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College Football

Breaking Down The Top 25

by Trevor Freeman

Tailgate parties.  “The Swamp”.  Pabst Blue Ribbon.  Camp Randall.  “Whoa Nellie”.  Saturday afternoon.  Buffalo Wings.  Flutie to Phelan.  Boise State.  It has been eight months, but ladies and gentlemen……..college football season has arrived.  With that, it is time for us to take our annual look.  Let’s begin our Top 25 in the land of sun, sports cars and hot cheerleaders…….
1.  USC

You hate to pencil a team into the national title game in August; however the only thing that separates USC from a trip to New Orleans is injuries.  On both sides of the ball, the Trojans return just about every key player from last year’s Rose Bowl Champions.  USC does have nonconference road games against both Nebraska and Notre Dame, however I don’t think the ghosts that inhabit both team’s stadiums will be enough to keep either team within fourteen points of the Trojans.  The toughest game on the slate is the road game against California.  However, the Golden Bears don’t have enough on defense to seriously scare the Trojans.

2.  LSU

A game being played on September 8th could very well determine who faces USC for the national title.  Virginia Tech travels to Tiger Stadium to take on LSU in what will undoubtedly be one of the most physical contests of the college football season.  Les Miles needs to have the Tigers on alert as the Hokies will be flying around at the beginning of the season.

While playing in the SEC is never easy, LSU has been handed a conference slate that is very manageable.  Florida, Auburn and Arkansas all have to travel to Baton Rouge.  Their only tough conference road game is against Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide.

3.  Wisconsin

Sophomore P.J. Hill is a nice dark horse pick for the Heisman as he should build on the 1,569 yards he gained last year as a freshman.  The defense will once again be stout.  Wisconsin should be 9-0 entering the last three weeks of the season.  After that it gets a little dicey as they play at Ohio State, home against Michigan and finally a rivalry game at Minnesota.

4.  Michigan

Lloyd Carr needs to do two things to retain his job after this season.  They are:

  1.  Beat Ohio State
  2.  Win the Big 10 title

If those two things don’t happen this season then you have to wonder if they ever will for Carr.  He has every offensive player of note coming back including three guys who will garner Heisman votes in Chad Henne, Michael Hart and Mario Manningham.  

5.  Virginia Tech

Going to be pretty easy for Frank Beamer to get the troops up this fall.  The only game the Hokies will not be favored in is their heavyweight fight with LSU on September 8th.  

6.  West Virginia

Every single season the Mountaineers seem to have the most manageable schedule of all the BCS conference teams and every year they seem to blow it.  This year is no exception.  On paper, West Virginia will be favored in every single one of their games as quarterback Patrick White and running back Steve Slaton give them the best 1-2 punch on the ground in the nation.  That being said, I can already envision Rutgers fans storming the field on October 27th.  

7.  Florida

The Gators run of national titles in football and basketball ends this fall.  There is no way the Gators don’t lose twice this season.  Florida has too many pieces to replace on the defensive side of the ball.  Toss in a five game stretch where they play Auburn, at LSU, at Kentucky against Georgia in Jacksonville and at South Carolina and it seems like a little too much for Urban Meyer’s crew.  

8.  Arkansas

All I know is this.  Anybody who actually thinks Arkansas should fire Houston Nutt is smoking crack.  The Razorbacks have won over 9 games three of the last five seasons and will win at least 10 games this season.  The SEC West will be determined on the Friday after Thanksgiving when the Hogs travel to Tiger Stadium.  

Darren McFadden is an absolute beast for the Razorbacks.  In my opinion he is the best player in college football and is a lock to go in the top five in next year’s NFL Draft.  In fact, if you are a New York Giants fan you should probably start watching Arkansas and Tiki Barber’s real replacement.

9.  Hawaii

Some writers aspire to be Mike Lupica, Bill Simmons or Bob Ryan.  I aspire to be Ferd Lewis.  Now I know you are asking yourself, “Who is Ferd Lewis?”  Ferd Lewis writes an opinion column for the Honolulu Advertiser.  That means he……

A)  Lives in Honolulu
B)  Lives in Honolulu and gives his opinions about sports for a living
C)  Lives in Honolulu

This year Mr. Lewis has a little more pressure on his shoulders as he will probably get to write about a team who will be playing in a BCS bowl.  I think Colt Brennan wins the Heisman Trophy while leading Hawaii to an undefeated season.  The only landmines on the schedule for the Rainbow Warriors are home games against Boise State and Washington and an away game against Nevada.

