College Football Power Rankings Top 25 Poll From Maddux Sports. Expert top rankings from an experienced gambler, not the media.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide – The Tide rolls this year with a pair of outstanding running backs: returning Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and First Team Freshman All-America Trent Richardson. Throw in returning quarterback Greg McElroy and talented wide out Julio Jones and the defending national champions are loaded on offense. The loss of some key defensive personnel at defensive line, linebacker, and secondary will be a challenge for Nick Saban and company. But until the champs lose, they’re the team to beat.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes – Terrelle Pryor leads one of the nation’s most potent attacks. The Buckeyes will feature a devastating rushing attack with Pryor, Brandon Saine and Boom Herron. Defensively, Cameron Heyward anchors the line, with an experienced linebacking core andsecondary behind him. A late-season showdown with the Hawkeyes in Kinnick Stadium figures to be one of the season’s biggest games.
3. Oklahoma Sooners – Head coach Bob Stoops welcomes back 9 offensive starters, including sophomore quarterback Landry Jones. Senior running back DeMarco Murray might be the Big 12’s top offensive player. Only 4 starters return from a defense that allowed an impressive 14.5 points a game. But the Soonersdon’t rebuild, they reload. Witha ton of talent look for Oklahoma to be a force to contend with, again.
4. Florida Gators – Life after Tim Tebow begins in Gainesville with John Brantley leading a fast, talented Gator team. Head coach Urban Meyer has 13 returning starters back, including a talented O-line and a deep backfield. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins leads a defense that gave up just 12.4 points per game last season. The Gators are the team to beat in the SEC East.
5. Boise State Broncos – The Broncos are stacked again this year, which is nothing new for what has become a perennial powerhouse in college football. 21 of 22 starters return this year. Early season match-ups with Virginia Tech and Oregon State will determine whether or not this team will vie for a national championship. However, even an undefeated season might not be enough. For the time being, Boise State still plays in the WAC.
6. TCU Horned Frogs – After last year’s 12-1 effort, expectations are high in Fort Worth. 9 returning starters on offense and 7 on defense mean the Horned Frogs have the experience and talent to make noise again this year. Senior signal caller Andy Dalton leads the way, while 3 returning D-lineman anchor a defense that gave up less than 13 points a game. TCU faces a serious test in week 1 when they face the Oregon State Beavers in Arlington, Texas.
7. Nebraska Cornhuskers – The Black Shirts are back in Lincoln. Last year the Huskers had the nation’s top defense, allowing only 10.4 points per game. Ndamakong Suhis gone, but the majority of the defense returns. If Zach Lee can find consistency on offense – or at least doesn’t turn the ball over – along with the weakness of the Big 12 North, Nebraska has a real chance of running the table and playing for a national championship.
8. Texas Longhorns – Like Florida, Texas must adjust to life after Colt McCoy. Garrett Gilbert had to experience baptism by fire in last year’s national championship game, but that should help the sophomore prepare for the burden of being Texas’ starting qb. The secondary is the strength of this team, led by junior safety Blade Gideon. Like always, Texas and Oklahoma should duke it out in the Big 12 South, with the winner likely getting Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship.
9. Miami Hurricanes – Quarterback Jacory Harris leads the way for the U. The loss of senior running back Graig Cooper to injury will hurt; Cooper tore his ACL in last year’s bowl game loss to Wisconsin and will miss the entire season. A solid set of pass catchers and a good group up front will help. The front 7 on defense will be especially good. Don’t be surprised to see Miami come out of the ACC.
10. Virginia Tech Hokies – Senior quarterback Tyrod Taylor and sophomore running back Ryan Williams lead the charge and welcome back Darren Evans to the backfield. The rushing attack will be tough to stop. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster returns only 5 starters, but the Hokies are always one of the country’s top-notch defenses. And count on Frank Beamer’s special teams to make a difference. A week 1 match-up with Boise State should be entertaining.
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11. Iowa Hawkeyes – Quarterback Ricky Stanzi is blessed with the Big 10’s best pair of wide outs in Darrell Johnson-Koulianos and Marvin McNutt. The return of Jewell Hampton will be a definite upgrade in the backfield. Senior defensive end Adrian Clayborn is one of the nation’s best players. The secondary is loaded, led by Tyler Sash. The Hawks have a favorable schedule and a legitimate chance of playing for a national championship.
12. Oregon Ducks – The loss of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli will hurt, but 9 returning starters on offense will make the transition a lot smoother for either Nate Costa or Darron Thomas. A tremendous offensive line and talented skilled position players should make Oregon’s offensive attack another juggernaut this season. The defense will see 7 returning starters, with experienced players a part of every unit. The Ducks are looking for a return trip to Pasadena, and anything less will be a disappointment.
13. Georgia Bulldogs – The Bulldogs return 10 offensive starters; unfortunately for Bulldog fans, the one vacant position is quarterback. Look for redshirt freshman Aaron Murray to rely heavily on wide receiver A.J. Green and an offensive line that returns all 5. Defensively, the ‘Dogs need to improve on the 26 points a game given up last year. Switching to a 3-4 defense may mean growing pains between the hedges, but rush linebacker Justin Houston will certainly help.
