I have changed a few things in my new Top 25. One thing though you should know UGA is still #1, this team seems poised to make a title run and with so many players returning I can see why. They will have one of the best offenses in 08 and will have a very good defense.
1. Georgia-The 'Dawgs ended the year in style in blowing out a Hawaii team that didn't deserve to play in the Sugar Bowl. The Bulldogs look like they'll have a very potent offense in 08 led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Knowshon Moreno. Last year, Stafford struggled a bit in passing effiencincy, but expect an improvement this year. At running back expect Moreno to have around the same amount of carries he had late in the year because Georgia is expecting big things from freshman running back Caleb King. At the receiver position they return their leading receiver in Mohamed Massaquoi and their best tight end Tripp Chandler. The Georgia coaches though, are excited by the emergence of freshman receiver AJ Green, who was rated by many as the top high school receiver. The defense last year for Georgia was very strong, and expect an improvement this season. The Bulldogs had one of the best run defenses in the country last year and with the return of Geno Atkins and Kade Weston expect more of the same for Georgia. The strength of the Georgia defense should be the linebacker position. The linebackers are led by Dannell Ellerbe who had 93 tackles last year, but this unit has 2 other good linebackers. The secondary is led by conerback Asher Allen who was one of the top cover corners late in last year, and safety Reshad Jones. The biggest loss for the Bulldogs might be the loss of kicker Brandon Coutu. The thing that might be the only thing standing in the way of Georgia and a national championship is a very tough schedule. In non-conference the Bulldogs have to play @Arizona St., and in conference they play Tennessee, Florida, @Auburn, @LSU, and @South Carolina. If the Bulldogs can go through that schedule with only one loss they deserve a trip to the National Title Game.
2. USC-The Trojans lose 10 players to the NFL Draft, yet they are once again fighting for a National Title and once again they are expected at worst to play in the Rose Bowl. The Trojans key to sucess is the play of their quarterback, Mark Sanchez. Last year, Sanchez got some valuable experience so it's not like he's never started a game. The running game should once again be very good, it'll be lead by Joe McKnight, Stefan Johnson and CJ Gable. The weak point of USC offensively is their receivers. All of their receivers were big time players coming out of high school, but so far they really haven't been able to live up to expectations. If they can finally do it, then USC will have one of the better offenses in the nation, and the receiving trio of Vidal Hazleton, Patrick Turner and David Ausberry could become one of the best in the nation. We know one thing for certain the defense of USC will be very good. The defense returns two All-American candidates at linebacker in Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga. The Trojans also return All American Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison to form one of the best safety duos in America. The cornerbacks of Cary Harris and Shareece Wright aren't too bad either. Though they do lose one of the best defensive tackles from last year USC should be fine up front. Fili Moala is expected to become the Trojans next dominant defensive tackle and don't be suprised if he's one of the first players taken in next April's draft. Everson Griffen is also expected to step up after having a really solid freshman season. The Trojans have a much more favorable schedule then UGA, and after the game with OSU all the tough conference games are at home. If the Trojans do beat Ohio State they should be in the National Title game.
3. Ohio St.-Last year was supposed to be a "Rebuilding" season for the Buckeyes, obviously a rebuilding year is to win the Big Ten Title and go to a National Championship game. The Buckeyes offense will run on the back of Chris "Beanie" Wells who had a great first season as the Buckeyes starting running back. This season Wells should be a major contendor for the Heisman. Todd Boeckman looked great over the first 9 games, but he really struggled with turnovers late last year. The key for him is to not make mistakes. The offensive line looks solid once again as it'll be lead by Alex Boone. The receiving core returns it's top 3 receivers in Brian Robiskie, Brian Hartline and Ray Small. The defense should be very good for Ohio St with the return of nearly everybody from last years team. Though losing Vernon Gholsten will hurt, many of the OSU coaches think that his replacement Lawrence Wilson will be even better. Wilson was poised for a breakout year last year before getting hurt in the opener for OSU. The defense will have two top 10 picks on this team in James Laurinitas and Malcolm Jenkins so expect another succesful season from Ohio St on defense. OSU should be able to contend for a National Title. They do have to play @USC, but unlike USC many of their tougher games in the Big Ten are on the road as they have to travel to play Wisconsin and Illinois.
