Ranking the Top 25: 5-1


Today, our countdown concludes as the top five teams in the country round of our rankings. These teams are all strong national title contenders, and the season should be filled with plenty of drama. The season is closer than it may appear with USC kicking off on September 2. If the Trojans put up an undefeated season–however unlikely that may seem–would they be able to crack the top five even though they will not be bowl bound?

25. California

24. Cincinnati

23. Georgia

22. Penn State

21. Houston

20. West Virginia

19. Miami (FL)

18. Pittsburgh

17. Georgia Tech

16. Louisiana State

15. Oregon

14. Southern California

13. North Carolina

12. Iowa

11. Nebraska


Virginia Tech




2009 Record: 13-1

Key Games: v.UCLA, v.Oklahoma in Dallas, @Nebraska, v.Texas A&M

Star Players: QB Garrett Gilbert, DE Sam Acho

Outlook: Offensively, most of the talent that lead the Longhorns to the national title game is gone. However, Garrett Gilbert came on in that game when Colt McCoy was injured and found a rhythm late in the game. That bodes well for Texas because Gilbert seems to be a capable replacement. The running game may be suspect, but Texas always has the talent to contend and this year will not be an exception. Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is perhaps the second best coordinatior in the business and will scheme with a defense that has a shutdown secondary. If the linebacking corp can prevent the run, teams will have trouble inching the ball forward. Overall, Texas’s schedule is cake. The two-game stretch against Oklahoma in Dallas and then at Nebraska will determine how far the Longhorns go. A sweep, and they are in the national title discussion easily. The game against Oklahoma will likley decide who wins the south division. 

4. Texas Christian Horned Frogs      [Mountain West]

2009 Record: 12-1

Key Games: v.Oregon State in Dallas, v.Wyoming, v.BYU, @Utah

Star Players: QB Andy Dalton, RB Matthew Tucker

Outlook: TCU played the regular season perfectly before falling to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. Nine starters return to a potent offense, including trigger man Andy Dalton. Dalton owns many TCU records and will continue to rewrite history. Last year, the defense was the best in the country in total yards allowed. While it won’t be as strong as last year, the Horned Frogs will boast a top-ten defense. Looking at TCU’s schedule, they have one game of consequence. That would be the opener against Oregon State in Dallas. The Beavers will be a tough team, but given the Pac-10’s poor out of conference showing, TCU should finish 2010 undefeated and in a BCS bowl for the second consecutive season.

3. Boise State 

2009 Record: 14-0

Key Games:

Star Players: QB Kellen Moore, WR Titus Young

Outlook: If Boise State is ever going to play for a national title, 2010 is the year. With ten starters back on both defense and offense, this is the same team that went 14-0 and scored a BCS bowl victory last season. Kellen Moore has put up Heisman-like numbers, and he will be even better in his junior season. When it counted, the defense shut down Oregon and Boise State last season. They will be stout in 2010 and will be far and above the best in the WAC. Bottom line: the Broncos haven’t been pushed in conference for a while. The competition they play has been awful and that has rightfully prevented them from breaking into the title game. However, they finally play two tough out of conference games this year. If they are able to beat a top-ten team in Virginia Tech in D.C. and a top half Pac-10 team, then they deserve a chance at the national title with a 12-0 record.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes     [Big 10]

2009 Record: 11-2

Key Games: v.Miami, @Wisconsin, v.Penn State, @Iowa

Star Players: QB Terelle Pryor, RB Brandon Saine

Outlook: Ohio State rebounded from an early loss to USC last season to win the Big 10 and earn a bid in the Rose Bowl. There, they beat a very talented Oregon team. The most important takeaway from last season was the development of quarterback Terrelle Pryor. People had questioned whether coach Jim Tressel was getting the most out of Pryor, who has a strong arm and great scrambling ability. Heading into 2010, Pryor is a Heisman hopeful that will lead a powerful Ohio State attack that returns 9 starters from a year ago. One of the top defenses in the country returns 7 starters. While they probably won’t pitch three shutouts like they did a year ago, this defense will be swarming and formidable. Ohio State should be in the national title game against Alabama. However, one loss would open the door for Boise State to enter. If Pryor’s maturity continues, the only possible losses are on the road at Iowa and at Wisconsin.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide      [SEC West] 

2009 Record: 14-0

Key Games: v.Penn State, @Arkansas, v.Florida, @LSU

Star Players: QB Greg McElroy, RB Mark Ingram

Outlook: The Tide rolled to a 14-0 season and a national title in 2009. Eight starters return on offense. At quarterback, McElroy hasn’t lost in his Alabama career and really managed the game well. Heisman winner Mark Ingram will lead the tailback rotation and run all over defenses. In addition to Ingram, the Tide have Trent Richardson, who some believe is even better than Ingram. At wide receiver, Julio Jones is among the most atheltic, uncoverable players in the country. The defense only has two starters back from a unit that allowed a stingy 11.7 points per game. Despite not having a lot of returners, the defense will have plenty of upperclassmen and should mesh rather quickly. The defense will be solid once again and will not feel much pressure with the offense running up and down the field. Alabama is poised to win the SEC West again–although the game at Arkansas will be a tough one–and play for another national title. Nick Saban has done an excellent job turning this program around and he could have another ring soon.