10.  Oklahoma

How many times do you think the guys at Oklahoma have heard about that loss to Boise State?  My guess is 1,265,898,745 times in the last eight months.  If you want to talk about a team with a chip on their shoulder, look no further than Norman.  I think the Sooners bounce back and win the Big 12.

11.  Texas

The Longhorns have an offense that will rival the best in the country as Colt McCoy could emerge as a Heisman candidate this season.  The problem is that the Longhorns are sporting a defense that is worse than Paris Hilton’s on a Friday night.  Losing Gene Chizik, Aaron Ross and Michael Griffin amongst others is too much.

12.  Louisville

I said it once and I’ll say it again.  Michael Vick getting arrested for dogfighting could be a blessing in disguise for Bobby Petrino.  It affords him the opportunity to go 3-13 in the regular season with nobody holding it against him and be in the position to draft his former pupil Brian Brohm in next spring’s NFL Draft.  Brohm is a much better fit in his offense than Vick ever would be.

In terms of how the Cardinals are going to do this year, I think they will be undefeated up until the last three weeks of the season when they see West Virginia and South Florida on the road and Rutgers at home.  Unfortunately for Louisville fans, I do not see anyway they can run the table in those three contests.

13.  UCLA

I went to the Florida State-UCLA Emerald Bowl game last December and I’m going to be honest.  I was just as interested in seeing who would win the Battle of the Cheerleaders as I was in watching the game.  It wasn’t even a comparison.  Maybe it was because they were wearing skirts while the FSU cheerleaders were in windpants, but UCLA’s squad was far superior.  Not only that, but there were no Cowgirls whatsoever.  Not even a random Jenn Sterger sighting.  While the Bruins lost the football game, they killed in the Battle of the Women department……..and really isn’t that what is most important in the grand scheme of things.

On the field the Bruins are sporting their finest team in years.  They return 21 starters from a team that beat USC in the regular season.  I see the Bruins winning ten games and finishing a solid second in conference behind the Trojans as I think they will beat California at home.  

14.  California

Remember this name.  Jahvid Best.  Best is a quicker version of Warrick Dunn and he will involve himself in a Heisman race before he graduates.  Best is a true freshman this season.  If I’m Jeff Tedford, I think long and hard about playing him over Justin Forsett.

15.  The Ohio State University

Never in my wildest dreams did I see The Ohio State University getting slapped by Florida in last season’s national title game.  By halftime, you were hoping Fox would switch to an encore performance of Boise State-Oklahoma.  Losing the way they did is reminiscent of waking up after a sloppy night of drinking in college with a wildebeest sleeping next to you.  The physical hangover mixed with taunting received internally from yourself and externally from others just lingers.  I have the Buckeyes ranked fifteenth, however it would not surprise me if they dropped 3-4 games this season.  

16.  Rutgers

Ray Rice is another solid guy to bet on in the Heisman Trophy race.  The only reason Rice and his 1,794 yards weren’t more of a factor last season is because the New York media didn’t pick up on Rutgers quickly enough.  That won’t be the case this season.  Rutgers and Rice should both get off to hot starts and steal the back page of the New York Post.  

17.  Nebraska

There’s a lot of people who love Missouri and are picking them to win the Big 12 North.  There’s also lots of people who shoot heroin and think Nicole Richie is attractive.  Nebraska wins the Big 12 North as Bill Callahan has something good brewing in Lincoln.  Callahan doesn’t get enough credit as a coach.  He coached two seasons in the NFL and made the Super Bowl in one of them.  Now he has come down to the college level and has slowly built a team the right way.

18.  TCU

A TCU win over Texas on September 8th means the Horned Frogs stand an outstanding shot of playing in a BCS bowl.  If they lose to Texas they will once again be headed for a berth in the Poinsettia Bowl.  Those last two statements in and of itself is a good enough reason for an NCAA Tournament in football.

19.  Boise State

I can honestly say that I doubt I will ever watch a better college football game than the Boise State-Oklahoma tilt from last season.  It was like Rocky IV except in real life.  

