BP25 Week 2

1 Alabama 1-0 vs #100 FIU Prediction: WIN
I know how can I have Alabama #1? Well I like to reward teams that do not shy away from a challenge and scheduling, and beating a very tough #7 Virginia Tech team in the opener deserves some credibility! At least it wasn't Charleston Southern? What a punishing running game Bama exhibited against a very stout VTech D. Mark Ingram and Roy Upchurch combined for 240 yards and it seemed a one on one tackle wasn't working on these two. Greg McElroy was solid in his first start 15-30 230 yards, but Julio was doubled all night and came away with 4 catches for 46 yards, he will have no problem this weekend against FIU which has two 5'10 corners against the 6'4 Jones, YIKES!

2 Florida 1-0 vs #76 TROY Prediction: WIN
Well the gators did what they were supposed to, but did not cover the 73 point spread and did not get the shut out. Disappointed? Does Urban Meyer have some compassion? Will see again this week as the Trojans come to town after a very lackluster performance against Bowling Green in which they couldn't stop the Falcon offense. I think Florida has a slightly better offense, Florida may put 70 on Troy.

3 Texas 1-0 vs #96 WYOMING Prediction: WIN
Texas looked impressive in the opener and Wyoming is completely overmatched in this one in all phases. Colt McCoy got his 300 yards and Shipley got his touchdown, so it was a business at usual day from the Horns in which it was a 38-10 halftime lead sot the starters will be well rested going into this game. It will be ugly. Horns roll!

4 Southern Cal. 1-0 AT #5 OHIO ST Prediction: WIN
The Matt Barkley era has begun at USC and don't get me wrong he looked impressive throwing 15-19 for 233 and he wasn't even breathed on by the San Jose St defense, but he doesn't have to do much, he just turns on the key to offense which is its obscene stable of backs. They ran for 342 yards last week lead by Joe McKnight who seems to be really seems to be the spark on the offense. The defense was incredible limiting San Jose St to 9 yards! But this week will be different and the mobility of Terrelle Pryor will test the lateral speed of this very young USC D. Pete Carroll will have this team focused and they will take care of Buckeyes.

5 Ohio St. 1-0 vs #4 USC Prediction: LOSS
Can you say look ahead? That is what caught the Buckeyes and almost cost them the season. Congrats to the Midshipmen which always seem to give the unfocused teams fits. But last week was last week, The game of the weekend is at hand and it will be in the hands of Terrelle Pryor. Yes he is fast, yes he is elusive, yes he can throw on the run(benefit of the doubt), but the one thing I think of when I see him is SOFT. USC will put pressure on him and will flush him out of the pocket, meaning open season, it will be interesting to see how he responds to the big hit, because Taylor Mays will be there to deliver. I like Terrelle Pryor and I hope for success but Ohio State is two inexperienced at the wideout position(wideouts last week caught 8 passes). One Dimension rings in this game, but that one Dimension is really good, Mr Pryor good luck and God Bless, it will be a long day!

6 Penn St. 1-0 vs #91 SYRACUSE Prediction: WIN
JoePa has them thinking BCS and now they face a ex-point guard from Duke at QB. I bet Mike Paulus starts practicing his jumpshot after this one.

7 Mississippi 1-0 IDLE IDLE
Jevan Snead and Dexter McClouster handled Memphis, which was a game for 3 quarters but the Rebels scored 4 times in the 4th quarter to put them away.

8 Virginia Tech 0-1 vs #84 MARSHALL Prediction: WIN
Yes I only dropped them to #8 like I said with Alabama, I like to see teams schedule tough games and I will not penalize a team harshly for losing to a good team. They welcome the Thundering Herd to Blacksburg this week and it will be interesting to see if there is any Alabama-Slama hangover in this one. I don't think there will be look for the shutout.

9 Boise St. 1-0 vs #119 MIAMI OH Prediction: WIN
Well this may be the highest you will see Boise State all year. They are coming off there first home win over a ranked opponett(they have only played one in the last ten years) and now they open up there 11 game March to the BCS. If they slip up it will be incredible but this week they will put up 60 on the Redhawks. Damn I hate the BCS.

