Jan 15

Absurdly Early 2010 Preseason Top 25

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags:

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Yeah, I know signing day isn't here yet for high-schoolers, and even some current players may still bail out on their NFL ideas (I've seen it before). But with what we do know and have to work with, here is a super early look at what the polls may look like come mid-August...
1. Alabama Crimson Tide - Not only do the Tide return a quality handful of guys from their 2009 squad, but they will also return the Heisman Trophy winner and an ever improvng quarterback in Greg McElroy. Besides this, I honestly believe Nick Saban could take a high school team to a FBS bowl game. They play a cool OOC game with Penn State September 11th.
2. Iowa Hawkeyes - The Hawkeyes impressed me very much this season. They have perhaps the best defender in the game next season in adrian Clayborn (if he truly decides to come back), and quarterback Ricky Stanzi also returns. They defense retruns a lot, and they were already a strong unit. Iowa plays tough, hard-nosed football, and are well-coached. They also have Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin all at home next year.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes - I kind of get this feeling that Jim Tressel is finally figuring out how to use quarteback Terrell Pryor to production. The Buckeyes finished strong, winning their last six games, with Pryor leading the way. With the qb returning, and an always good defense on the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes will be a factor.
4. Oregon Ducks - The Ducks made strides under first year coach Chip Kelly. Now, they want to take it to the next level and challenge for the BCS title. I think Jeremiah Masoli is not only one of the best quarterbacks in thePac 10, but one of the best players in college football. Expect for him to have a huge 2010, and the Ducks to win the league (back-to-back) and maybe more.
5. Virginia Tech Hokies -
The Hokies had somewhat of a disappointing season in 2009, but they still won ten games and a nice bowl. Frank Beamer's squad always plays good defense and special teams, and with the perhaps the ACC's best running back in Ryan Williams, and a more experienced Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, VT will be very strong.
6. Boise State Broncos - It is past time that BSU gets some respect in the preseason polls. Just one of these days, when the stars align, the Broncos will find themselves getting a piece of numero uno in the polls as teams above them lose. With the Tide on top, it will be tough, but don't be surprised if Boise reaches number two and - eventually - a BCS title game. 21 of 22 starters come back, and most importantly that includes qb Kellen Moore.
7. TCU Horned Frogs - Quarterback Andy Dalton is back to guide the Horned Frogs to another strong season. TCU has become a team in Texas that is no longer forgotten about. They have passed Texas Tech and Texas A&M, and have their eyes now on passing the 'Horns to be the top team in the Lonestar state. As they do not play in the regular season, they will have to do it in a round-about-way. That way would be winning all of their games in 2010.
8. Texas Longhorns - The Horns are having no piece of this TCU uprising. After an appearance in the BCS title game, you can bet Mack Brown is bursting to see what his reloaded 2010 version can do. Gone is all-world quarterback Colt McCoy, solid wide receiver Jordan Shipley and several other key players on both lines. But UT is loaded with recruits, and with a favorable schedule, should be just fine.
9. Wisconsin Badgers - After watching the hard style of play that UW showed against Mimai in the Champs Sports Bowl, I am sold on this program to be a yearly Big Ten contender and national factor. The Badgers are very physical, and that will always be a good football quality to possess. On offense, quarterback Scott Tolzien is back, as well as John Clay at running back. This will be a tough team to beat next year in Bret Bielema's fifth season.
10. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets - The Jackets ended 2009 losing two out of three games, includng a bitter loss to Georgia, and a hard-fought Orange Bowl loss to Iowa. But fear not Jacket fans, you have bright things to look forward to in 2010. The key, in part, is the decisions of tailback Jonathon Dwyer and defensive end Justin Morgan of going pro or not. If they return, Tech and Tech will battle it out with Miami in a tough ACC Coastal division.
11. LSU Tigers - I had to laugh out loud when I heard that some LSU fans were considering Les Miles on the hot seat. Seriously?! The dude has a national title and has won close to 80 percent of his games! In 2010, expect to see Miles put it back in some of their faces. LSU is as talented as any team out there, and despite having to replace some players, I see this team right back in the SEC and national races next fall.
12. Nebraska Cornhuskers - Defense and defense alone is responsible for this ranking (in both a good and bad way). If the offense was any good, I would have Nebraska in the top five. But the offense has proven to be anemic in the Bo Pelini era so far, so that strong defense is sometimes wasted, and thus here they sit at number 12. If the ten returning starters on offense can start to gel, this is one of the nation's best teams.
13. Penn State Nittany Lions - The Lions defense will take a hit, and there will be a new quarterback. But despite these two major things, I have so much respect for Joe Paterno and his program, tha I am still giving them a preseason top-15 ranking. A very, very intriguing game will take place September 11th in Tuscaloosa, as one of the all-time great programs of the North faces off with the greatest program of the South: Alabama.
14. Florida Gators - Yeah, I know, the Gators lost a ton of players from the 2009 team that made the BCS. They also lost iconic figure Tim Tebow, and may go through 2010 wth an interim head coach as Urban Meyer faces stress health issues. Still though, with all of this going on, I believe the Gators are a top-15 program, and will find a way to challenge for the 2010 SEC East crown.
