No Guts contributor, J Will will be your captain on your College Football Preseason Top 25 ship. Make sure you ridicule his picks in the comments. I know I will.
#9 Mississippi Rebels – Southeastern Conference
The Rebels come in at No.9 after finishing 9-4 and a Cotton Bowl victory over Texas Tech. The Rebels come into this season with a lot of hype and for good reason as quarterback Jevan Snead returns to lead a loaded Rebels’ roster into 2009. Snead will have explosive wide receiver, Shay Hodge back along with all purpose threat Dexter McCluster and a good stable of tailbacks to keep the offense moving this year. Defensively, the Rebels might have the best defensive line in the SEC lead by defensive end Greg Hardy and defensive tackle Jerrell Powe. Linebacker, Patrick Trahan and safety, Kendrick Lewis return as well on those defense and those two could very well be All-SEC type players. Looking at the schedule, the SEC west crown has to come through Oxford as the Rebels get LSU and Alabama at home. And with Florida not on the schedule, the Rebels could really make some noise this year.
#8 Penn State Nittany Lions – Big Ten Conference
The Nittany Lions are No.8 after finishing the season 11-2 and losing to USC in the Rose Bowl. Quarterback, Daryll Clark returns with tailback Evan Royster but for the offense to be explosive, they need their young receivers to step up. The Nittany Lions also need to replace three starters from last year’s offensive line so the running game won’t miss a beat. Defensively, the Nittany Lions get linebacker, Sean Lee back from the ACL tear which cost him the season last year. And with Navorro Bowman also returning at linebacker, the Nittany Lions could be tough again on defense. The schedule doesn’t get tough until conference play starts, but getting Ohio State and Iowa at home is huge.
#7 Alabama Crimson Tide – Southeastern Conference
Alabama comes in at No.7 after finishing the season 12-2 and losing to Utah in the Sugar Bowl. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide shocked everyone with the season they had last year and look to improve on that success this season. Quarterback, Greg McElroy runs the offense and with the power running game and star wide receiver, Julio Jones back,the offense could cause some problems even with the lost of Andre Smith. Defensively, Alabama’s defense is going to be right up there with Florida as one of the nation’s best. Defensive tackle, Terrance Cody and linebacker, Rolando McClain lead the defense that has a lot off guys coming back, along with some talented young guys to add to the mix. The Crimson Tide open with the big night game against Virginia Tech, but play most of their tough conference games at home. The road game against Mississippi could be for the SEC West crown.
#6 Ohio State Buckeyes – Big Ten Conference
The Buckeyes are No.6 after finishing 10-3 and losing to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl. The Buckeyes have a lot to be excited about with this year’s team and it starts with quarterback Terelle Pryor. Pyror has a lot of weapons this year with tailbacks Dan Herron and Brandon Saine and wide receivers DeVier Posey and Taurian Washington. The offensive line gets help from Justin Boren who transferred from Michigan and Michael Brewster is already one of the top centers in the nation. On defense, the Buckeyes defensive line is as talented and deep as any other defensive line in the country. The Buckeyes do have to replace All-Americans, James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins but they should be alright. Looking at the schedule, the USC game is a chance for the Buckeyes to jump in the national title race but a road game at Penn State could be a tough hurdle.
#5 Virginia Tech Hokies – Atlantic Coast Conference
Virginia Tech comes in at No.5 after finishing 10-4 and beating Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl. The Hokies led by Tyrod Taylor need to improve their passing game if they plan to be title contenders. The running game took a hit with leading rusher, Darren Evans tearing his ACL so they need their younger players to step up. Defensively, the Hokies are known for having great defenses and this year is no different. The defensive line did take a hit from players graduating but with Bud Foster running the defense, he will find replacements. The schedule is tough and with the opening game against Alabama and Nebraska coming as well, the Hokies have no room for error.