4. Oklahoma-Laughter roared across the nation as Oklahoma once again lost their bowl game and because of this Oklahoma is now known as Chokelahoma. Don't worry Sooners fans your team should contend for a Big 12 Title and possibly a National Title. The Sooners should be very good on offense, and it all starts up front with a very good offensive line. The line should give Sam Bradford plenty of time to throw and open up a lot of holes for the running backs to run. The running back situation is a bit of a mystery in, how are they going to divide the carries. The Sooners can go 4 deep at the running back position, but expect most of the carries to go to the experienced guys in Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray. Though losing Malcolm Kelley will hurt, the Sooners still return Joaquin Iglesias and one of the better tight ends in the country in Jermaine Gresham. The Sooners lose a lot of guys in the linebacking and defensive back cores, but the defense should still be good because of a dominant front 4. The front line is led by the two tackles in Gerald McCoy and DeMarcus Granger. If the secondary do as well as they did in practice, then the Sooners should be fine on defense. The Sooners have to play Texas, Kansas, Texas Tech and Cincinnati this season. The good thing all 4 of those games are at home.
5. Florida-Looking back it was simply amazing what Tim Tebow was able to do last season. He was able to carry the Gators last season to a 9 win season and along the way he became the first underclassman to win the Heisman. The Gators are going to go back to a two-quarterback system this season with Cam Newton coming in for Tim Tebow at times. The real key for the Gators to take the next step on offense is a legit running game. Chris Rainey looked really good in the Spring Game, but the Gators are hoping that Emmanuel Moody can become "the guy" at running back. One thing we know for sure the Gators are loaded at receiver. The Gators have one of the best receivers in Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy. The Gators also have two very good tight ends in Aaron Hernandez and Cornelious Ingram. The defense though has to improve after struggling mightily last year. The Gators do return 8 starters so the defense should be better. The weakness of this defense is defending the pass. The Gators allowed over 250 yards through the air, and that is terrible for a team that wants to contend for a SEC Title. The best player on the defense should be linebacker Brandon Spikes who looks like a guy that could be an All American, but the real key is to stop the pass and the Gators are hoping that the strong recruiting class will help in that regard. The schedule doesn't look as difficult as Georgia's schedule, but their are certainly some tests on it. The Gators have to play @Tennessee, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina. The good thing is the toughest opponents are at home.
6. Missouri-Last year was one of the best seasons in Missouri football, yet they got screwed by the BCS Committee and they had to play an Arkansas team that they were much better then. The Missouri offense should be specatacular next season. The Tigers are led by Heisman Candidate Chase Daniel and by receiver Jeremy Maclin. Last year, Daniel transformed into one of the best quarterbacks in the country as he threw for 33 touchdowns opposed to only 11 interceptions. The biggest question mark for the Tigers on offense is the running game with the loss of Tony Temple. The Tigers are hoping that senior Jimmy Jackson can improve on his 330 yards rushing from last year and step up this season. Chase Daniel should have plenty of guys to throw to though. Jeremy Maclin and Chase Coffman both return giving Missouri one of the best receivers and tight ends in the country, respectively. The Tigers are hoping that Danario Alexander after being injured a lot last year and give the Tigers a 3rd target. Alexander had 400 yard receiving despite being hurt most of last year. The Tigers could become a National Title Contendor if their defense is able to improve. The defense last year, struggled at times, but they are expected to improve this year with the return of 10 starters. The Tigers were one of the best teams last year in forcing turnovers and if they can do this again the defense should be a lot better. The Tigers have one of the best secondaries and the Tigers are hoping that can help them against teams that like to spread people out like Illinois, @Texas and Kansas. Missouri had a great year last year, maybe they can have an encore of sorts.
