Just before spring, Relatively Journalizing released its Top 10 preseason rankings and named teams that we here on the blog expected to be duds this season. Now, after spring practices, Florida State kids getting arrested, and careful consideration, we're back to adjust fire and name the summer top 10 teams in the NCAA. Some rankings do the top 25, but let's face it, the top 10 is where it's at — these are all 10 teams that could make a national championship run this year.
Oh, and just to save you time and give you some perspective, we've included the latest rankings for the teams named here from ESPN, Athlon, About, Scout, Rivals and NationalChamps. Also, the previous ReJo rank is given.
Relatively Journalizing's NCAA Football 2009 Summer Preseason Top 10 Rankings Breakdown
- Texas Longhorns (Previously 1; ESPN 3; Athlon Top 7; Athlon fans 3; About 3; Scout 3; Rivals 2; NationalChamps 2) — The defensive line will need some work, but Texas has the coaches to pull through such weaknesses, not to mention the secondary will be menacing and the offense explosive under Heisman candidate Colt McCoy's leadership.
- Florida Gators (Previously 2; ESPN 1; Athlon Top 7; Athlon fans 1; About 1; Scout 1; Rivals 1; NationalChamps 1) — The defending national champs are the nation's favorite to repeat for a title. But a silly Big 12 rule gave them the luck of facing Oklahoma in the big game this past season, even though the Longhorns beat the Sooners in the head-to-head matchup. Texas would likely love a real shot at knocking the Gators (or any other challengers) out of the spotlight.
- USC Trojans (Previously 8; ESPN 6; Athlon Top 7; Athlon fans 4; About 4; Scout 4; Rivals 3; NationalChamps 4) — Mark Sanchez won't be missed too much in Southern Cal as the Trojans have plenty of capable guys to line up under center this season. The defense will be a little younger, but USC looked really good this spring, and playing in the PAC-10 will certainly help their chances at impressing all the factors involved in the BCS rankings this coming season.
- Ole Miss Rebels (Previously unranked; ESPN 11; Athlon 10; Athlon fans 8; About 21; Scout 8; Rivals 14; NationalChamps 8) — Ole Miss was the only team to beat national champion Florida last year, and they also beat the previous year's champion, LSU. That information, along with an extremely impressive schedule and the return of a whole lot of offensive and defensive players means that Ole Miss is one team that should definitely be ranked higher than it is by many other analysts. They have my attention after a great spring.
- LSU Tigers (Previously 5, ESPN 8, Athlon Top 7; Athlon fans 9; About 14; Scout 6; Rivals 5; NationalChamps 10) — So Georgia Tech routs Georgia last year, leading everyone to think they are pretty good. Heck, GT tore up the ACC pretty good except for the Hokies. But then, LSU held the Yellowjackets to a FIELD GOAL in the Chik-fil-A Bowl this past bowl season. Couple that knowledge with a good-looking schedule and plenty of returning seniority, and you have a team looking to repeat their success two seasons ago as national champions.
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (Previously 9; ESPN 10; Athlon 9; Athlon fans 11; About 7; Scout 5; Rivals 10; NationalChamps 6) — My original ranking for the Cowboys lines up a little better with what some of the sites are saying now, but About, Scout and NationalChamps all seem to be seeing what I'm seeing from OSU. Sure, the secondary will be young, but I think the offense here will be fast-paced and tricky enough to give Texas and Oklahoma a run for their money again this season. OSU will fare better than any other Big 12 team except Texas, that's my prediction.