10 BYU 1-0 AT #107 TULANE Prediction: WIN
Cinderella just showed up everyone and his name is Max Hall. Wow what a defensive showing by the Cougars, who allowed the potent OU offense 265 total yards passing and rushing. I know they were without Jermaine Gresham and Sam Bradford for most of the game but none of players on the BYU team would ever be considered better athleticly then the Sooners have on their 4 deep depth chart. Fantastic win for the Cougs and the Mountain West is certainly making the case to be more deserved a BCS spot then the Big East. They will throttle Tulane on the high from the OU upset.

11 Oklahoma 0-1 vs IDAHO ST Prediction: WIN
Sam Bradford out for 4 weeks, may be short enought for them to stay in contention.

12 Oklahoma St. 1-0 vs #42 HOUSTON Prediction: WIN
I know they beat Georgia, but I think people will be suprised about how far Georgia will fall this year. Watch out for the Cougs!

13 California 1-0 vs E WASHINGTON Prediction: WIN
Cal Blowout nuff said, E Washington? Really?

14 LSU 1-0 vs #53 VANDERBUILT Prediction: WIN
Beat a 0-12 team last year and now face Vanderbuilt, when does LSU season begin?

15 Nebraska 1-0 vs #89 ARKANSAS ST Prediction: WIN
Bo Pelini has them focused and motivated that will continue this week.

16 Georgia 0-1 vs #39 SOUTH CAROLINA Prediction: LOSS
Upset alert, letdown factor and Joe Cox is very average. Say hello to Eric Norwood.

17 TCU 0-0 AT #108 VIRGINIA Prediction: WIN
They get the loser of the William and Mary game. Cavs are horrible, Goodbye Al Groh!

18 Georgia Tech 1-0 vs #33 CLEMSON Prediction: WIN
Second best game of the weekend and GTech out works another ACC team.

19 Utah 1-0 AT #90 SAN JOSE ST Prediction: WIN
Get the dismantled San Jose St team, should have a cake walk.

20 Michigan St. 1-0 vs #59 CENT MICHIGAN Prediction: WIN
The Spartans will get a test from another state school, Mark D'Antonio will not let the slip happen.

21 North Carolina 1-0 AT #57 UCONN Prediction: WIN
22 Iowa 1-0 AT #92 IOWA ST Prediction: LOSS
23 Miami (Fla.) 1-0 IDLE IDLE
24 Florida St. 0-1 JACKSONVILLE ST Prediction: WIN
25 Texas Tech 1-0 #88 RICE Prediction: WIN

Best of the Rest.
Cincinnati 1-0 SE MISSOURI ST Prediction: WIN
Oregon 0-1 #69 PURDUE Prediction: WIN
Oregon St. 1-0 AT #81 UNLV Prediction: WIN
West Virginia 1-0 #47 EAST CAROLINA Prediction: LOSS
Pittsburgh 1-0 AT #71 BUFFALO Prediction: LOSS
Notre Dame 1-0 AT #60 MICHIGAN Prediction: WIN
Missouri 1-0 #75 BOWLING GREEN Prediction: WIN


JP Top 25 - 9/9/09

The new JP25 is out! No changes in the top 3, but the reshuffling of the rest of the deck has certainly begun.

1. Texas (LW: 1, Record: 1-0)
2. Florida (2, 1-0)
3. USC (3, 1-0)
4. Alabama (6, 1-0) - The Tide defense was impressive in the win over Virginia Tech
5. Penn State (7, 1-0) - Best team in the Big Ten
6. LSU (8, 1-0)
7. California (12, 1-0) - Watch out for the Bears and Jahvid Best
8. BYU (NR, 1-0) - Cougars make the biggest jump in the poll thanks to their huge win over Oklahoma
9. Tennessee (25, 1-0) - Another big jump; Let me be the first to tell you - better watch out for Lane Kiffin's Vols
10. Virginia Tech (5, 0-1)
11. Oklahoma State (24, 1-0) - Cowboys looked much better defensively than I expected
12. Ohio State (9, 1-0) - There's a lot of work to do on the offensive line; not good with USC coming to town for the weekend
13. Boise State (15, 1-0) - Lost in the post-game melee was the fact that Boise State is once again going to field a legitimate top 25 defense.
14. Oklahoma (4, 0-1) - The Sooners are in trouble; Big Game Bob hasn't won a big game in how many years now?
15. Miami (13, 1-0) - Jacory Harris is for real
16. Ole Miss (11, 1-0)
17. Nebraska (14, 1-0) - There is work to be done on offense
18. Florida State (21, 0-1) - Seminoles move up despite losing to Miami
19. Notre Dame (19, 1-0) - Love the Notre Dame receiving corps
20. Georgia (10, 0-1)
21. Michigan (NR, 1-0) - We'll find out whether Notre Dame or Michigan will stay alive in the "are they really back?" sweepstakes
22. Arizona State (NR, 1-0) - Look out for this Sun Devil defense; they might end up out-scoring the Sun Devil offense this season
23. Cincinnati (NR, 1-0) - Tony Pike kicks off his Bo Jackson Trophy campaign with a bang against out-manned Rutgers
24. East Carolina (23, 1-0)
25. TCU (18, 0-0)