7. West Virginia-The Mountaineers had a tough stretch in December. First their National Title hopes were dashed by Pitt at home and then a few days later their coach Rich Rod left WVU for Michigan. It seemed like their bowl game had all the makings of a blowout, and it did with West Virginia completely blowing out Oklahoma. The 'Neers will be lead by Heisman quarterback candidate Pat White and by shifty running back Noel Devine who average 8 yards a carry last year. The Mountaineers lose their best receiver in Darius Reynaud and the fullback Owen Schmitt. The Mountaineers are hoping though that Dorrell Jalloh and Tito Gonzales are able to make up the production lost with Reynaud's departure. The offensive line though looks like it'll be really good with the return of 5 guys who have started at least one game. The defense should be taking a step back with the loss of their top defensive backs, and that's extremely bad for WVU considering that they play a 3-3-5 defense where they play 5 defensive backs at once. The Mountaineers return their linebackers so expect Reed Williams and Mortty Ivy to have big seasons. The Mountaineers also return Scooter Berry and Chris Nield who both contributed and should contribute this year as well. The key games on this season for WVU this season are Auburn, USF, Cincinnati, and @UConn.
8. Wisconsin-The Wisconsin Badgers had a somewhat disappointing season last year finishing 9-4. This season Wisconsin has bigger goals and they are hoping for a BCS Bowl appearence. The Badgers have one of the best group of running backs where they can go 4 deep. The best of the bunch is PJ Hill who has rushed for 1000+ yards in his first two years on campus. The Badgers lost their leaders at the receiving position with the graduation of Luke Swan and Paul Hubbard, but Wisconsin expects Kyle Jefferson to take the next step after having a very good freshman season. The Badgers do have two well established tight ends in All American Travis Beckum and Garrett Graham. The offensive line should good once again, with the return of 4 starters. The Badgers are hoping that the defense can return to the form of 2006 unit, last year the defense endured multiple injuries as they struggled mightily last season. The Badgers have some playmakers on defense led with Matt Shaugnessy, Jonathon Cassilas, DeAndre Levy and Allen Langford. The Badgers are hoping that Jay Valai can continue the play that he had late in last year, and help solidify a shakey safety unit. The Badgers big games in 2008 are @Fresno St, Ohio St, Penn St, Illinois and @Michigan St.
9. Texas-The Longhorns last year on defense were god-awful on defense, and they are hoping that the hiring of Will Muschamp will help improve the unit. On offense the Longhorns return quarterback Colt McCoy who last year took somewhat a step back from his freshman season, but expect him to have another good year this season. The Longhorns need to find a replacement for Jamaal Charles if they want this offense to be near what it was last season. The guy they think that can be their new running back is Vondrell McGee, who showed great flashes as a freshman. The Longhorns lose a lot of their weapons on the outside in Limas Sweed, Nate Jones and Jermichael Finley. The Longhorns though do have two receivers they can count on in Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby. The offensive line should improve as well this season. The defense is the key to the success in 2008. The Longhorns pass defense was a joke last season, but it should improve with the return of many of their key players this season. Muschamp believes the key to the teams success is to get pressure on the quarterback more. Brian Orakpo is the star of the defense, and Muschamp is hoping that he can lead a defensive line that will be able to get pressure on the quarterback. Muschamp has also experimented with a 4-2-5 defense to help their weakness at defensive back. The key games for Texas are Oklahoma, Missouri, @Texas Tech, @Kansas, and Texas A&M.
10. Clemson-Will this be the year that Clemson finally doesn't choke and where they can finish the year on top of the ACC. They should, but as of right now we aren't sure if they will. Clemson returns a lot of good skilled players at the skill positions in 08. The Tigers will be lead by Cullen Harper who had an extremely good first year as starter of the Tigers. They also return their top 2 running backs in CJ Spiller and James Davis and then they add a Prep All American in Jamie Harper.The Tigers also return their top receiver in Aaron Kelley at receiver and their 2nd leading receiver in Tyler Grisham. The Tigers weakness is their offensive line where they only return one starter. They need to have a good offensive line to give Harper time and to open up holes for Spiller and Davis. The defense also appears to have one weak point just like the offense and that is the linebackers. They lose Nick Watkins and Termaine Billie from the linebacking core, and defensive end Phillip Merling. The Tigers do return all 4 starters in the defensive back core, hopefully for the Tigers sake they find a good group of linebackers because for the past couple of year, the linebackers have been leaders on the team. The key games for Clemson on the schedule are Alabama, @Wake Forest, @Florida St, @Boston College and South Carolina.
