Mid-Spring, Pre-Preseason 2008 Top 25

Georgia takes over top spot from USC

April 4, 2008

By Adam Caparell



Caparell is CSTV.com's football editor and national football writer.

After receiving plenty of emails killing my Post-Bowl, Pre-Spring Top 25 from January, I figured it was time to update it.


So with Signing Day is behind us and just about every team in the middle of spring practice, the beginning of April provides us an opportunity to evaluate and revise the rankings. As you'll see, some teams moved up while some teams moved down and we even had a couple move completely out of the Top 25.


So for better or worse, here's the Mid-Spring, Pre-Preseason Top 25 that I'm sure will elicit some gripes from some disgruntled fans.  


1. Georgia - Knowshon Moreno, Matthew Stafford and a boatload of starters returning makes Georgia the pick to be the preseason No. 1. Only thing standing in their way of a date in Miami Jan. 8 is that brutal schedule and potential injuries. Overall roster stability gives the Bulldogs the slight nod over previous No. 1 USC. Previous: 2


2. USC - Only question to be answered is who will be the quarterback: Mark Sanchez or Mitch Mustain? Pete Carroll said he'll name a starter after spring practice ends. But considering the plethora of talent Carroll has for yet another season, as long as Sanchez or Mustain doesn't throw four picks per game the Trojans are going to be a national title contender, as usual. Trojans still possess the best talent in the nation. Previous: 1


3. Oklahoma - Will Sam Bradford suffer a sophomore slump? That's the biggest question facing the Sooners. Losing Curtis Lofton and Malcolm Kelly hurts, but Oklahoma is loaded. And you'd like to think they'd have a little fire in the belly after another embarrassing bowl loss. Previous: 4


4. Ohio State - Even though most of the nation doesn't want to admit it, Ohio State is going to be pretty good next year. And much to many people's dismay, there's a very good chance the Buckeyes could be playing for a third straight national title. I may not want it, you may not want it, but it's reality. They're loaded with talent - Todd Boeckman, Chris Wells, James Laurinaitis and super-recruit Terrelle Pryor who could take on a Tim Tebow-like role this fall. Previous: 5


5. Florida - Biggest news to come out of Florida is that Percy Harvin might need heel surgery, but Urban Meyer seems adamant that it won't affect him this fall. That remains to be seen, but that young Florida defense will be more experienced and the Gators should have some semblance of a running game this year. And, of course, there's Tebow. Previous: 3


6. Missouri - The Tigers are bringing back 16 starters, 10 on defense, from a team that should have been in a BCS bowl and should represent the Big 12 North in the conference championship game. Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin take center stage. Previous: 6


7. Clemson - Just when Tigers fans thought they'd lost James Davis, he decided college was the place to be. Now he's missing the rest of spring practice after shoulder surgery, but he'll be good to go for the fall, along with C.J. Spiller, Cullen Harper and a pretty solid defense. Fifteen starters are back on both sides of the ball. If this isn't Clemson's year in the ACC, it may never be. Previous: 11


8. Texas - You figure Colt McCoy will revert back to the player he was two years ago and when that happens things should be pretty good in Austin. The cause for concern, however, has to do with the offensive line, but at the same time there's great optimism following that Holiday Bowl performance along with the new, innovative offense the Longhorns could feature. Previous: 8


9. West Virginia -It's Pat White's team and everyone else is playing on it. The Owen Schmitt and Darius Reynaud losses can't be overlooked. If you're going to overlook anything with this team it's the losses on defense. The Mountaineers don't win with defense. And losing Steve Slaton isn't that big of a loss. Previous: 7


10. Arizona State - Rudy Carpenter needs some protection under center. The guy threw 25 touchdowns last season, but was sacked more than double that. There are offensive line departures which means we could see much more in the way of shorter and quicker passes. But that's not a bad thing. Previous: 9


11. Wisconsin - The Badgers only lost five starters from last year's squad and should expect an infusion of talent from two of last year's most celebrated recruits in OL Josh Oglesby and RB John Clay. Need QB Allan Evridge to establish himself and for P.J. Hill and Travis Beckum to be healthy. Defense needs to bounce back from last year's poor performance. Two new kickers are a cause for concern. But there's big potential. Previous: 12


