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January 19, 2008

SCS.comLess than a month ago, Louisiana State beat Ohio State 38-24 to win their 2nd BCS national championship. Since then I have been following recruiting and early draft entries. The entries have been made and signing day, February 6th, is near. So what should a rabid college football fan that lives and breathes for the game do until August? Make outrageously early projections that I may or may not standby seven months from now.

You will know most of the faces in the top 10. Southern California, Georgia, Ohio State, Florida, and Oklahoma will all contend for a national title. Missouri and Kansas have to prove that they were not a flash in the pan before we grant them elite status. BYU is probably the only team from a mid-major conference that has a realistic shot to get into the BCS. They have an average out of conference schedule made up of UCLA and Washington. If they win those, all they have to do is go unbeaten in the Mountain West for the 3rd straight year.

Will 2008 be as crazy as 2007? Not likely. However, there will be plenty of games with highly ranked opponents early in the season to keep us content. Ohio State travels to USC. Florida hosts Hawaii. Nebraska and new coach Bo Pelini will be tested early against Virginia Tech. Tennessee, one of the few teams in the SEC that will travel out of the south, plays at UCLA.

Georgia is my number one ranked team. They will start out as the best team in college football. However, surviving the SEC and an out of conference schedule which involves Arizona State on the road and Georgia Tech with only two losses will not be easy.

Here is my very early and unnecessary top 25.

1. Georgia The Bulldogs return 17 starters, including QB Matthew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno. They lose their automatic kicker Brandon Coutu but return tons of talent on both sides of the ball. They are the best team in the best conference.

2. USC The Trojans will have to replace QB John David Booty and rely more on their young receivers with the departure of TE Fred Davis. An early season win over Ohio State should catapult them through the Pac 10 and into the title game.

3. Florida Very few Heisman winners come back with a year of eligibility, not to mention two! Tim Tebow returns with a lot of young talent around him. The defense needs to get better if Florida wants to win the SEC East.

4. Ohio State Yes, Ohio State will contend for another national title in 2008. They return all but five starters. They only lost one junior to the NFL, DE Vernon Gholston. The defense and offense will be loaded and ready to take on USC on September 13th.

5. Oklahoma The Sooners might have the best backfield in the nation, which will be made up of two sophomores. QB Sam Bradford and RB DeMarco Murray will lead a dynamic Sooner offense. The defense will miss their star linebacker Curtis Lofton who decided to declare for the NFL Draft. They are the team to beat in the Big 12 South.

6. Missouri Chase Daniel, who has a grim NFL future, decided to return for one more season. The defense returns 10 starters, but the offense loses key pieces like RB Tony Temple and TE Martin Rucker. Sophomore Jeremy Maclin will have to play an even bigger role.

7. Auburn Kodi Burns will be handed the reigns to a new and improved Auburn team that will run a newly instituted spread offense. Auburn returns 15 starters and will be the favorites in the SEC West.

8. LSU The Tigers will look to defend their national championship with a slew of new players. Ohio State made it back to the national championship while reloading, why not LSU? Ryan Perrilloux will take all of the snaps for LSU, a team who needs to replace RB Jacob Hester and several defensive All-Americans who graduated. Good news? Darry Beckwith and Tyson Jackson decided to stay for their senior years.

9. Clemson This is the year that Clemson pulls it all together and finishes in the top 10. Maybe. They lose James Davis but return RB C.J. Spiller and QB Cullen Harper. Their defense will be strong, just like in 2007. If they can just find away not to choke late in the year, they should be able to win the ACC.

10. Kansas The Jayhawks lose CB Aqib Talib and OT Anthony Collins to the NFL. However, they do return 9 starters on defense and feisty QB Todd Reesing. They will fail to make a BCS bowl, but they will not fall off the face of the college football universe either. 10 wins is very possible.

11. Texas Colt McCoy needs to cut down on his interceptions, 18, if he plans on beating Oklahoma and winning the Big 12. Texas loses Jamaal Charles and several key defenders. Former Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has been brought in to fix a Texas defense that ranked 52nd in total defense in 2007. The offense should not be a problem as long as Mack Brown is coaching.

12. Illinois The fighting Zooks return nearly everyone on offense except RB Rashard Mendenhall who bolted for the NFL. LB J Leman, the heart of the Illinois defense, graduates with 4 other seniors. The team will still be young but very dangerous. They are a threat to win the Big 10 as long as Juice Williams continues to progress.

13. West Virginia West Virginia lost head coach Rich Rodriguez to Michigan right before their bowl game. They then went on to roll Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. I feel like West Virginia is in good hands with Bill Stewart. Pat White returns, but RB Steve Slaton and their only receiving threat WR Darius Reynaud are going to the NFL. The team will count on sophomore Noel Devine for some serious production.

14. BYU Move over Boise State and Hawaii. There is a new mid-major in town. BYU is 22-4 in the past two years, something that is widely unmknown. QB Max Hall and RB Harvey Unga return. Their schedule allows them to be dreaming of a BCS bowl bid.

15. Texas Tech Can Texas Tech finally compete on an elite level with their non-stop passing and lack of defense? In 2008, I think so. The Harrell-Crabtree connection is so deadly scientists are working to find a cure for it. I do not expect results anytime soon.

The Rest

16. Virginia Tech
17. Wisconsin
18. Oregon
19. Arizona State
20. Penn State
21. Wake Forest
22. Virginia
23. South Carolina
24. Tennessee
25. South Florida


Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
Graham Harrell, QB, Texas Tech
Todd Reesing, QB, Kansas
Pat White, QB, West Virginia
Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech

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