Florida, LSU elite teams?

The experts at Collegefootballnews.com believe two SEC teams will rank among college football's elite programs this fall. Apologies to the Vol Nation, but neither of them is based in Knoxville.

Foxsports.com recently asked CFN.com's Pete Fiutak, Richard Cirminiello and John Harris to list their top three contenders for the 2006 national title. The results are posted on the college football page at Foxsports.com in a story aptly titled "Ridiculously early pre-pre-preseason Top 3."

Fiutak tabs Texas, Florida and Florida State 1-2-3. Here's what he has to say about the Gators:

2. Florida

It's year two of the Urban Meyer era, and that only means good things if history means anything. In 2002 in his second season at Bowling Green, his Falcons cranked out an impressive 9-3 season. In 2004, in his second year at Utah, the Utes rolled to a 12-0 record and a win over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. Even with the early departures of WR Chad Jackson and CB Dee Webb, the Gators are loaded and experienced. As good as the team might be, road trips to Tennessee, Auburn and Florida State will likely prevent a shot at the national title.

Cirminiello rates Florida No. 1, followed by Notre Dame and Texas. Here's what he has to say about Urban Meyer's team:

1. Florida

The Gators sort of remind me of the 1999 Oklahoma team, Bob Stoops' first in Norman. They, too, were a flawed group that took some lumps in year one, while a feisty, young head coach installed a new system and culture. Year two under Stoops brought a national championship. Year two under Meyer might also be pretty special. Quarterback Chris Leak looked most comfortable in impressive, season-ending wins over Florida State and Iowa.

Harris isn't quite so high on the Gators but he's very impressed with defending SEC West champ Louisiana State. He ranks Ohio State, LSU and Southern Cal 1-2-3. Here's what Harris has to say about the Tigers:

2. LSU

If the QB situation were less muddied, I might have LSU at number one. Nick Saban definitely left the cupboard chock full 'o players, now it's matter of HBC Les Miles getting all of them to play at a consistent level all year long. The Flynn-Russell tete-a-tete will be an interesting one, but if Alley Broussard can return in solid shape, the running game should continue to batter opponents, as they did this year when Joseph Addai was healthy. LSU has offensive line holes to fill as well, four of them to be exact, so they're not immune to offensive line issues in the slightest. The defensive line loses Kyle Williams, Claude Wroten and underrated Melvin Oliver, but with Glen Dorsey and former blue-chipper Marlon Favorite waiting in the wings, the line should progress nicely. LaRon Landry should be a pre-season first team All-American safety, and could be the "Mike Doss of 2006" (Doss stayed for his senior season in 2002 to help Ohio State to the national championship). Plus, only four road games will help … well, three of those four are Tennessee, Florida and Auburn.


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