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2011 CFN First Look Rankings - No. 11 to 25
Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict
Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 17, 2011


The first look at the rankings for the 2011 college football season. ... No. 11 to 25



CFN 2011 First Look Rankings

No. 11 to No. 25
 

2010 CFN Final Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-25 | Rankings 26-50
- Rankings 51-75 | Rankings 76-100The Bottom 20

2011 CFN First Look Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-25 | Rankings 26-50
- Rankings 51-75 | Rankings 76-100The Bottom 20

It might seem way too early, but considering the returning starters and the teams coming back, before Signing Day and spring ball, where does everyone stand? Here's CFN's first look at all the teams for 2011. The 2010 CFN Final Ranking is based on the season the team had. The 2011 First Look Ranking is based on how good the teams appear to be at the moment.

25. USC    
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 44
2010 Record: 8-5
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 16
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 10-3
2009 Final Ranking: 16
2008 Final Ranking: 5

Can USC stay interested? The horrible defense of last year gets eight starters back led by a potentially fantastic defensive front, even with the loss of Jurrell Casey early to the NFL. It flew under the radar, but QB Matt Barkley had a terrific season and should be outstanding again with Robert Woods to throw to and Marc Tyler and Dillon Baxter to hand off to. The problem might be depth. It's going to take a little while to rebuild through recruiting classes that might not be up to USC's normal standards.

24. Georgia 
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 69
2010 Record: 6-7
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 3
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 10-2
2009 Final Ranking: 30
2008 Final Ranking: 14

Let's try this again. Georgia had the experience and the talent to be a factor last year, but it couldn't do anything in the horrendous SEC East. WR A.J. Green is gone, but OT Trinton Sturdivant is back to lead a strong offensive line that should keep QB Aaron Murray upright and should pave the way for a loaded group of running backs. The defense loses pass rushing terror Justin Houston, but the entire secondary is back. The kicking game should be the best in the nation with punter Drew Butler and PK Blair Walsh back.

23. Oregon State    
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 67
2010 Record: 5-7
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 21
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 7-5
2009 Final Ranking: 37
2008 Final Ranking: 23

2010 might have been a disappointment, and Jacquizz Rodgers might be gone, but the offense has more than enough returning experience to be solid. Who'll step up and become a playmaker? QB Ryan Katz will the focal point of the attack, and he should get time to work behind a line that gets four starters back. The defensive front should be a major positive even with the loss of star tackle Stephen Paea. The secondary should be outstanding.

22. NC State
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 20
2010 Record: 9-4
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 44
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 6-6
2009 Final Ranking: 73
2008 Final Ranking: 54

Russell Wilson. The star quarterback didn't turn pro, and while he'll play baseball over the summer, he could return this fall and be the star of the ACC. Even if he doesn't return, the Pack is loaded with eight starter back on defense and seven on offense, not including Wilson. The loss of Nate Irving takes the heart away from the D, but the secondary that started four underclassmen last year should be outstanding with a bit more time. Four starters are back on the offensive front.

21. West Virginia
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 26
2010 Record: 11-3
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 24
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 10-2
2009 Final Ranking: 21
2008 Final Ranking: 29

The dysfunctional West Virginia coaching situation should overshadow a loaded team that should be the king of the Big East. RB Noel Devine and WR Jock Sanders are gone, but QB Geno Smith and seven other starters are back. The defense has a wee bit of work to do, especially in the linebacking corps, but the focus ill be on the offense. Can Oklahoma State offensive coordinator, and head man in waiting, Dana Holgorsen, make the attack explode? This is a team to watch out for.

20. Penn State    
2010 CFN Final Ranking: T48
2010 Record: 7-6
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 18
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2009 Final Ranking: 15
2008 Final Ranking: 10

This is how Penn State rolls. Take a year to reload, get Joe Paterno back after everyone assumes he's retiring, and go play in another New Year's Day bowl. This year's team might not be the most talented of JoePa's lot, but it's loaded with experience led by QB Mat McGloin and a receiving corps that should be solid. The one concern could be up front with two key losses in center Doug Klopacz and RG Stefen Wisniewski, and RB Evan Royster is done. The entire secondary returns as does most of the defensive front four.

19. Texas
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 65
2010 Record: 5-7
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 10
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 10-2
2009 Final Ranking: 4
2008 Final Ranking: 3

Let's just assume 2010 was a strange aberration. It's Texas; there's way, WAY too much talent to be so bad again. Despite the loss of defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, ends Sam Acho and Eddie Jones, and star corner Aaron Williams, the D should be great with eight starters returning. The loaded recruiting class of last year needs to pay off, but the defense should be fine. All eyes are on the offense and QB Garrett Gilbert. Can he actually play? Can the line run block and is there a tailback who can carry the O? Really ... Texas can't that bad again, can it?
 
