Post-Spring, Pre-Preseason 2008 Top 25

Changes in the top 3 precede a jumbled mess at the bottom

Pete Carroll and his Trojans are poised for another run at a national championship.

May 9, 2008

By Adam Caparell


Caparell is's football editor and national football writer.

Spring practices are over and done with so before we hit the summer it's time to update the Pre-Preseason Top 25 yet again.


The last installment came a little over a month ago, but not a whole lot has changed since then. Some personnel decisions (mainly Ryan Perrilloux) caused a shift in the rankings, but it's pretty much status quo since early April. We do, however, have a new Top 3, a jumbled mess towards the backend of the rankings and plenty of time before the release of the real polls in August to debate who belongs where.


So for better or worse here's the Post-Spring, Pre-Preseason 2008 Top 25 with a very familiar face back at No. 1.


1. USC - So it's Mark Sanchez's team and the quarterback will lead a USC that's loaded, as usual. Trojans lost 10 players in the NFL Draft, but coach Pete Carroll expects bigger and better. And for good reason, especially with that defense. Previous: 2


2. Ohio State - If you're sick of USC being atop the polls, I can only imagine how you feel about seeing the Buckeyes up there. But face it; they're stacked with Todd Boeckman, Chris Wells, James Laurinaitis and super-recruit Terrelle Pryor who looks poised to be this fall's Tim Tebow-circa 2006. Previous: 4


3. Georgia - The schedule is the only thing other than injuries that should hold the Bulldogs back. They barely lost anybody, they have a dynamic running attack, but the anointment of Matthew Stafford as one of the game's best is a little premature if you ask me. There's great potential, but he's going to need to complete more than 55 percent of his passes, and navigate that ridiculously hard schedule, for the Bulldogs to meet those huge expectations. Previous: 1


4. Oklahoma - Insert your own joke about their BCS performances, but chances are the Sooners find their way into one of the five big bowl games next January behind super sophomore Sam Bradford. And maybe this time they'll actually win. Previous: 3


5. Florida - Percy Harvin's heel injury is cause for concern, but everything revolves around Tim Tebow. He won't be taking the kind of punishment he took last season and is the obvious Heisman front-runner. Young defense should be much improved. Previous: 5


6. West Virginia - A lot of people are concerned about the losses on defense, but the Mountaineers don't win with defense. They win with a healthy Pat White. As long as he stays in the lineup they're golden and Big East champs yet again. Previous: 9


7. Clemson - With 15 starters back, if this isn't Clemson's year in the ACC it's never going to be. Dynamic duo of James Davis and C.J. Spiller are together for one final season. Key will be the offensive line's ability to plug the off-season holes. Previous: 7


8. Missouri - The Tigers are welcoming back a bunch of starters, 10 on defense. They're the cream of the Big 12 North with Chase Daniel under center and Jeremy Maclin ready for a starring role. Previous: 6


9. Texas - The offensive line will make or break the Longhorns this season with Colt McCoy back and Jamaal Charles' replacement still to be determined. But there's that new, innovative offense the Longhorns could feature and now they have Will Muschamp running a defense that needs to toughen up. He should be able to get the job done. Previous: 8


10. Auburn - So it looks like it's between Chris Todd and Kodi Burns to take over at quarterback, but whoever is tabbed should be in charge of a much better offense in '08 thanks to Tony Franklin. Auburn may be young, but it's an experienced young team and they just may be the favorites in the SEC West. Previous: 19


11. LSU - Ryan Perrilloux finally screwed up one too many times and now the Tigers are without their projected starting quarterback. Les Miles turns to Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch, two guys who have never taken a snap in Division I-A play. But don't cry for the Tigers because no one in the SEC is with 12 starters returning and more athletes on the roster than you can count. I keep wanting to bury the Tigers, but the more I think about it the more I realize they're still going to be very good. Previous: 12


12. Wisconsin - The Badgers have some pieces to work with on offense including P.J. Hill and Travis Beckum, but ultimate success will be determined by QB Allan Evridge - or whoever Bret Bielema decides to go with under center. Only lost five starters from last year's squad that didn't live up to the lofty expectations, but the Badgers should be able to challenge Ohio State. Previous: 11


13. Texas Tech - Offense? Check. Defense? Scoring points has never been a problem for the Red Raiders under Mike Leach while keeping the other team from scoring points has. With 10 starters back on offense the scoring figures to be prolific. The season, and Tech's ability to take that next step, depends on how many stops the defense can make. Previous: 13


14. Arizona State - Rudy Carpenter was sacked way too many times last year and the offensive line needs to protect its quarterback. But expect to see plenty of new wrinkles out of the Sun Devils on offense, including a lot of short, quick passes from Carpenter. Not that he's complaining. Previous: 10


15. Kansas - So when will we see the same old Kansas again? Not in '08. They're Missouri's competition in the Big 12 North and for good reason. Nine starters back on defense and a high scoring offense that should not miss a beat puts the Jayhawks on the everyone's radar to begin the season. Previous: 14


16. BYU - The Cougars are bringing back 10 starters on offense, an offense that averaged over 440 yards and 30-plus points per game. On the other hand, they're going to be missing eight starters on defense. The MWC is theirs to lose and an undefeated season with non-conference games against UNI, Washington, UCLA and Utah State is well within reach. Previous: 16


17. USF - With the offense basically returning everyone, USF isn't just going to be a threat in the Big East. A nice early season showdown with Kansas looms the third weekend of the season and could be a springboard to big things. Previous: 18


18. Tennessee - Expect an experienced defense to carry the Vols early on while Jonathan Crompton gets his wits about him behind center. The offense is going to need some time to mature. Previous: 17


19. Illinois - Another Rose Bowl can not be considered out of the question for Ron Zook's crew. Arrelious Benn, Martez Wilson and Vontae Davis are just three of the talents Zook has brought in over the past few seasons that should really break out this year. But it all depends on Juice Williams' consistency. Previous: 15


20. Florida State - Don't forget that the Seminoles still have to deal with several suspensions stemming from last season's academic fiasco, but this should be an improved team. It's Drew Weatherford's offense and the Seminoles actually know what they're doing heading into the season unlike last year. Previous: 21


21. Virginia Tech - The loss of Brandon Ore is a big one, but if the two-quarterback system can work like it did for stretches of last season then the Hokies should be alright in the ACC. There are losses on the defensive side of the ball, but Frank Beamer already knows who is stepping into just about every position. Previous: 24


22. Pittsburgh - An emailer made a good point about the Panthers to me a few weeks back. If they hadn't beaten West Virginia would they be in the preseason Top 25? Probably not, but with that win and names like LeSean McCoy, Scott McKillop and the rest of the defense, what's not to like? Not that you would expect it, but Dave Wannstedt can not survive another 5-7 season. Previous: 20


23. Wake Forest - Jim Grobe should have his most talented team yet this fall with 16 starters back. Riley Skinner leads the offense and if some go-to receivers can emerge then Wake is going to be a tough out. Previous: 25


24. Fresno State - There are high expectations and for good reason. Offensively, the Bulldogs should be pretty good. Defensively, Fresno has some holes to fill. But overall, it'll be Boise and Fresno for the WAC and if things break right for the Bulldogs, a BCS berth can't be ruled out. Previous: 23


25. Michigan State - The best team in the state of Michigan definitely does not play in Ann Arbor. Mark Dantonio is a no-nonsense kind of coach who got results in his first season as head coach in East Lansing and expect bigger and better from the Spartans this year. Previous: NR


Dropped Out: No. 22 Penn State


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


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