1. Southern Cal. Duh. Best team in college football. That is, until Oregon, Arizona State, or California figures out how to beat them.
2. Michigan. Could be the best team in college football (think about how good Henne and Hart may end up). Being that, however, would require breaking a strange streak of five straight years losing their first road game. This year? It's September 24 in Madison.
3. Virginia Tech. Marcus Vick. Marcus Vick. And more Marcus Vick. Just try to avoid giving booze to teenagers during your spare time, okay?
4. Texas. If Vince Young can play 11 games like he played that Rose Bowl against Michigan, they could be looking at a return trip to Pasadena.
5. Miami (Florida). The Hurricanes need to win in Blacksburg and Tallahassee, but you can never count out a team this talented.
6. Iowa. You can no longer deny what Kirk Ferentz has done. Amazing work, and the best may be yet to come.
7. Texas A&M. Year Three will be Year Breakout for Coach Fran. McNeal will put it all together as a senior.
8. Florida. I'm biased, because I'm a big believer in (and fan of) Urban Meyer's offense, but I think he's going to whip up on this conference, and do it a lot sooner than most pundits believe is possible.
9. Louisville. Brohm gives Bobby Petrino a big arm to work with, and the defense here could be very good this year. Move to the Big East means potential BCS berth without any kicking and screaming to get in from the outside.
10. Tennessee. Riggs is very good, but Ainge needs to be more consistent and reliable in key games, and the defense must improve. Too many questions for a good team in a very tough conference.
11. Florida State. Without Cromartie, the defense could make folks nervous. The offense is good, and getting Miami at home certainly helps matters. Just avoid using the kicker unless absolutely necessary.
12. Louisiana State. Tigers need a QB. But even without a good one, they're probably still the team to beat in the SEC West.
13. Oklahoma. Too many losses up front and at the skill positions to be taken real serious. At least, until Stoops shows that the inexperienced newbies are really good, too. Boom or bust potential is real high here.
14. Ohio State. A.J. Hawk might get tired of chasing Vince Young on September 10. Without a legitimate QB (and, no, Troy Smith doesn't count...neither does Justin Zwick), tOSU will have trouble keeping up in tBig Ten.
15. Georgia. Does David Greene = Ewing Theory? I know he hasn't really gotten much of a chance to play regularly, but D.J. Shockley hasn't exactly reminded me of Michael Bishop yet. He'll get his shot this year.
16. Auburn. I know they lose Cadillac, Brown, and Campbell out of the backfield, but it's not wise to count out the Tigers, who will again this year play some serious defense.
17. Oregon. Something about Kellen Clemens in his senior season, with an improved defense, and USC at home, is intriguing. I like this team to surprise.
18. Pittsburgh. Dave Wannstedt will do some good things here. It starts this year, thanks to Tyler Palko and Greg Lee, but it will take time to mold a defense that can slow Louisville down.
19. Boise State. Zabransky will lead Boise to another WAC title, though it won't be as easy to knock off Fresno and Hawaii this year.
20. Bowling Green. Omar Jacobs has the impossible task of trying to improve off a year where he threw 41 TDs to four picks, but he has a good supporting cast, and Bowling Green's defense is better than most think.
21. Purdue. Kyle Orton = Ewing Theory? Too much talent is back on defense for Purdue to fall now that they've lost their overrated QB.
22. Iowa State. Being the best in the Big 12 North might be like being the most athletic kid at a spelling bee, but ISU has some nice players, including a sophomore QB (Bret Meyer) who is only going to get better.
23. Arizona State. Walter is gone, but ASU still stands on solid ground offensively, and this is another team that should field an improved defense.
24. Toledo. Might not win the MAC again, but Gradkowski is going to have a huge senior season under center.
25. Alabama-Birmingham. Another mid-major team with an NFL prospect at QB (Darrell Hackney). And he happens to be a senior. If UAB can find a way to beat Tennessee in the opener, look out.
--> Alabama. Show me some offense and I'll be more of a believer.
--> California. Too many losses on offense; then again, Tedford has done this before.
--> Texas Tech. I'm not going to rank them based on one great performance (bowl). But they're definitely on my "watch list".
--> Boston College. Good team, but how will they adjust to the ACC, which doesn't feature Rutgers, Syracuse (oops, they lost to Syracuse last year), or Temple?
--> Minnesota. I know it's not about the schedule, but the schedule is really hard. And the defense may be as bad as Laurence Maroney is good.
--> Michigan State. WANTED: Cornerbacks. Preferably good ones. Apply with John L. Smith, football coach/babysitter.
--> Virginia. Is this the year of the UVA breakout? Or is Al Groh simply overrated?