- Virginia Tech Hokies (Previously 4; ESPN 5; Athlon 8; Athlon fans 7; About 8; Scout 18; Rivals 7; NationalChamps 9) — My original ranking was likely a bit of wishful thinking. I'll go ahead and disclose that I'm a fan of the Hokies. I took a drink of the Kool-Aid during my first preseason analysis when everyone was buzzing about a national championship on the horizon this season for VT. I personally asked ESPN's Ivan Maisel during a live chat the other day if he really thought VT deserved such discussion this year. He told me that the Hokies are definitely not to be ruled out of the conversation, and if they beat Alabama in their first game of the season, then to put Florida, Texas and Oklahoma on notice! Even if VT loses to Alabama, enough missteps at the right time by some other contenders could still land the Hokies in a national championship game with such a strong schedule where they play not only the Crimson Tide, but also Marshall, Nebraska, East Carolina and a slew of other ACC teams, about four of which will probably be ranked. However, I lowered my preseason ranking after watching Bryan Stinespring's offense continue to sputter in the spring game — not to mention the team is carried on the shoulders of injury-prone Tyrod Taylor.
- Oklahoma Sooners (Previously 3; ESPN 2; Athlon Top 7; Athlon fans 2; About 2; Scout 2; Rivals 4; NationalChamps 3) — I rank Texas and Florida at the top of my list, and every other outlet you'll see includes OU in the top three somewhere. I'm just not biting, though. I think people forget they struggled against Florida in the national championship game and that Texas QB McCoy beat Heisman winner QB Bradford of the Sooners last year as well. The Sooners will be good, but I don't expect them to make it out of the Big 12 this year with losses to OSU, Texas and at least one other team in the conference, possibly Kansas.
- TCU Horned Frogs (Previously unranked; ESPN 15; Athlon unranked; Athlon fans 25; About 18; Scout 25; Rivals unranked; NationalChamps unranked) — TCU will be this year's Utah. There, I said it. The Frogs have some tough games scheduled with the likes of Clemson, Air Force, BYU and Utah. They also play UVA to open the season, which should be an easy win, but one that will garner some respect just because it comes out of the ever-improving ACC. I think ESPN's ranking of 15 is OK, but any lower (some of the other sites have TCU unranked altogether) is ridiculous. The Frogs return a lot of players and have the name recognition in their schedule to work up to a ranking like Utah saw at the end of the season last year. Maybe TCU will even get the opportunity to knock off an SEC team in the postseason. Alabama probably wants to forget such talk.
- NC State Wolfpack (Previously unranked; ESPN unranked; Athlon unranked; Athlon fans unranked; About unranked; Scout 42; Rivals unranked; NationalChamps unranked) — I of course had to include one team to get you, the readers, talking a little bit. Nobody is giving NC State any attention, but I expect them to be ranked early on for multiple reasons. One is that so many of the ACC teams are predicted to start the season ranked. Virginia Tech, Miami, Florida State, North Carolina and Georgia Tech could all very well see numbers next to their names in the first week of the season. If NC State plays its nonconference schedule well, beating South Carolina and Pittsburgh, then the rest of its conference schedule will be interesting to watch. This is a possibility because of QB Wilson and plenty of returning players on both sides of the ball who are expected to be hungry and much-improved, according to sources who report on the ACC who have actually seen scrimmages. There is depth at the QB position too, as Sean Glennon's younger brother Mike is said to actually know how to play football. Beating two tough nonconference opponents and a few of those ranked conference opponents will grab the Wolfpack some national attention quickly. Don't expect anything too crazy like a national championship run though, because some of the schedule is weak with teams like Gardner-Webb, Murray State, Duke and Boston College. If VT makes it out of the Coastal Division alive as expected, they might be surprised to face NC State from the Atlantic Division when it's time for the ACC Championship Game. If there were ever an argument for that game to move to Charlotte early....
Could lose the preseason hype quickly: Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Florida State, Alabama, Iowa, Boise State, California, Utah, Nebraska — Some teams in my top 10 list are actually included here as well. Virginia Tech will lose a lot of hype if it loses to Alabama, and the Hokies will need to win every game thereafter to hope for BCS play. Ohio State is a perennial overrated team, and the two Oklahoma schools listed above will both be good, but there is definitely a chance neither will be great. The ACC race was very interesting last year, and a ton of the teams are expected to be ranked and to see bowl action, but with that much hype, somebody has to fizzle out. Alabama just isn't returning enough on offense to deserve the hype they're getting, especially after a more-talented team last year was routed by Utah, who, by the way, won't be near as talented this season around.