1. LSU: They lose JaMarcus Russell but have experience at the QB spot and are loaded everywhere.  Head Coach Les Miles has done a great job after taking over for the Nicktator and this will be the year that Miles gets to his first National Championship game.  Their big game, although Miles would never admit it, is 11/3 against the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.  Miles is the opposite of Saban in every area and this is a statement game that nice guys can finish first.  Miles will bill it at as any other game but the Cajuns in Bayou country will want blood, and the folks at Bama will just be happy to be relevant again.
  2. Oklahoma: The Sooners were snake bit last season with off field issues and Stoops did the right thing when he sacrificed his chance at a NC to suspend players.  The Sooners should have a shot to get to the National Championship.  Their big game is the Red River Battle with Texas and that will be the same this year.
  3. USC: Loaded is not the word here and the Trojans are.  The issue is whether or not they can maintain and I have issues with them.  They are a talented group but are also a cocky group and with the vastly improved Pac 10, their days of cake- walking through the conference are done.  I think they are among the elite with talent, but unlike LSU and OU I don’t think they can run the schedule undefeated.  Keep an eye on 9/15 when they head to the Cornfields of Nebraska to take on a resurgent Cornhusker squad.
  4. Florida State: Bobby Bowden has made some needed adjustments to his staff and has a roster that is loaded with talent.  They, very well, could run the table and give the pathetic BCS a shot in the butt.  Let’s hope so!  Biggest test is 11/10 at Virginia Tech.
  5. Ohio State: The Buckeyes are led by one of the best coaches ever in college football.  They had some key losses, but they do an exceptional job of playing guys that will need to step up the next year.  QB will be somewhat of an issue but remember that Tressel the genius will compensate as he did the year they won the NC.  Their defense is among the best in the nation again and the offense will be sufficient.  Like I said last year, Tressel is in UM head coach Lloyd Carr’s head and although UM will be very good, they once again will not be able to beat the Bucks.  Their biggest test will be 10/27 when they head to Happy Valley for what I think will be their lone loss of the season.  If they could win that one (I don’t think they will) then you could once again see that end of the year battle in Ann Arbor as yet another set up game with a ticket to the NC game as the prize for the Bucks.
  6. Virginia Tech: We are all Hokies in our hearts after the tragedy of the spring and what a way to rebound but with a NC caliber team.  Beamer is among the most under-rated coaches in the nation and is an expert in getting the most out of all phases of the game.  As I said with the FSU preview, the 11/10 game with FSU in which they host could be the key.  I just don’t think they have enough gas in the tank to win that one, but both teams should be playing for an undefeated season at that point.  Could this be the year that the Hokies shine?  They will be fun to watch.
  7. Georgia: Personally, I think that Mark Richt is one of the top five coaches in the nation and his Dogs will be looking to bark.  I am totally convinced that they will win the SEC West and face a LSU team on its way to the NC game.  I can’t call the SEC championship game their biggest test because technically they haven’t earned that yet so let’s say that a 10/27 game (the world’s largest cocktail party) with Florida will be it.  I look for them to win that and if they could upset LSU (in the SEC championship game) and go undefeated then they would have to get the golden ticket I already have punched for LSU in the NC game.
  8. WVU: The Mountaineers are coached by one of the nation’s best also and are loaded on offense with an adequate defense.  Coach Rod is a warrior and will have his biggest test when he takes his team to USF for a Friday night game on 9/28.  I am not convinced that they have the defense to be a national title team, but they are good and dangerous, similar to a last year’s Boise team that shocked OU.
  9. Wisconsin: The Badgers really got some attention when last year’s team went 12-1 behind a very impressive performance by first year head coach Bret Bielema.  I predict that they will once again have a huge season and I think they will go 11-1 and suffer their only loss to the eventual Big Ten champ Ohio State on 11/3 in C Bus.  This team has horses at every spot and can flat out play football like the folks in the Big Ten love.  If they could somehow upset the Bucks, then they could also be playing for a national title but I just don’t think they have the tools to do that.