11. Virginia Tech-The Hokies might've lost most of their players from last year's ACC Championship team, but the Hokies still play in the worst BCS Conference and they have one of the best coaches in America in Frank Beamer. The Hokies though do have two experienced quarterbacks in Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon, and as of right now we don't know who'll be the starter. My guess is that it'll be Sean Glennon, who played very well late in last year and has more experience of Glennon. Though the Hokies did lose starting running back Brandon Ore, expect the Hokies to still have a very good running game with the return of 4 out of 5 starters on the offensive line, along with not having great experience at receiver. The Hokies don't have a lot returning player on offense, but with a solid quarterback and a good offensive line, expect the Hokies to at least be able to move the ball, and score some points. The Hokies lose a lot of talent on defense as well, but expect Frank Beamer to replace the defense again and put together a defense that can make big plays and force a lot of turnovers. The Hokies are hoping that seniors Brett Warren and Purnell Sturdiviant will be able to step in at linebacker, these guys at least bring experience with both of them being seniors. Up front the Hokies have All ACC Performer Orion Martin and Jason Worlids returning up front. The secondary looks like it'll be solid as well with the return of Macho Harris and safety Kam Chancellor. The key games for the Hokies this year are @Nebraska, @Florida St, @Boston College,@Miami(FL) and Virginia.
12. Texas Tech-Is this the year that the Texas Tech Red Raiders are able to break through and finally go to a BCS Bowl game? They finally have the chance with one of the best offenses returning in the country and this year they finally return a solid defense as well. The Tech offense will be lead by Graham Harrell who is in his 3rd year as the starting quarterback, he's one of the best quarterbacks in the country and is a legit Heisman Candidate. The Red Raiders also have a Heisman Candidate at receiver as well in the form of Michael Crabtree, who had one of the best freshman seasons in recent memory. The Red Raiders though do lose 1000 yard reciever Danny Amemdola, but Texas Tech does return two receivers that last year had over 600 yards receiving in Edward Britton and Eric Morris, they should offset the loss of losing Amemdola. The Red Raiders should have a decent running game led by Shannon Woods, but Texas Tech likes to air it out, and the running back is more important in helping in the receiving game. The defense looks to be very solid this year, and it's the main reason why people think Texas Tech could make a BCS Bowl this season. The key for the defense this season is to be able to stop the run. The Raiders were one of the best against stopping the pass, which was definantly helped by having to go against Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell everyday in practice. If the Red Raiders can at least find a way to at least limit the run, the Red Raiders should be able to challange Oklahoma in the Big 12 South. The key games for Texas Tech this season are @Texas A&M, @Kansas, @Oklahoma and Texas.
13. Auburn-When Ryan Perrilloux got kicked off the LSU football team, it made the Auburn Tigers the favorite in the SEC West. The Tigers coaching staff believes that Kodi Burns will be able to lead the new spread, no huddle offense that will be run at Auburn this year under a new offensive coordinator. The Tigers have 4 very good running backs in Ben Tate, Brad Lester, Carl Stewart, and Mario Fannin. Fannin is the most versatile of the group and he is expected to line up a lot at the receiver position. The receiver position seems like it'll be the weak point of the offense. The Tigers do return though their top receiver in Rodgeriques Smith and their 2nd leading receiver Montez Billing, but the receiving core doesn't have that breakaway guy that a lot of offenses have, but the thing is that Auburn doesn't throw the ball a lot, and they probably won't this year with the strong group of running backs they have and a first year starter at quarterback. It appears though that Auburn will have one of the, if not the best defense in the SEC. The defensive line is led by tackle Sen'Derrick Marks and Antonio Coleman. The Tigers have one of the best linebackers in the SEC in Tray Blackmon, along with a good secondary led by Jerraud Powers and Aarion Savage. Auburn is the favorite in the SEC with one of the best defenses and with an offense that should be solid. The key games for Auburn are LSU, Tennessee, @West Virginia, Georgia and @Alabama.
