|Posted by Web on June 22, 2013 at 3:55 AM|
As a foreword I would like to say that this is still an early work in progress, and as we near opening kickoff there will likely be many changes as the practices wear on. But without further ado, here are my pre-season Top 25.
The return champions look to continue with the excellence they have shown the past 4 years.Their #2 ranked recruiting class (via ESPN.com) will definitely help them in their journey to repeat as champions. They will face a big task in trying to get revenge for their only blemish on another otherwise perfect season at Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in their second game.
2- Texas A&M
Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel looks to not only become the second person to win the award in successive years, but also to lead his team to a SEC Championship and a date with Pasadena on January 6th. The Aggies also added the 3rd best recruiting class to a team that finished 5th overall in the USA Today and AP polls. But their matchup with Alabama will likely decide who will make the National Championship Game.
3- Ohio State
Oh how the tables have turned. The last time they were in the National Championship, Urban Meyer was on the opposing sideline. Now he looks to lead the only undefeated team from last year to the National Championship again. This year’s schedule is unusually weak, but them and their bitter rivals Michigan looks to be on a collision course come November 30th.
4- South Carolina
Does the Old Ball Coach have another winning season up his sleeve? Mike Davis appears to be the replacement for the talented but injury prone RB Marcus Lattimore, and Jadeveon Clowney looks to be back to deliver another bone-crushing season. A September 7th meeting in Athens will show if they are contenders for the National Championship, or if they will deliver another disappointing year.
Stanford appears to be the odds-on favorite to win a tight PAC-12 over fellow front-runner Oregon. Their game against UCLA on October 19th will be a good barometer to see if they are ready for their showdown against the Ducks on November 7th. Their biggest test might come however in their last game against Notre Dame.
Quarterback Aaron Murray will look to lead a young Bulldogs team in his last year in Athens. After losing 9 defensive starters like standout linebackers Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones, Georgia will look to rebuild with the #13 ranked recruiting class. Georgia will be tested early at Clemson and then against South Carolina.
19 starters are returning from a team that beat Florida handily in the Sugar Bowl 33-23 last. In addition, the Cardinals brought in the #20 ranked recruiting class, not to mention the soft Big East schedule. They look to following in Notre Dame’s footsteps and be this year’s Cinderella team.
Quite contrary to Urban Meyer’s explosive Gator offense, current head coach Will Muschamp hopes to lead last year’s #5 ranked defense to another Sugar Bowl. Their November 2nd game against Georgia in the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” and at South Carolina on the 16th will show good this Gator defense really is.
Even though they lost Chip Kelly, quarterback Marcus Mariotta and De’Anthony Thomas hope to help new head coach Mark Helfrich keep the Ducks rolling. There is a good chance that they will be undefeated coming into their game against Stanford on November 7th.
10- Oklahoma State
One of the highest scoring offenses from last year looks to reload and look to win their second Big 12 Championship in 3 years. The senior led team (13 of their top 27 players will be seniors) leads to one last chance to clinch their 3rd ever Big 12 title.
Devin Gardner looks to follow in former quarterback Denard Robinson’s untied shoes this year for the Wolverines. The #1 recruiting class will be put to the test in crucial games against Notre Dame and at in-state rival Michigan State before their showdown with “that team down south” on November 30th.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the recruiting class, which was ranked 4th. Junior QB David Ash looks to lead these Longhorns in crucial games, like the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State games, which will determine the Big 12 title.
QB Tahj Boyd and star WR Sammy Watkins look to lead the Tigers over very good Georgia and South Carolina teams.
The gauntlet of Texas A&M following a road game in Tuscaloosa could either make for a memorable Tigers season, or lead to another second of being second best to former coach Nick Saban.
Blake Bell looks to take over for former QB Landry Jones and lead the Sooners through a tough Big 12 schedule and also over challenging non-conference opponent Notre Dame.
16- Florida State
A cupcake like schedule makes it plausible that the Seminoles could be undefeated coming into their rivalry with Gators on November 30th.
17- Notre Dame
Another Cinderella run seems unlikely for the Fighting Irish, with all drama from departed players Manti Teo and Everett Golson and a hard schedule featuring Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, and Stanford.
With the Big 10 wide open this year, this might finally be the year for the Wildcats to win their first outright championship since my birth year, 1995.
The opening game in Jerry’s World against LSU will show if the Horned Frogs will fare better than last years 7-6 letdown.
20- Michigan State University
An easy schedule and great defense could allow the Spartans entrance their 2nd Big 10 Championship Game
A challenging stretch of Northwestern, Michigan, and then Michigan State will decide if the Cornhuskers can make a return trip to the Big 10 Championship Game
22- Boise State
Can the blue-turf magicians make another perfect run through a schedule of perennial cupcakes?
UCLA looks to repeat as PAC-12 South champs in a water-down division
24- Oregon State
The Beavers will have to shock the world to play for a PAC-12 title by beating National Championship contenders Stanford and Oregon.
25- Arizona State
Arizona State will hope to dethrone perennial powers USC and UCLA to play for the PAC-12 Championship
(All recrutiing class rankings come from ESPN.com)