Friday, August 26, 2011

As the college football season rapidly approaches...

...a second look at the Moretti Pre-season Top 25. Remember that the comments following each team are as they were on July 20; I haven't moved any team up or down since then, but in some cases I've made a new comment. If that has happened, it is in italics.

25. Texas. Mack Brown recruits too well and is too good a coach to keep the Longhorns down. This team has enough talent and a favorable schedule to finish much higher than this.

24. Arizona State. Dennis Erickson has to produce results, and quickly. If this team crashes and burns, he's gone.

23. Georgia. Perhaps no coach begins the season with a hotter seat than Mark Richt; the Bulldog faithful are fed up seeing other SEC teams win national championships.

22. West Virginia. This is the best team in an otherwise mediocre conference. The Mountaineers need some time to heal from an emotionally draining coaching situation.

21. Florida. The Gators could go 9-3 or 7-5.

20. Miami. If Randy Shannon recruited well, then Al Golden will be the beneficiary. Right now, however, the Hurricanes do not appear to match the talent and depth of Virginia Tech. Now it appears that the Top 25 for Miami is a mirage. This might be the most difficult team to assess at the end of August, but a stay in the Top 25 seems unlikely.

19. Auburn. This fall will be a lot quieter on the Plains.

18. USC. The countdown to the end of probation continues. Believe it when the Trojans say winning the conference is their national championship.

17. South Carolina. The Gamecocks will try to pound their opponents into submission, and they don't play Alabama or LSU during the regular season.

16. Notre Dame. One more strong recruiting class and the stellar coaching of Brian Kelly means the fight will be back in the Irish.

15. TCU. The Horned Frogs won't blast teams as they did last season, but they're going to win a bunch of games again.

14. Michigan State. An immensely tough road schedule separates the Spartans from the top 10 and a certain date in the conference title game.

13. Nebraska. There are 11 other teams hoping that the Cornhuskers first season in the Big 10 doesn't end with a conference championship. They could end up frustrated.

12. Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are good enough to finish higher than this, but their difficult schedule could knock them down much lower than this.

11. Virginia Tech. The recipe in Blacksburg doesn't change -- a stout defense, an opportunistic special teams and a methodical offense guarantees a 10-win season. But this is no longer the class of the conference.

10. Ohio State. Under much different circumstances, this team would be ranked among the top 5. A potential bomb from the NCAA wasn't dropped, so the Buckeyes season could be looking up.

9. Wisconsin. If the new guys on the offensive line come through, the Badgers could wind up ranked higher than this.

8. Stanford. Can a great quarterback propel a very good team in an average conference into the national championship conversation? Keep an eye on Palo Alto for an answer.

7. Texas A&M. The Aggies have the swagger of a team that believes it is very good. Will the inevitable distraction of what conference the Aggies will be part of damage this season?

6. Boise State. If they beat Georgia in early September, the Broncos will face one significant test the rest of the way -- Nov. 12 against TCU.

5. Florida State. It didn't take long for Jimbo Fisher to turn this program once again into a national contender. If the new quarterback comes through, look out.

4. Oregon. With the NCAA snooping around, the Ducks might want to win that national championship quickly.

3. Oklahoma. The Sooners couldn't possibly get to another national championship game only to get whacked. Right?

2. LSU. Because the Tigers play Oregon plus the immensely deep SEC West, they could lose two games and still be in the national championship conversation. The prospects for a championship season dimmed in late August with the arrests of multiple players. A loss to Oregon could start a slide down the rankings.

1. Alabama. The Crimson Tide's second string would wind up somewhere in the Top 25.

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