18. Notre Dame 
2010 CFN Record: 22
2010 record: 8-5
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 38
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 7-5
2009 Final Ranking: 64
2008 Final Ranking: 67

Is Notre Dame ... back?! After a great second half of the season, at least on the field, the sky is the limit now that Brian Kelly has had a year to work with the offense. The silver lining in QB Dayne Crist's knee injury is the time Tommy Rees got under center, and with Michael Floyd putting off his NFL career by a year, the passing game should shine. The defense has some work to do losing six starters, but Manti Te'o is back to be the star of the defensive front seven. Three starters are back on the line, but the secondary needs retooling.

17. Texas A&M    
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 19
2010 Record: 9-4
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 26
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2008 Final Ranking: 99

Was the second half of last year the real A&M, or was the Cotton Bowl a better indicator? It doesn't really matter coming into this season with nine starters back on offense including QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Cyrus Gray, and receivers Jeff Fuller and Uzoma Nwachukwu. Four starters are back from a young, YOUNG line should be far stronger. The defense loses Butkus winner Von Miller, but eight starters are back including everyone returning to the secondary.

16. Arkansas 
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 17
2010 Record: 10-3
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 19
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 8-4
2009 Final Ranking: 28
2008 Final Ranking: 72

Shhhhhh. Here's the secret that no one around Arkansas is telling. The team might be better without Ryan Mallett. Tyler Wilson has the ability to do the same things as Mallett, although without the same arm, while the offense should now revolve even more around Knile Davis and a pounding running game that should be fine with a little retooling. The receiving corps is still devastating and the defense should be even stronger with eight starters returning including most of the defensive front seven.

15. Arizona State
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 55
2010 Record: 6-6
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 54
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 5-7
2009 Final Ranking: 90
2008 Final Ranking: 87 

You want the big sleeper in the 2011 Pac 12 race? Watch out for a Sun Devil team that played well throughout last year, but just missed on coming up with some really, really big wins. Ten starters are back on offense including quarterbacks Steven Threet and Brock Osweiler, while the line returns intact. The defense loses DT Lawrence Guy early to the NFL, but ten other starters return including LB Vontaze Burfict, who has Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year potential. Kicker Thomas Weber is gone, but that's the only real problem for a veteran team that has no excuses not to be fantastic.

14. Missouri
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 14
2010 Record: 10-3
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 27
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2009 Final Ranking: 46
2008 Final Ranking: 16

If Blaine Gabbert had decided to return for one more year, rather than go off to make tens of millions of dollars, the Tigers might be a preseason top five team with an argument to be made for No. 1. Even without Gabbert, nine starters are back led by an offensive line that should be dominant. T.J. Moe and TE Michael Egnew should make life easier for new quarterback, James Franklin, who might be the key to the Big 12 season. DE Aldon Smith is gone, but six starters are back on a good defense, while Grant Ressel might be the best kicker in America.

13. Mississippi State
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 33
2010 Record: 9-4
010 CFN Preseason Rank: 45
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 6-6
2009 Final Ranking: 62
2008 Final Ranking: 91

Welcome to the hot bandwagon everyone will jump on. The Bulldogs didn't actually beat anyone last year, but they still finished well and have the potential to be even nastier with eight starters back on offense and seven returning on defense. The line loses OT Derek Sherrod and C J.C. Brignone, but everything else is in place to pound away with RB Vick Ballard to QB Chris Relf ready to become bigger stars. The defense loses end Pernell McPhee and the entire linebacking corps, but the secondary will be outstanding and the tackles have the potential to be excellent.

12. South Carolina 
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 27
2010 Record: 9-5
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 39
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 7-5
2009 Final Ranking: 52
2008 Final Ranking: 61

Was 2010 a jumping off point or a destination. Certain to be the pick by most to win the East, the Gamecocks are loaded with eight starters back on offense including QB Stephen Garcia, RB Marcus Lattimore, and WR Alshon Jeffery. The defense has some key replacements to make on the front seven, but the secondary returns intact, with the hope for experience to turn into production. The kicking game will need work after Spencer Lanning, who's done, handled all the punting and placekicking duties.

11. Oregon      
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 7
2010 Record: 12-1
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 15
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2009 Final Ranking: 10
2008 Final Ranking: 24

The program has loaded up on very athletic, very talented recruits, and they're going to have to shine right away with so many key losses on both sides of the ball. Six starters are gone off the defense with DE Kenny Rowe and LBs Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger tough to replace. The secondary will be a strength, led by CB Cliff Harris and FS John Boyett, but the defensive front will be a major problem early on. The offense has to find new top targets with Jeff Maehl and D.J. Davis gone, but RB LaMichael James and QB Darron Thomas should lead another devastating rushing attack. Three starters are gone from the line.

2011 CFN First Look Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-25 | Rankings 26-50
- Rankings 51-75 | Rankings 76-100The Bottom 20