Here is the final installment of FDT’s college football preseason rankings. In the final installment I will break down the top three team’s in the nation and what we can expect from each of them.
No. 3 Boise State
This is not the Boise State that we all fell in love with just a few years ago after playing “cinderella” in its upset over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Bronco’s have established themselves as a dominant team ever since that program changing victory, and this year will be no different. Boise fully expects to be contending for the National Championship this season, and with 20 starters back from a team that finished 14-0 last year including a win over TCU in the Fiesta Bowl, it’s hard to argue with those lofty expectations.
Junior Kellen Moore returns as quarterback and he mans one of the most innovative offenses in the country. Coach Chris Petersen runs a variation of the spread offense, which requires the quarterback to be able to make quick throws on time, and Moore is one of the most efficient passer’s in the nation. Last year he threw 39 touchdowns to only three interceptions.
Moore will be throwing to one of the most talented receiving duo’s in the country, featuring Austin Pettis and Titus Young. Pettis led the team with 14 touchdowns last year and Young led the team in receiving yards with 1,041.
Defensively, former walk-on Ryan Winterswyk anchors the defensive line from his end position and may be the best player on the defense. He finished last season with a team-high nine sacks. Losing cornerback Kyle Wilson to the NFL will hurt the Broncos, but not as much as you might think. Five players with at least two interceptions return, so there’s talent there.
We’ll know how good Boise will be this year after its first game where they take on FDT’s No. 5 team Virginia Tech. The game will be played in Landover, Maryland so Virginia Tech will have the home-field advantage. If the Broncos win this game, they will have a real chance to play for a National Championship.
After going back and forth on this one, the defending National Champions come in at the second spot.
After going 14-0 last year and beating Texas in the National Championship game, Coach Nick Saban will have a real chance to repeat. The Tide return eight staters on offense, but only one on defense, which is the main reason they come in at No. 2.
Offensively ‘Bama is loaded with Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram
returning at running back. Even more scary is that in my opinion, backup running back Trent Richardson is better then Ingram, so look for them to split carries and be the best tandem in the country. Quarterback Greg McElroy returns to run the offense and will be throwing to perhaps one of the best wide receiever duo’s on the country. 6-foot-4 inch Julio Jones lines up one one side and is complimented perfectly by speedy and underrated Marquis Maze on the other. The line should be good and get immediate help from massive offensie tackle D.J. Fluker, who as a freshman stands 6-foot-6 and weights 340-pounds. He will start at right tackle.
Outside of Marcell Dareus, the Tide have a lot of answers on the defensive side of the ball. Dareus is rumored to have had contact with an agent which would cause him to miss some time, but the word out of Tuscaloosa recently is that all of the talk about him receiving illegal benefits was fabricated and he should be cleared by the NCAA and not miss any time. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower also returns and should be an impact player after missing all of last year with a torn ACL. The rest of the defense is talented, but inexperienced so it will be the offense’s job to score points and allow the defense to gain cohesiveness through the first few games if they have any chance at winning the SEC and another National Championship.
The schedule is tough with games against Penn State, Florida and Auburn, as well as the rest of the SEC schedule, but the most challenging games are at home for the Tide which sets them up well to repeat as National Champs.
No. 1 Ohio State
Ohio State proved the experts wrong last year that said it couldn’t win the big game by defeating Oregon in the Rose Bowl 26-17. The Buckeyes return 14 starters from that team and are the favorites to win the Big Ten this year.
Offensively no one in the country is more important and dynamic then quarterback Terrelle Pryor. In the Oregon game last year, Pryor showed just how dangerous the offense can be when he’s able to keep defenses honest by completing passes and picking up first downs running the ball. Pryor will have veterans all around him starting with running backs Brandon Saine and Boom Herron as well as wide receivers DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher.
On defense it starts up front with All-American candidate Cameron Hayward who causes havoc from his defensive end position. He had six sacks last season and is a sure fire first round lock in next year’s NFL Draft. Ross Homan is back at linebacker after posting 108 tackles last season and recording five interceptions. With Homan and Hayward, the defense will be a National Championship caliber defense.
The Buckeyes shouldn’t be tested until week seven when they travel to Madison to play Wisconsin. Their next toughest games after that are at home against Penn State followed by a trip to Iowa to play the Hawkeyes in a game that will most likely decide the Big Ten and could have hugh National Championship implications.