Dropped Out:
N.C. State (LW: 16, Record: 0-1) - Tom O'Brien still doesn't have the offensive line where it needs to be
Oregon (17, 0-1) - No first downs until the middle of the third quarter; Chip Kelly looked overwhelmed
Illinois (20, 0-1) - Speaking of overwhelmed...
Colorado (22, 0-1) - Coaches, please don't let your babies grow up to play quarterback for you;


BP25 Week 1

Well its time again so lets get to the preseason Rankings!

Rank Team Last Year Conf and Overall Record

1 Florida 7-1 12-1 Vs Charleston Southern Prediction:WIN
The National Champs open up with the weakest opening opponet of any FBS School and are a 73 point Favorite, with over 20 returning starters and the entire defense two deep coming back this one should not even be played. If Charleston makes it to the red zone it would be considered a success.

2 Texas 7-1 12-1 Vs UL-Monroe Prediction:WIN
Colt McCoy leads the Horns and should dispose of ULM fairly quickly. My Co-editor has always been a Longhorn supporter and for the first time ever I may start drinking the burnt orange Kool-aid.

3 Oklahoma 7-1 12-2 Vs #25 BYU(Arlington) Prediction:WIN
Jermaine Greshem will be out in this one, but there is simply too much talent on the Oklahoma side and BYU is very soft. Another Jerry World game in the giant stadium and will have a first hand account of this one. More to come.

4 Southern Cal. 7-1 12-1 Vs San Jose St. Prediction:WIN
Pete Carroll has the Trojans primed again even with a mini QB competition. Whoever starts will have the priviledge of handing off to the stable of backs led by Joe McKnight or passing to the bevy of wideouts led by Damian Williams. Taylor Mays is worth all the hype, poor Kyle Reed.

5 Alabama 8-0 12-2 Vs #8 Virginia Tech(Atl) Prediction:WIN
Nick Saban is in his third year which usually means National Championship this game will go along way in showing that and with the injuries on the Hokie side I look for them to do just that. Even though I am not a Saban fan, he is good in the big game and Julio goes to the down to the schoolyard and does just enough to win this one. Watch out for Marquis Maze.

6 Ohio St. 7-1 10-3 Vs Navy Prediction:WIN
This is the start of the Terrelle Pryor Heisman push, forget the big three give me this darkhorse to force his way into consideration. The Midshipman cannot keep up in this one and the Navy decline starts this year, from Navy we will miss you Paul Johnson.

7 Penn St. 7-1 11-2 Vs Akron Prediction:WIN
The leadership of Darryl Clark will pull them thru the first three games but that WR corps will need to be up to speed when the Hawkeyes come to town in three weeks.

8 Virginia Tech 5-3 10-4 Vs #5 Alabama(ATL) Prediction:LOSS
I love Tyrod Taylor but the loss of Darren Evans will be felt the defense is brillant but the offense will become one demensional in this one and Bama has enough to squeak this one out. But Kam Chancellor and Jason Worilds will take out Greg McElroy and we will see Starr Jackson contribute.

9 Mississippi 5-3 9-4 AT Memphis Prediction:WIN
Jevan Snead is a very underrated QB, and the Rebels have a very favorable September Schedule, but they will have to not have any mental breakdowns and be undefeated when the play Alabama October 10th to have any chance at BCS consideration. The Defense is also very underrated and Kendrick Lewis will show why this is a program on the rise.

