I can't say I agree 100 percent with Schlabach, though his rankings are definitely plausible. Here are my top 10 going into 2009 as I see it:
- Texas Longhorns — should've played Utah for the national championship.
- Florida Gators — had no problem with the Sooners.
- Oklahoma Sooners — will be better, and they were already good.
- Virginia Tech Hokies — reloaded instead of rebuilt last season, and now they're mature.
- LSU Tigers — held outstanding Georgia Tech to three in bowl play and return plenty of talent.
- Kansas Jayhawks — return just enough talent in the Big 12 North, which isn't the South.
- Penn State Nittany Lions — if the defense can get the job done, so will Joe Pa's team.
- USC Trojans — they'll be weaker without some key guys, but they're a perennially good team.
- Oklahoma State Cowboys — momentum from a win vs. Georgia could carry them all the way.
- Georgia Tech Yellowjackets — Paul Johnson's squad just needs to practice at the D-line.
Which teams out of Schlabach's list will be duds next season? I'm predicting:
- Ohio State Buckeyes — aren't they always a bust?
- Alabama Crimson Tide — they got thwomped by Utah in the Sugar Bowl, and that was when they still had an offense. The defense will be great again, but there is too much talent elsewhere for Big Al's boys to emerge from the SEC.
- Iowa Hawkeyes — they play a tough road schedule, and their surpise win against Penn State last year isn't enough to warrant excitement this year.
- Boise State Broncos — we all know they are a great team with great coaches. But even if the Broncos run the gauntlet, we also know the BCS won't give them the time of day — especially after they lost to TCU in bowl play.
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish — this school's rich football tradition will need some more time before its history is revived.