Jan. 17, 2007
By Adam Caparell
Adam is CSTV.com's football editor and national football writer.
Sure the Trojans will be without Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith on offense, but with John David Booty back and the talent-mill Pete Carroll has turned USC into, there's no doubt the Trojans are the clear cut preseason No. 1.
Steve Slaton and Pat White make up the most dynamic rushing tandem in the country, and when the two are healthy almost no one can stop them. Replacing Dan Mozes on the line will be tough, but seven starters should be back on a defense that was disappointing, but figured to improve. West Virginia's non-conference schedule is once again should present very little in the way of challenges.
The national champs will be without Chris Leak and a boatload of talent on the defensive side of the ball, but
Every offensive weapon is back for the Wolverines. Chad Henne, Michael Hart, Mario Manningham and even Jake Long will make up the Big Ten's most dynamic offense. Things have also broken out nicely for the Wolverines schedule-wise. They get
Can Colt McCoy top his scintillating freshman season? No reason why not with Limas Sweed and Jamaal Charles back to help make
Freshman sensation P.J. Hill should be able to duplicate his 1,500-yard plus, 15 TD season. Bret Bielema had a heck of a debut campaign and the Badgers could return as many as 19 starters from their school-record 12-1 team.
JaMarcus Russell's early departure isn't LSU's only big loss. Gone will be LaRon Landry and several other key members of the Tigers vaunted defense. But Glenn Dorsey has decided to stick around, Les Miles has shown he can coach and
Nate Longshore and DeSean Jackson. That's nearly reason enough as the quarterback and wide receiver/special teamer make up the best deep threat combo in the country. Losing Marshawn Lynch won't be easy to stomach, but Justin Forsett has shown he's capable of stepping up for Cal.
It'll be interesting to see how the defection of Bobby Petrino to the NFL will affect the Cardinals. In steps new coach Steve Kragthorpe and the question is how much will he change
The Bulldogs showed some guts as the year wore down, getting big wins over Auburn, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech to close out the season.
The Nittany Lions weren't a Top 25 team last season, despite what many
David Cutcliffe helped transform Erik Ainge into one of the best QBs in the SEC last year, so there's no reason not to think he won't improve upon last season's impressive numbers. Plus he'll have a more mature LaMarcus Coker running the ball to take a large load off. The real question is how Ainge will fair without the services of Jayson Swain and favorite target Robert Meachem.
The challenge for Greg Schiano and the Scarlet Knights will be to top the best season in school history. Expectations will be unprecedented, but with feature back Ray Rice and an improved Mike Teel, another 10-plus win season is more than a distinct possibility. Rutgers will lose Brian Leonard and a handful of defensive starters, but their only tough Big East road game comes at
Everyone thought the Horned Frogs were going to be
15. Virginia Tech
The defense is what carried the Hokies down the stretch and it's going to carry them again in 2007. They're going to have plenty of players back, including one of the ACC's top runners in Brandon Ore, but ultimate success is going to come down to whether Sean Glennon can produce when Virginia Tech really needs him.
The Aggies are going to be loaded on offense with Stephen McGee, Mike Goodson and
Kenny Irons is out, so is Courtney Taylor along with some big bodies on the offensive line. If the Tigers can find some consistent play out of their quarterback, that should go a long way toward at least another 10-win season. The defense will have to carry the Tigers.
Turmoil has set up camp in
There's no doubt the Buckeyes defense is going to be great. They were young last year, with nine new starters, and played great until they got bowled over in the BCS Championship Game. But replacing the Heisman Trophy winner, top running back and top receivers is a daunting task for the best of them. Jim Tressel can coach, despite a sub par effort in
Allen Patrick filled in more than admirably for Adrian Peterson and he should be able to continue his stellar play. But Losing Peterson, and not to mention C.J. Ah You and Rufus Alexander on defense, is beyond big for the Sooners. Bob Stoops still attracts tons of talent to
Jared Zabransky's departure isn't going to hurt the Broncos all that much. The success of Chris Petersen's offense has spanned several quarterbacks so there seems to be no reason why we shouldn't expect good things from
The pressure is going to on Karl Dorrell after his team finished the regular season on the high of all highs, defeating USC. The Bruins aren't losing much at all as they'll return nearly all their starters from last year's team. Who's going to be the QB? It's between Patrick Cowan and Ben Olson. UCLA is still third best in the Pac-10, at best, behind the Trojans and Cal.
Gone is Zac Taylor, but in comes Sam Keller, via Arizona State, to run the Cornhuskers pro-style offense. Gone also are a bunch of key players on the defense - a defense that couldn't stop anyone in a big spot last season. But
A healthy Matt Ryan will go a long way toward Boston College earning its eighth straight bowl win. The Eagles aren't losing much, but they'll have to deal with a new coach and new offensive coordinator. And the ACC should continue through its down cycle meaning the Eagles should be right there in the mix for a conference title.
Who was the SEC's leading passer? Andre Woodson, who's back for his senior season and ready to burn defenses whenever the chance presents itself. The Wildcats have a lot of momentum after their first bowl win in 22 years and they'll get
Lurking (and in no particular order)