It’s no secret that the Florida Gators lead the pack when it comes to college football, as they have had a consistently strong program for years. Entering the 2009 season with the game’s best quarterback in Tim Tebow and with one of college’s best coaches Urban Meyer, combined with the fact that they are returning every starter from their 2008 defense – well, that’s why they top the list. No one can argue that logic.
Here’s the list of other top 10 contenders:
1. Florida Gators – Tim Tebow. Brandon Spikes. Chris Rainey. The talent in Gainesville looks almost unbeatable. If things play out the way they should, the 2009 Gators may very well go down as one of the greatest teams in the history of college football. Yes, they are going to be that good.
2. Oklahoma Sooners – It just might be Florida/Oklahoma for the national title again in 2009 as the Sooners bring back Heisman-winning quarterback Sam Bradford, as well as “his favorite target, tight end Jermaine Gresham. Both Bradford and Gresham could have left for millions in the NFL. Their dedication to coach Bob Stoops is impressive. And because these two superstars decided to stick around in Norman, one gets the feeling that this team will be playing with something to prove in 2009.”
3. Texas Longhorns - Star defensive end Brian Orakpo is gone, but quarterback Colt McCoy returns for the Longhorns, who figures to battle the Sooners once more for Big 12 supremacy. McCoy is truly an incredible player, one of the best in the country, but his cause would be helped if Texas could finally find a legit tailback.
4. USC Trojans – Clay Matthews, Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing will not be easy to replace, and the Trojans probably lost more key players than any other team in the top 5. But they’re USC, and the way Pete Carroll recruits they’ve “probably got a few All-Americans buried on the scout team somewhere. Let’s just give the Trojans their eighth straight Pac-10 title now.”
5. Alabama Crimson Tide - The Tide still have the SEC’s best wideout in Julio Jones and best coach Nick Saban, and a defense to be scared of. There’s a new crop of recruits, and two or three of whom are expected to make an early impact.
6. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets – Yes, Georgia Tech. Coach Paul Johnson turned this team around in 2008, and with quarterback Josh Nesbitt and tailback Jonathan Dwyer returning, Tech’s offense will be even better in 2009. The Yellow Jackets are the team to beat in the ACC.
7. Oklahoma State Cowboys - Quarterback Zac Robinson, tailback Kendall Hunter and receiver Dez Bryant are three of the best at their positions in the country – Robinson could even sneak into the Heisman race. The Cowboys have yet to live up to expectations, but this could be their year. Maybe.
8. Virginia Tech Hokies – Frank Beamer took one of his least talented and least experienced teams all the way to the Orange Bowl in 2008, where they captured the school’s first-ever BCS bowl win. The Hokies should be even better in 2009 with quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the role as team leader and designated playmaker.
9. Penn State Nittany Lions - Coach Joe Paterno’s team has quarterback Daryll Clark and tailbacks Evan Royster and Stephfon Green. More importantly, two of the toughest linebackers in the country – Navorro Bowman, the Big Ten’s best linebacker last year, and Sean Lee, who will be returning to the lineup after missing all of 2008 with a torn ACL.
10. Ohio State Buckeyes – The defense will lose some key players including “legendary linebacker James Laurinaitis and superb cover corner Malcolm Jenkins, but coach Jim Tressel’s roster is always stocked with talent.” The offensive line will lose a few starters, but there is a good chance the unit could actually improve for the 2009 season.