Do I think the Broncos are going to shag the BCS prom queen for a second straight season?  Probably not.  Ian Johnson and Ryan Clady are both NFL players on the offensive side of the ball.  However, I think the uncertainty at quarterback drops them slightly behind Hawaii in the WAC.  Plus I cannot see an undefeated Colt Brennan and the Rainbow Warriors blowing it against Boise State on the Islands.

20.  Clemson

I honestly believe Tommy Bowden is holding onto pictures of Clemson’s president receiving a blow job from a transvestite hooker.  The only reason his teams crack the top 20 is because their superior talent can get them to 8 wins.

21.  Penn State

The Nittany Lions could be a sleeper.  Dan Connor is the best linebacker in the country and Derrick Williams is due for a bust out season.  The only thing that could hold Penn State back are questions at both running back and along the offensive line.

22.  Georgia

As long as Mark Richt is the coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, they will continue to be the Susan Lucci of the SEC.  Richt is a great recruiter but an extremely shaky game coach.

23.  Purdue

20 starters return for a Boilermaker team that will be a real pest in the Big 10.  They should be 6-0 going into “The Big House” and have a style of offense that could give the Wolverines problems.  Quarterback Curtis Painter is the best player you have never heard of.

24.  Auburn

The Tigers have arguably the toughest schedule in the country as they play on the road against Florida, LSU, Arkansas and Georgia.  Getting one win out of those four games should be considered good.  Toss in a nonconference home game against a national sleeper in South Florida and you might be looking at a good team that could have a mediocre record.

25.  Miami

Their game on September 8th against Oklahoma will determine their season.  A poor showing and I think they fold up shop.  If they lose a competitive ballgame or win then they become a serious threat in the ACC.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]  

17 replies on “Breaking Down The Top 25”

hawaii i think that would be great for college football if they made a run this year. if there ever was a year to do it, id have to think this would be the year.

and i think the bigger issue with penn state is morelli at qb. either he is going to play like he did last yr, very incosistent… or he is going to have a break out kerry collins type campaign. its either one or the other nothing in between, because hes got the tools, its just a matter of if he uses them. if he does, you are right.. “sleeper” although ill always believe they never get the media attention because of joepa, so i dont consider a big time school with top recruits like them a sleeper usually.

usc will be fun to watch as always im sure. but i heard west va is a pretty fun team to watch also.

finally, i cant remember what team but did you see a pac-10 team would leave if the +1 equation was used to determine a nation champion? i cant believe i forgot which team it was…

Hawaii Hawaii should make a run.  Their schedule sets up to be very easy.  Plus Colt Brennan is a future NFL starting quarterback.  I think them and USC are the only conferences in Vegas where the o/u on win total is set at 11.  

I actually think Morelli will have a big year.  To me, I thought he was playing better at the end of the season and he does have great tools.  I’m more concerned about the loss of Tony Hunt and the guys along the line.  In the Big 10 you have to be able to run the football effectively.  

The Pac 10 and the Big 10 hate the BCS because they have such close ties to the Rose Bowl.  There are always whispers that the two conferences may pull out of the BCS.  It doesn’t surprise me that a team in the Pac 10 could be making a stink about the +1.  

nope Hawaii never wins on the road. Look at the teams over the past decade that they’ve lost to on the road. I’m telling you to do it because my computer crashed and I’m missing all my links so I can’t find their schedule history, but it isn’t a great collection of teams. Hawaii cannot win consistently on the road and that will prevent them from running the table, no matter how good they are.

That is true However, Hawaii only has one game on the road that they could possibly lose and that is Nevada.  I would be really surprised if they lost to the Wolfpack though as they are probably 14 points better than them on a neutral field.  The Rainbow Warriors only other two tough games are in Hawaii against Boise State and Washington.

yep on the nope Hawaii can never stop anybody. If they could, they’d be undefeated every year, considering how much offense they put up.

A team I like this year–and they don’t deserve to crack the top 25 preseason–is Illinois. Sounds a little weird since they’ve won about as much as Temple the past few years, but Zook can recruit his balls off (re: Florida) and that team returns a lot of starters. They only won 1 or 2 games last year, but they were hell on Ohio St and some other Big 10 teams. Are they gonna win the Big 10? Hell no and hell no, but they’ll be a great team to bet on and look for them to surprise some people.