  10. Michigan: Make no mistake, the Wolverines are completely loaded on offense and are one of the best in the nation on that side of the ball.  They are led by the best player in all of college football in Jake Long and scoring points will not be the issue.  Many believe (and I am one of them) that this is the last season for Lloyd Carr and although I think that this will be a special year, I just don’t think they get over the hump known as the Bucknuts.  I once heard someone say that you can’t spell Lloyd without two L’s and although that is funny the criticism from the UM faithful has been absurd.  Now don’t get me wrong, I think that the Wolverines should have had more wins with the talent that has been amassed in Ann Arbor under Carr, but give the guy a break.  He has done more than Bo did albeit not over the same amount of time and is a fine coach.  Unfortunately for Wolverine fans, they are owned by their biggest rival (face it Spartan Nation it isn’t us) Ohio State, similar to how they have owned MSU.  This will not be the year that they win it all again and after starting with a barnstorming 10-0 record, I think they will lose the final two forcing sporadic heart attacks all over Ann Arbor.  UM will be facing a crucial hire after this season surrounding the future of their dominance will make this season and all the expectations with it all the more critical.  Their biggest test will be 11/17 when they host the Bucks.
  11. Texas: They are also among the elite with loaded talent, but will have to face a better OU team.  The folks in Austin are not excited with facing a future without their legendary DC Gene Chizik that went to Iowa State to take over as a HC.  I have a great friend that works in the Texas program that told me that losing Chizik was huge and that will be the biggest question mark.  Their biggest test is that 10/6 battle with OU and if they should upset the Sooners than they could very well be on their way to a title shot.  Not this year however is my thoughts, but a one loss regular season is still something that should even make the ten-gallon hats of Texas full of optimism for next season’s potential run for a national title.
  12. South Carolina: The Ole’ Ball coach has done went and got himself a good football team.  That said, he isn’t yet at championship quality and he may be one year away.  This is a good team, but they are in the SEC East with a very good Georgia team that they won’t be able to overtake…this year.  Look for their big test to come (no, not against Georgia) but 11/10 when they host the Gators.  Ball Coach is a master motivator and that game will be for blood and pride, and I think the Gamecocks will want this one for the Visor.
  13. PSU: Don’t tell Joe Pa he should retire because the Sr. member of the nation’s football coaches has got himself a very good football team.  PSU could be very special but I just don’t see them winning at Wisconsin or at Ann Arbor.  Although I do think they will hand Ohio State their lone regular season loss when they upset them in Happy Valley on 10/27.
  14. Florida: There is so much talent and Urban Meyer is a great coach.  It is a tragedy that his DC Charlie Strong is not a head coach and an indictment on college football itself.  Despite that, Florida will have issues with the adjustment of Tim Tebow to being a full time QB.  I think the Gators will suffer four losses this season but will join Texas as the early favorites for a NC in 2008.  Their biggest game will be 11/10 when they head to South Carolina to play the Ball Coach.  Since I think they will lose four games (including this one) I would have to say that is the biggest for recruiting reasons.
  15. Louisville: The biggest loss for the Cardinals is that of head coach Bobby Petrino.  Petrino was the single biggest reason for the success of his predecessor JLS who left for MSU.  Kragthorpe is a very good coach, but he isn’t Petrino and will have to make some adjustment.  He will be coaching potentially the number one pick in the 2008 NFL draft in Brian Brohm but there are holes on this team.  Their big game is going to be 11/8 at WVU, a game they will have to win to have any shot at winning their conference.
  16. The Huskers are back!  No, they are not in any way even close to national title contention but after the AD went nuclear and dumped Frank Solich and gave the keys to Callahan this is the closest they have been. They finally are back to being dangerous and good.  This team is still at least one year away and maybe two from competing for a Big 12 title, but they are no longer an automatic W on any teams’ schedule.  Look for a big test on 10/20 when they host Texas A & M and a win could give them a legit shot at a double-digit win total in the regular season.
