- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2009

1. Florida — Yes, the Blessed Tebow returns, but so does the entire defense from last year’s champs.

2. Southern Cal — Even with losses on defense, no one has more talent at his disposal than Pete Carroll.

3. Texas — Longhorns’ real McCoy could snare his own Heisman if Texas can run the table.

4. Oklahoma — Defending Heisman winner Bradford is great, but tight end Gresham is even better.

5. Ohio State — Thanks to a Pryor engagement, Buckeyes might lurk in the national title chase.

6. Alabama — If Crimson Tide ever unearth a truly potent passer, look out.

7. LSU — Expect a bounce-back year in Baton Rouge, where talent is not a question.

8. Penn State — Royster, efficient QB Clark will keep Nittany Lions in the running for the Roses.

9. Virginia Tech — Hokies’ national title hopes will die early with an erratic offense.

10. Georgia — Bulldogs are far less heralded but nearly as talented as a season ago.

11. Boise State — Just a typical year in Potato Land, where winning 11 games sounds about right.

12. California — Golden Bears might have nation’s Best tailback, but they need more to beat Southern Cal.

13. Mississippi — Despite excessive hype, Rebels have the schedule and QB (Snead) to come through.

14. Oregon State — Beavers will follow their usual plan: mediocre early, dominant late.

15. Georgia Tech — So who still thinks the triple option won’t work in the ACC?

16. Oklahoma State — National title contenders play defense, and the Cowboys often do not.

17. Kansas — Arduous schedule could scuttle Jayhawks’ Big 12 title hopes — again.

18. Oregon — Run-happy Ducks unlikely to fade after transition from Bellotti to Chip Kelly.

19. Nebraska — Didn’t take long for Bo Pelini to revitalize the Cornhuskers, who could win Big 12 North.

20. TCU — For a textbook defensive display, see Horned Frogs’ Sept. 12 visit to Virginia.

21. Florida State — With a dominant line and a feisty defense, Seminoles should win ACC Atlantic.

22. Michigan State — Not quite on Big Ten’s top tier, but Spartans are a clear favorite for third.

23. Utah — From unbeaten to… merely contending for a Mountain West title. Life could be worse.

24. Texas Tech — Aaargh! Pirate-loving Leach will look up at three salty scalawags in tough Big 12 South.

25. Cincinnati — Even with 10 lost starters on defense, it remains unwise to discount mad genius Kelly.

26. Clemson — Spiller-for-Heisman campaign starts (and could end) Sept. 10 against Georgia Tech.

27. West Virginia — The QB limelight finally belongs to longtime understudy Jarrett Brown.

28. Iowa — Hawkeyes will miss Shonn Greene a lot, star defensive tackles even more.

29. Brigham Young — Cougars ended last year with a thud, but program still looks capable.

30. N.C. State — Wolfpack’s omnipresent caveat: If Russell Wilson can stay healthy…

31. Miami — If maturing Hurricanes survive opening gauntlet, the ACC would be wise to be wary.

32. Notre Dame — Schedule looks conducive to a nine-win season, but Irish are far from elite.

33. Rutgers — Laughable nonconference schedule ensures Scarlet Knights won’t receive benefit of doubt.

34. Pittsburgh — Losses of McCoy and McKillop, questions at QB will set back Panthers.

35. South Carolina — Ol’ Ball Coach not any closer to bringing an SEC title to Columbia.

36. East Carolina — Defending C-USA champ has a chance at another crown — and a few more upsets.

37. Illinois — The ultimate talent vs. teaching saga will be played out this fall with the Zooker.

38. North Carolina — Tar Heels could be better, but luck played a huge role in 8-5 season in 2008.

39. Arizona State — Football mercenary Erickson should help Sun Devils bounce back from shaky year.

40. Northwestern — No Ohio State + No Michigan + Penn State at home = Stealthy Big Ten title pick.

41. Missouri — Expect a step back from the Daniel years; realistically, Tigers weren’t that good in 2008.

42. Tennessee — Will Kiffin still be running his mouth after losing to Florida by 30?

43. Houston — Keenum just the latest system quarterback on a good team with gaudy numbers.

44. South Florida — Fading Bulls would be national title contenders if season ended in mid-October.

45. Wisconsin — Another mediocre season might hint at stagnation in Madison.

46. Wake Forest — Deacons sustained serious losses on defense, but Grobe will find a way to win seven.

47. Baylor

48. Michigan — All eyes on Rodriguez as Wolverines attempt recovery from abominable 3-9.

49. Arkansas — Look for an uptick from Razorbacks, just not into top half of the SEC.

50. Central Michigan — Veteran QB LeFevour could march Chippewas to another Motor City Bowl.

51. Connecticut — Not much buzz with Huskies, who lose power rusher Brown to the pros.

52. Maryland — Schizophrenic Terps are 6-2 against ranked teams since 2007, 8-10 against everyone else.

53. Southern Mississippi — With tailback Fletcher reinstated, Eagles could surprise in C-USA.

54. Tulsa — Golden Hurricane have lots to replace on prolific offense, but winning eight games is plausible.

55. Colorado — It still ain’t intramurals in Boulder, where the time to win is just about now.

56. Arizona — After QB Tuitama’s graduation, how will the Wildcats fare on offense?

57. Western Michigan — Broncos probably the most capable MAC team of derailing Central Michigan.

58. Auburn — The question is revitalizing the Tigers; the answer might not be “5-19 Gene” Chizik.

59. Vanderbilt — Commodores’ offense requires improvement to secure another bowl bid.

60. Boston College — Longtime assistant Spaziani finally gets his chance with workmanlike Eagles.

