CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 1-10
CFN 2006 Preseason Rankings ... The National TItle Contenders
one very important distinction in the CFN preseason rankings: these
are based on how good the teams are going into the season and NOT
how they're going to finish. Some teams have easier
schedules than others, some get tougher road games and some will
need a little bit of time to jell meaning they might be better than
their final record might indicate. Going into the year, these are
how good the teams appear to be from No. 1 through 119.
The predicted finishes don't take into account possible bowl games
or conference championships.
No. 1 to No. 10
| No. 11 to
No. 21 to 29 |
No. 30 to
No. 40 to 49
No. 50 to
No. 60 to 69 |
No. 70 to
No. 80 to 89 |
No. 90 to
No. 100 to
No. 110 to 119
2005 Predicted Finish: 9-2 2005 Record: 5-6
Why Tennessee should be No. 1 ... There are few teams in America that can match the overall speed and
athleticism of the 2006 Vols, but all the skills have to translate into
better overall play and, of course, wins. The offense can't be any
worse, and should be a force with new/old offensive coordinator David
Cutcliffe taking back his offensive coordinator job. The running backs
can fly, the receivers are even faster, and the line is bigger than more
NFL front walls. If quarterback Erik Ainge is merely competent, and the
defense can avoid falling off the map after losing six of the starters
on the front seven, Tennessee will be back to being Tennessee.
Why Tennessee isn't No. 1 ... Did you watch Tennessee last year?
It's asking a lot for all the top recruiting classes to pay off in a big
way on defense with six of the starters on the front seven needing to be
replaced including the entire linebacking corps. It might also be asking
the world for Ainge to be night-and-day better.
Relative Strengths: running back, receiver Relative
Weaknesses: linebacker, offensive line
2005 Predicted Finish: 9-2 2005 Record: 9-3
Why Florida should be No. 1 ...
finished ninth in the nation and allowed a mere 18.8 points per game,
and it should be even better if injuries don't strike early at
linebacker and corner. There's enough talent on the line to fill out the
All-SEC team without a problem. Brandon Siler and Earl Everett form one
of the nation's best linebacking tandems, and the safeties, led by
Reggie Nelson, should be fantastic. Chris Leak might not be the perfect
spread quarterback, but he's a good talent who should be more productive
making more plays on the move than in the past.
Why Florida isn't No. 1 ...
pieces in place yet? That will be the focus all season as fans are
waiting for the Gator offense to explode, but considering the potential
issues on the offensive line and the mediocre corps of running backs,
the program might be another year away. This might be one of the best
teams in the country, but it can all but forget about the national title
thanks to a brutal schedule.
Relative Strengths: defensive line, quarterback Relative
Weaknesses: running back, offensive line
The defense should be among the best in America even
though there aren't too many sure-fire, household name All-Americans.
The pass rush should be unstoppable with too many good ends to get on
the field at any one time.
2005 Predicted Finish: 9-2 2005 Record: 8-4
Why Oklahoma should be No. 1 ... Adrian Peterson, Adrian
Peterson, Adrian Peterson. The ultra-talented running back is the type
of star good enough to carry the team on his back against a relatively
Why Oklahoma isn't No. 1 ... After a down year, there are still
too many question marks on the offensive line and the quarterback
situation. Will defenses load up on the run after QB Rhett Bomar got
booted? What happens when Peterson has 150 carries by midseason? If he
goes down for any time, forget about a national title. 2007 is when the
team should be truly ready to explode and become a juggernaut again.
Relative Strengths: running back, defensive line Relative
Weaknesses: offensive line, special teams
Predicted Finish: 9-2 2005 Record: 8-4
Why Cal should be No. 1 ... There are few teams with more speed among the starters with an array of
talents that would litter the All-America lists if they played in one of
the other BCS conferences. DT Brandon Mebane, CB Daymeion Hughes and LB
Desmond Bishop will be among the best in the nation at their respective
positions, and RB Marshawn Lynch deserves Heisman consideration from day
one. The quarterback situation will sort itself out with Nate Longshore
ready to steady the four-man race, Lynch and Justin Forsett combine to
form one of the nation's top tailback duos, and the receivers are among
the fastest in America. The defense will be a sack machine with too many good ends for
one team, Mebane an all-star in the middle, and one of the best linebacking
corps in the nation.
Why Cal isn't No. 1 ... While there are plenty of quarterback
options, there is still a question whether or not anyone can be
consistent. The offensive line could be an issue.
Tackle Ryan O'Callaghan and center Marvin Philip were two
of the best linemen in the nation and won't be easily replaced.
Relative Strengths: running back, linebacker Relative
Weaknesses: offensive line, secondary
2005 Predicted Finish: 10-1 2005 Record: 11-2
Why LSU should be No. 1 ... The defense
will be amazing as long as tackles Glen Dorsey, Charles Alexander and
Marlon Favorite do a spot on impersonation of Claude Wroten and Kyle Williams.
As long as the
starting linebackers stay healthy, they'll be killers. LaRon Landry and Jessie Daniels are
NFL safeties spending time in the college ranks, and corner Chevis
Jackson is an All-SEC playmaker waiting to break out. There's enough
speed and skill on offense to simply outathletic most teams.
