2007 Preseason Rankings - No. 11 to 20

Posted Aug 3, 2007

Preview 2007 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 11 to 20 ... BCS Contenders

2007 Preseason Rankings

Possible Title Contenders - No. 11 to No. 20

These teams are good enough to be in the national title hunt

There's 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.

11. UCLA  
 UCLA Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

The ranking is too low because ... if everything comes together, this might be one of the five best teams in America. Ten starters are back on a defense that made USC look painfully bad, while 12 players with significant starting experience are back on offense. There are almost no real weaknesses considering the receiving corps isn't all that bad and the special teams will be more than fine. If QB Ben Olsen finally stays healthy and lives up to his hype, the Bruins will have their signature offensive star to make everyone else better.
The ranking is too high because ... the program has to prove it can be consistent under Karl Dorrell. How can a team that played that well against USC be so awful against a mediocre Florida State team? While there's a ton of experience on both sides of the ball, there aren't that many all-stars, and where there's a glut of talent, the secondary, the jury is still out after an inconsistent year. This is the nation's toughest team to call. It's potentially good enough to be just on the outside of the national title hunt, but just average enough in several spots to lose to anyone in the Pac 10 on a given day. If this team doesn't find a special chemistry that clicks, it could find itself fifth in the league when all is said and done.
Relative Strengths: Secondary, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Wide Receiver, Special Teams

12. Miami  
- Miami | Offense Preview | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... the defense will be a brick wall. Lost in the miserable 2006 debacle was a stellar year from a D that finished seventh in the nation, and now has a starting 11 that could be the best in America. It's not a stretch to call S Kenny Phillips and DE Calais Campbell the two best defensive players in the nation, and each could end up being top five draft picks. The offense can't help but be better, and it will be with running backs Javarris James and Graig Cooper each good enough to start at the next level very soon. The O line might not be the Miami O line of old, but it'll be better than it's been over the last few years.
The ranking is too high because ... the quarterback derby might be the most boring big battle in recent college football history. There was a time when the Miami quarterback was the glamour position in all of college football, and maybe even all of sports. Now it's down to mega-flop Kyle Wright and the uninspiring Kirby Freeman. To be fair, Wright has almost gotten killed behind some lousy lines, and his receiving corps have hardly been up to Miami snuff. While the defense will be devastating at times, there will be big, big problems if injuries hit the line or secondary early on.
Relative Strengths: Secondary, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses:
Quarterback, Offensive Line

13. Florida
- Florida Preview
| Offense | Defense | Depth Chart  
The ranking is too low because ... head coach Urban Meyer proved last year that he recruits ready-made players who can step off the bus and onto a national championship team. On paper, there are glaring holes to be filled on both sides of the ball, but there are so many good true freshmen and others waiting to get their chance to shine that the overall production might not fall off all that much. The offensive line will be a good foundation for all the lightning-fast skill players to work around.
The ranking is too high because ... everyone seems to have forgotten just how close last year's supposed juggernaut of a national champion came to having just an above-average season. The Gators won five games by a touchdown or less, and while that goes to show how good they were when things got tight, teams full of true freshmen starters and new faces in key spots tend to get tagged in the SEC. On sheer talent and athleticism, Florida is still the class of the league, or at least the East, but QB Tim Tebow has to prove he can be a steady producer like Chris Leak, and the D line and secondary have to quickly come together with a nasty start to the SEC coming up quickly.
Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Special Teams, Secondary

14. Oregon State
 Oregon State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart 
The ranking is too low because ... the team that beat USC last year is loaded and ready to become the sleeper team in the Pac 10 race and a breakout team on a national scale. Yvenson Bernard might be the best back you haven't seen, and Sammie Stroughter is the among the nation's most dangerous weapons as both a receiver and a returner. The line isn't full of all-stars, but four starters return to a group that doesn't make many mistakes. The defense that led the Pac 10 in takeaways and sacks gets most of the key players back, and has superstar potential in the linebacking corps. PK Alexis Serna leads one of the nation's best special teams units. 
The ranking is too high because ... QB Matt Moore will be missed. Much-maligned early in his career, he came up with a great senior season, and now it's likely up to Sean Canfield to show he has more than just a howitzer of a left arm. The defensive front seven might be special, but the secondary could be a liability at times if there isn't a consistent pass rush. While the Beavers are ranked high to start the season, a nasty schedule with a slew of losable road games could make this a disappointing year.
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses:
Secondary, Quarterback

