TOP 25 COUNTDOWN
No. 6 Missouri
12-2, beat Arkansas, 38-7, in Cotton Bowl
6 offense, 10 defense
at Texas, Oct. 18
Player to Watch
Jeremy Maclin, sophomore wide receiver
After suffering a severely torn ACL in his right knee following 7-on-7 drills in July 2006, Maclin became a dynamic force during his collegiate debut last season, compiling an NCAA freshman record 2,776 all-purpose yards.
Why They're Worth Watching
Missouri doesn't have to play Oklahoma during the regular season, so aside from a blockbuster game Oct. 18 at Texas, the Tigers' Big 12 schedule appears favorable for another Big 12 North run. Senior quarterback Chase Daniel, a 2007 Heisman finalist, returns with a fiery leadership style, looking to improve upon last season's totals of 4,306 passing yards and 33 touchdowns. There has been much speculation about how the Tigers will replace running back Tony Temple, and sophomore Derrick Washington, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry in 36 attempts in 2007, has shown flashes of brilliance in offensive coordinator Dave Christensen's spread system. Like last season, the offense has the potential to score at will, so any national-championship aspirations will hinge on a veteran defensive unit, anchored by senior strong safety William Moore, who had tied for the NCAA lead with eight interceptions in 2007.
Why They're Vulnerable
Last year, Oklahoma proved that Missouri's blistering offense can be neutralized with aggressive front-line pressure and physical secondary play. When faced with conflict, Daniel has been known to allow his temper to overcome his mental control. During the first part of last season, Missouri's defense struggled to maintain sizable leads after Daniel sliced the opposition for quick touchdowns, only to stall in the second half. Despite talk of potential Big 12 title and national championship campaigns, those around the program question whether Coach Gary Pinkel is aggressive enough to lift the Tigers to such lofty heights. Replacing former tight end Martin Rucker, a first-team all-American selection in 2007, also will be a concern, although senior Chase Coffman, who was a second-team all-Big 12 selection last season, has shown he is capable of filling the role.
-- Andrew Astleford
No. 5 Florida.
No. 25 Arizona State, No. 24 Alabama, No. 23 Cal, No. 22 Penn State, No. 21 Wake Forest, No. 20 Wisconsin, No. 19 Tennessee, No. 18 Oregon, No. 17 Illinois, No. 16 Kansas, No. 15 BYU, No. 14 Virginia Tech, No. 13 South Florida, No. 12 Texas Tech, No. 11 Texas, No. 10 Auburn, No. 9 Clemson, No. 8 West Virginia, No. 7 LSU.