2010 Preseason Rankings - No. 6 to 10
Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien
Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien
Posted Aug 9, 2010

Preview 2010 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 6 to 10 ... BCS Title Contenders

Preview 2010 - Preseason Rankings

BCS Title Contenders - No. 6 to 10

2010 CFN Preseason Rankings
- 1 to 5 | 6 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 30 | 31 to 40 | 41 to 50 | 51 to 60
- 61 to 70 | 71 to 80 | 81 to 90 | 91 to 100 | 101 to 110 | 111 to 120
- CFN Preseason Rankings 2009 | 2008 | 2007

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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 120

10. Texas
- 2010 Texas Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 10-2
Why Texas Should Be No. 1: The pressure is off, but the talent is still there. Texas got to the national title game last season even with a few glaring problems (most notably an average year from the offensive line and a mediocre season from the running backs), but this year's team should be better up front on offense, the backs will get more of the work, and the defense, particularly the secondary, should be as good as ever. It's Texas; it'll be in the BCS Championship hunt.
Why Texas Isn't No. 1: This appears to be a holding pattern year. Texas is still more than good enough to win the Big 12 title, and Garrett Gilbert might be a better pro prospect than Colt McCoy, but there are just enough X factors that have to be smoothed out to see a bit of a stumble. However, if you're going to get Texas, do it now before the phenomenal recruiting class of 2010 starts to kick in.
Key to the Season:: Getting more from the running backs. There will be a four or five-headed monster utilized for the ground game, but it would really nice of someone took over and became the main man for everyone else to work around. The Texas ground game wasn't awful last season, but it was inconsistent over the second half of the season and non-existent for stretches. Of the 28 touchdown runs, just one came against Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Alabama. No Texas team should ever be held to 46 yards rushing by the 2009 Colorado Buffaloes.
Relative Strength: Secondary, Defensive Line
Relative Weakness: Offensive Line
What to watch for on offense: More of a running attack. The team was way too reliant on Colt McCoy over the last few years, and it proved costly with disastrous ends to both the 2006 and the 2009 seasons after he got hurt. The coaching staff has decided to balance things out a bit and go back to running the ball more with the backs instead of a McCoy or Vince Young-like quarterback, but there's a question whether or not this team has the pieces to do it. The offensive line has been shockingly average over the last few years, and only two starters return up front. There are plenty of running back options, but no world-beaters unless Tre Newton becomes special. In any event, the offense that averaged 274 passing yards and 148 rushing yards per game should even out a bit.
What to watch for on defense: A phenomenal year from the secondary. Had Earl Thomas decided to come back to man his strong safety spot, the UT starting group that included Aaron Williams and Curtis Brown on the outside, Blake Gideon at free safety, and Chykie Brown in a nickel spot (or at corner with Williams at nickel) would've been hailed as one of the best in the history of Texas football and one of the most talented college defensive backfields of all-time. It's still going to be good with the ultra-athletic Christian Scott taking over for Thomas and everyone else back. This is going to be a ball-hawking group that flies all over the field, and if the pass rush can approach the level it was at last season, when it finished second in the nation in sacks and eighth in tackles for loss, the pass defense will be a brick wall two years after it was lit up like a Christmas tree.
Fun Stat: First Quarter Scoring: Texas 108 – Opponents 39

