Post-Spring, Pre-Preseason 2007 Top 25

Trojans still on top, followed by Bayou Tigers

May 2, 2007

By Adam Caparell



Adam is's football editor and national football writer.
E-mail here!

Right after the bowl games wrapped up in January, we came up with our Pre-Spring, Post-Bowl 2007 Preseason Top 25. It was a quick stab at how the best teams heading into the spring stacked up if they were to be ranked in January.


So now that spring practice has basically ended for just about everyone, it's time to revamp the list and make some changes after we've gotten a chance to evaluate these teams. A few have moved up, some have moved down. But for better or worse, this is who we feel are the best 25 teams in the country after 15 practices, subject to extreme scrutiny, of course.


1. USC - No reason why the Trojans deserve to drop from the top spot. John David Booty will have an arsenal of talent surrounding him and the young defense Pete Carroll was forced to feature last season is going to be even better. Previous: 1




2. LSU - The Tigers lost a lot - most notably JaMarcus Russell and LaRon Landry - but their cupboard is far from bare. It's Matt Flynn's turn to take over the offense under new coordinator Gary Crowton with Early Doucet as Flynn's deep weapon of choice. There are holes to be filled in the secondary, but nothing the Tigers can't overcome with the stockpile of players Les Miles has accumulated. Previous: 7


3. Michigan - The Wolverines' offense is going to be great with Chad Henne, Mike Hart and Mario Manningham back and ready to roll. But as for the defense, well, I don't think you can expect them to have the kind of season they put together in 2006 this time around. There are plenty of very good pieces ready to step in, but the Wolverines can't be expected to dominate like last year. They lost a lot off that unit, but fans should take solace in the fact that the defense showed great potential and they're still the best team in the Big Ten. Previous: 4


4. West Virginia - Three obvious reasons. Pat White, Steve Slaton and Rich Rodriguez. The Mountaineers have the two most dynamic players in the Big East and the most lethal running combination in the country while their coach decided Morgantown was the place to stay. Still questions as to whether the defense can make the big stop. Previous: 2


5. Wisconsin - The big question is going to be who replaces John Stocco at quarterback. Other than that, the Badgers are pretty stacked across the board, especially that run defense. With a P.J. Hill leading the way out of the backfield with yet another offensive line filled with Paul Bunyan types, the Badgers are a close second behind Michigan. Previous: 6


6. Texas - The Longhorns have Colt McCoy and no one else can say that in the Big 12. The freshman sensation is now a sophomore with senior wideouts Limas Sweed and Billy Pittman to throw to, and don't forget about Jamaal Charles out of the backfield. Texas lost a lot of talent on defense, especially in the secondary, but with the linebacking corps intact along with Frank Okam at tackle, does anyone expect a big drop off from Mack Brown? Previous: 5


7. Cal - The Bears are going to feature the best deep threat tandem in the nation when DeSean Jackson lines up wide with Nate Longshore under center. Just think what they would look like with Marshawn Lynch still around. Questions on defense for the Bears, but if they're serviceable there's no reason why they're not clearly the second best team in the Pac-10 and one of the better teams in the nation. Previous: 8


8. Florida - Just about everyone has the Gators in the top five, but I think they deserve no better than top 10 status based on how much they lost on defense. The Gators are going to feature a lot of freshmen next year. They'll be as talented as any, but they are still freshman. Now with Tim Tebow taking over at quarterback, Urban Meyer's grin is a mile wide knowing he can finally run the kind of offense in Gainesville he's wanted to all along. Still the class of the SEC East. Previous: 3


9. Louisville - A new coach in Steve Kragthorpe has brought a new attitude around the Cardinals, but more than anything the former Tulsa coach has arguably the best quarterback in the country in Brian Brohm and one of the best receiving tandems to go along with him. The Cardinals defense could surprise some people with how well they play, despite losing Amobi Okoye and Nate Harris - it's better than advertised. Previous: 9


10. Virginia Tech - This was the best defense in the nation last year and there's no reason to think it won't be again. Barring injury, they should pick up right where they left off. The offense will feature Brandon Ore, who will carry the load again, and quarterback Sean Glennon, who the Hokies are hoping can play steady under center. Best team in the ACC by far. Previous: 15


11. Oklahoma - Adrian Peterson may be gone, but that's no big loss for Bob Stoops and the Sooners. Back are Allen Patrick and DeMarco Murray, who really impressed during spring practice, to take the reins from the No. 7 pick in the NFL Draft. Plenty of returning talent on the offensive line and at wide receiver coupled with another stout defense means the Sooners have all the potential to challenge in the Big 12 and beyond. It just depends on their quarterback - whoever that turns out to be. Previous: 20


