The Top 25

It doesn't take a genius to pick Southern Cal to win the national championship. The Trojans were head and shoulders above all others last year and return the top players from that squad. And so everyone is picking USC.

A football isn't round and sometimes it takes funny bounces. But the Trojans have the horses and should have the confidence to go all the way. It sometimes it takes a little luck, too.

Three national championships in a row has proved elusive in the history of college football. Oklahoma and Alabama have had a couple of shots at it in the past.

It's very, very difficult to keep up with just one team. We will not suggest we have particular knowledge about the entire nation's college football situation. So why try? Because we were asked to submit a national Top 25 for a pre-season poll.

Feel free to disagree.

1. Southern Cal -- It may not happen, but who would bet against Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and company putting USC on top again

2. Ohio State -- Finally over the Clarett hangover and with a stockpile of fine players

3. Tennessee -- Easily the best material in the SEC if the justice system doesn't intervene

4. Miami -- You'll see why Willie Williams was too good to pass up

5. Texas -- Longhorns may actually underachieve a little more than this

6. LSU -- Quarterback is question mark, but if Saban was back this team would be ranked best in the SEC and top three nationally

7. Oklahoma -- If Stoops beats Mack Brown and Texas again, Sooners could be higher

8. Michigan -- A consistent defense with an explosive offense and the Wolverines may be in the title mix

9. Virginia Tech -- Although this sometimes seems like a rogue program, Beemer knows his coaching

10. Iowa -- From afar (thank goodness), this looks like a team with an abundance of stars, but perhaps too many holes on the defensive line

11. Florida -- The book is that Zook was a good recruiter and Meyer will benefit from his players

12. Arizona State -- Tough schedule (LSU and USC) and unknown ramifications of Loren Wade murder charge could affect deep, talented team

13. Texas A&M -- After a couple of years to get the right personnel, Franchione should have a strong team

14. Florida State -- Bowden will add some more wins to his record, but Seminoles are slipping (though not like Penn State)

15. Alabama -- 8 wins, the losses to teams ranked in the top ten at the time of the game, coupled with Alabama name means this may be too low.

16. Georgia -- Bulldogs under-achieved last year and now Greene and Pollack are gone

17. Pittsburgh -- Pitt is showing it's serious about football again and Wannstedt inherits good personnel

18. Cal -- Bears must find 11 new starters from a team that probably wasn't as good as its 10-2 record last year

19. Virginia -- Defense appears solid and conservative offense means Cavaliers won't beat themselves

20. Louisville -- Petrino is an excellent coach and Brohm a fine quarterback, but six Cardinals went in NFL draft and Big East schedule is a step up

21. Auburn -- The only way a team could lose four top NFL draft picks and not suffer is to have excellent coaching

22. Nebraska -- Cornhuskers have six home games to open season (Pitt and Texas Tech are tough) and could start 8-0 before hosting Oklahoma

23. Purdue -- If new quarterback is solid, Boilermakers should be good with all defensive starters and some offensive play-makers returning

24. Georgia Tech -- Like many teams, Yellow Jackets must hope that quarterback can do the job

25. South Carolina -- A tribute to Steve Spurrier since Gamecocks shouldn't have material to be top 25

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