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2011 CFN First Look Rankings
Alabama RB Trent Richardson
Alabama RB Trent Richardson
Posted Jan 17, 2011

This much we know ... the national champion will come out of the SEC. Will it be LSU? How about a resurgent Florida? Is Arkansas ready? Alabama might not win it all, but it might have the best team going into the 2011 offseason. It might be way early, but before Signing Day and before spring ball, he's our first look and ranking of all 120 teams.

CFN 2011 First Look Rankings

The Top Ten

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.

10. Florida State 
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 15
2010 Record: 10-4
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 12
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 8-4
2009 Final Ranking: 44
2008 Final Ranking: 20

Are the Noles ready to take the next step up after going to the ACC title game in 2010? If E.J. Manuel can be steady under center, this will be a strong and dangerous team with eight starters returning on both sides of the ball and both specialists back. The secondary should be an absolute killer with all four starters returning, while the defensive front that was full of sophomores last year should be a brick wall. Chris Thompson should be a dangerous back.

9. Boise State
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 5
2010 Record: 12-1
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 8
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 11-1
2009 Final Ranking: 3
2008 Final Ranking: 6

Sorry college football world; Boise State isn't going away. The move to the Mountain West won't mean a stop in the momentum as good years of recruiting will restock the shelves in a hurry. Heisman finalist Kellen Moore is back, as is bruising RB Doug Martin and three good starters up front. The defense gets back just enough veterans to be more than just solid, but the biggest key will be the receiving corps. Can the attack replace Austin Pettis and Titus Young right away? Moore has to make everyone around him better, and he will.

8. Nebraska 
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 16
2010 Record: 10-4
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 38
2009 Final Ranking: 17
2008 Final Ranking: 35

Welcome to the Big Ten ... now win it. It all depends on the soap opera situation with QB Taylor Martinez. If he's healthy and actually playing (and still on the team), the Husker offense should be terrific even with some major losses on the line. The defense should be frothing at the mouth from the start with seven starters returning including Jared Crick and three great players on the line. Save time and put LB Lavonte David on the All-Big Ten right now. He'll be a finalist for the Butkus. The graduation of PK/P Alex Henery is devastating.

7. Oklahoma State    
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 8
2010 Record: 11-2
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 52
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 6-6
2009 Final Ranking: 34
2008 Final Ranking: 30

Will the loss of offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen to West Virginia mean the end of the offensive fun? Hardly. The stunning decision of WR Justin Blackmon to return for another year, and old-man QB Brandon Weeden also back, the passing game should be explode. Don't overlook an offensive line that gets all five starters back to keep Weeden upright and to pave the way for RBs Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith, who need to pick up the slack for the loss of Kendall Hunter. The defense loses three starters on the line, but that side of the ball is along for the ride.

6. Florida   
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 34
2010 Record: 8-5
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 4
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 10-2
2009 Final Ranking: 2
2008 Final Ranking: 1 

Urban Meyer might have been an all-time head coaching great, but now with offensive coordinator Charlie Weis in place, the offense should be able to wing it all over the yard with John Brantley finally able to showcase what he can do. Now the receivers have to produce and have to start hanging on to the ball. Meyer loaded up with so much young talent that new head coach Will Muschamp should work wonders with a defense that got a huge break with Janoris Jenkins coming back at corner, when he should be in the NFL. The loss of punter Chas Henry will hurt, but PK Caleb Sturgis and returner Chris Rainey should make the special teams shine.

5. Ohio State  
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 3
2010 Record: 12-1
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 2
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 10-2
2009 Final Ranking: 7
2008 Final Ranking: 12

Joe Bauserman. He could hold the key to the 2011 season for Ohio State and all of college football as he needs to keep the team treading water until Terrelle Pryor is back to lead the attack. The bigger problem than the suspensions might be the new starters on defense with seven new players needing to step in. The defensive front seven will require a ton of look, but the secondary has to undergo the biggest overhaul with Chimdi Chekwa and three starters done. It's Ohio State. It has players.

4. Wisconsin  
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 13
2010 Record: 10-3
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 6
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 10-2
2009 Final Ranking: 19
2008 Final Ranking: 60

The Badgers lose Doak Walker finalist John Clay, Outland winner Gabe Carimi, ultra-efficient QB Scott Tolzien, and heart-and-soul defensive end J.J. Watt ... and the team isn't going to lose a beat. The running back rotation of Montee Ball and James White should once again be devastating behind another strong offensive line, while Nick Toon should be one of the Big Ten's top receivers. The key to the season will be quarterback where Curt Phillips tries to return from a second major knee injury to battle Jon Budmayr for Tolzien's gig. The defense should be terrific with the line a major strength even with the loss of Watt.

3. Oklahoma
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 4
2010 Ranking: 12-2
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 5
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 10-2
2009 Final Ranking: 35
2008 Final Ranking: 2 
Can Oklahoma play up to its talent and potential and not be all Oklahoma and braincramp? The offense should be devastating with QB Landry Jones a legitimate Heisman candidate thanks to the return of WR Ryan Broyles and a veteran line to provide the protection. RB Roy Finch will ease the loss of DeMarco Murray, while young targets Kenny Stills and Trey Franks about to blow up with everyone paying attention to Broyles. The defense loses end Jeremy Beal, but eight starters are back with the front seven certain to be a killer. Throw in the return of PK/P Tress Way, and the Sooners could become everyone's preseason No. 1.

2. LSU  
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 12
2010 Record: 11-2
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 22
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2009 Final Ranking: 27
2008 Final Ranking: 40

The anemic offense might lose RB Stevan Ridley and WR Terrence Toliver, but four starters are back on the offensive line and QB Jordan Jefferson can't help but be better. He can't be as inconsistent. The defense should be a brick wall with seven starters returning and CB Tyrann Mathieu ready to step in and shine in place of Thorpe winner Patrick Peterson. The defensive tackles need to be replaced, with Drake Nevis and Lazarius Levingston sure to be missed, but the Tigers always have players at the ready for the interior. No one will throw on the secondary, while the passing game should be stronger with Russell Shepard and Deangelo Peterson returning to make Jefferson's life easier.

1. Alabama  
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 10
CFN Record: 10-3 
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 1
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 10-2
2009 Final Ranking: 1 
2008 Final Ranking: 7

The Tide loses Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Greg McElroy, and OT James Carpenter, and Marcell Dareus is taking off early from the defensive line ... and the Tide will probably win the national title. Phillip Sims and A.J. McCarron will battle it out for the starting quarterback job, and Trent Richardson will go from great No. 2 to the feature back of an attack that should get more from an offensive line with four starters returning. All the offense will have to do is score once thanks to a defense that was in rebuilding mode and finished fifth in the nation. No one will score on a Tide D with eight starters returning including LB Dont'a Hightower, who should be in the NFL right now, and with the ultra-talented secondary about to be oh-my-goodness amazing after starting three sophomores and a freshman. The kicking game that was supposed to be an issue last year with two new, untested starters was just fine, and WRs Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks will handle the return duties, along with keeping the passing game working.

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