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2007 CFN Preseason Rankings

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 6, 2007


Fine, so you could've guessed that John David Booty's loaded USC team would be number one going into the season, but there are a few surprises among the ten best teams in America. There are far more talented teams this year from top to bottom in what should be a fascinating national title chase.

2007 Preseason Rankings

National Title Contenders - No. 1 to No. 10

The best teams in the nation

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. Going into the year, these are how good the teams appear to be from No. 1 through 119.

CFN 2007 Preseason Rankings
11 to 20 | 21 to 29 | 30 to 39 | 40 to 49 | 50 to 59
60 to 69 | 70 to 79 | 80 to 89 | 90 to 99 | 100 to 109 | 110 to 119

10. Georgia Tech 
- Georgia Tech | Offense Preview | Defense
| Depth Chart
Why Georgia Tech should be No. 1: Had Calvin Johnson foolishly decided to come back for his senior year, Georgia Tech probably would've been our sleeper choice to play USC for the national title. There might not be a better set of lines in the country, and everything will revolve around them. RB Tashard Choice is an elite runner who'll have plenty of room to run, while QB Taylor Bennett will be an upgrade over Reggie Ball. Just about everyone returns to a stellar defense, led by LB Philip Wheeler, and a top-notch safety tandem of Jamal Lewis and Djay Jones.
Why Georgia Tech isn't No. 1: James Johnson might be a nice receiver, but he's not Calvin Johnson. Losing CJ will hurt the most, but losing offensive coordinator Patrick Nix to Miami will also sting. The depth is thin at linebacker and the corners aren't necessarily special. Tech's biggest problem has always been game-in-and-game-out consistency, and this year won't be any different. You know the total clunker is coming, you just don't know when (possibly at Maryland).
Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Wide Receiver, Secondary

9. Ohio State 
- Ohio State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Why Ohio State should be No. 1: You don't think this team is motivated to come out roaring after what happened in Glendale? Last year the offense was loaded and the question mark was the defense. This year, the defense should be national title-level good and the O is the concern. Buckeye fans won't have to worry too much with RB Chris Wells working behind a rock of a line. The defense is loaded with too many good players to get on the field at once (remember the name Dexter Larimore), while the special teams will be among the best in the Big Ten.
Why Ohio State isn't No. 1: Last year's team might have been overrated, and this year's team might be underrated, but there are still just enough issues to keep the Buckeyes from being considered one of the favorites to go to New Orleans. Losing a Heisman-winning quarterback and two first round draft pick receivers doesn't help, and while this is Ohio State and it reloads, there will be a learning curve before the offense starts to sing again.
Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Linebacker 
Relative Weaknesses:
Quarterback, Wide Receiver

8. Louisville
- Louisville Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Why Louisville should be No. 1: Keep your Big East biases to yourself; Louisville is the real deal. Last year's team was a field goal away from playing Ohio State for the national title, and this year's team is better. QB Brian Brohm should be in the Cleveland Browns training camp instead of returning to lead one of the nation's most potent offenses, and he has a receiving corps worthy of making him look terrific. The duo of Anthony Allen and George Stripling will make the running game explode behind a great line. The defense is fast, athletic, and forces a ton of mistakes.
Why Louisville isn't No. 1: While the Cardinals are better than you think, the defensive back seven is as average as you probably think it is. LB Malik Jackson is a playmaker, but the secondary will give up plenty of big plays and has big issues at cornerback. New head coach Steve Kragthorpe is a rising superstar, but can he be as good as Bobby Petrino? His performance could be the X factor in the national title chase.
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Wide Receiver
Relative Weaknesses:
Secondary, Linebacker

