Last year, my early top 10 had Notre Dame at No. 1 (yuk), but Florida was No. 2 (yay!).
Here’s my very early look at 2007:
1. USC–The Trojans have the most talented 85-man roster in college football. The question–at least on offense–is whether it has any idea what to do with it. John David Booty is, perhaps, the Heisman front runner, but will his young receivers be ready? No such worries on the defensive side of the ball, as that unit could be one of the best in recent memory, with as many as six Trojan defenders being legitimate All-American candidates.
2. Texas–The Longhorns are loaded on both sides of the ball and are bringing in a top three recruiting class to boot. If Colt McCoy can avoid the sophomore slump and Jamaal Charles can return to his freshman form, there could be a rematch of the 2006 Rose Bowl.
3. Michigan–The Wolverines return the triumvirate of Henne, Hart and Manningham, which means the offense should be pretty good. The defense will still be talented, but must overcome the loss of a couple key players in the front four.
4. West Virginia–Steve Slaton and Pat White return, which means the Mountaineers will still be very explosive. If the defense can hold up, WVU should once again challenge for the Big East title and maybe more.
5. Florida–The Gators lose a lot on the defensive side of the ball, but there is still all that exciting talent to draw from in Gainesville. Tim Tebow should live up to his considerable hype and don’t forget about Percy Harvin, either.
6. Louisville–The Cardinals lost Bobby Petrino to the NFL, but Steve Kragthorpe should keep things rolling. Brian Brohm returns, as does the exciting receiver duo of Harry Douglas and Mario Urrutia.
7. Tennessee–Erik Ainge improvemed dramatically last year and he is primed for a big season. The Vols’ top recruiting class of three years ago should make its presence felt this year.
8. LSU–Gary Crowton is LSU’s new offensive coordinator and he’ll have plenty of exciting weapons at his disposal. Matt Flynn is the presumptive starter at quarterback, but the troubled Ryan Perriloux could be a factor, too.
9. Nebraska–ASU transfer Sam Keller takes over the reins of the offense and the Huskers should actually improve on that side of the ball. All the pieces are in place for a run at the Big 12 title.
10. Hawaii–You better be on your best defensive behavior against this team because it will hang half a hundred on you in a heartbeat. Colt Brennan is an amazing player, even if he does play in a system designed to put up crazy numbers.
On the Cusp: California, Georgia, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Brigham Young.