It’s time to start rolling out the traditions again as college football gets ready to kick off another season.
As teams hit the field — blue or the standard green — and marching bands practice spelling their state’s name, people are already starting to guess who will take home the national title.
Although preseason rankings don’t really mean much in the long run — anything can happen on game day — everyone is making their own rankings. While most sources agree on the top five, I’m switching things up a bit.
Despite losing nine defensive starters, Alabama has a veteran offensive line to balance out the talented squad. With returning quarterback Greg McElroy and reigning Heisman winner Mark Ingram, the offense has experienced leaders that should produce the same results as last season. The Crimson Tide is hoping their less-experienced defense will mature quickly — much like the offense did one year ago. Although the defense may lack starting experience, it wasn’t just the first string that helped the Crimson Tide fight to a national championship title. Alabama has the offense that can take them back to the national championship; it’s just a matter if the defense can mature fast enough the keep up with the top caliber offense.
Returning 22 of their 24 starters — including Heisman hopeful quarterback Kellen Moore — Boise State is looking for another undefeated season that can carry them to the national championship game. Moore threw for 39 touchdowns last season with only three interceptions and has plenty of targets down the field. Losing only two starters, the Broncos already have the experience they need to give them another undefeated season. Despite their experience and offensive power, coming out of the Western Athletic Conference the Broncos will need to prove themselves. But with Moore driving the offense, they shouldn’t have too many problems lighting up the score board.
So close, yet so far. Last year the Longhorns made it all the way to the national title game, but after quarterback Colt McCoy left in the first quarter due to injury, backup signal caller Garrett Gilbert gave a preview of what this season will look like — which wasn’t terrible after the first couple of series — but wasn’t good enough at the time. With McCoy gone, it’s Gilbert’s year to take charge, and with running back Tre Newton behind him and a couple other offensive targets, they shouldn’t have too much trouble finding themselves in top form. While they may not have any huge standouts, they still have the talent to possibly take them back to the national championship game, but I think they’ll fall just short. The offense may be undergoing some changes, but the defense is stable and capable of repeating its No. 1 rush defense rank from last year. Overall the defense is strong, and the offense needs a little work, but the Longhorns are still a top three team.
If Terrelle Pryor gives his 2009 Rose Bowl performance from now on, Ohio State will probably end up taking it all. But being a Badger and all, part of me honestly wants to see him fail. Feelings aside, the Buckeyes only lost a few starters, giving them a solid amount of experience and, ultimately, confidence. With the now-mature Pryor leading the offense, defenses will have a hard time keeping the Buckeyes out of the end zone. They may have a power offense, but opponents shouldn’t overlook OSU’s defense either. Returning seven starters, the Buckeyes still have the strength in the secondary and on the line to create turnovers and stop the run as successfully as they did last season — allowing on average only 2.9 yards per rush and keeping their opponents away from the goal line.
Surprised? Maybe a little bit, but the Horned Frogs return 18 starters and only lost one game last season — their bowl game to Boise State. With all-star quarterback Andy Dalton running the show they’ll be a hard team to keep from scoring. In a system where there are only two new starters, Dalton already has his targets picked out that will help TCU battle their way into a top five position. While the offense will keep busy, the defense will also give opponents to worry about. Seven starters return from last year’s No. 1 ranked total defense, giving TCU an experienced and confident defense. TCU may not have quite the talent as Alabama, but it’s still a force to be reckoned with.
This top five may not be all that shocking. Alabama is more than capable of back-to-back championships, but I think Boise State will be one huge roadblock they won’t get around. That’s right; I think the Broncos, who have emerged on the national scene under head coach, Chris Petersen, could ride this season to a BCS Championship.