9. Virginia Tech
- 2010 Virginia Tech Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 10-2
Why Virginia Tech Should Be No. 1: With all due respect to Alabama, the Hokies might have the best backfield in America. The offense was unstoppable by the end of last year and it should be even more consistent with QB Tyrod Taylor and running backs Ryan Williams and Darren Evans to rely on. Across the board, the pieces are there to be in the hunt for the national title, but it might take a little while for everything to jell. That's a problem with …
Why Virginia Tech Isn't No. 1: … Boise State on the schedule to start the season. The defense has to undergo a massive rebuilding job with just four starters returning, and the offense, even though it's going to be great, has some key losses to deal with on the line.
Key to the Season:: More offensive balance. It was no coincidence that the Hokies' late-season success in 2009 occurred as the offense came alive. Virginia Tech might need to pick up where it left off last winter, scoring a few more points until the rebuilt defense finds a rhythm and solidifies the two-deep. Few opponents will stop the running game, but if Tyrod Taylor keeps growing as a complete quarterback, this will be the program's most potent and balanced attack since Mike Vick was still in school.
Relative Strength: Running Back, Secondary
Relative Weakness: Receiver
What to watch for on offense: The distribution of the carries. Ryan Williams is a bona fide star. Uhhh, but then again, so is Darren Evans. With access to the last two ACC Rookies of the Year, the staff's biggest concern will be keeping everyone well-fed. Heck, third-stringer David Wilson would start for half of the nation's schools, but might wind up redshirting if he's not needed. The good news is that Williams and Evans appear to be each other's biggest fan, and are two very different backs. While the latter is a punishing, between-the-tackles runner, the former is a dynamo, with game-breaking all-around skills.
What to watch for on defense: The development of the new ends. When Jason Worilds decided to leave early for the NFL, it was a double-whammy for a line that already knew it would be without Nekos Brown on the other side. The Hokies are losing a lot of speed and pressure on the edge, and are banking on a pair of unproven players to pick up the slack. Senior Steven Friday has no starting experience and a linebacker's build, and junior Chris Drager is a converted tight end still adjusting to the finer points of beating blockers. If Tech is to survive the loss of so many regulars, it'll need these two vets to set the tone up front.
Fun Stat: Rushing touchdowns: Virginia Tech 33 – Opponents 10

8. Boise State
- 2010 Boise State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 11-1
Why Boise State Should Be No. 1: Cornerback Kyle Wilson is a New York Jet. Everyone else of note is back … everyone. Yeah, the Broncos play in the WAC, and yeah, they play roughly three or four real games a year, but don't let the schedule gloss over how good this team might be.
Why Boise State Isn't No. 1: The stigma of being in the WAC. If the Broncos beat Virginia Tech and Oregon State impressively, then it'll be time to throw out all the old biases. The offensive line is good, but it's not all that big, while the pass rush isn't quite at a national title level.
Key to the Season:: More pressure from the defense and more third down conversions on offense. Ryan Winterswyk came up with nine sacks and tackle Billy Winn generated six. The rest of the team came up with ten sacks. The pass rush wasn't bad, and there wasn't a problem generating pressure into the backfield, but the more shots on opposing quarterbacks, the better (considering most teams will be throwing to try to keep up). Offensively, the Broncos converted a pedestrian 38% of their third down tries, good for 73rd in the nation. The leader, BYU, converted 55.6% of its tries.
Relative Strength: Defensive Line, Quarterback
Relative Weakness: Secondary
What to watch for on offense: The offensive line combination. The front five was terrific last year giving up a nation-low five sacks and dominating (for the most part) for the ground game. However, there was a lot of juggling and a lot of shifting around. Credit the coaching staff and the offense that the production didn't stall, but it would be nice to have one starting lineup and be able to stick with it. If the line is great again, the tremendous skill players will take care of the rest.
What to watch for on defense: The second corner spot. Kyle Wilson was an All-American and a first round draft pick. As good as Boise State might be, it still hurts to lose a talent of his level. Brandyn Thompson did a nice job when picked on, but he was a wee bit inconsistent and has to show he can handle being the main man on one side while junior Jerrell Gavins will have to prove he can handle himself on the other. He has experience and he was more than fine when he got his chances, but the second corner spot is the only opening on the veteran defense and the spotlight will be on.
Fun Stat: Interceptions Thrown: Opponents 24 – Boise State 3

