a game against Clemson in the Georgia Dome to kick off 2008. Clemson and Alabama have not played since the 70’s, despite the schools being just a four hour drive apart, and this game will have a bowl like feel.
24 – Fresno State Bulldogs…Well, the FSU baseball team brought home the national championship in 2008, maybe the Fresno State football team can be a miracle story, as well. The baseball team was the lowest seed in any NCAA sport EVER to win a national title. Starting number 24 nationally in the Fans25.com poll would be so less of a story!! The Bulldogs return 10 offensive starters – the main reason they are ranked in nearly every preseason poll. And, to their credit, they beefed up their out of conference slate, traveling to UCLA and Rutgers, and hosting Wisconsin.
25 – ACC Tie - Miami/NC St/GT/FSU/UVA/BC…The ACC has been the butt of many a joke in the college football world the last few seasons. And yes, the league has lost several high-profile out of conference games. But the middle of the ACC is as thick with good teams as any conference out there, and eventually one of these teams is going to bust lose and be a national factor. NC State could be a surprise under second year disciplinarian Tom O’Brien, who built Boston College into a solid program. Florida State is as deep with talent as most any team in America and could find a groove if a QB steps up. Same said for Miami, the talent is top notch. Virginia is an interesting team. They lost to Wyoming to start 2007, but won 9 straight afterwards, eventually making the Gator Bowl. Georgia Tech hired one of the top coaches in the country in Paul Johnson, and there is good talent in Atlanta for him to work with. And Boston College lost All-American quarterback Matt Ryan, but should have a defense that will keep them in most every game in 2008. The ACC has been down, no arguing that. But at some point the league will be back, and that year may be sooner rather than later.
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