7. Virginia Tech
- Virginia Tech | Offense Preview
| Defense | Depth Chart
Why Virginia Tech should be No. 1: Defense, defense, defense, and more defense. The nation's best D for each of the last two years should make it a trifecta with eight starters returning led by LB Vince Hall and CB Brandon Flowers, two All-Americans who'll be just a part of the show. The line is loaded with talented veterans, and there are so many good players all over the player that there will be no one for offensive coordinators to exploit.
Why Virginia Tech isn't No. 1: The offense will go absolutely nowhere if anything happens to RB Branden Ore. The line isn't anything special, the receiving corps has been an underwhelming disappointment over the past few years, and QB Sean Glennon, while appearing to be improved, isn't going to scare anyone. Forgive us for putting a tragedy into a football equation, but the pressure might eventually be too much to bear. Ever since April, everyone has been talking about how good the football team is supposed to be and how the entire community will rally around it. That's a lot to ask for considering everyone will get up to play the ACC favorites.
Relative Strengths: Linebacker, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses:
Quarterback, Offensive Line

6. Michigan
- Michigan Preview | Offense |
Defense | Depth Chart
Why Michigan should be No. 1: Who's going to stop this offense? QB Chad Henne, RB Mike Hart, and WR Mario Manningham might form the great trio of skill players in the history of Michigan football, and they'll have a great line to work behind thanks to the return of tackle Jake Long. Much will be made about the holes to fill on defense, but the speed and raw talent are there to be ultra-productive and extremely disruptive. The D doesn't have to be the best in the nation with this offense putting up points in bunches.
Why Michigan isn't No. 1: Mike Hart has a history of getting banged up. He made it through last year, but if he gets hit with the nagging injuries that kept him out from time to time in the past, the offense could bog down; he's that valuable. The secondary could be more than just a problem, it could be a screaming, glaring weakness early on if there isn't a big pass rush to help out the cause. Talk about pressure, Henne, Hart and Long have had to hear several times a day for the last few years that they haven't beaten Ohio State or won a bowl game. Don't be shocked if there's a lack of focus from time to time as the team looks ahead to the make-or-break games at the end of the season that'll define some great careers.
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Quarterback    
Relative Weaknesses:
Secondary, Special Teams

5. Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Why Wisconsin should be No. 1: Nine starters are back on offense and seven return on defense from a team that was a win at Michigan away from playing Ohio State for the national title. While you basically know what's coming with RB P.J. Hill rumbling behind a big, talented offensive line, stopping what the Badgers are going to want to do is another question. The passing game won't be just an afterthought with Travis Beckum, Luke Swan, Paul Hubbard, and other great prospects forming one of the deepest and best receiving corps in recent Wisconsin history. Jack Ikegwuonu and Allen Langford form the nation's best cornerback duo.
Why Wisconsin isn't No. 1: The quarterback situation is still up in the air between Tyler Donovan and Allen Evridge, and while the team can win big with either one, there could be a controversy as the year goes on if the starter doesn't use the good receiving corps to light defenses up like a Christmas tree. The defensive front seven is full of grinders that play above their talent level. Of course, the big issue is the past schedule when using last year to look ahead to this season. Wisconsin hardly looked great with the win over Arkansas in the bowl game, and that was the only victory of note. There's a huge, national outcry for this team to actually prove it, but if this team is as good as expected, the jury will still be out until it's 6-0 and going to Penn State.
Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses:
Defensive Line, Quarterback

4. Texas
- Texas | Offense Preview | Defense | Depth Chart
Why Texas should be No. 1: Colt McCoy proved he could be a big-game, big-time quarterback, and he has Limas Sweed and a loaded receiving corps to work with. If Jamaal Charles is over his sophomore slump, there's enough speed and talent in the backfield to run on anyone keeping the safeties back to deal with the NFL-caliber receiving corps. The linebacking corps is deep and very, very good. Average teams can all but forget about running the ball on this group.
Why Texas isn't No. 1:
Let's not mince words here; the secondary flat-out sucked, and that was with a slew of NFL talent and a Thorpe Award winner. Part of the problem was an aggressive scheme that led the DBs out in the cold, but that's no excuse considering the talent level. Now the secondary is in transition after losing three starters, but with a change in scheme that'll help out the pass defense, the defensive backs might not be the team's biggest concern. If injuries hit the offensive line, the whole machine might stall. There's stunningly little depth up front. 
Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses:
Secondary, Offensive Line Depth

