Thursday, January 10, 2008

ZN's Waaayyy too early 2008 Preseason Top 25

Is the Big XII North back? Will the SEC use one good team again as the basis for their “we’re the best” argument? Can the Big Ten rebound from its bad luck? And what will USC do in 2008?

Let’s assume the players who have a good chance at leaving for the NFL do just that. McFadden, Rice, Arrington, Smith and other are near locks. Also, with Ryan Mallet transferring, and Michigan not sure if it’ll get Pryor, that ranking isn’t very solid across the board. So take into account those different possibilities and things like them, when going down the top 25.

Rank. Team (ZN Final Top 25 Rank, ‘07), Record ’07 – Short comment on each team.

1. Georgia (4), 11-2 – There’s not a more talented team in 2008, with this many returning starters.
2. Kansas (3), 12-1 – Smart football should result in another run for the BCS, or at least the Big XII.
3. West Virgina, 11-2 (2) – This could be a bit high, considering a new coach and all, but I have a feeling there’ll be no drop off in ’08.
4. Missouri (5), 12-2 – With a strong returning core, the Tigers will be the team to beat in the Big XII North.
5. Ohio State (6), 11-2 – Remember, ’07 was supposed to be the reloading year; now, the Bucks are even more experienced.
6. USC, 11-2 (7) – The loss of Booty will hurt, but ’07 was supposed to be USC’s year until injuries struck.
7. Oklahoma (13), 11-3 – The Sooners were healthy for the bowl, so there was no excuse for losing, except experience, which they’ll have in ’08.
8. Virginia Tech (10), 11-3 – I don’t have a good feeling about this one; but you never know what Frank Beamer will pull from his hat.
9. Texas, 10-3 (8) – This year’s Red River Shootout will be the best since Vince Young and Adrian Peterson.
10. Penn State, 9-4 (17) – NO, I’m not being biased. If you do your research, this Lions team loses only three starters.
11. Florida, 9-4 (20) – It could be a huge rebound year for the Gators, if Tebow stays healthy.
12. LSU (1), 12-2 – This was the best team, when healthy, in ’07; but it loses so many key starters.
13. Boston College, 11-3 (9) – Losing Matt Ryan is never a sign of improvement.
14. Tennessee, 10-4 (11) – Imagine if Ryan Mallet goes to the Vols? Another, “pretty good” season in ’08.
15. BYU, 11-2 (12) – This team was very close to a BCS bid in ’07; look for another run in ’08.
16. Auburn, 9-4 (19) – The Tigers have a lot a great young stars waiting in the wings, and showed some of their stuff in the bowl win.
17. Wisconsin, 9-4 (23) – I don’t know if losing Tyler Donovan is a good or bad thing.
18. Arizona State, 10-3 (25) – Dennis Erickson is an absolute genius; Rudy Carpenter will be a senior in ’08, scary stuff.
19. Texas Tech, 9-4 (NR) – The Raiders are one of those teams that always comes up with a big win or two, but never enough; Graham Harrell boosts the ranking.
20. Michigan, 9-4 (14) – This may even be to high, considering Manningham, Arrington and Mallet are as good as gone.
21. Oregon State, 9-4 (22) – The loss of Bernard will hurt, but there are very good players to fill in on what will be an underrated Beavers team.
22. UConn, 9-4 (NR) – Big East, Shmig East; this Huskies team will have some bite in ’08 with so many returning stars.
23. Pittsburgh, 5-7 (NR) – This will be the only team that had a losing record in ’07, that has a legitimate chance of entering ’08 ranked.
24. Mississippi State, 8-5 (NR) – Croom’s boys finally turned the corner, and should contend for the top 25 right way in ’08.
25. Illinois (16), 9-4 – While the BCS will be out of the question in ’08, the talent is there for another nice bowl game.

Dropped out from the final 2007 rankings:

Clemson, 9-4 (24) – Losses in the running game, and a penchant for being good but not great will hurt the Tigers again in ’08.
Virginia, 9-4 (21) – The Cavs will flirt with the top 25 all season in ’08.
Cincinnati, 10-3 (18) – Great story in ’07, but won’t have the same type of dream season in ’08.
Hawai’i (15), 12-1 – Watch for the Warriors to fall of the planet after the loss of Brennan and Jones.

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