1. USC: The Trojans' defense will be downright scary, with 10 starters returning from last week's Rose Bowl clinic and U.S. Army All-American standouts Everson Griffin and Chris Gallipo on the way. QB John David Booty could be a Heisman contender, assuming Patrick Turner and Vidal Hazelton become dependable receivers.
2. LSU: The Tigers will be loaded on defense once again, and freshman RB Keiland Williams is poised for a breakout. Losing QB JaMarcus Russell hurts, but it's not like there's no one behind him. Matt Flynn was MVP of the '05 Peach Bowl and Ryan Perriloux was the top QB recruit in the country two years ago.
3. FLORIDA: See below.
4. OHIO STATE: With Heisman winner Troy Smith gone, the Buckeyes will lean more on running backs Antonio Pittman (should he return for his senior season) and Chris "Beanie" Wells. Touted freshman LB Ross Homan will join a core of defensive veterans led by LB James Laurinaitis and CB Malcolm Jenkins.
5. WEST VIRGINIA: Next season may be better suited for a national-title run than this year was for the highly-touted Mountaineers. Offensive stars Pat White and Steve Slaton are back for another go-around, the secondary that struggled this season will be more experienced and Louisville comes to Morgantown.
6. WISCONSIN: Sixteen starters return from the nation's most unheralded 12-1 team, though departing All-America T Joe Thomas will be the tough to replace. Star freshman RB P.J. Hill returns, new QB Tyler Donovan has gotten playing time in the past and the defense will be solid all around.
7. MICHIGAN: Lloyd Carr will have the most talented and experienced offense of his tenure with QB Chad Henne, RB Mike Hart and WRs Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington all returning. The question is what to make of a defense that got destroyed in its last two games and loses nearly every key starter.
8. LOUISVILLE: The Cardinals are the biggest enigma in the top 10 due to the mass uncertainty following coach Bobby Petrino's exit. If QB Brian Brohm and RB Michael Bush both return, however, the Cardinals will remain very much in the BCS mix. Orange Bowl star Harry Douglas returns as well as the heart of the O-line.
9. TEXAS: Texas will once again have one of the most lethal passing games in the country with sophomore QB Colt McCoy back and healthy, as well as Limas Sweed and every other key receiver. The 'Horns' challenge will be patching up its secondary under a new defensive coordinator.
10. VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies went 10-3 in their "rebuilding year." As many as 17 starters could return, including the bulk of the nation's top-rated defense. RB Branden Ore will be back along with several veteran receivers. Sean Glennon needs to improve dramatically or a QB change could be in order.
Keep an eye on: Rutgers, Georgia, Boise State, Penn State, UCLA.
An early look ahead Florida will contend in '07, but USC is the favorite Posted: Tuesday January 9, 2007 3:41AM; Updated: Tuesday January 9, 2007 9:58PM
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- At least one person predicted Florida's 2006 national championship: Megan Mullen. When they arrived in Gainesville two years ago, the wife of Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen, said that the Gators would win a title in head coach Urban Meyer's second season.
"I said she was out of her mind," Mullen reflected Monday night in the Florida locker room following his team's 41-14 victory over Ohio State in the national title game.
Obviously, it was the goal of Meyer, Mullen and the rest of the Gators staff to win a national championship. Never would they have guessed beforehand, however, it would come so soon. "If you had asked me a year ago? Not a chance," said Meyer. They, like the rest of us, figured it would take at least another year to compile the necessary personnel to fit their system.
But the combination of a tremendous senior class, led by quarterback Chris Leak, receiver Dallas Baker and defensive linemen Ray McDonald and Joe Cohen, along with instant-impact freshmen Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin, lifted the program to its second national championship. Now, the Gator faithful will be expecting more.
At first glance, it would seem the Gators lose too many key contributors to repeat in 2007. As many as 10 starters from their stupendous defense could be lost, depending on NFL defections. Defensive end Jarvis Moss sounded like a guy on his way out the door Monday night ("I need to break the news to my coaches," said Moss, though he didn't specify what news), and safety Reggie Nelson, linebacker Brandon Siler and cornerback Ryan Smith could all be joining him.
Offensively, Florida loses Leak, tailback DeShawn Wynn, center Steve Rissler and receivers Baker, Jemalle Cornelius and, most likely, Andre Caldwell.
It would be unwise, however, to write off the Gators. Meyer has already exhibited a keen ability to adapt to the personnel at hand. While losing Leak hurts, next year's offense could be even more dangerous with the dual-threat Tebow taking over full-time. Some have questioned his passing ability, considering he threw so infrequently as a freshman (his 1-yard touchdown pass to Caldwell in Monday night's game a notable exception), but Mullen insists, "[Tebow] is going to be a great passer. He has a really, really strong arm. He certainly has no fear of standing in there under any sort of pass rush in the pocket to make plays."
Tebow's running ability will allow Meyer and Mullen to run the full-scale spread-option attack they made famous at Utah. The Gators' receiving corps will be young but still extremely talented with the likes of Harvin, Cornelius Ingram, Jarred Fayson and Riley Cooper. Coaches are hoping one of two tailbacks from this year's highly-touted freshman class, Mon Williams or Chevan Walker, will step up as well.
The cupboard isn't entirely bare defensively, either. Freshman linebackers Brandon Spikes and Dustin Doe both saw significant playing time this season. Both will become starters if Siler leaves along with senior Earl Everett. Pass-rushing extraordinaire Derrick Harvey returns, too, along with safeties Tony Joiner and Dorian Munroe. Freshman Brandon Antwine and sophomore Javier Estopinan, who started briefly before suffering a season-ending injury, will help ease the loss of McDonald and Cohen at defensive tackle.
Florida had already turned into something of a recruiting machine under Meyer even before winning this year's title; now, it's likely to become a destination program along the lines of USC. Whether or not the Gators win another title in '07, you can now expect them to become annual fixtures in the conversation like they were under Steve Spurrier.
Fantasy Football: "Luck is where preparation meets opportunity"
Its going to be rough on us if all those defenders leave, which is a good possability. Our offense will lose some good starters as well, and Tebow isn't going to come right in and be a Stud, IMO. We still have a hard schedule, but we will see what guys leave.
Michigan should be top 3, the players are there to fill the holes on defense and contrary to that first article the defense was spectacular this year and will be good again next year. The offense returns everyone basically.
I ain't no suit-wearin' businessman like you... you know I'm just a gangsta I suppose... - Avon Barksdale
Ohio St.'s schedule next year is an absolute joke. Take a look at this:
Youngstown State (9/1)
at Washington (9/15)
at Minnesota (9/29)
at Purdue (10/6)
Kent State (10/13)
Michigan State (10/20)
at Penn State (10/27)
at Michigan (11/17)
Nice non conference schedule. They've got to be ranked high if nothing else cause of that.
What about Cal???? Their only real offensive loss is Lynch, and Forsett has already proven he is more than ready to take over the role as a dominant RB. Their defenseive is losing a few starters, but not enough to make much of an impact IMO, and I think next year USC and Cal will both be top 5 teams with the rest of the Pac10 left behind in their tracks.
eman wrote:What about Cal???? Their only real offensive loss is Lynch, and Forsett has already proven he is more than ready to take over the role as a dominant RB. Their defenseive is losing a few starters, but not enough to make much of an impact IMO, and I think next year USC and Cal will both be top 5 teams with the rest of the Pac10 left behind in their tracks.