Absurdly Early 2011 Top 25
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It's never too early. We have lived all but one full day without college football, and already I'm wondering what next season holds. When your favorite team had a horrendous season - such as mine did - then "next season" offers hope, redemption, and (hopefully) a higher win total....This article is somewhat written in fun, please take note of that. But having said that, this is a true gut-feel of how I see teams stacking up in 2011 when the season kicks off. Yeah, I have a surprise team or two in here, but for the most part, the regulars will be back. Folks, with eight months, three weeks and a few days left until the 2011 season arrives, here is my preseason top 25...
1. Auburn - Cam Newton or not, I start my yearly poll each season with the defending champion on top. When they get beat, they won't be number one anymore - simple as that.
2. Alabama - Two words: Nick Saban. As long as this man walks the sideline, and Alabama pulls in recruits like they do, then the Crimson Tide will not be far from the top 10.
3. Oklahoma - Bob Stoops, in his 13th season, has awesome talent to work with. OU should be back in the Big 12 Title Game, BCS, and maybe even more.
4. Oregon - Coach Chip Kelly has gone 10-3 and then 12-1 in his first two seasons. Odds are he will reach the double-digit win mark again.
5. Stanford - They will be under new guidance (currently unnamed), but QB Andrew Luck is like a coach on the field, and he will be back for his senior season.
6. TCU - The Frogs lose QB Andy Dalton, but the heart and soul of that awesome defense is back in the form of linebacker Tank Carder. Gary Patterson is a top coach, and he will find a way to move the ball.
7. Boise State - With QB Kellen Moore returning, the Broncos will be good once again. The loss of stud wideout Titus Young to graduation keeps me from ranking them higher.
8. Ohio State - The Buckeyes will lose QB Pryor to the NFL. But still, you can bet Tressell will find a way to get 'em back in the BCS. Pryor - in my opinion - is replaceable.
9. LSU - The Mad-Hatter turned down an offer from his alma-mater, Michigan, and will be back in Baton Rouge next season. He is the luckiest SOB alive on gameday, which is good for at least a few wins!
10. Wisconsin - Even with the loss of QB Scott Tolzien to graduation, Wisconsin will still have an excellent running game and play defense. This team will win games again.
11. Florida State - The 'Noles regained some of their attitude in 2010, and finished on a high note with a nice bowl win for a 10-win season. Now, they are recruiting in the top five. Here comes FSU!
12. Arkansas - The Razorbacks have turned into one of the nation's most dangerous teams. QB Ryan Mallett has bolted to the NFL, but top to bottom, this team is still very strong. 15 starters should return.
13. Oklahoma State - This team, offensively, is beginning to develop a national reputation for scoring points. However, they will have to do int now with a new OC. A few top defenders via recruiting could still make them very good, though.
14. South Carolina - The Gamecocks return the trio of Marcus Lattimore, Stephen Garcia and Alshon Jeffery on offense. Solid recruiting should see the defense be strong again, too.
15. Michigan State - I would like to rank MSU higher after a nice 2010 and with many starters returning. However, the Capital One Bowl beatdown loss to Alabama has me hesitant.
16. Texas A&M - They will be ranked nicely preseason, but trust me - they will find mediocrity somehow. It has been going on for years, and their 2010 bowl defeat to LSU is a perfect example.
17. Nebraska - Years one and two of the Bo Pelini era made me think Nebraska was almost "back." But year three threw me some question marks. A good coach no doubt, but I'm not sure if he can bring NU all the way back.
18. Missouri - QB Blaine Gabbert is the big talk around campus. Returning for his final season with many starters back, some see him as a 2011 Heisman candidate. The Tigers will have to play some D, though, for UM to reach the B12TG.
19. Virginia Tech - The Hokies disappointed on an epic level in the Orange Bowl. And while they may never finish in the top five or win the BCS, they will always be a legit top 15, top 20 type team.
20. Mississippi State - The Bulldogs may need a few seasons for folks to start ranking them higher in the preseason. But I love what Coach Dan Mullen has done, and am tempted to rank MSU higher than this, really.
21. Texas - Here is a surprise choice. Coach Mack Brown will have his hair on fire to get redemption in 2011 - and he will have top-notch talent to do it with. With a fresh 0-0 start, look for the 'Horns to bounce back big.
22. West Virginia - The 'Neers went out and snagged one of the top offensive minds in America: Dana Holgorsen from Oklahoma State. He will run the offense in 2011, and the whole team in 2012.
23. Georgia - Similar to Texas, long-time Coach Mark Richt will be drooling for his Dawgs to put together a big year. Freshman QB Aaron Murray impressed, and should be better in 2011.
24. Florida - The Gators are going to be going through a rebirth of sorts with fresh blood at head coach in the form of Will Muschamp. The talent is certainly there, let's see how Muschamp can do as a head coach in the SEC.
25. Clemson - This is where they start nearly every season. The talent level is on par with those in the top ten (current recruiting class is top five, as well). The question is whether or not Coach Dabo Swinney can use it to reach the ACCCG. He better.
Teams tough to leave out/right on the edge: Tennessee, Utah, NC State, UConn, Iowa, Michigan, USC
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