Penn State is a toss up and there is no doubt my ranking is lower than others have projected. However, with a new quarterback and a fairly new defense, I don't see them finishing in the top 20.
Alabama, Iowa, and Ohio State are easy losses in my opinion, but Northwestern I'm picking in an upset.
Joe Pa is an extraordinary coach, but the offense simply won't produce this year like it has in years past. The offensive line looks solid and there will be decent support, but the quarterback situation won't help.
On defense, the front four look decent, but there will be a new linebacker crew on the field, and its an area of concern at this point.
I think the defense is better than the offense, but overall its pretty balanced. The year is gonna be rough for Penn State.
24. LSU Tigers
I think it'll be a rough year for the Tigers as well. They return only nine starters this season, and have no preseason All-Americans.
Jordan Jefferson will be better, but he's still not a great quarterback.
The offensive and defensive lines will struggle this year as well.
The O-line was one of the worst in the SEC last year, and the defensive line, while it has talent, is almost completely new.
The secondary is the brightest spot on the team, and I think LSU will have to win a lot of games defensively this year.
The schedule does them no favors either. It'll be interesting to see how they fair against West Virginia and North Carolina, which are my two toss-up games that will decide their fate.
23. USC Trojans
For the next two years, USC football essentially means nothing.
They can't make any bowl games, which will likely means sub-par recruiting and more transfers. Two 12-0 seasons wouldn't mean squat in the grand scheme of things. Technically, they can't even finish in the top 25 of the Coaches Poll.
But, setting that aside, I think they can go 10-3 this year.
I stated that they'd be 9-4 in my last two articles, but I've recently changed my mind about Stanford.
Andrew Luck just doesn't have a good enough supporting cast in my opinion.
Jake Locker wants to go out hot, and I'd expect the game of his life on October 2nd. The Trojans will fall to the Huskies two years in a row.
Oregon will beat them, as either Derron Thomas or Nate Costa will be an established leader by then, and should be able to win using their good defense as well.
Oregon State has the Rodgers brothers, and I'd expect somewhat of a shoot-out there.
A 10-3 season isn't a bad start for Lane Kiffin—you know, as long as he doesn't mess more things up with recruiting violations or accuse Chip Kelly of being a big fat cheater (*cough* Urban Meyer *cough*).
22. Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia is going to upset a lot of teams next year, including Arkansas, Georgia Tech, and possibly the rest of the SEC.
The offense is superb, led by Caleb King and AJ Green (dang that's catchy). It features three preseason All-Americans and four All-Conference players.
The defense only returns four starters, but that includes two preseason All-Americans.
The main problems are at the quarterback and linebacker postions. The quarterback battle will be between freshman Aaron Murray and junior Logan Gray. Both have little experience, but with the supporting cast, it'll be hard for either to fail.
The linebackers, though featuring Justin Houston, also have little experience and will likely be exploited throughout the season.
The offense will look to outscore opponents in 2010, and I suspect they get pretty far in the SEC race
21. Iowa Hawkeyes
Outlandish? Absolutely not. Don't be fooled by all of the returning starters.
The offense will still be the weaker unit, and may possibly be just as bad as last year.
They lost a lot of the offensive line, which certainly won't help Ricky Stanzi and comapany.
On defense, the Hawkeyes look as strong as ever. Four all-conference players, two of which are all-americans.
The entire defensive line is back, as well as most of the secondary. But, as mentioned before, you can't win every game on defense.
Without much offensive production, it'll be easy to lose to teams like Michigan, Michigan State, and maybe even Northwestern again. Look for a lot of slugfests without a lot of scoring in the Iowa games this year.
20. Miami Hurricanes
Miami is finally showing signs of the "good old days" again, but they face a really tough schedule.
Ohio State and VaTech being the worst.
Then FSU, UNC, and every game on the schedule after Maryland will present a challenge. Really, I only think the Hurricanes have a guaranteed four wins.
Jacory Harris has promise, but has to cut back on his interceptions.
I mean, the defense can only carry a team so far. Finishing in the top 15 may become a struggle for the 'Canes this year.
19. Washington Huskies
I feel like I want to root for Washington. Forget that they're Oregon's rivals, I like Jake Locker. He seems like a great guy, and I always love rootin' for the underdog. Besides, I can save my hate for the Beavers.
The Huskies have some great talent—Chris Polk, Jake Locker, and Jermaine Kearse head up a great offense.
It'll come down to the defense (who allowed over 26 ppg last season), and whether they hold teams back enough to let Locker and company get the advantage.
Then there's the schedule, which is absolutely brutal. BYU and Nebraska are both hard games. They have both USC and Oregon on the road.
It'll be a hard last season for Locker, and we'll get to see what he's really made of. I predict, as stated in the USC slide, an upset there. If Washington could somehow beat one of the Oregon teams, I think a Pac-10 championship is very possible.
If I was judging just based on talent, then they'd be top 15, but the schedule will take a lot out of the Huskies.
18. Oregon State Beavers
The Rodgers brothers are freakin' good, and OSU is good enough to be a 10-2 team, but the schedule is one of the hardest in the nation.
This year, they go without Sean Canfield. Ryan Katz showed promise last year and I think he'll do alright.
Then, there's one of the best RB/WR tandems in college football—Jacquizz and James Rodgers. Those two define "go-to guys", as one person put it. The offense will be fine this year.
The struggle will come on defense, as it did last year. But, they return a preseason all-american DT in Stephen Paea, and they have several decent players in the secondary.
The OOC schedule is really, really tough. If the Beavers can keep it a fast paced game, TCU will lose. TCU wins with defense...if the Rodgers brothers can find holes, TCU may be in trouble.
And if the Beavs win all three OOC games, I think they have a shot at winning the Pac-10.
However, the likelihood of that happening is about as much as me marrying Megan Fox.
17. Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma will be a curious team in 2010, as a lot of questions surround them right now.
How will they replace Sam Bradford? Will the defense be able to carry the team to victory without an elite QB? Is a top 10 finish possible this year?
For one, Landry Jones did a great job filling in for Bradford last year, so no worries there.
Two, the defense may have to carry a big load due to a weaker offense, but it's not like the offense is really THAT bad.
And three, yes it is, but it'll take a lot. Texas will beat OU, as will Florida State, and then either Texas A&M or in-state rival Oklahoma State will.
If they can win two of those three (which is possible), a top 10 finish is guaranteed.
16. North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina returns 19 starters and a killer defense. That defense has three preseason all-americans and another two all-conference players.
TJ Yates is also back at quarterback with a strong supporting cast, and an overall good looking team behind him.
The Tar Heels will improve off of last years 8-4 finish by going 9-3, and maybe even 10-2 if they edge out an upset against LSU.
The Tar Heels have great potential again this year, and hopefully won't blow it due to laughable aimless slips and trips like last season.
15. Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin is a dark horse this year—a dark horse with a pathetic schedule.
John Clay is back, as well as the whole offensive line.
The defense is back as well, minus the d-line, but they were the key in Wisconsin's impressive run defense.
They're a more balanced team this year, and combined with an easy schedule, Wisconsin looks like the most unimpressive and predictable 10-win team.