3. Oklahoma
- Oklahoma | Offense Preview | Defense | Depth Chart
Why Oklahoma should be No. 1: You've dismissed the defending Big 12 champions after they lost to Boise State and after all the off-season controversy and vacated wins. That's a big, big mistake. This is a national title-level Sooner team that has, arguably, the nation's best offensive line, the nation's best secondary, the country's best NFL receiver prospect in Malcolm Kelly, and great special teams that'll pull out at least one win. Losing Adrian Peterson isn't a plus, but three great running backs, highlighted by emerging superstar DeMarco Murray, will run wild behind the elite line.
Why Oklahoma isn't No. 1: The Sooners always seem to get by with mediocre talent at quarterback (Jason White included), but they're going to be pushing it early on. Sam Bradford can play and will eventually be terrific, and Joey Halzle can certainly lead the attack considering all the time he'll have to operate, but compared to other top teams, OU is woefully untested under center. To nitpick, the linebacking corps is relatively new and could use a little time to grow into a cohesive unit.
Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Secondary   
Relative Weaknesses:
Quarterback, Linebacker

2. LSU
- LSU Preview
| Offense | Defense |
Depth Chart
Why LSU should be No. 1: The story writes itself. So hot at the end of last year that some declared it the best team in America (as misguided as that might have been considering you and ten friends could've bombed away on Notre Dame), LSU is coming in with a ton of hype, a tailor-made schedule with the toughest road game at Alabama, and enough overall talent to end up playing in New Orleans for the national title in a feel-good moment for a city and region that could use all they can get. Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson and the defensive line will be next to impossible to run on, while the talented linebacking corps will clean everything else up. The offense might lose a slew of stars, but there are more than enough playmakers to keep things moving, including a backfield that should be more productive as long as Keiland Williams runs as well as expected.
Why LSU isn't No. 1: Matt Flynn is a veteran quarterback, but he's not JaMarcus Russell. The departure of Russell and top receivers Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis isn't nearly as tough as the loss of offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher to Florida State. New man Gary Crowton has a big name and an interesting résumé, but he has to prove himself after his Oregon attack went into the tank over the second half of last year despite boasting a slew of talent.
Relative Strengths: Defensive Line, Secondary    
Relative Weaknesses:
Special Teams, Receiver Depth

1. USC
-
 USC Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart 
Why USC is No. 1: This is the best defense Pete Carroll has had at USC. The second-team linebacking unit would start at about 100 other places, while the starters from one to 11 are, at the very least, All-Pac 10 caliber. There are at least seven defenders worthy of All-America consideration, and enough talented depth to quickly step in if and when one of the future millionaires gets hurt. Offensively, John David Booty is now a crusty veteran after having been in the program, seemingly, since the John McKay days. The skill players might not be known names quite yet outside of recruiting circles, but if you're not a five-star running back or receiver prospect, you needn't apply for a spot on the two deep depth chart, and three deep in some cases. It's not a stretch by any means to consider this team the most talented, at least in terms of high school prospects, in the history of college football. At this point, around the country, other teams are comparing their star players by saying they likely could've played at USC.
Why USC shouldn't be No. 1: Fine, so everyone looks great if you listen to all the recruiting yahoos, and there's supposedly too much talent for any one team to field, but everyone still has to produce. Patrick Turner and Vidal Hazelton are supposed to be superstar receivers, and Chauncey Washington, C.J. Gable, Emmanuel Moody and others are supposed to run wild, but they haven't actually done it yet. Everyone's going to be kissing this team's butt for the next several months, and while the hype might not grow to the sickening proportions it did in 2005, the weekly pressure to not just be great, but to dominate, will be immense.
Relative Strengths: Linebacker, Secondary    
Relative Weaknesses:
Proven Wide Receiver and Running Back Production

CFN 2007 Preseason Rankings
11 to 20 | 21 to 29 | 30 to 39 | 40 to 49 | 50 to 59
60 to 69 | 70 to 79 | 80 to 89 | 90 to 99 | 100 to 109 | 110 to 119

 

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