Part one of Big League Clu’s college football top 25 preview.
It’s back, people! College Football is in the air! Personally, it’s one of my favorite times of the year; being able to sit back on a Saturday afternoon, open a few cold ones, and watch my favorite college teams duke it out on the gridiron. I have decided to kick off the CFB season with a breakdown of the top 25. But, before I dive into it, I will say that these top 25 teams are based off of the USA Today/Coaches Poll. I know ESPN does its own top 25 and some of the teams that are mentioned in USA Today are not in the ESPN poll. I just wanted to clarify that before people mail me letter bombs about why I failed to talk about their 8-4 teams and such.
#25 Auburn Tigers
SEC Conference (West Division)
2011: 8-5 (won Chick-Fil-A Bowl)
How did the 2010/2011 National champion Auburn Tigers follow up their momentous accomplishments? By posting yet another winning season, going 8-5, and winning their fifth consecutive Bowl game. This time, however, it was in the Homophobic Chick-Fil-A Bowl against Virginia. The main thing to look for this season is its defense, as they gave up 29 points per game last year. But, with a new defensive coordinator at the helm and the return of nine defensive starters, including sack-man DE Corey Lemonier–a first-team All-SEC as he led the Tigers with 9.5 sacks last season–they should be OK.
#24 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2011: 8-5 (Lost Champs Sports Bowl)
As many people probably are aware, Jobu refers to ND as Notre Lame, and isn’t shy about saying that they are his least favorite college team (Jobu’s Note: Come onnnn winless season!). Last season was interesting because it was their first year with new head coach Brian Kelly. You probably remember him with the high powered spread offense at the University of Cincinnati from a few years ago (two Big East championships and BCS appearances). He didn’t fair too badly in his first year with the Irish, going 8-5 with the scraps left over from the Charlie Weiss era. Now, he gets his first recruiting class in and you see it paying off as the Irish have a plethora of wide receivers/tight ends. Keep your eye on TE Tyler Eifert (NFL scouts are just gobbling him up right now), TJ Jones, John Goodman (No not THAT John Goodman) and Robby Toma. The problem: Do they have a reliable QB who can throw them the ball?
#23 Florida Gators
SEC Conference (East Division)
2011: 7-6 (Won the Gator Bowl)
After a rebuilding 7-6 season that ended on a one high note (winning the Gator Bowl over Ohio State), the Gators are back in the pre-season top 25 and looking to flex their muscle. Second year head coach Will Muschamp plans to wait a while to make his decision on who will start at quarterback. Sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel are both coming off strong performances in UF’s spring game. The Gators also bring back a ton of starters on offense and defense (10 on defense, to be exact) and add in true freshman D.J. Humphries, who was considered one of the top offensive lineman in this season’s recruiting class.
#22 Boise State Broncos
Mountain West Conference
2011: 11-1 (Won the MAACO Bowl)
Boise State is the little engine that could team that was formerly out of the WAC, is now in the Mountain West, and soon to be in the Big East Conference (Not a typo…they’re joining the Big East in 2013). They’re going to have to prove themselves again, thanks to a daunting non-conference schedule this year, just to get an outside shot at the BCS. They should run away with Mountain West this year, as their once in-conference rival TCU jumped ship to the Big 12, leaving Boise State as the favorite according to all the writers. It will be interesting to see how QB Joe Southwick replaces four-year starting quarterback Kellen Moore (aka the most winningest QB in college football history). This is a very senior-heavy team, that is hell bent on getting back to the mountain top in the Mountain West (see what I did there?). Here’s a little known fact: the Broncos are 80-3 at home since 1999. Just a little food for thought.