10 Boise St. 8-0 12-1 Vs #21 Oregon Prediction:WIN
In what they are calling the biggest game in Boise, the Broncoes will take care of business in a close one. Also did you know this is the first time in 5 years the Broncoes have hosted a ranked team? And they deserve to be in BCS talk....Hmmmm.

11 Georgia 6-2 10-3 AT #13 Okla St Prediction:WIN
One of the biggest games on opening weekend. With RB Caleb King and new QB Joe Cox leading the way for the dawgs, it will be up to the defense to stop that potent OSU triplets, the Dawg defense will be up to the challenge and with Mark Richt winning his last 7 road games I think this one will be lower scoring then people think. But I will be going against the experts in this one and the defense of OSU lets Georgia control the clock.

12 California 5-3 9-4 Vs Maryland Prediction:WIN
They were jet lagged going into play the Terrapins last year and they lost which also lost alot of momentum leading to a four loss season. Wont happen this time Jahvid Best and his sore foot run thru the Turtle and the Cal D is the difference in this one.

13 Oklahoma St. 5-3 9-4 Vs #11 Georgia Prediction:LOSS
See Georgia. But the MLB Orie Lemon injury will really hurt the Cowboy D in this one.

14 TCU 7-1 11-2 IDLE
Have to wait a week for a real BCS buster to start there season. Sorry Boise St.

15 LSU 3-5 8-5 At Washington Prediction:WIN
This is a underrated team, they underachieved last year and will be poised for revenge all year, Jordan Jefferson will put Jarrett Lee back to holding a clip board and waiting for another fake FG to be needed. Washington will be improved but LSU is too much to start with.

16 Nebraska 5-3 9-4 Vs Florida Atl Prediction:WIN
Bo Pelini has the Huskers primed and ready and will put away the Owls fast. It will be interesting on how the Quinten Castille being dropped from the team will impact the depth. Enter Collins Okafor.

17 Florida St. 5-3 9-4 Vs Miami Fla Prediction:LOSS
This will another win vacated for Bobby Bowden. A lot of inexperience one the defense and Jacory and Canes are ready to push for a ACC Coastal Title. Don't look now but I think the Canes might be back. Call Vinny Testeverde.

18 Georgia Tech 5-3 9-4 Vs Jacksonville St. Prediction:WIN
I really like this team, Paul Johnson's offense is about as old school as Joe Paterno's glasses and teams are too finesse these days to deal with it. I look for big things from the Jackets this year and Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones will combine for the first 1 million yard season, well maybe just 2000 combined.

19 Utah 8-0 13-0 Vs Utah St. Prediction:WIN
Oh where has Brian Johnson gone. He will be missed and we will see how much on Sept 19 against Oregon. They will sleepwalk thru this one and next week At San Jose St.

20 Michigan St. 6-2 9-4 Vs Montana St Prediction: WIN
I know my co-editor will not like this but how can a team losing Brian Hoyer and Javon Ringer still be even ranked? Mark DanTonio. I like what he is doing to this program and the Mark Dell show starts this year. Someone call Charles Rogers and let him know we finally have another big game WR at Sparta. (that is if you can find Charles Rogers.)

21 Oregon 7-2 10-3 AT #10 Boise St. Prediction:LOSS
Jeremiah Masoli will keep ball control in this one, but it wont be enough to prevent the Blue Field put Oregon to sleep. Boise is taking this one like a National Championship game, but Oregon will keep it close.

22 North Carolina 4-4 8-5 Vs The Citadel Prediction:WIN
That ACC Coastal will be fun to watch this year as the Heels look to continue thier success from last year's 8 win season. Quan Sturdivant and Kendric Burney will be household names by season end.

23 Iowa 5-3 9-4 Vs Norther Iowa Prediction:WIN
Kirk Ferentz silenced critics last year with a 9 win campaign and should continue that success this year. Ricky Stanzi better have the Hawk undefeated going into Happy Valley on Sept 26, if not the seat will become hot again for Kirky.

24 Texas Tech 7-1 11-2 Vs North Dakota Prediction:WIN
There are two things you can count on in this 2009 season Tech will schedule a opening cupcake and will have another 4500 yard passer in Tyler Potts. The dream ends on Sept 19 at Texas.