14. LSU-The Tigers may have lost Ryan Perrilloux, but they have enough talent returning on offense along with a defense that should be solid that LSU can contend for a SEC West Title. The Tigers big question in who'll be the new starting quarterback. Most likely it'll be freshman Jarrett Lee who is extremely talented. Lee won't be asked to win games for the Tigers, but will be asked to not make mistakes and to give the ball to the many playmakers the Tigers have on offense. The Tigers have 4 good running backs led by Keiland Williams who rushed for 480 yards last year as the Tigers backup. The other good running backs for the Tigers are speedster Trindon Holliday, Charles Scott and Richard Murphy. All of these guys showed a lot of promise last year, as backup for LSU. The Tiger also have a lot of good receivers on the outside. The best receivers are Brandon LaFell and Demetrius Byrd, who both had over 600 yards receiving last season. The Tigers also return sophmore Terrance Toliver who showed a lot of promise last year as a freshman, and tight end Richard Dickson. The Tigers might've lost 6 starters off of last years great defense, but they should still have a good defense this season. The Tigers lose Glenn Dorsey and Ali Highsmith, yet they still have the best front 7 in the SEC. The Tigers have two good defensive ends in Tyson Jackson and Kirston Pittman, along with a very good defensive tackle in Ricky Jean-Francois. The Tigers best returnee on the linebacking core is Darry Beckwith, but the key for LSU's defense in 08 is to find two good cornerbacks. The leaders for those two jobs are Jai Eugene and Chris Hawkins, but they did struggle a bit in Spring Practice. What should help out the new cornerbacks though is the return of Chad Jackson and Harry Coleman. Coleman proved himself last year, when he was called on last year. The key games for LSU this season are @Auburn, @Florida, @South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia.
15. Oregon-I probably have Oregon higher then most people do and that's okay with me. I really feel that Oregon will have a solid football team this year despite losing Dennis Dixon and Jonathon Stewart. I really think whoever replaces Dixon will be fine. Chip Kelley is one of the best offensive coordinators in the country, and whoever he picks will become a very good quarterback in time. The odds on favorite right now has to be Justin Roper who looked great against USF in the Sun Bowl and has looked good in Spring Ball. The other guy that I think will contend in Nate Costa who is currently recovering from an injury to his leg, but when he does become healthy Justin Roper needs to watch out because Costa will challange him. The running game could be better this season even without Jonathon Stewart. LaGarette Blount and Jeremiah Johnson apprear like they'll make a great one-two punch of Oregon this seaon, and there is great depth behind them too, led by Andre Crenshaw. Oregon has a pretty good receiver in Jaison Williams who had over 800 yards receiving last year and they return a very good tight end in Ed Dickson. The problem though is that Oregon doesn't have much depth behind Williams with the loss of their #2 and #3 receivers Cameron Colvin and Garren Strong. The Ducks are hoping that Derrick Jones can have a breakout junior year after having a solid sophmore season. The defense for Oregon this season should be much improved. They have one of the best defensive backs in the country in rover Patrick Chung. They also have a very good corner in Jarius Byrd along with a safety that impressed many in Spring Ball in TJ Ward. The key games for Oregon this season are @Purdue, @USC, @Arizona St, @Cal and @Oregon State. The Duck have some tough games on the road, but I think they should be able to overcome it.
