Making a National Championship pick this year is a struggle. Go ahead and try, it's not easy. Last year you chose between Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, or maybe Alabama if you were crazy like a fox (like this guy--will post my 2009 predictions for everybody to marvel at--just ignore my NFL picks). All the same teams are back, but with major questions to answer. I can think of at least one clear cut reason not to pick each and every team to win it all (and I'll prove it here in a bit), which leads me to believe we could be looking at the 2010 National Champion in possession of a loss (never fun-because too much is decided by preseason polls). Alabama is considered the favorite (although I've heard few people actually pick them to win it--Ohio St and Oklahoma are the two teams I've been hearing the most) almost by default. The College Gameday preview had 3 analysts pick six different teams to reach the National Championship game. This is precisely what you want going into a season.
This Top 25 list is not reflective of my final predictions (coming soon!). With each team I will give the main reason (BUT...) I am hesitant to place the preseason crown atop their head. Every team is flawed, which means the difference could arise from a source we're completely unaware of, which is always fun. On to the rankings....
1. Ohio St- Could be Terrell Pryor's breakout year, BUT...can he be trusted? Also two tough road games at Wisconsin and Iowa stand in the way.
2. Alabama- Return near everybody on offense, BUT...return only 1 starter from their dominating defense of 2009.
3. Boise St- 49-4 under head coach Chris Peterson, BUT...the odds aren't in their favor. It's difficult to go undefeated, you need breaks along the way, and sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce your way. How motivated did everybody stay coming off last year's success?
4. Oregon- Was my National Champion pick, BUT...returning Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli got booted from the team (now at Ole Miss) amidst team-wide discipline issues.
5. Oklahoma- The chic pick to fulfill the Big 12's annual losing position in the National Championship, BUT...common sense stands in their way. They lost three Top-5 picks to the NFL Draft off a team that lost five games.
6. Virginia Tech- 12th year senior Tyrod Taylor returns along with 1,655 yard rusher Ryan Williams, BUT...lose 8 starters on defense. First week matchup against Boise St should be a doozy. Mark your calendars-Sept. 7th.
7. Iowa- Should have the best defensive line in the country, BUT...high expectations have derailed the Hawkeyes before.
8. Florida- Urban Meyer got over his Post-Tebowum Depression, BUT...losing Tebow was probably worth getting depressed.
9. Nebraska- Mucho preseason love from pundits and friends (somewhat scary to me), BUT...do they have a Quarterback worthy of the praise? Are we all underestimating the impact of losing Ndominant Suh.
10. Wisconsin- Return 10 starters on offense, BUT...only 5 on defense. Maybe overachieved a little bit last year, which could leave them vulnerable to underachievement.
11. Miami- Super recruiting class is all entering their junior years, BUT...Jacory Harris (my annual "athletic" QB that I've fallen for) faded down the stretch last year and threw 17 interceptions.
12. TCU- Bring back most from the offense from last year's near-undefeated team, BUT...lose their two best players from defense. Also, tough to go undefeated (see Boise St).
13. Georgia Tech- Add Al Groh as Defensive Coordinator and join the biggest fad in College Football this year by moving to the 3-4 defense (copyright: Alabama), BUT...lost two top draft picks on each side of the ball. Annually underrated because the national media hates the option.
14. Texas- Probably lower than anybody else has them this preseason, BUT...Garrett Gilbert hasn't shown me enough to think he'll be ready this season. They lost a lot from last year.
15. Arkansas- My favorite pro-prospect Quarterback, Ryan Mallett, leads them, BUT...is the rest of the team up to speed with the SEC?
16. Oregon St- Love the lil' squirtster, Jacquizz Rodgers, BUT...have zero experience at Quarterback.
17. Auburn- Return 8 starters on offense and defense, BUT...have zero experience at Quarterback.
18. Clemson- Nasty defensive line (easy way to raise my expectations), BUT...must replace all-everything C.J. Spiller.
19. Houston- Return 8 starters on offense along with QB Case Keenum (who only threw 44 TD's last year), BUT...their defense will most likely be terrible.
20. Florida St- Return all five offensive linemen along with QB Christian Ponder, BUT...it's been a while since the Seminoles were any good.
21. Georgia- Joining the 3-4 party, BUT...might not be enough talent to pull off the move. Also, looking at starting a freshman at QB.
22. Stanford- Return 8 starters on offense including a McGillicuddy, BUT...I'm not sold on Andrew Luck (the near-consensus belief to be the first pick of the 2011 NFL Draft) yet.
23. North Carolina- Was all set to make them my surprise team this year, BUT...two different scandals being investigated means eligibility issues are anybody's guess.
24. Pittsburgh- Running Back Dion Lewis is the real deal, BUT...(say it with me) have zero experience at Quarterback. And they're still coached by Wannnnnnnnnnnnny.
25. Nevada- Slipped them in there because of Colin Kaepernick's game, BUT...probably have little business making the list.
Final Thoughts on Nebraska as well as 2010 College Football predictions coming this week!!!