2009 Pre-Preseason Rankings - No. 1 to 10

Posted Jan 30, 2009

You could probably guess most of the national title contenders going into 2009, but there are a few shockers in the mix, including Bruce Carter and a swarming, improved North Carolina team. Check out the very, very early look at the teams going into the off-season with the CFN Pre-Preseason ranking of the top ten teams.

CFN 2009 Pre-Preseason Rankings

Top 25

- 2009 No. 1 to 10 | No. 11 to 25 | No. 26 to 50
No. 51 to 75 | No. 76 to 100 | No. 101 to 120
- 2007 CFN Pre-Preseason Rankings
- 2008 CFN Pre-Preseason Rankings

These are the teams that'll be the leaders in the national title chase, and at the very least, will be in the mix for their respective conference titles. The ranking is based on how good the team should be in 2009, while the Final CFN Season Ranking is based on how good a season the team had in 2008.

Teams that should be better than last year, teams that should be worse, team that should be about the same.

What was 2008's Pre-Preseason Top 10?
1. Ohio State
2. Georgia
3. Oklahoma
4. Florida
5. USC
6. LSU
7. Wisconsin
8. Missouri
9. West Virginia
10. Texas Tech

1. Florida  2008 Record: 13-1   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 1

The defending national champion was 2008’s most dominant team in the country in all phases, and now the pressure will be on to put together one of the greatest seasons in the history of college football. Want pressure? To be blunt, if Florida doesn’t win the national title for the third time in four years, the season will be a failure. Is that an unfair standard to set? Not for a team that gets back all 11 starters and all 11 backups to a defense that held the Oklahoma juggernaut to 14 points and finished ninth in the nation in total defense and fourth in scoring D. WR Percy Harvin left early for the NFL, and PK Jonathan Phillips was a steady weapon, but the special teams should still be among the best in the nation strong-legged Caleb Sturgis stepping into the placekicking job, P Chas Henry returning to the nation’s eighth best punting game, and Brandon James back as the nation’s best all-around returners. Oh yeah, and then there’s that beefy quarterback who wants a second Heisman and a third national championship. Tim Tebow needs to be steady early on with three starters on the offensive line gone along with his two top receivers, Harvin and Louis Murphy, also gone. The Gators are loaded at running back with Chris Rainey, Emmanuel Moody, and Jeff Demps forming a good rotation. Yes, there might be holes, but Florida is getting all the top recruits and Urban Meyer won’t be afraid to play his young prospects right away.

2. Oklahoma
  2008 Record: 12-2   2008 Final CFN Season Rank:2
The Sooners are going to be a punchline, or will at least take the PR hit that Ohio State suffered over the last three years, but they’re going to be good … national title level good. This was going to be a good team no matter who was at the helm, but Sam Bradford’s shocking decision to return, and not be a top three pick, means the offense will have its moments when it resembles the juggernaut that ripped through the Big 12 over the second half of last season. However, don’t expect 60 points per game again with so much turnover on the O line that loses four starters. On the plus side, OT Trent Williams decided to come back for his senior year, as did TE Jermaine Gresham. A No. 1 wide receiver needs to be found, but the running tandem of Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray are back. The defense will carry the offense early on, and it should be fantastic, with nine starters returning including DT Gerald McCoy. The only losses are at safety with Nic Harris and Lendy Holmes gone.

3. Texas  2008 Record: 12-1   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 3
With Colt McCoy coming back for his final year, and with his top target, Jordan Shipley, getting a sixth year of eligibility, the offense has its identity. It also has an upgrade with the young players of last year ready to step up and play bigger roles, like Dan Buckner and Malcolm Williams. Fozzy Whittaker, Vondrell McGee, and thumping scorer Cody Johnson are back to run the ball behind a line that gets four starters back. The defense is the issue, even with some good prospects waiting to come through. All four starters are gone off the offensive front, and while LB Sergio Kindle decided to come back his senior year, his running mate, Rashad Bobino, is gone. Starting corner Ryan Palmer will be replaced by Curtis Brown, and the other three spots are set. There will be a battle to replace PK Ryan Bailey, but punters John Gold and Justin Tucker are back.

4. USC  2008 Record: 12-1   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 5
It’s USC, so there are always superstar prospects waiting in the wings, but the recruiting classes of the past few years will be put to the test with so much turnover from last season’s all-timer of a defense. S Taylor Mays is back, when he probably would’ve been a top ten pick, but nine starters are gone. Even USC can’t handle these many replacements. Meanwhile, the offense will be just fine, even with QB Mark Sanchez taking off early to the NFL. Mitch Mustain was a top-shelf QB recruit for Arkansas, while Aaron Corp is no slouch and will be in the mix. The defense will be fine in the secondary, loaded up front, and in trouble at linebacker with Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, and Kaluka Maiava gone. To make matters worse, both kickers are gone.

