Previewing the AP top 25
A look at the Associated Press preaseason top 25 (first-place votes in parentheses).
1) Oklahoma (36)
The Sooners should be prolific offensively with quarterback Landry Jones and eight other starters back on that side of the ball.
2) Alabama (17)
Quarterback is one of the few questions for Coach Nick Saban. The defense, and particularly the secondary, should be downright dominant.
3) Oregon (4)
LaMichael James, the nation’s leading rusher, returns to the always entertaining “blur” offense. But the Ducks must deal with turnover on both lines.
4) Louisiana State (1)
No one should doubt Coach Les Miles in big games. But off-field adversity this month has generated adversity heading into the marquee season opener against Oregon.
5) Boise State (2)
The Broncos enter the Mountain West Conference with a defense that will be stout. But quarterback Kellen Moore will need to find some new favorite receivers.
Coach Jimbo Fisher has the ACC’s most talented team. Quarterback E.J. Manuel takes full control of the offense, while the defensive sack-masters do their thing.
The return of Andrew Luck, the best quarterback prospect in some time, overshadows turnover on the offensive line.
8) Texas A&M
Considering that 80.3 percent of their lettermen are back and that key games against Texas and Oklahoma State are at home, the Aggies should be looking at their best season this century.
If quarterback Taylor Martinez can find consistency behind a revamped offensive line, the Cornhuskers could play in their first Big Ten championship game.
The Badgers have just 12 returning starters, second fewest in the league. And it’s doubtful they can duplicate last season’s plus-14 turnover margin.
12) South Carolina
13) Virginia Tech
The Hokies’ biggest strength may be their schedule: All of the tougher games are at home. An ACC title game matchup with Florida State could await.
14) Texas Christian
Expect some drop-off because of the loss of quarterback Andy Dalton and three offensive line starters. And playing Boise State on the blue turf is easier said than done.
The Razorbacks should be better than they’ve been, but — with road games against LSU and Alabama and a nonconference game against Texas A&M — it may not show up in their record.
16) Notre Dame
Hopes are high in South Bend after a strong finish last season. Coach Brian Kelly has tapped Dayne Crist as his starting quarterback.
17) Michigan State
With senior quarterback Kirk Cousins and a talented running backs corps, this is the best team Coach Mark Dantonio has had in five seasons and a sleeper Big Ten title pick.
18) Ohio State
The Buckeyes can thank Miami for stealing the negative limelight this offseason. But circle Sept. 17, when the Buckeyes visit the Hurricanes in what could be called the IneligiBowl.
After winning just six games last season, Coach Mark Richt’s team could be among the nation’s most improved teams, especially with continued improvement from quarterback Aaron Murray.
The Bulldogs are trying to win nine or more games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in 116 years of football. It won’t be easy in the loaded SEC West.
The schedule early is brutal. But even with questions at quarterback, a strong offensive line and a bevy of running backs should mean
With just 10 returning starters and a brutal schedule, new coach Will Muschamp will be fortunate to match last year’s win total of eight games.
The Tigers may be lucky to be in the preseason top 25 after losing the likes of Cam Newton and Nick Fairley.
24) West Virginia
Despite their youth – just 12 scholarship seniors – the Trojans have the potential to win the Pacific-12 South. But they would not be eligible to play in the first Pac-12 title game.