25 BYU 6-2 10-3 AT #3 Oklahoma(Arlington) Prediction:LOSS
Can you say soft. Max Hall head will be spinning in this one. Way to much Athleticism for the Cougars.

Other Considerations:
Oregon St. 7-2 9-4 Vs Portland St. WIN
Jacquizz please stand up.

West Virginia 4-2 9-4 Vs Liberty WIN
Jarrett Brown says, Who is Pat White?

Pittsburgh 4-2 9-4 Vs Youngstown St WIN
Man I hate Bill Stull.

Cincinnati 6-1 11-3 AT Rutgers LOSS
Too much lost on the Defense, but Tony Pike for Heisman

Notre Dame 0-0 7-6 Vs Nevada WIN
Alot of critics have them ranked and are calling for BCS, remember this team lost 6 games last year, and USC named the score. Prove it Irish! Watch out for Colin Kaepernick of Nevada if he goes off and pulls the upset, I would be in heaven, with Touchdown Jesus. Go Wolfpack.

Rutgers 4-2 8-5 Vs Cincinnati WIN
It will be low scoring and the Home field will make a difference in this one.

Clemson 4-4 7-6 Vs MTSU WIN
Dabo is Fab-o! I know very cheesy but CJ Spiller won't be he will torch the Raiders.

Kansas 4-4 8-5 Vs Northern Colo. WIN
Watch Dezmon Briscoe go off. The most underrated Wideout in the Big 12.

Miami (Fla.) 4-4 7-6 AT #17 Florida St. WIN
Best team Randy Shannon has ever had, speed, speed, speed. And it starts with a upset of the Seminole.

Illinois 3-5 5-7 Vs Missouri(St Louis)WIN
Juice is loose. Hold all OJ references. Missouri is poised to have a huge dropoff this year.


Thursday Night Previews

Football season is here! It all gets under way tonight with a couple of intriguing rematches.

South Carolina at N.C. State
(6 pm, ESPN)
South Carolina blanked N.C. State 34-0 on opening week a year ago. But both teams went in the exact opposite directions the rest of the season. Now the Wolfpack are the favorites, thanks to the leadership of sophomore quarterback Russell Wilson. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier says that Stephen Garcia is the man at quarterback, but he hasn't proven enough up to this point.
J.Pike's Pick: N.C. State 26, South Carolina 18

Oregon at Boise State
(10:15 pm, ESPN)
Boise State took a big step toward respectability when the young Broncos went into Autzen Stadium and emerged victorious early in 2008. Now the Ducks must visit Boise and I'm not sure they have what it takes to win on the blue turf. This is the game of the year for Chris Peterson's bunch - the game many feel could stand between Boise State and an undefeated season - so you know they'll be ready. The experience heavily favors Boise too, with Oregon only returning nine starters and featuring a first year head coach. Look for the Broncos to make a statement with their defense early on and ride the momentum to a win.
J.Pike's Pick: Boise State 30, Oregon 24


Preseason Top 40

The season starts tomorrow, so I guess it's time to finally unveil my preseason top 40. I'll go the annoying route and start from 40 and count down. Luckily my top 25 can be found in a more traditional format on the sidebar over there...

40. PITTSBURGH - Big hole to fill at running back, but the Panthers are still a bowl team.

39. GEORGIA TECH - I think reality catches up with Paul Johnson in Year Two. The ACC is more prepared for his triple option offense and he doesn't have the same great defensive line he could rely on last year when the offense stalled.

38. VIRGINIA - The Cavaliers will surprise some folks this year thanks to the addition of offensive coordinator Gregg Branndon and the return of quarterback Jameel Sewell. Keep your eye on all purpose playmaker Vic Hall too.

37. UTAH - After another undefeated season that ended in a BCS Bowl win over Alabama, the Utes must find a quarterback. Brian Johnson won't be easily replaced.

36. AUBURN - Gene Chizik isn't nearly as bad a coach as many are making him out to be. There's still talent on this roster and nobody is talking about the Tigers. Watch out for an upset or two this season.

35. TEXAS TECH - Sure, Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell are gone. But since when has Texas Tech not been able to score points?

34. CINCINNATI - Bo Jackson Trophy candidate Tony Pike gets the quarterback for a full season. But will he and Mardy Gilyard be able to compensate for the heavy losses on defense?