15. Oklahoma Sooners - The offense should be better, while the defense is a huge question mark. Up to eight guys in D could be gone between graduation and the draft. However, with Landry Jones now having a full season under his belt, the offense should be back to rolling. Let's not forget that this is still a Bob Stoops coached team, and he is pretty good at what he does.
16. Miami Hurricanes - In 2009, everybody was quick to jump on the bandwagon that the "U" was back. But after seeing that the Hurricanes still had some actual on-the-field work to do, the chatter quieted down...In 2010, Miami will have a good chance to climb further back to being "back." Why? Because back is quarterback Jacory Harris as well as the attitude that Randy Shannon has brought back to Coral Gables. Key spots on both lines must be filled, especially the offensive tackles.
17. Pitt Panthers - I have slowly but surely grown a respect for Pitt under Head Coach Dave Wannstedt. He has turned them into a very respectable program, and the Panthers will try to take another step up the national ladder in 2010. To lead the way, Wannstedt will rely on tailback Dion Lewis - one of the nation's best at that position. After several growing seasons under the current coach, the Panthers should set their sites on a Big Ten title.
18. Arkansas Razorbacks - Everything seems to be in place for Arkansas to have a huge, yet unexpected year. Ryan Mallet returns, and the schedule sees all of their biggest games at home (Alabama among them). Coach Bobby Petrino is a winner, and I would be very surprised if the Hogs aren't a mainstay in the polls next season. Getting by one of the nation's best teams in Alabama will be hard to do, but that is why they play the games.
19. Cincinnati Bearcats - I am reluctant to have the Bearcats ranked due to the departure of Coach Brian Kelly to Notre Dame. I honestly think Kelly's coaching is what took Cincinnati to where they were. But still, with that said, the Bearcats have some weapons. New Coach Butch Jones will be using a new quarterback in Zach Collaros (who filled in for Tony Pike when injured). But Collaros has some experience and can sling it. The Bearcats have a good OOC game with Oklahoma.
20. Florida State Seminoles - The Bobby Bowden retirement was a huge distraction to the FSU program, and now that it is out of the way, expect to see FSU climb back into the national scene. They have been recruiting as well as anyone recently, and Jimbo Fisher has been patiently drooling to take over this program in full. Fisher will want to make a splash in his first year, and I think he will. QB Christian Ponder will have surgery, but should return, and all five offensive linemen are back.
21. Georgia Bulldogs -
Mark Richt had an off year in Athens, and the Dawgs still beat their in-state rival and won a bowl game. In 2010 however, Georgia fans are going to want to see their team back in the SEC East race - especially with Florida losing so much, and Tennessee clearly having issues. A new quarterback must emerge, but he will have all five offensive linemen, AJ Green at receiver, and two experienced tailbacks (Caleb King and Washaun Ealey) to work with.
22. Oregon State Beavers - The Beavers were one win away from a BCS Rose Bowl game matchup, but they lost on the road to Oregon. That game will be at home in 2010, and with a whole heap of returning starters, they will be ready for some hardware. A game at TCU (well, at Cowboys Stadium) will be a very fun one to watch to get the season rolling, if it ends up getting finalized.
23. Southern California Trojans - In case you have been on vacation in remote Alaska, Lane Kiffin is the new Trojan head coach, and brings with him baggage - but tons of fresh air and excitement. He is familiar with USC, as USC is familiar with him. This looks sloppily done on the outside, but SoCal may ed up being the surprise of the year. Lets face it, LA and Knoxville are two very dfferent places, and Kiffin fits in much better in California. As for players, USC is always stocked.
24. Clemson Tigers - How can I have Clemson in front of South Carolina after the Gamecocks just won in Columbia? Because. That's why. One game doesn't make me feel they have passed the Tigers, and you can bet the November game in Death Valley is already circled in the Tiger locker room. Clemson returns quarterback Kyle Parker, who matured like mad in 2009 and should be very solid in 2010. They lose CJ Spiller, but those touches will be dispersed to new guys, including sophomore Andre Ellington, who has shown he may end up being a great back himself.
25. South Carolina Gamecocks - If ever the Gamecocks were going to challenge for the SEC East crown, it is in 2010. Georgia is down a bit, Tennessee is having troubles, and Florida is having to reload everywhere. THIS IS THE YEAR, Gamecock fans! Stephen Garcia and Alshon Jeffery must find a way to move the ball, allowing a solid USC D (minus Eric Norwood) to make some stops. If the streak of SEC East short comings is to end for South Carolina, it is in 2010.
* (26.) Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Here is my sleeper pick for 2010. All throughout the Charlie Weis tenure, I was hard on Notre Dame. That stops now. Insert Brian Kelly, who I have tremendous respect for as a college coach. I honestly belive Kelly's style of coaching, with a fresh start in South Bend, will see them make a run at a big season. Instead of the media making them out to be a good team, I think that under Kelly they really will be a good team. I wanted to rank the Irish around 20th (we all know the players are there), but I wanted to see them win a few games first. Guys, ND is about to be back, like it or not!

* Other teams to watch: Navy, North Carolina, Stanford and West Virginia
So there it is, my preseason 2010 poll. I want it to be clear that I came up with these rankings on my own, as there are several preseason polls already out...Please discuss here:  http://fans25.com/discuss-thread.cfm?dt=2463

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