15. California
 California Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart  
The ranking is too low because ... the offense will score points in bunches. Everyone is starting to know about explosive receiver DeSean Jackson, but he's just a part of a strong corps that'll stretch the field all season long with veteran QB Nate Longshore bombing away. C Alex Mack and the strong offensive line will make new starting RB Justin Forsett look better than he is. The linebacking corps isn't better than USC's, but it's not all that far off.
The ranking is too high because ... the defense will be average enough to allow most teams to stick around in shootouts. Next year, the D should be devastating, but there are too many unproven talents to rely on to get more production than last year. Losing DT Brandon Mebane, LB Desmond Bishop and CB Daymeion Hughes isn't a death blow, but it means a slew of new players have to be really good, really fast. Tennessee comes to town to start the season and will be sure to put up some decent offensive numbers.
Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Secondary, Defensive Line

16. Missouri  
- Missouri | Offense Preview | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... the offense is stunningly loaded. There might not be any college football household names, but QB Chase Daniel, WR Will Franklin and RB Tony Temple form the nucleus of a potentially unstoppable attack. The All-America tight end tandem of Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman could be legendary. The defensive back seven is very fast and very athletic, while the tackle pair of Evander Hood and Lorenzo Williams will clog things up.
The ranking is too high because ... you've heard it all before. Missouri was supposed to be the Big 12's big sleeper when Brad Smith was running the show, and it never really happened. Last year's team had everything in place before melting down over the second half of the season and bottoming out in the bowl collapse to Oregon State. The defensive front seven will produce, but it should get run on by the better Big 12 ground games.
Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Quarterback
Relative Weaknesses:
Defensive Line, Linebacker

17. Rutgers
- Rutgers Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... there aren't any glaring weaknesses. This is a rock-solid team from top to bottom with an aggressive defense that should build on a breakout season, to an offense that has an all-star back in Ray Rice to carry the load and an improved passer in Mike Teel. The offensive tackle combination of Pedro Sosa and Jeremy Zuttah is among the best in the game, while DT Eric Foster could blossom into the "it" player going into next year's draft with a big season.
The ranking is too high because ... there's a little bit of turnover on both sides of the ball. Five starters have to be replaced on offense, while the interior of the offensive line could be a question mark early on. Even though Teel appears to be better, and had a nice end of 2006 to build on, he still has to show he can bomb away when the pressure's on and when Rice is taken out of the gameplan.
Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses:
Quarterback, Linebacker

18. Clemson  
Clemson | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... the running game will blast out big plays on just about everyone. There are some nice running back duos across the nation, but outside of the Arkansas pair, none are better than James Davis and C.J. Spiller. Even though the O line loses four starters, there's surprising experience returning. The defense won't get a lot of publicity early in the year, but if the cornerbacks are merely adequate, it'll be one of the ACC's best.
The ranking is too high because ... the quarterback situation has to quickly get settled. Will it be Cullen Harper, or will superstar freshman Willy Korn take over right away? Whoever gets the gig will likely upgrade the position over last season, but with an untested receiving corps starting the year, the passing game might be a liability. Even though the offensive line is expected to be fine, it's never a good thing to lose so many staters.
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Quarterback, Wide Receiver

19. Oklahoma State 
- Oklahoma State | Offense Preview | Defense |
Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... OSU might be the most athletic team in the Big 12. Of course, all the speed and quickness has to translate into football production, but this team can run with anyone in America. If everyone stays healthy on offense, the Cowboys are going to crank out a whupping or three on some of the big names. QB Bobby Reid started to live up to the hype last year, and he should be even better with WR Adarius Bowman choosing to come back to Stillwater for his senior year. Dantrell Savage and Keith Toston form one of the nation's fastest rushing tandems. The linebacking corps could be jaw-dropping good.
The ranking is too high because ... the offense might not be consistent if the line doesn't shine. It's a decent, veteran front five, but not a good enough one to beat up the better Big 12 lines. Reid is one of the league's most dynamic players when healthy, but that's a huge if. He was banged up early in his career, and he has to show that last year wasn't a fluke. The defense will make plenty of big plays, but it'll also give them up just as quickly.
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses:
Defensive Line, Secondary

20. Penn State 
- Penn State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... the Nittany Lions are probably not getting the respect they deserve. Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State are all being touted as the Big Ten contenders, but the Penn State defense, at least the back seven, is good enough to go to the Rose Bowl with. Dan Connor and Sean Lee form one of the nation's best linebacking duos while there's plenty of talent in the secondary. The passing game should flourish with QB Anthony Morelli ready to take a step up, and his receiving corps ready to be among the best in the conference.
The ranking is too high because ... there might not be much of a running game to speak of. One-time superstar recruit Austin Scott has to finally become a workhorse and a leader of the offense. He hasn't been close so far, and there's not a sure thing behind him to take over if needed. The defnesive line only returns one starter, and even though there's good beef inside, the tackles are unproven.
Relative Strengths: Linebacker, Wide Receiver
Relative Weaknesses:
Running Back, Defensive Line


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