#21 Kansas State Wildcats
Big 12 Conference
2011: (10-3, lost Cotton Bowl)
K-State finished second in the Big 12 last season and are looking to match that accomplishment, if not become better than they were. They certainly boast a good offense, as they have a run-first QB in Collin Klein (threw for 1,918 yards and 13 touchdowns, and also had 1,141 yards rushing and 27 rushing TDs), RB John Hubert, who is doing his best impression of Emmit Smith (being that he is all of 5’7”, 191 pounds) and Oregon Transfer Chris Harper at WR. Harper managed to catch 5 TD’s for nearly 600 yards in a run based Oregon Ducks offense last season, which is very impressive. I would say that K-State has a good chance at being at the top of the Big 12 again this season.
#20 Virginia Tech Hokies
ACC (Coastal Division)
2011: 11-3 (Lost Sugar Bowl)
Virginia Tech’s football teams have always had a strong presence on defense, and they’re usually ranked in the top 10 year in and year out. This year is no exception, but it may be the only thing that VT has to look forward to. There are numerous questions on offense that need to be answered, starting with their offensive line. They lost four starters this past offseason. The big playmaker on D is Linebacker Bruce Taylor, who is on four watch lists, including the Butkus Award (top linebacker) and the Lombardi Award (top lineman).
#19 Oklahoma State Cowboys
Big 12 Conference
2011: 12-1 (Won Fiesta Bowl)
The Cowboys are definitely going to be on the rebuilding end of the spectrum the year, especially on offense. They need to replace 28 year old QB Brandon Weeden. In case you’re wondering why he’s so old, Weeden didn’t immediately go to college after HS in 2002 because he was drafted as a Pitcher by the New York Yankees in the ’02 MLB draft. He then came back to college football in 2007 after injuries forced him to “quit” baseball. Now at the helm is 18 year old true Freshman Wes Lunt (I see so many possibilities for nicknames if he does terrible for OK State). Lunt takes over as QB of a very high octane offense that should be able to help carry him if he struggles to manage things. Should be interesting to see…
#18 Stanford Cardinal
PAC-12 (North Division)
2011: 11-2 (Lost Fiesta Bowl)
Now we will see how well the Cardinals will hold up in the post-Andrew Luck era. This is will be a crucial year for Stanford. They have a ton of talent all over the team, especially at the running back, tight end and linebacker positions. Oh and of course they have that meaty offensive line…but now they’re out of Luck at Quarterback (Ah..see what I did there?) The replacements for Luck’s spot have already been told by head coach David Shaw to “Not be Andrew Luck”…“They can’t do it,” Shaw said. “It’s not possible.” (courtesy of Yahoo sports). So we will see what happens here. I look for them to still be at the top of the PAC-12, if not contending for the championship.
#17 TCU Horned Frogs
Big 12 Conference
2011: 11-2 (Won Poinsettia Bowl)
As TCU jumps to the Big 12, they will renew many rivalries that were once part of the Southwest Conference way back when. Despite the fact that the Horned Frogs are going to be depending on many freshmen to help lead the way this season, a key component to TCU’s defense will be that of DE Stansly Maponga, who ranked No. 2 in the Mountain West with 9 sacks and 55 tackles. He also led TCU in tackles for losses (13.5), forced fumbles (5) and had two fumble recoveries. The challenge for Maponga this season will be seeing if he can have the same success against the tougher offensive lines of the Big 12, as opposed to the Mountain West. We will have to see how he adjusts to the change in competition.
#16 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Big 10 Conference (Legends division)
2011: 9-4 (Lost Capital One Bowl)
Nebraska joined the Big Ten last season and had some big wins and some even bigger losses. They are determined to get their first conference championship since 1999 as they return two key components on offense (QB Taylor Martinez, RB Rex Burkhead). It will be up to the Cornhuskers defense to see how well they can adjust to the loss of LB Lavonte David, who was the leader of Nebraska’s D. They lack depth on defense but should be able to match up with any offense in the Big Ten, as they bring back a swarm of Wide-outs (watch out for Kenny Bell everyone).
Featured image courtesy of: http://kccollegegameday.com/
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