16. Penn St.-This was a rough offseason for Penn State, as they struggled with a lot of the off the field issues. I think PSU is more talented then this ranking, but I can't rank them higher with all the problems happening off the field. I expect Daryll Clark to be their starting quarterback this season, he should be better then Anthony Morelli was last season. Morelli struggled as he was inconsistant, and many PSU fans blame him for most of last seasons struggles. The Nittany Lions have a solid running duo in Evan Royster who was solid last season and freshman Stephen Green who impressed many at the Spring Game. The Nittany Lions should have a solid offensive line led by center AQ Shipley. The Lions also have a very good trio of receivers in Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, and Jordan Norwood. The offense will be better, but their are offenses in the Big Ten that are a better especially Wisconsin and Ohio St. The defense looks like it'll be very good again despite the loss of All American Sean Lee. PSU has a future top 10 pick at defensive end in Maurice Evans, and they have anothe good defensive end in Josh Gaines. Penn St has some very good backup linebackers so I think they should be able to at least find someone to do at least a decent job in replacing Lee. PSU has some solid defensive backs as well. Safety Anthony Scirrotto is the best of them, but they do have some other good defensive backs. AJ Wallace should be fine as a starting defensive back, but can Lydell Sargeant be a good #1 cornerback and shut down good receivers like Brian Robiskie, Rejus Benn or Kyle Jefferson. The key games for Penn St this season are Oregon St, Ilinois, Michigan, @Wisconsin, @Ohio St, and Michigan St.
17. Arizona St-Last year Arizona St. was a suprise in the Pac 10 winning the conference, but was Arizona St. really the 2nd or best team in the Pac 10? The answer is no, they had a favorable schedule and whenever they played a legit team they got destroyed. This season Arizona St. should be a better team with the return of many of their key players, but it might not show in the polls because of the tough schedule they have.The Sun Devils had a ton of trouble protecting the quarterback so Dennis Erickson is changing schemes this season to more a spread look with a lot 4 and 5 wide sets. The Sun Devils have a pretty good quarterback in Rudy Carpenter who had a good first year in Erickson's system despite being thrown to the ground 4 to 5 times a game. The Sun Devils should have a solid running game led by Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance. They also have some good wide receivers in Chris McGaha, Michael Jones and Kyle Williams, but like I said before the real key to this offense is the offensive line, which should be worse then last year with the graduation of 4 starters. It could be an interesting season for Arizona St on the offensive side of the ball this season. On defense Erickson is planning for his team to be in attack mode. The Sun Devils return two very good defensive ends in Dexter Davis and Luis Vasquez. The big reason that Arizona St wants to blitz a lot this season is because of the good secondary they have in Omar Bolden and safety Troy Nolan. The key games for Arizona St. this year are Georgia, @USC, Oregon, @Oregon State and UCLA.
18. BYU-The BYU Cougars seem like the team that is best equipped mid-major in going to a BCS Bowl. The Cougars have a very good offense led by quarterback Max Hall who threw for 26 touchdowns last year opposed to only 12 interceptions. The Cougars also return a very good rushing attack led by sophmore Harvey Unga who rushed for 1200 yards last season. They also return Manase Tonga who rushed for 8 touchdowns last season. The Cougars also return 5 of their top 6 receiving targets from last year. The best of the bunch is Austin Collie who had over 900 yards receiving last season. The Cougars also return tight end Dennis Pitta who had 800 yards receiving last season, along with their #2 receiver Michael Reed. Obvisouly, they won't have any trouble scoring on anybody, but they could have some trouble stopping opposing offenses with the return of only 3 starters on defense. The major question marks on defense are in the linebacking core and the secondary. In the secondary the Cougars are losing all 4 starters, and it appears they could have some major trouble against teams with a good passing attack. The linebacking core doesn't have as many problems as the secondary does, but it's not like their returning all 3 starters. Bronco Mendenhall is confident they he'll be able to replace the linebackers, and expects a big year from David Nixon. I'm not as confident as Mendenhall is, but time will tell. If BYU can get a consistant defense they have a shot to go to a BCS Bowl game, if not they should still be able to win the MWC. The key games for BYU this season are @Washington, UCLA, @TCU, @Utah and @Air Force.