61. Nevada — Sure, Wolf Pack’s system helps, but Kaepernick is one of nation’s best QBs.

62. Navy — An Annapolis air raid? Ricky Dobbs Phenomenon means a little more passing for Mids.

63. Kentucky — Wildcats getting better and better at scratching out bowl berths against the odds.

64. UCLA — A boom-or-bust team in dire need of improvement at quarterback.

65. Stanford — Cardinal not far from an extended breakthrough under Harbaugh.

66. Colorado State — After surprise bowl berth comes the tough part: returning to MWC contention.

67. Air Force — Tough sledding for Falcons, who must visit Brigham Young, Navy and Utah.

68. Virginia — Installing a spread offense could help — but maybe not early in the season.

69. Minnesota — Gophers to christen on-campus, open-air stadium with a 6-6 product. Uh, yay?

70. Louisville — Cardinals continue fall from Orange Bowl champs to barely relevant in just three years.

71. Troy — Trojans quietly have amassed three straight eight-win seasons; bank on a fourth.

72. Buffalo — Bulls slammed with loss of program career rushing leader Starks to season-ending injury.

73. Fresno State — Like every season, Bulldogs are sure to stun a nonconference foe and lose to a WAC dreg.

74. Duke — Underappreciated QB Lewis could help author Blue Devils’ first winning season since ‘94.

75. Memphis — Looks like another ho-hum .500ish season for the boys in blue.

76. Purdue — Hope is not a strategy — he’s a coach tasked with rebuilding the Boilermakers.

77. Kansas State — The Bill Snyder Era, version 2.0, might not have a promising start; neither did the first.

78. Louisiana Tech — Better than much of the WAC but still not in Boise State’s tier.

79. Temple — Thirty years since last postseason appearance, Golden’s Owls could break through.

80. UTEP — Lots of experience and friendly schedule make Miners a C-USA sleeper.

81. Bowling Green — In muddled MAC East, Falcons could take flight in first year under Clawson.

82. Central Florida — Former Maryland coordinators Taaffe and Blackney reunited in Orlando.

83. UNLV — Despite progress, Rebels still look like a second-division Mountain West team.

84. Northern Illinois — Last year’s MAC surprise could net school’s first back-to-back bowl berths.

85. Washington — Huskies simply cannot be as atrocious as last year; doesn’t mean they’ll be scary.

86. Rice — Key cogs in pitch-and-catch offense gone, but Owls still can go bowling.

87. Syracuse — Orange might not be good, but there’s hope with new coach (and alum) Marrone.

88. Texas A&M — Looking like a Big 12 South cellar dweller thanks to Baylor’s improvement.

89. Mississippi State — New coach Mullen certain to wish he had his old QB Tebow a few times.

90. Arkansas State — Go ahead and bank six wins for remarkably steady Red Wolves.

91. New Mexico — Might be a step back for Lobos before moving forward under Locksley.

92. Florida Atlantic — Improved play from QB Smith could vault Owls even higher.

93. Hawaii — Unveiling the Big McMackin value meal: Would you like tact with that?

94. Marshall — Snyder’s seat has to be toasty after four straight losing seasons.

95. Akron — The new: Zips open new stadium; the old: Zips to finish in middle of MAC.

96. Indiana — At least the basketball team will be much-improved this season.

97. Ohio — Solich, Bobcats need to stem decline of back-to-back middling seasons.

98. San Jose State — Midpack Spartans good at beating bad teams, bad at beating good teams.

99. Ball State — With drastic change of cast, Cardinals back to the MAC’s crammed center.

100. Iowa State — New coach, same problems for bottom-of-the-Big 12 Cyclones.

101. Middle Tennessee — Blue Raiders go for two straight against Maryland with Sept. 19 visit to Byrd.

102. Wyoming — QB uncertainty won’t fix abysmal offense (119th in scoring) or horrid turnover ratio (118th).

103. Kent State — Golden Flashes’ upward mobility aided by return of tailback Jarvis.

104. Washington State — Cougars were dreadful a year ago, which makes “awful” a sign of progress.

105. Florida International — Not far removed from a winless year, Golden Panthers could be respectable.

106. Southern Methodist — Tough for Mustangs to be as bad as back-to-back 1-11 seasons.

107. San Diego State — Aztecs spin coaching wheel again to try to end befuddling decade-plus bowl drought.

108. Utah State — Ex-Utah assistant Andersen assumes experienced roster in Logan.

109. Toledo — Rockets have defeated a Big Six team three years running; look out, Purdue and Colorado.

110. Miami (Ohio) — Cradle of coaches set to spit out fourth straight losing season.

111. Tulane — A bad sign for Green Wave: Punter Thevenot is team’s most touted player.

112. UAB — Brutal midseason stretch (seven of nine on road) could derail rebuilding Blazers.

113. Army — With new coach Ellerson, there’s hope on the Hudson for first time in a decade.

114. UL Monroe — Warhawks still looking for first winning season since moving up in 1994.

115. UL Lafayette — Run-happy Ragin’ Cajuns could rise on the merits of an experienced O-line.

116. Eastern Michigan — New coach English won’t like Eagles’ usual language: far below .500.

117. Idaho — Early schedule is manageable, but Vandals will be stuck near WAC cellar.

118. New Mexico State — Ex-Redskins assistant DeWayne Walker takes over sad-sack Aggies.

119. Western Kentucky — Hilltoppers complete move to top level but should struggle with new status.

120. North Texas — “Dodge Ball” truly an underdog story for team that yielded 47.6 points a game.

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