Illinois They are a sleeper team in the Big 10.  The level of talent has definitely increased and they have a ton of guys coming back.  I think they are a team that gets to 6-5 this season and then becomes the sleeper du jour for the following season.

Another two teams I really like to have good years but didn’t rank are Southern Mississippi and South Florida.  I think they could both find their way into a Top 25 by the end of the season.  Auburn needs to be on upset alert with South Florida coming in the second week of the season.

This is a year where at least 10 teams could realistically be in the BCS title game. I expect WVU to be undefeated, Michigan should run the table, beat Ohio St and take out Wisconsin. I think with Wisconsin having a new QB, they could be upset somewhere in the Big 10. Plus, they always seem to falter when expectations are high. I think Fla lost too much, but the talent level is always there. You have to give the early pole position to the winner of the LSU-VT game.

Oh, and USC is pretty good, too. They have a chance to be as good a defense this year as the Leinart-Bush-White-Jarrett combo was on offense a few years ago. BUt UCLA has most of their starters back on a team that beat the crap out of them defensively last year. That game wasn’t that much of a fluke. It’s the only time I really saw anybody take it to the Trojans physically in years. But I think the game of the year will be USC @ Cal in November. I guarantee DeSean Jackson will be a household name after that game.

Awesome article though, and as you can tell by this comment, I’ve been dying to talk some CFB lately.

Thank you! The only nonconference game I can remember that was close to having the ramifications LSU-Virginia Tech has was The Ohio State University and Texas two years ago.  LSU is the consensus #2 and it is in Tiger Stadium.  However, if the Hokies win they are set up for the entire season because they are clear cut favorites in every other game.  Toss in that you know Frank Beamer is saving his best, “you go win this game for the 32 people who got shot” speech and I think you could have a game for the ages.  I can’t wait to tune in for it.  

USC is a great team this year.  They are just stacked on both sides of the ball.  I have a feeling they are going to punch UCLA in the mouth in that game and return the favor.  You know they have heard about that loss for the last eight months.

I agree Morelli was obviously playing better towards the end of the year and had a stellar Outback Bowl vs a very “fast” (sec speed theory) Vols team.

And as far as Hunt, that man was a horse. Austin Scott was supposed to be the better of the two, obviously that hasn’t happened so far. But hopefully he will have an LJ type senior season.

As much as it pains me to say, Penn State should have a very good year. No less an authority than Jack Ham said that Dan Connor is one of the finest linebackers ever to play at Penn St.

Dan Connor I think if Penn State had a better year last season people would have been pimping him more as the best linebacker in the country.  Him and James Laurinatis are both guys who will start in Pro Bowls.

Penn State Running Backs Austin Scott has a lot of pressure on him.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Rodney Kinlaw got some snaps.

that reminds me Please change the team’s nickname. The football team is under no conditions known as the “Rainbow Warriors.” That is 100% incorrect. About 8 years ago, the university changed its logo and nickname from Rainbows to Rainbow Warriors. Then about a year later, it allowed each individual team to select its own nickname within the Rainbow Warrior/Wahine family.

Because June Jones and his players are homophobic twits, they dropped the heritage and the positive aspects of the Rainbow nickname altogether and chose to be the Warriors. The basketball team selected Rainbow Warriors, as did almost every other men’s team (I think that the Volleyball team is also the Warriors, but I’m not sure about that). The baseball team I believe is the only one still to be called the Rainbows. If I’m not mistaken every women’s team is the Rainbow Wahine, although one or two could be just the Wahine.

But the football team is the Warriors. Please change this. To call the Rainbow Warriors is wrong and derogatory towards the hateful opinions of June Jones.

I know…… ……..but since other teams at Hawaii call themselves the Rainbow Warriors, I am bestowing it on the football team.  It sounds cooler.  So truth be damned…..on sportscolumn.com I dub thee the Rainbow Warriors.

Agreed Kinlaw got some action last year.. and I will be the first to admit, the first time Scott has a bad game vs a good team, everybody will be calling for Kinlaw to start. Kind of like how we wanted Morelli to start over Robinson in MRob’s senior yr… sure glad that didn’t happen…

the illini better start producing with all those great recruiting classes or zook could be out of there very soon.

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