12. Rutgers - How far the Scarlet Knights have come. Mike Teel seems to be more poised and mature behind center, plus he has Kenny Britt to throw at. And of course, all he has to do is hand the ball off to Ray Rice and let him do his magic. Lost some players in that linebacking corps, but there's a lot of excitement and momentum carrying over from last year, especially after Greg Schiano spurned the opportunity to leave Piscataway. Previous: 13


13. Texas A&M - The Aggies are going to be loaded on offense with Stephen McGee, Mike Goodson and Jorvorskie Lane as the featured players for Dennis Franchione. It's no secret what A&M does best: run the ball. And they'll do a lot of it, effectively, as they vie with Oklahoma and rival Texas for Big 12 South supremacy. Will feature an experienced defense. Previous: 16


13. Penn State - A relatively young and inexperienced offensive line has last year under its belt and that will bode well for Anthony Morelli, and even more so for the Nittany Lions running game. Front seven holes to fill on defense are biggest question marks, but having Dan Connor around helps. Ultimate fate of Justin King and Anthony Scirrotto, with both facing felony charges, will affect summer ranking. Previous: 11


15. Arkansas - The Razorbacks have the favorite to win the Heisman in Darren McFadden and the best backup in the nation in Felix Jones. Still questions at quarterback, but this a run-first offense whose success is going to be heavily predicated on it. Some big names to replace on defense that went high in the draft, but they should be able to overcome. Very interesting, and controversial, spring for Houston Nutt. Previous: 18


16. Auburn - Brandon Cox is the one stabling force for the Tigers, who lose Kenny Irons and Courtney Taylor, and the quarterback had a very good spring. If the offensive line, returning only a couple of starters, but they have depth to rely on. The defense figures to be an Auburn defense. Previous: 17


17. Georgia - It was a very strange year for the Bulldogs in 2006, but with Matthew Stafford firmly entrenched as the quarterback, that should bring some much needed stability to the offense. Holes to fill on defense, but this is Georgia we're talking about. There's going to be players stepping right into the front seven. Previous: 10


18. Boston College - Matt Ryan is fully in charge of the Eagles who, under new coach Jeff Jagodzinski, are starting to emphasize speed. In Ryan, Boston College may just have the best quarterback in the ACC and the defense returns nearly everyone. Frontrunner for Atlantic Division title. Previous: 24


19. TCU - Only returning five starters is a cause for concern on offense, but having Aaron Brown as the main weapon for new QB Marcus Jackson and nine starters returning on defense makes the Horned Frogs the team to beat in the MWC and a danger to its BCS conference foes. Previous: 14


20. Nebraska - Year 4 of the Bill Callahan era means it's time for the coach to produce. And there's no reason why the Cornhuskers shouldn't win the Big 12 North - on paper they're the best team in the division. Their new quarterback figures to be Sam Keller and the Cornhuskers hope a relatively fresh-faced defense

steps up. Previous: 23


21. Ohio State - Many will have the Buckeyes among their top 15, but they have so much talent to account for that they lost; namely their top four players on offense. An unsettled quarterback position, plus no experience for whoever gets it, means the Buckeyes will rely heavily on the run. Defense will be stellar again. Previous: 19


22. Tennessee - Erik Ainge spent the spring on the sidelines after undergoing knee surgery, but he should be just fine when the season rolls around. And if he continues to develop like he did last year under David Cutcliffe, then lookout - only if they can establish a consistent running game. The Vols are losing nine starters overall and the defense is going to have a lot to overcome. Previous: 12


23. Kentucky - Almost no one is putting Kentucky up this high, but the Wildcats are legitimate contenders in the SEC East. It would be surprising if they won the toughest division in college football, but with a senior trio featuring Andre' Woodson, Keenan Burton and Rafael Little, it's far from impossible. Previous: 25


24. UCLA - Karl Dorrell appears to be under a little heat entering his fifth season in Westwood. Ben Olson has already been named the starter, so that takes some pressure off. The Bruins had some momentum following their USC win stomped out by the bowl loss to Florida State, but their defense is more than good enough to make them the third best team in the Pac-10. Previous: 22


25. South Carolina - Steve Spurrier still has some quarterback issues to shore up, but you'd figure it's Blake Mitchell's team to run. The Gamecocks are going to feature a very good defense with nearly everyone back. Previous: NR


Dropped Out: Boise State (21)


Others In The Mix: Hawai'i, Oregon State, Boise State, South Florida, Florida State