33. BYU - Arizona exposed the Cougars in the Las Vegas Bowl last season, and I expect Oklahoma to expose them in week one this season.

32. ARIZONA STATE - Dennis Erickson leads an under-the-radar Sun Devil team that will actually play decent defense while Danny Sullivan adjusts to the starting QB role.

31. WEST VIRGINIA - I expect the Mountaineers to improve their consistency in Bill Stewart's second season as the head coach. Jarrett Brown is no Pat White, but he's a good player that will keep the offense moving.

30. OREGON STATE - The Rodgers brothers (Jacquizz and James) have speed to spare. I'm still not sold on the quarterback position, though.

29. KANSAS - Todd Reesing should continue to pile up the passing yards with leading receivers Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier back. But the Jayhawks will take a step back on defense due to the loss of their three productive linebackers.

28. MICHIGAN - What? Really? Sure, I guess. I'm going out on a limb here, but with players like Brandon Graham and Obi Ezeh on defense the Wolverines should be able to shut down most of the Big Ten offenses they will match up with. And the offense has nowhere to go but up, which is usually does in a big way in Rich Rodriguez's second season as head coach. Stay tuned to this soap opera all season.

27. ARKANSAS - Bobby Petrino quietly got significant improvement out of the Razorbacks as the 2008 season progressed. With players like RB Michael Smith and DT Malcolm Sheppard returning, don't be surprised to see Arkansas crack the top 25 at some point.

26. NORTH CAROLINA - Despite the absence of any real "name" players on the Tar Heels, Butch Davis will make sure his team continues to improve.

25. TENNESSEE - Lane Kiffin's Vols grab the last spot in the top 25 thanks to All-World safety Eric Berry. I don't care about the recruiting class - I simply think there is enough talent on hand here to win now. And now that the offense finally seems stable for the first time in several years, I feel like Tennessee might be a dark horse in the SEC.

24. OKLAHOMA STATE - After an embarrassing beat-down handed out by Oregon in the Holiday Bowl, I'm not sure why Oklahoma State is getting so much preseason love. The Ducks return just as much as the Cowboys, yet in just about every pre-season poll Oklahoma State is ranked much higher. That only means Mike Gundy's team has farther to fall - reality will probably rear it's ugly head when Georgia comes to town.

23. EAST CAROLINA - The Pirates proved their mettle early last season when they knocked off Virginia Tech and West Virginia. Basically the same team returns this year and gets to play West Virginia and North Carolina early, as well as the rematch with Virginia Tech later to prove their worth. I have a feeling they'll end up winning two of those three games.

22. COLORADO - How are the Buffs going to go from a sub-.500 team in 2008 to a top 25 team in 2009? By staying healthy (particularly on the offensive line and at running back); by staying aggressive (many fast starts in 2008 were tempered when Dan Hawkins pulled his foot off the accelerator); and by giving the ball to Rodney Stewart (a lot).

21. FLORIDA STATE - I'm giving the Seminoles the benefit of the doubt for the first time in several seasons. Although they have done nothing to impress me, I'll admit that Christian Ponder is a step up at quarterback, and Jimbo Fisher is generally a capable offensive coordinator. The 'Noles are just as likely to slide back into obscurity, though.

20. ILLINOIS - I'm a Juice Williams fan. I'm also a fan of Arrelious Benn and Martez Wilson. Between the three of those guys and the fact that the rest of the Big Ten isn't all that good, I'm going to say Ron Zook has another big year with the Illini.

19. NOTRE DAME - Jimmy Clausen and company are now starting to get the hang of Charlie Weis' offense. Combine that with the weak schedule and there's no way the Irish don't get to at least 9 wins this season.

18. TCU - Defense will once again be the name of the game in Fort Worth. Gary Patterson can lean on All American defensive end Jerry Hughes, who also happens to be the front-runner for the 2009 Faulk Trophy.

17. OREGON - Even though Mike Bellotti retired, there is continuity in the Ducks program. Offensive coordinator Chip Kelly was promoted to head coach and he has weapons like LeGarrette Blount and Jeremiah Masoli at his disposal.

16. N.C. STATE - The rebuilding job for head coach Tom O'Brien got a lot easier with the emergence of freshman quarterback Russell Wilson in 2008. 2009 should find the Wolfpack in the thick of the ACC Atlantic Division race.