5. Oklahoma State  2008 Record: 9-4   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 30
Last year OSU had a breakthrough season with one of the nation’s most dynamic offenses and a defense that, well, the offense was fantastic. The struggles at the end of last season should only serve as motivation going into this year for a veteran squad that should be good enough to knock off either Texas or Oklahoma. TE Brandon Pettigrew is off to the NFL, but WR Dez Bryant is back along with QB Zac Robinson, RB Kendall Hunter, and in a shocker, OT Russell Okung, who might be the Big 12’s best blocker. The nation’s No. 6 offense gets back eight starters, and almost all the depth, with the one potential problem area up front with C David Washington gone. Defensively, the Cowboys weren’t horrific, at least compared to the rest of the Big 12, but only six starters are back with major changes needing to be made in the secondary. The team’s biggest loss could be P Matt Fodge, who helped OSU next over 39 yards per try.

6. LSU  2008 Record: 8-5   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 40
This isn’t the national title-caliber team of a few years ago, but it’s not all that far off from maturing into a possible SEC champion with the right breaks. Was the 38-3 Peach Bowl win over Georgia Tech an aberration, or was the mediocre season a proper indicator? Jordan Jefferson appears to be the answer at quarterback, and he gets a big break with WR Brandon LaFell changing his mind about leaving early. LG Herman Johnson and C Brett Helms are gone, but LT Ciron Black returns along with two other starters on the line to pave the way for RB Charles Scott and the great group of backs. The defensive back seven should be fantastic, even with the loss of LB Darry Beckwith, but the line is a problem with all the starters gone. And there’s the issue. LSU has been able to reload on the defensive front, but it’s asking a log to replace everyone.

7. Oregon  2008 Record: 10-3   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 24
Mike Bellotti has had some strong teams over the past few years, and his Ducks probably would’ve been playing for the national title in 2006 had Dennis Dixon not injured his knee, but this should be among his best teams yet. There will be a wee bit of a quarterback derby, but Jeremiah Masoli appears to be a burgeoning star to lead the way, while LeGarrette Blount will get more of the rushing workload with Jeremiah Johnson gone. Some key stars are gone off the defense, including S Patrick Chung and pass rushing terror Nick Reed, but six good starters return to a group that needs to be better against the run.

8. Ole Miss  2008 Record: 9-4   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 15
Ed Orgeron set ‘em up, and Houston Nutt knocked ‘em down. Orgeron had his faults, but he was a strong recruiter and last year’s team proved it with its fantastic lines. While OT Michael Oher and DT Peria Jerry will be tough to replace, the return of star pass rusher, Greg Hardy, and three starters on the offensive line will help. The big story will be QB Jevan Snead, who got better and better as last season went on. He has good players around him in WR Shay Hodge and RBs Cordera Eason and Dexter McCluster, but he’ll have to be the leader and star throughout. The defense was so strong against the run last year won’t be quite as good with Jerry gone, but it’ll still be nasty.
9. North Carolina  2008 Record: 8-5   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 26
Of the five losses last year, there was a sloppy 41-10 blasting from NC State while the other four losses were by a grand total of nine points. Those four close defeats were all by three points or fewer, and now the team is far more mature and should be even better as long as a receiver can be found. Hakeem Nicks left early and Brandon Tate hurt his knee and is off to try to make it in the NFL, so Greg Little and Kenton Thornton have to try to get the passing game going. The great recruiting classes of the last few years should start paying off with better depth, while six starters return on offense and nine starters are back on defense including strongside star, Bruce Carter.

10. Alabama  2008 Record: 12-2   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 7
This was supposed to be the season Alabama became a national power again as the great recruiting classes were due to mature. Obviously, the timetable moved up a year early and now there’s no turning back. A quarter away from playing for the national title in 2008, the Tide has to show it’s ready to be a consistent superpower again with stars like WR Julio Jones and NG Terrence Cody to work around. The defense was the star throughout last year, especially against the run, and it gets back nine starters. Offensively, QB John Parker Wilson will be sorely missed, and now it’ll be a battle this spring for the starting job with junior-to-be Greg McElroy getting the first look. All-Everything left tackle Andre Smith is gone, along with C Antoine Caldwell, but enough talent returns to the offense to be at least as good as last year.