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2009 CFN Preview - Unit Rankings
Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
Posted Aug 12, 2009

Want to beat Oklahoma State? You might have to put 45 points on the board just to hang around with Zac Robinson and the Cowboys. As expected, Florida, Oklahoma, and USC are well represented in the 2009 CFN Unit Rankings, but you could be shocked by some positions (check out the receivers).

Preview 2009 ... Unit Rankings


- CFN Preview 2009
- CFN's Top 200 Players of 2009

CFN 2009 Unit Rankings
- Offenses | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defenses | Defensive Lines | Linebackers | Secondaries  | Special Teams

1. Oklahoma State
After finishing seventh in the nation in total offense two years ago, the OSU offensive machine was even better finishing sixth in the country averaging 488 yards and 41 points per game. Possibly the nation's most balanced and efficient attack, there are four superstars to build around in QB Zac Robinson, WR Dez Bryant, OT Russell Okung, and RB Kendall Hunter, with Bryant and Hunter likely to be among the top ten players taken in the 2010 NFL Draft. There's a little work to be done on a line that was dominant throughout last year, but there are good options at guard. A No. 2 receiver has to emerge and the dream season would likely go kaput if Robinson got hurt, but there's depth across the board and the talent is in place for the offense to be even more special.

2. Oklahoma
The numbers were too good to be for real. Once the machine started to roll, it was unstoppable with four games with 600 yards or more of total offense, ten games with 500 or more, and five straight games with 60 points or more to close out the regular season. Lost in the national title loss to Florida, and the loss to Texas, was that the offense moved the ball well and the attack actually worked. There's not going to be a whole bunch of tinkering to the formula in Kevin Wilson's attack with Heisman winner Sam Bradford returning as the triggerman and with speed and talent to burn both in the backfield and the receiving corps. The return of tight end Jermaine Gresham gives Bradford a go-to guy, while the receivers will be more than fine with Ryan Broyles leading the way and with the expected emergence of Adron Tennell. The rushing tandem of Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray is among the best in the country, and they'll have a big line to work behind. Trent Williams is the only starter up front, but the line has decent potential. No, the numbers might not be as strong as they were last year, mainly because the line won't be as strong, but this should still be a statistical juggernaut.

3. USC
Steve Sarkisian is now the head coach at Washington, which means it’s time for another young, upwardly-mobile assistant to use Troy as a career launching pad. Former Denver Broncos quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates has taken the same position with the Trojans, while also calling plays. A high-energy guy and offensive innovator, he’ll immediately be under the microscope as the program breaks the seal on a new starting quarterback. Sophomore Aaron Corp earned the nod with a strong spring, but true freshman Matt Barkley was all the rage, showing off his cannon and surpassing veteran Mitch Mustain for the No. 2 job. Whatever concerns Corp might have as a first-time starter should be quelled by the presence of 14 players, who started a game in 2008. The Trojans are absolutely stacked everywhere, but especially in the trenches, where the potential exists to be the most dominant offensive line in the country.

4. Florida
The offense will be missing the sure-thing receiving stars with Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy gone, but there's speed to burn at running back, the line should grow into something terrific, and the quarterback situation is special. Tim Tebow makes everyone around him better, while John Brantley is a strong backup who'll be a superstar next year. New offensive coordinator Steve Addazio will use a little I-formation to go along with the normal spread attack, but no matter what the scheme, the offense will be balanced after running for 231 yards per game and throwing for 214. The offense finished fourth in the country in scoring and 15th in total yards, and while it won't be quite as good with the shake-up at receiver, it'll still be one of the nation's most efficient attacks thanks to Tebow. He'll try to be used more as a pro-style passer, but when push comes to shove, he'll use his running skills to do some pushing and shoving.

5. Texas
The offense wasn’t very flashy, and the running production wasn’t always there, but the attack was ruthlessly efficient and very, very productive finishing ninth in the nation in yards and fifth in offense. The Longhorns only scored fewer than 30 points twice, against Oklahoma State and Ohio State. Colt McCoy returns after a tremendous season; he should be able to make everyone around him better. That’s not to say there isn’t talent all across the board, but the key is the all-around depth and steadiness. The line returns four starters, and now it needs to do more for an underwhelming corps of running backs that didn’t do enough. The receiving corps has the potential to be fantastic with Jordan Shipley back to be the steady leader of a fantastic group of young targets. And then there’s McCoy. The Heisman finalist did a little of everything for the offense last year, and now he has a more experienced, more talented group around him.

6. Georgia
It's possible for Georgia to lose the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, QB Matthew Stafford, and first-round pick RB Knowshon Moreno and be even better offensively. Why? How? The offensive line. While there are several injury issues from the knee of superstar tackle Trinton Sturdivant to various knee, hip, and shoulder problems at other spots, the line is deep, experienced, loaded, and stunningly young. It might be the best line in the country, even if the starting five might change on a weekly basis like it did throughout the first half of last year. The running backs are extremely deep, very fast, and very good with several excellent options to play around with. Joe Cox won't be Stafford, but he's a long-time veteran who should be serviceable and should keep the chains moving thanks to a line that'll give him ten days to throw. A.J. Green is one of the nation's best receivers, but he needs a No. 2 target to help take the heat off.