15. BOISE STATE - Could it be? Are the Broncos a legitimate defensive force now too? A good defense, including one of the best secondaries in the land, is now a year older, and so is quarterback Kellen Moore.

14. NEBRASKA - Bo Pelini has the Huskers on the right track which means that despite some heavy losses on offense, Nebraska will continue to improve.

13. MIAMI - Randy Shannon played a wealth of talented true freshman a year ago, and that should begin to pay dividends in 2009. The defense has size and speed and will be an imposing group that improves every week. The offense will be fine despite the transfer of quarterback Robert Marve. In fact, I like Jacory Harris even better.

12. CALIFORNIA - The challenger to USC in the Pac-10 boasts one of the best running backs in the nation in Jahvid Best.

11. OLE MISS - The Rebels have been getting loads of acclaim heaped on them this pre-season thanks to the turnaround job Houston Nutt performed in his first season in Oxford (are you paying attention Arkansas fans?). I'm not sure Ole Miss has a legit shot at overtaking Alabama and LSU in the SEC West, but they should be very good with players like Dexter McCluster, Jevan Snead, and Greg Hardy.

10. GEORGIA - That's right. Don't count out the Dawgs just because they lost Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno to the NFL. Joe Cox is unspectacular, but he should be consistent - especially with sophomore WR A.J. Green catching his passes.

9. OHIO STATE - Terrelle Pryor is the new sherriff in Columbus, and he appears to have all the tools to take the Buckeyes to great heights. I actually think the receiver play will improve this season after losing Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline.

8. LSU - Les Miles took some lumps last year, but he finally found his quarterback in Jordan Jefferson. Look for the Tigers to jump back into the national spotlight in a big way in 2009.

7. PENN STATE - Evan Royster is one of the most underrated players in the nation. Combine him with returning senior quarterback Daryll Clark and you have an offense that shouldn't skip a beat despite losing its top three receivers. The defense will once again be anchored by a fantastic pair of defensive tackles and a solid group of linebackers.

6. ALABAMA - I have no doubt that Alabama will continue to be a physical team that can run the football. Throw in mega-talent Julio Jones at wide receiver and you have what should be a very capable offense to go along with a veteran defense that will beat up most opposing offenses it faces.

5. VIRGINIA TECH - Frank Beamer is one of the best coaches in the nation. His Hokies won the ACC title a year ago with very little returning experience. This year many of those key pieces are back. Look for quarterback Tyrod Taylor to have a breakout season and keep Virginia Tech in the national title hunt deep into the season.

4. OKLAHOMA - Sam Bradford and Jermaine Gresham gave up millions of NFL dollars to return for another shot at the title. Unfortunately only one starter is back on the O-Line. The Sooners are talented and should be very good, but the defense has yet to step back up to the elite level they were at in the early part of this decade. That will once again keep them from winning Bob Stoops crystal football number two.

3. USC - For some reason the fact that freshman Matt Barkley won the quarterback job coming out of fall camp makes me more confident in the Trojans. USC's biggest weakness the past three seasons has been the quarterback spot, so if a freshman is good enough to unseat Aaron Corp, a guy the coaches were high on a year ago, I get the feeling we might be seeing the early stages of another Carson Palmer/Matt Leinart type. The defense loses everybody, but this is USC - they've got plenty of guys ready to step in and play.

2. FLORIDA - Go ahead and ban me from the college football world. I don't think Florida is the best team coming into the 2009 season. Sure, they won the 2008 national title and return the bulk of the roster. But I'm not convinced they played against the best team a year ago, and that team returns the bulk of a loaded roster as well. That team is...

1. TEXAS - The Longhorns played like national champions throughout the 2008 season, including a convincing victory over an Oklahoma team that wound up playing for the Big XII and National Championships. I still feel like the nation was robbed by not getting to see the two best teams duke it out for the national title.

Colt McCoy returns, moustached, to continue his tear through opposing offenses. Jordan Shipley and emerging star Malcolm Williams headline a deep receiving corps that should make up for an injury-depleted set of tight ends. Will Muschamp's defense should be among the finest in America. Sergio Kindle is the star, but the secondary is actually the strongest unit. They run two deep at every position in the back four, and all eight of those guys are capable of big things.

The Longhorns are my pick to win the 2009 National Championship.