Why LSU isn't No. 1 ... The quarterback situation has to be settled and air-tight shut
as soon as possible. Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux are more than capable of
leading LSU to an SEC title, but if JaMarcus Russell has to look over
his shoulder every time he tried to throw into triple coverage, the
offense won't run smoothly. Running back is a question mark with the top
two backs coming off of torn ACLs, the lightning fast receiving corps
has to make even more big plays and live up to all of its talent, and
the offensive line has to deal with the loss of three stars while trying
to get more push for the running game.
Relative Strengths: secondary, quarterback Relative
Weaknesses: offensive line, linebacker
2005 Predicted Finish: 9-2 2005 Record: 9-3
Why Auburn should be No. 1 ...
Auburn loses several good starters, but none of them, not even four
of the top five receivers or All-America offensive tackle Marcus
McNeill, are irreplaceable.
Out with the old, in with near mirror images of the
players who left. In other words, Auburn should be even better than last
year good enough talent, and a good enough schedule, to reasonably think
about a national title.
Why Auburn isn't No. 1 ... The defense
is a bit shaky at tackle and safety hoping good prospects can produce
right away. The offense needs WR Courtney Taylor to regain his 2004 form
and is in huge trouble if there's an injury problem among the starters
on the offensive line. The jury is still out on whether or not Brandon
Cox is a national title-level quarterback.
Relative Strengths: running back, secondary Relative
Weaknesses: special teams, receiver
defense will once again be among the best in the nation with
size, speed, and backups that would start for about 100 other
teams. The safeties are among the best in Miami history with
Brandon Meriweather and Kelly Phillips each deserving of
All-America consideration and Anthony Reddick and Lovon Ponder
more than good enough to step in without missing a beat.
a deeper linebacking corps in the ACC. The defense will be among the
best in the country, but ...
Predicted Finish: 10-1 2005 Record: 9-3
Why Miami should be No. 1 ...
Why Miami isn't No. 1 ... ... Miami can't
win every game if there are offensive issues like there were
throughout last season. This year's team has enough talent to think about the national title,
but there are just enough holes to keep it from happening with an
offensive line that doesn't look to be appreciably better than last
year's disaster and not enough overall skill level among the stars on
offense to overcome the potential problems up front.
Relative Strengths: secondary, linebacker Relative
Weaknesses: offensive line, backup quarterback
2005 Predicted Finish: 10-1 2005 Record: 10-2
Why Ohio State should be No. 1 ... QB Troy Smith should make the spread offense sing making big play after
big play with his legs as well as his arm. The receivers are big, fast,
and talented with Ted Ginn Jr. appearing to be ready to blossom into a
superstar wideout. The backfield is full of talent with star freshman
Chris Wells ready to push possible All-Big Ten runner Antonio Pittman.
The line might be the best in the Jim Tressel's six years in Columbus
with a world of talent, especially at tackle. There's no reason
whatsoever to worry about the defensive back seven that has to replace
all its starters. The line needs to come up with a steady pass rush, but
that's nitpicking; All-America tackle Quinn Pitcock and the boys will be
a rock against the run.
Why Ohio State isn't No. 1 ... It's one thing to look great in
practice; it's another to be consistent under fire. The Buckeye
defensive back seven will eventually be unbelievable, but how long is it
going to take?
Relative Strengths: quarterback, offensive line Relative
Weaknesses: defensive experience, linebacker
2005 Predicted Finish: 8-3 2005 Record: 13-0
Why Texas should be No. 1 ... The backfield is loaded with talented backs, there's plenty of
experience and next-level ability in the receiving corps, and the
line will once again be among the best in the country despite losing
All-Americans Jonathan Scott and Will Allen. The defensive cupboard
is hardly bare with a tremendous end tandem of Tim Crowder and Brian
Robison sure to be among the best in the country and more than
enough talent in the back seven to fill up the All-Big 12 team.
Why Texas isn't No. 1 ... Oh
yeah, quarterback. If Jevan Snead and Colt McCoy can be merely
adequate, the Longhorns could be back in the national title game.
However, neither appear to have anywhere near the magical quality
Vince Young possessed.
Relative Strengths: offensive line, running back
Relative Weaknesses: quarterback, backup linebacker
Emmanuel Moody and Stafon Johnson,
are in. Star receiver Dwayne Jarrett is currently ineligible, but he's
supposed to be back by the start of the season. If not, no biggie. Steve
Smith returns to join NFL-caliber freshman Vidal Hazelton along with
veterans Chris McFoy and Patrick Turner. Those
are only the high profile players. The second team linebackers
and safeties would start for at least 100 other teams. The offensive line
should be solid and the pass rush will be tremendous.
Predicted Finish: 12-0 2005 Record: 12-1
Why USC is No. 1 ... You're forgetting what a recruiting factory
USC is. If John David Booty's back isn't ready and he can't take over for Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez
(with his legal troubles behind him) will step in and be a star. Reggie Bush and LenDale White are out, Chauncey Washington, who's finally academically
eligible, and true freshmen
Why USC shouldn't be No. 1 ... Matt, Reggie and LenDale were
all-timers. You don't just replace three of the greatest college players
of all-time, do you? There's still a question about the overall
experience while the secondary has to rebound after a underwhelming
2005. Miami also thought it could simply reload after 2002.
Relative Strengths: receiver, linebacker Relative
Weaknesses: secondary, special teams