  17. Texas A & M: Coach Fran is a very good coach and this will be a good year for just about any other school but maybe not A & M.  They will face the 10/20 game with Nebraska, and the winner should get to double digit wins for the regular season.  The A & M fans are serious about the game of football and have a complex with the real Texas team (Hook em’ Horns) north and west of them.  Will Fran stay with 9 wins?  He should.  I think A & M and Nebraska are about as close as two teams can be, but I give the nod to the Huskers because the game is at home, thus I have them ranked higher than the Aggies in the top twenty-five.
  18. USF: Who is this you ask?  Well don’t be shocked because that is a name you better remember.  USF is a school and a program that are on the rise.  I can see them growing to residence among the elite, nationally and that says a lot since they play in the state with the best college football in the nation.  USF is led by again, one of the top coaches in the nation with Jim Leavitt (who MSU wanted when they made the wrong choice of JLS) who has built this team literally from the ground up.  Their biggest game will be an end of the year battle with Pittsburgh (11/24) when they would have a very nice bowl game and another great season in their palms.
  19. UCLA: This team is going to head into the final game of the season with potentially an 11-0 record.  How then can Uncle Hondo have them rated at #19?  Because winning last year against USC was huge but can a team that has been bad for so long actually do it twice in a row and with all the hype of that game on the line?  I want to believe and I think that they are good but that is a lot of ifs.  Anyways, Coach Dorrell is doing a good job and with some breaks could have a huge season.  I have always contested with the MSU vs. UM rivalry that it won’t be one (a real rivalry) until MSU wins two in a row.  I say the same here and a win by the Bruins would be a statement that they are back.  Their biggest test is of course a 12/1 battle with the boys from Troy.
  20.  Hawaii: Regardless of your feelings with the fiasco of the JLS years, this is a team that has a lot of talent and could have a special season.  Colt Brennan is a very good QB and the Rainbow Warriors could be this season’s Boise State as an outsider that goes undefeated.  They host Boise State on 11/23 for the chance to take from them the right to play Cinderella in this year’s BCS.  With Boise getting a new QB and the loss of other key players, and Hawaii being at home I give them the advantage.
  21. Iowa: Kirk Ferentz is a genius and while the job at PSU awaits him when Joe Pa retires, he has again another very good football team.  Although I don’t see this seasons Hawks as elite Ferentz is the best in the nation when it comes to getting the most with the least.  The 10/20 game at Purdue should determine whether or not this team gets to 10 regular season wins.  I think that they will falter against the Boilers but with a bowl win, they should attain that.
  22. Boise State: Can anyone top last season’s Hollywood season?  I don’t think they can, but that is beside the point.  They have a very good coach and yet again a very good team.  They lose a great college QB and have some other loses and add to that they play Hawaii at Hawaii. I don’t see them getting the chance to be the outsider in the BCS this season.  If they could get the W at Hawaii then back they will go to the national stage.
  23. Miami, FL: Here come the Canes and now they have a great young coach in Randy Shannon (he also wanted the MSU job before the mistake known as JLS) and he is restoring the “thug” atmosphere with that of a disciplined team.  Adversity is on the horizon for the Canes, but if they stay the course with Shannon he will return them to not only national success but also respect.  Their big game is not Virginia Tech but the 10/20 battle with FSU.  The game is at FSU and I don’t think the Canes will win it, but it is these battles that matter at the U.  Shannon will be facing a fan base that is unrealistic and although outsiders see that he was the right pick and can fix it, if he loses big here (and he may) then the fans in Miami could make him really miserable.
  24. California: Their schedule is brutal, but this is a good team.  There is talent on this team and they could beat anyone on their brutal schedule on any given Saturday.  Look to the 10/27 battle with ASU to determine just how good the season will be.
  25. Memphis: I have taken a long look and made a lot of phone calls about this team and I think that they will set an NCAA record.  They lost ten games last year and I think that they could get to ten wins this season.  That would make the biggest turn around ever and when you look at what happened last season, this year’s schedule and what has happened I think they deserve this ranking and the chance to make history.  11/10 against Southern Miss will be the big game of the year that could make this season something special.