7. Ohio State
The OSU offense took a left turn last season when Terrelle Pryor took over the attack with less deep passing and more running, but things should be more balanced this year. Pryor worked hard this offseason to become a more polished passer, and now there should be more long balls and more chances taking after he dinked and dunked with safe passes throughout the second half of last season. While much will be made about the major losses at running back and receiver, there's more than enough speed and talent to step in and produce. There's no power in the running game, but Dan "Boom" Herron and Brandon "Zoom" Saine can fly. The receiving corps might turn out to be a strength with DeVier Posey about to become a superstar and with Dane Sanzenbacher, Ray Small, and incoming freshman Duron Carter all good enough to put up big numbers. The key to the offense should be the line, which wasn't bad for the ground game last year but struggled mightily in pass protection and didn't have a nasty enough attitude. The addition of Michigan transfer Justin Boren at left guard should make a big different for a group that should emerge as the Big Ten's best with a little time.

8. Illinois
What you need to know: The offense wasn't consistent and it didn't crank out the points it was supposed to, but it should all come together this year with the Big Ten's best attack. The receiving corps, led by Arrelious Benn and Florida transfer Jarred Fayson, is the best in the league by far, while all the rushing production from last year returns with four quick backs to provide more for the ground game. The line might need a little time, and it needs to be better in pass protection, but it's very big and has a ton of positive upside. Everything works around Juice Williams, who should be in for a special season now that he has grown into a better passer and can be one of the league's better rushing options. This attack should be able to keep up in any sort of a firefight.

9. LSU
The big question going into last year was at quarterback, but it was generally acknowledged that everything was going to turn out to be fine in the race between Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch. Hatch got hurt and Lee couldn't stop throwing the ball to the other team. Call it a step back to take a big leap forward as the problems forced Jordan Jefferson to be thrown to the wolves over the last month of the season. Now he's the quarterback, and appears ready to be the man for the next three years. There are some terrific pieces to work around with Charles Scott leading a veteran group of running backs, Brandon LaFell working for LSU as a No. 1 receiver instead of as a highly paid first round draft pick, and OT Ciron Black anchoring a nice line. The Gary Crowton offense will revolve around Scott and the running game as much as possible, but there's too much speed at receiver to not have a few deep plays here and there. This should be one of the SEC's better offenses, but it might not be consistent. Even so, when the points come, they'll come in bunches.

10. Oregon
Oregon led the Pac-10 in scoring last season at just under 42 points a game, fine-tuning the spread-option as the season progressed. And now the rest of the league will have to deal with a quarterback, who’s just beginning to reach his peak and is an ideal fit for the system. Jeremiah Masoli took everyone by surprise midway through the 2008 season, carving up defenses with his hard running and improved passing. With a full offseason as the undisputed starter, he figures to be even more productive this fall. The junior will be surrounded by sure-fire all-stars in RB LeGarrette Blount and TE Ed Dickson. However, if the Ducks are going to pick up where they left off in the Holiday Bowl, the wide receivers need to become more consistent and the reshaped offensive line must gel. The front wall is losing more starts than any team in the league, and is still waiting for an anchor to emerge.

11 Penn State
12 Missouri
13 California
14 Ole Miss
15 Oregon State
16 Kansas
17 Iowa
18 Florida State
19 Alabama
20 West Virginia
21 Texas Tech
22 Wisconsin
23 Georgia Tech
24 Notre Dame
25 Arizona
26 Miami  
27 BYU
28 Michigan
29 Colorado  
30 Arkansas
31 Michigan State
32 South Florida
33 Cincinnati
34 Virginia Tech
35 Nevada
36 Fresno State
37 NC State
38 Clemson
39 TCU
40 Nebraska
41 Pitt
42 Utah  
43 North Carolina
44 Maryland 
45 Baylor
46 Houston
47 Tennessee
48 Auburn
49 Virginia  
50 Wake Forest
51 Minnesota
52 Boise State
53 Boston College
54 Rutgers 
55 Colorado State
56 Kentucky
57 Stanford
58 Louisville 
59 Iowa State
60 Central Michigan
61 Connecticut
62 Kansas State
63 East Carolina
64 Texas A&M
65 Southern Miss
66 Northwestern
67 South Carolina
68 Arizona State
69 Washington  
70 Air Force
71 Vanderbilt
72 New Mexico  
73 Indiana 
75 Duke
76 Purdue
77 Toledo
78 Mississippi State
79 Florida Atlantic
80 Buffalo
81 Arkansas State
82 Northern Illinois
83 Syracuse
84 Western Michigan
85 Tulsa
86 Louisiana Tech
87 UCLA 
88 Akron
90 Washington State
91 Bowling Green
92 Memphis
93 Eastern Michigan
94 Marshall
95 Troy
96 Miami Univ.
97 Kent State
98 Ball State
99 Navy
100 San Jose State
101 Wyoming
102 San Diego State
103 Hawaii
104 Ohio  
105 Middle Tennessee
106 UAB
107 UL Lafayette
108 North Texas
109 SMU
110 FIU
111 Rice
112 Tulane
113 Temple
114 Utah State
115 Idaho
116 UL Monroe
117 Western Kentucky
118 UCF
119 Army
120 New Mexico State