1. Florida – With Saint Tebow himself at quarterback, there’s no reason not to have the Gators at #1 to start off the year.
2. Oklahoma – The return of Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham, and Gerald McCoy, who all would’ve been top 50 picks in April’s draft, helps anchor this OU team that should pick up right where they left off last season.
3. USC – I know, I know…I hate USC as much as the next fan, but they get ranked here by virtue of playing in the Slack 10.
4. Ole Miss – Ole Miss returns most of their key guys from last year, and after the whooping they put on us in the Cotton Bowl, I’m a believer.
5. Texas – Even though the Horns have Colt McCoy and his favorite fishing buddy Jordan Shipley on offense, the lack of a dominant running back and the graduation of Quan Cosby are going to have more of an effect than most of the orangebloods think.
6. Alabama – I know they’re breaking in a new quarterback, but Bama’s still one of the best teams in the country…even if their fans are a bunch of unrealistic lunatics.
7. Ohio State – The Big 10+1 should be fairly weak again this year, so the team lead by Captain Sweatervest shouldn’t have a problem rolling up a lot of wins.
8. Penn State – See comment above about the Big 10+1…hopefully we won’t be subjected to another 13-6 pillow fight with Ohio State this year.
9. Virginia Tech – The ACC is looking nice and weak this year as well, so the Beamer Ballers shouldn’t have too much of a tough road in conference play…watch out for the game with Bama though.
10. LSU – Maybe, just maybe, the Bayou Bengals can find a decent starting quarterback somewhere on that roster. Too bad Mike Leach isn’t the coach there, or he could just go around the corner to the 7-11 and find one. Les Miles ought to look into wearing a hat that’s actually the right size instead of one that’s about 3 sizes too small, it might save him from some of his typical bonehead coaching decisions…or not.
11. Oregon – Oregon’s favorable schedule and God-awful uniforms (duck wings, anyone?) should allow them to challenge for the Slack 10 title and possibly even run the table in conference play.
12. Georgia – Although they lost Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno to the NFL, the Bulldogs and Mark Richt (who I think is one of the top 3 or 4 coaches in college football) should be able to reload.
13. Oklahoma State – Ah yes, Okie Lite is this year’s media darling, and for good reason too with everybody they have coming back. The loss of Brandon Pettigrew will hurt more than everyone expects, and without a legitimate #2 receiver to take the heat off of Dez Bryant (hope you like being double teamed for the entire game, Dez!), I think the Cowboys will stumble. If they lose that first game to Georgia, sit back and get ready for the tailspin.
14. Georgia Tech – The weak ACC coupled with Georgia Tech’s option attack should allow the Yellow Jackets to have a great year and challenge for the ACC title.
15. Cal – Somehow, Jeff Tedford does it again…but don’t be surprised if the Bears slip a little bit with USC, Oregon, and Oregon State expected to be strong this season.
16. Boise State – We’ll know what Boise’s made of in their season opener against Oregon. They’re a slam dunk to win the WAC, so they could possibly run the table if they pull off the upset against Oregon in Week 1.
17. North Carolina – Butch Davis has been quietly building a solid team in Chapel Hill, and with what should be a fairly weak ACC this year, the Tar Heels should easily put up 8 or more wins.
18. TCU – Even though the Froggies return a lot of their key guys, I still don’t think they can keep it together for a full season and bust the BCS. I just wonder if Gary “Speed Baby” Patterson will go on another press conference rampage about how they get no respect if the Froggies do manage to beat both Virginia and Clemson on the road.
19. Florida State – The ‘Noles always have talent, but putting it together (and keeping some of that talent out of jail) has been the tricky part for Bobby “Diddy” Bowden here lately.
20. Utah – Utah lost a lot of key players from last season’s Sugar Bowl champion team, but Kyle Whittingham should keep them going strong.
21. Texas Tech – I would have us ranked higher were it not for our conference road schedule. That being said, I expect Taylor Potts to have a good yea, and if the defense steps it up from the level they played at last year (minus the OU and Ole Miss games), we could easily be in the top 15.
22. Iowa – Iowa should reap the benefits of a weak Big 10+1, although the loss of Shonn Greene will sting for a bit.
23. Nebraska – Who knows what Bo Pelini’s team will do in 2009? Sure, they should have a good defense, but with the quarterback question up in the air, that could hamper Nebraska in 2009.
24. Oregon State – With the slack 10 only having 4 decent or strong teams (USC, Oregon, Cal, Oregon State), the Beavers should rack up enough wins to stay in the top 25 for most of the season.
25. Kansas – The Jayhawks are loaded on offense, but if their porous defense doesn’t improve, they won’t win the Big 12 North. Their cross-division schedule against Big 12 South foes Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech doesn’t help either.