7. TCU
- 2010 TCU Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 11-1
Why TCU Should Be No. 1: The Horned Frogs returned loaded with QB Andy Dalton leading an attack that should be among the five most productive and efficient in America. The receiving corps is among the best in college football and the line should be a brick wall. TCU always plugs in the gaps on defense, but …
Why TCU Isn't No. 1: … you don't get better by losing DE Jerry Hughes, LB Daryl Washington, and safeties Nick Sanders and Rafael Priest. TCU is the cream of the Mountain West crop, but it needs several great looking prospects to be fantastic, front-line starters. Health will be an issue for the defensive back seven.
Key to the Season:: Keeping interceptions to a minimum. Sometimes statistics are just quirks and sometimes they're telling. TCU operates with a nasty defense and an efficient offense that doesn't give the ball away. When the turnovers come, the system usually breaks down. TCU is 31-8 over the last three seasons and is 0-4 when Andy Dalton throws more than one interception. Taking it a few steps further, over the last 29 games, TCU is 25-1 (with the one loss at Oklahoma in 2008) when Dalton doesn't throw multiple picks and is 0-2 when he does. How good has TCU been with Dalton at quarterback when he doesn't throw any interceptions? 22-0.
Relative Strength: Special Teams, Quarterback
Relative Weakness: Linebacker
What to watch for on offense: Right tackle. Everything else is perfect from the loaded receiving corps, the speedy running backs, and the talented front line. However, there's one big, gaping hole on the right side after 6-5, 350-pound all-star Marcus Cannon moved over to Marshall Newhouse's spot at left tackle. Jeff Olson came from out of nowhere to take over the starting tackle job after spring ball, but the position is wide open with the hope that the talented, yet disappointing, Zach Roth can step up his play and become the main man. For a team that was sixth in the nation in sacks allowed, this could be the Achilles heel.
What to watch for on defense: The shoulders of the linebackers. Losing a superior athlete in Daryl Washington hurts, but the Horned Frogs only use two linebackers in the 4-2-5 scheme and have several great players ready to take on bigger roles. However, the corps needs Tank Carder to be 100% after he suffered a shoulder problem this offseason. Making matters worse was a shoulder injury suffered by key reserve Kris Gardner, making TCU suddenly thin at a position that shouldn't be a problem. Both Carder and Gardner are expected to turn out fine, but there will be a drop-off in overall defensive production if those two aren't right.
Fun Stat: Second half scoring: TCU 235 – Opponents 65

6. Wisconsin
- 2010 Wisconsin Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 10-2
Why Wisconsin Should Be No. 1: No one will stop the offense. The line is big, brutish, and very, very good, and it'll pave the way for John Clay and a great group of Badger backs that should bludgeon most defenses. Scott Tolzien is a game manager (in a positive way) of a passer who knows his role in the attack, and he has a dizzying array of receiving talents to work with.
Why Wisconsin Isn't No. 1: The defensive front has to replace some key players including heart-and-soul pass rusher O'Brien Schofield. The back seven is decent, but the corners are a bit shaky and consistency could be a problem. Yes, the Badgers had a strong 2009 and beat Miami, but it's not like the résumé was anything to chirp over.
Key to the Season:: Scott Tolzien keeps the interceptions to a minimum. The Badgers have lost nine games over the last two seasons, and in those games the quarterbacks threw 14 interceptions and just eight touchdown passes. In the 17 wins the quarterbacks tossed 19 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. The ground game is the major focus of the offense, but the passing game can't make mistakes against the better teams.
Relative Strength: Running Back, Offensive Line
Relative Weakness: Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: The most devastating running game since Ron Dayne was rumbling. With all five starters returning to the offensive line, good backups to form a strong rotation, and three running backs good enough to start for anyone in the Big Ten, the ground attack that finished 15th in the nation and first in the Big Ten should be even more effective. It's an injury-proof attack with Montee Ball and Zach Brown able to crank out 100 yards if something happens to Clay, while the passing game should be efficient enough to keep safeties deep and linebackers on their heels. It's not always going to be fancy, but it won't have to be.
What to watch for on defense: The defensive tackles. The linebacking corps should turn out to be among the Big Ten's most effective. The secondary will have a few problems now and again, but it should be strong as the season goes on. The only possible weak link (on the team as well as the defense) could be on the defensive interior unless redshirt freshman Jordan Kohout and junior Patrick Butrym play up to their potential, and while they might be fine, the difference between a Big Ten title and the Capital One Bowl could be their level of play. There's a great attitude among the linemen knowing that the spotlight is on, and if the tackles turn out to be great, look out.
Fun Stat: Rushing Touchdowns: Wisconsin 33 – Opponents 8

2010 CFN Preseason Rankings
- 1 to 5 | 6 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 30 | 31 to 40 | 41 to 50 | 51 to 60
- 61 to 70 | 71 to 80 | 81 to 90 | 91 to 100 | 101 to 110 | 111 to 120
- CFN Preseason Rankings 2009 | 2008 | 2007