19. Tennessee-I realized that I overranked Tennessee in my first preseason rankings. Tennessee should have a fairly good team this season, but I don't think they can compete with Florida and Georgia in the rough SEC East. The Vols are breaking in a new quarterback in Jonathon Crompton, but he has some good players around him that it shouldn't be a rough transition. Tennessee returns a pretty good running back in Arian Foster who rushed for over 1000 yards last season. The Vols also return much of their offensive line that was one of the best last year allowing only 4 sacks. The Volounteers also have a very good receiving in Lucas Taylor, and they return their 2nd and 3rd receivers in Austin Rodgers and Josh Briscoe. Expect Gerald Jones to become a bigger part of the offense this season in the receiving game, but also as a quarterback in a formation they are calling the G-Gun. The other major loss on offense was the loss of coordinator David Cutcliffe. The defense struggled a bit in 08, but they should be better this year, especially in the secondary. The best player in the secondary is sophmore Eric Berry, who should be able to challange for a spot on the All American team. The Vols in turn return 6 guys that have had experience starting in the secondary, so they shouldn't have trouble stopping the pass, but they do have some problems up front. The Vols have some good starters up front, but they have absoloutly no depth at those positions so if one gets injured the Vols could be screwed. The Vols also have to replace 1st round pick Jerod Mayo, if they can, and they have no injuries up front Tennessee should have a very good defense. The key games for Tennessee this year are @UCLA, Florida, @Auburn, @Georgia, Alabama and @South Carolina.
20. Illinois-Last season Illinois went from the cellar to the top of the Big Ten, which included a win over Ohio St. They then went to the Rose Bowl and were able to upset USC. Wait, they actually didn't. I'm a Big Ten fan, but Illinois didn't deserve a BCS bid last year. Yes, they were better then other BCS Contendors like Arizona St, and BC, but they certainly weren't one of the 10 best teams in the country. This season Illinois should be good once again, but they certainly won't have the season they had last season, with the Big Ten being much better and Illinois not being as good. The Illini do return an experienced quarterback in Juice Williams who had an up and down year. He looked great against Ohio St, but also looked terrible against Iowa. This season he needs to step up, especially with the loss of running back Rashard Mendenhall. The Ilini are hoping that Daniel Dufrene can at least give the Illini a respectable running game, but don't expect him to be able to replace the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. The Illini are hoping that Arrelious(Rejus) Benn can take the next step in his sophmore year and become an All Big Ten Performer. Jeff Cumberland should be able to produce as a receiver as well. The defense should take a step back this season, but the defense should still be solid. The Illini have a future star at defensive end in Martez Wilson, but even though this years Illinois defense is more athletic and more talented they are less experienced so there could be some major growing pains. The Illini do also lose All America and defensive leader J Lemen. He won't be able to be replaced and the Illini can't replace his production. The Illini do though have a very cornerback in Vontae Davis. The key games for Illinois this season are Missouri, @Penn State, @Wisconsin, and Ohio St.
21. Fresno St.-If Fresno St goes to a BCS Bowl game they earned it. The Bulldogs have put together a tough non-conference slate, and they'll be hard pressed to go undefeated this season. The Bulldogs will be lead by Tom Branstater who had a solid season last year at quarterback. The Bulldogs have a solid running game led by Ryan Mathews and Clifton Smith. The Bulldogs also have some really good receivers. The best targets are receiver Marlon Smith and tight end Bear Priscoe. The Bulldogs should have a very good offense this season, but the real question mark is the defense. The Bulldogs lost their best players on defense. Those guys are Marcus Riley and Tyler Clutts. If Fresno St wants to have a decent defense they need someone to step up and take a leadership role, the guys is likely safety Moses Harris. The Bulldogs really don't have the greatest defensive players returning, but if they want that BCS Bowl appearence they are going to need their defense to step up, I don't think they can do that, but I still think that Fresno State should be good enough to win the WAC. The key games for Fresno State are @Rutgers, Wisconsin, @UCLA, and @Boise St.