14. USC Trojans – Lane Kiffin takes over for Pete Carroll in sunny SoCal. Thanks to NCAA sanctions, the Trojans will not be playing in a bowl game. But there is enough talent on this team to take the Pac 10 title. Sophomore qb Matt Barkley will be much improved. The defense returns 6 starters, but the most important addition is undoubtedly defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin. Look for USC to have one of the league’s top defenses.
15. LSU Tigers – Despite being very young while returning just 10 starters LSU is a contendor in the SEC West Division. Schedule is brutal but Tigers are very talented. Dont let their won loss record fool you this year if they have a couple of early lossess, the Tigers are damn fine.
16. Penn State Nittany Lions – Joe Paterno enters his 45th year as head coach. The Nittany Lions welcome back 7 offensive starters and 5 defensive starters. Darryl Clark has left big shoes to fill at quarterback, and the O-line has some question marks, but senior tailback Evan Royster should be great. Graham Zug and Derrick Moyeare legitimate threats on the outside, as long as someone can get them the ball. On defense, Penn State always seems to be exceptional. The secondary looks to be the strength, but ‘Linebacker U’ will likely put forth another productive trio. This is the Big 10’s dark horse.
17. Wisconsin Badgers – The Badgers are set to challenge the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes for Big 10 supremacy. Junior running back John Clay is a dark horse Heisman hopeful, and senior quarterback Scott Tolzien will work the play-action down the field. All five O-lineman return to Madison, which means major production for the Badgers. Having to play Ohio State and Iowa in back-to-back weeks will decide Wisconsin’s Big 10 title hopes.
18. Arkansas Razorbacks – It didn’t take long for Bobby Petrino to reassert his relevancy into the college football picture. The former Louisville head coach has a Heisman hopeful in quarterback Ryan Mallett. The Razorbacks have one of the most experienced teams in the SEC with 9 offensive starters, 7 defensive starters, and both kicker and punter coming back for the 2010 campaign. The Hogs play ‘Bama at home this year. An upset would put Arkansas in the driver’s seat to win the SEC West.
19. Florida State Seminoles – The Bobby Bowden era is over in Tallahassee and so begins the JimboFisher era. The offense will be the strength of this team. 8 starters return on offense, including senior signal caller Christian Ponder. After averaging over 30 points a game last year, the Seminoles should be one of the most exciting offenses in the country. The defense is a different story. Only 4 starters return from last season. New defensive coordinator Mark Stoops replaces long-time D coordinator Mickey Andrews, with the linebackingcore looking to be the strength of the defense.
20. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets – Head coach Paul Johnson and the triple-option attack is in good hands with senior quarterback Joshua Nesbitt. Along with Nesbitt, Tech returns 6 other offensive starters and 9 from last year’s stellar defense. The Ramblin’ Wreck is poised to roll over the ACC competition this year, but trips to Virginia Tech and North Carolina will be challenging.
21. Stanford Cardinal – In the wide-open Pac 10, the Cardinal are one of the early-season favorites. Sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck was terrific last year. But the loss of Heisman Trophy candidate Toby Gerhartmeans Luck will be the focal point of opposing defenses. A talented offensive line will help. The defense will need to improve on 26.5 points per game to have a meaningful shot at securing a BCS bowl birth.
22. Oregon State Beavers – The Beavers have a daunting non-conference schedule ahead of them. In week 1 they play TCU and in week 3 they play Boise State – two of the top non-BCS conference teams in recent memory. But that competition should prepare the Beavers to make a run at the Pac 10 title. 8 starters return on offense and 8 on defense. The Rodgers brothers – James and Jacquizz – are fun to watch. James is an all-Pac10 receiver and Jacquizz is an all-Pac 10 tailback. A December 4 match-up with rival Oregon might well determine the Pac 10 champion.
23. South Carolina – If Stephen Garcia takes the next step and the offensive and defensive lines play well, expect a special year for Spurrier’s Gamecocks.
24. Pittsburgh Panthers – While the quarterback position seems unclear, Pitt has a tremendous talent in the backfield. Sophomore Dion Lewis had 1,800 yards as a freshman, earning him 2nd Team All-America honors. Junior wide out Jonathan Baldwin is as talented as anyone on the outside. Head coach Dave Wannstedt should have a solid defense with 6 returning starters, anchored by defensive end Greg Romeus. The Panthers will likely vie for the Big East crown.
25. Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Former Cincinnati Bearcat head coach Brian Kelly is the new leader of the Fighting Irish. Kelly brings with him a tradition of winning and a prolific offensive system. Kelly will look to imitate the first year success of former Notre Dame head coaches Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weiss. However, Kelly will look to avoid the eventual implosion of the former two coaches. For this season, Notre Dame has 6 returning starters on offense and 9 on defense, which should equal success for Kelly and Irish fans. If Dayne Crist can quickly grasp Kelly’s system, the Irish have the skilled players to put up a lot of points. And there isn’t one team on Notre Dame’s schedule that is head-and-shoulders above the Irish.
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