12. LSU - We know the defending champs have lost a lot on defense, but can Ryan Perrilloux ever get out of Les Miles' doghouse? One more screw-up and the guy has to go. And if that happens, it won't be a pretty season in Baton Rouge. Twelve starters return. Previous: 13


13. Texas Tech - Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree will make up the most prolific quarterback-wide out tandem in the nation next season. There's a plenty of momentum to build off of from that dramatic Gator Bowl victory. Season is going to depend on how well the defense plays and some tough road games against A&M and Oklahoma. Previous: 15


14. Kansas - The losses are nothing to scoff at: Defensive coordinator Bill Young, Aqib Talib, James McClinton and Anthony Collins, but the young defense should only improve with nine starters back and Todd Reesing and the no-huddle spread attack will score points. Many will expect Kansas to revert back to its usual ways, but they should be a contender in the Big 12 North. Previous: 16


15. Illinois - Juice Williams will be a junior and has shown big improvement from season to season. And then you throw him in with the rest of the talent Ron Zook has been able to attract and another run at the Rose Bowl is not without question for the Illini. Arrelious Benn, Martez Wilson and Vontae Davis are three other reasons to really like this team. Previous: 17


16. BYU - The offense that averaged 442 yards and 30 points per game last season is bringing back all but one starter. The only problem is eight starters are gone on defense. But BYU is still the class of the Mountain West and should beat non-conference BCS foes Washington and UCLA. Previous: 16


17. Tennessee -The Vols are going to return a lot of starters on offense, but there will be changes on the unit. An experienced defense should help any early season offensive struggles considering Erik Ainge is long gone - and Vols fans are going to quickly appreciate what Ainge brought the past few seasons. Previous: 21


18. USF - I think people will sleep on the Bulls again after they stumbled toward the finish line last year. Matt Grothe and George Selvie are really good. Secondary took a big hit, but with the offense basically returning everyone, USF will be a factor in more than just the Big East, especially if they take care of Kansas in September. Previous: 19


19. Auburn - First area of business new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin needs to address is figuring out who the quarterback will be. Once that's decided, the Tigers should be a much better offensive team than we saw last season after that Chick-fil-A Bowl performance. Lot of injuries gave freshmen some much needed experience last season meaning some of those losses on both sides of the ball aren't as drastic as they seem. Previous: 10


20. Pittsburgh - The pressure is on Dave Wannstedt. He keeps bringing in these highly rated recruiting classes, but doesn't have much to show for it on the field. But off of that impressive win over West Virginia in the season finale, and the duo of LeSean McCoy and Pat Bostick leading the offense, there's reason to be very optimistic. Panthers' defense should be strong. Previous: 24


21. Florida State - This is Drew Weatherford's offense so he doesn't have to worry about looking over his shoulder anymore. He got hurt during spring practice, but should be fine for the fall when he'll have RB Antone Smith and WR Greg Carr to work with again - just do us all a favor and don't strictly throw jump balls to Carr every play. The Seminoles showed some glimpses last year of once again being one of the ACC's best. Previous: 23


22.  Penn State - With plenty of starters expected back, there's potential for the Nittany Lions to be a good team. It's just a matter of what they get out of the quarterback position since Anthony Morelli is now departed. And for many Nittany Lions fans, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Previous: 22


23. Fresno State - if you don't know QB Tom Brandstater, become familiar because he will lead a Bulldogs offense that should be the best in the WAC. Just about every starter returns for Fresno State on offense. Previous: NR


24. Virginia Tech - Another player who couldn't stay out of a coach's doghouse, Brandon Ore squandered his many opportunities and was kicked off the team. That's a big blow to a Hokies squad that already is facing losses on the defensive side of the ball. The combo of Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor are back for and if Frank Beamer decides to stick with the two-QB system at least they know the deal by now. Previous: 18


25. Wake Forest - The Deacons will welcome back 17 starters, nine on defense, and feature an offense led by the experienced Riley Skinner. There was some coaching turmoil, but this looks to be Jim Grobe's most talented team yet. Previous: NR


Dropped Out: No. 20 Virginia, No. 25 South Carolina


On The Cusp and In No Particular Order: Alabama, Connecticut, Mississippi State, Boise State, Oregon, Michigan State



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