22. Kansas-Kansas was able to go 12-1 last season and win the Orange Bowl. They are returning 16 starters so they should be the favorite for the Big 12 Title, right? The answer is no. Kansas played a super easy schedule, played the BCS System and had to play an up and down team from the worst BCS Conference. I'm going to give them credit, but I just don't think they can repear that this season. The Jayhawks return quarterback Todd Reesing who had a brilliant sophmore season, he'll have a harder time with a tougher schedule. The Jayhawks also lost 1000 yard back Brandon McAnderson, so their hoping that 800 yard back Jake Sharp will be able to become the featured back, but that won't likely happen so they'll continue to use a two back system with the 2nd back this season being Angus Quigley. The receiving core seems to be very good this season with the return Dexton Fields, Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier. The defense should be good again, but they won't be as good statisitically as they were last season. The Jayhawks lose their best defense player in Aqib Talib, and they'll be hard pressed to find a replacement. The interior line will have some problems, but they do return two good defensive ends in John Larson and Russel Brorson. The Jayhawks also return their starting linebackers, along with some of their defensive backs. The most important games for Kansas this season are @USF, @Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas and @Missouri.
23. Pitt-Pitt last season was going through a rough season before they were able to rebound and upset WVU in Morgantown. This season Pitt seems like the best equipped team to challange WVU for the Big East Title. The Pitt offense is built around a monster of a running back in LeSean McCoy. The quarterback situation seems to have been solved as the Panthers new quarterback will be Bill Stull who started the season at quarterback before getting injured. The Panthers also have great depth at receiver with Derek Kinder, Oderick Turner and Maurice Williams. The offense this season should be a lot better for Pitt. The defense last year was very good and they showed it off when they were able to shut down WVU and Pat White. Like the offense Pitt's defense revolves around one player, and that one player is Scott McKillop. The Panthers also return two good defensive tackles in Mick Williams and Rashaad Duncan. They also have a pretty solid end in Greg Romeus. The Panthers are expecting that safeties Dom DeCicco and Elijah Fields to improve and hopefully help improve the Pitt secondary. The key games for Pitt this season are @USF, @Cincinnati, @Notre Dame, West Virginia and @UConn.
24. Michigan St.-Mark Dantonio had a great first season at Michigan St. leading them to a 7-5 record, but it could've been so much better if MSU could've won some of the close games they had. Michigan should have a very good offense led by All American Candidate Javon Ringer, along with quarterback Brian Hoyer. Michigan St. also returns more of their offensive line from last season, so they should be able to protect Brian Hoyer and open holes for Javon Ringer. The Spartans lost a great receivier when Devin Thomas entered the NFL Draft, but they still have some decent receiviers. Mark Dell and BJ Cunningham don't have the game changing ability of Thomas or the experience, but they should be able to put up solid numbers. The Spartans are hoping that their defense can be better then it was in 08. The Spartans lose Jonal Saint-Dic(the sack master), Ervin Baldwin and Kaleb Thornhill from a solid defense, but expect the defense to improve this year. Dantonio is a defensive coach and with some good pieces returning the defense should improve. Michigan St. has a very good linebacker returning in Greg Jones, along with two good defensive backs in Otis Wiley and Kendell Davis-Clark. If the Michigan State Spartans can find some replacements on the defensive line the defense should be better in 08. The important games for Michigan Starte in 08 are @Cal, @Michigan, Ohio St., Wisconsin and @Penn St.
25. Alabama-The Crimson Tide should be a lot better in 2008 in the 2nd year of Nick Saban. Teams usually improve drasitically in the 2nd year with Nick Saban as the coach. Alabama has a solid quarterback in John Parker Wilson, but he needs to be much more consistant. He looked very good at times, but he also looked very bad at times as well. I think in year 2 under Saban he'll be more consistant. Alabama is hoping that Terry Grant can get over 1000 yards this season. In the Spring Game he looked very good, and it appears that he's improved drastically this season. The other key is to replace the receivers they lost. Losing DJ Hall, Matt Caddell and Keith Brown was huge. Watch out for Julio Jones to make an impact their. The biggest key on the defensive end is the linebacking core, The Linebackers weren't great in 08, and they need to improve. They also have depth issues at the position as well. Rolando McClain had a great first year at linebacker, but his supporting cast wasn't too great. I think that Saban will improve the defense mightily this season. The key games for Alabama this season are Clemson, @Georgia, @Tennesse, @LSU and Auburn
Other Teams to watch: Cincinnati(Big East), USF(Big East), South Carolina(SEC), Boise St.(WAC), Wake Forest(ACC)
Badgers Ballers writes for www.onlinesportsfanatic.com