Aggie Websider's Top-25

Every year, sportswriters around the country release their preseason rankings, but do they really mean anything? Should the official polls be released before October? Who knows. But Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp has put together his Top-25 heading into 2007.

It's August 29th. No one has seen a single play of college football in nearly eight months. For most of the teams across the country it's been longer. Yet college football fans are bombarded with preseason polls based on returners from the previous season, what they hear through the grapevine and occasionally, actual first hand accounts from practice.

But do they really mean anything?

Honestly, I don't think so, but like any other sportswriter on the face of the earth, I've come up with my obligatory Top-25, which should be used for nothing more than entertainment purposes.

These rankings aren't necessarily where I think the teams are ranked on this particular day, nor where I think they'll end up at season's end, but rather somewhere in the middle. For instance, I have the Aggies at No. 15. That means they should win at least eight or nine games, putting them in the 15-20 range at season's end. However, they could win 10-11 games and be top-10 or better.

See why I think we shouldn't have polls until October 1?

Dallas Shipp's Top-25 Ballot
25. TCU They shouldn't have much of a problem winning the Mountain West Conference this year, and they've got a defense that would love to have a shot against the big boys from a BCS conference team come January. The Frogs meet Texas on September 8, and that will be time for them to put up or shut up. Win that game and the BCS talk begins, but if not, say hello to the Las Vegas bowl.

24. Tennessee Much like the Aggies, the Vols could taste the SEC Conference Championship last year, but blew two fourth quarter leads against Florida and LSU, ending those dreams. They only have 11 starters returning from that team in 2007, so they've got some questions on both sides of the ball, but they've got lots of young talent that could help them move up the polls by season's end. That young talent could also cause them to fall out of the polls as well.

23. Nebraska They've got a lot of talent, but will it be enough to survive an early season contest against USC, a game-of-the-week type match up with the Aggies and a game on the road against Missouri? With the spread offense that the Huskers switched to when Callahan took over, it's never a good thing to be looking for a quarterback in fall camp. They might find one before facing Missouri and A&M, but I don't see them winning more than one of those three games, which keeps them out of my top-20.

22. Missouri – I think Missouri is right up there with Nebraska and if the head to head match up was in Lincoln, I'd give the edge to the Huskers. But it's in Columbia and therefore, the Tigers get the nod. They've got Chase Daniels at QB which is also a plus and they've got just about all of their offensive playmakers coming back on offense. Defense has a few more questions with only five returning starters, but they've got a favorable schedule as well compared to Nebraska, which will come in handy. However, beware of the annual Missouri Tigers collapse. They just don't know how to finish after their typical 6-0 start.

21. UCLA The Bruins showed flashes of brilliance in 2006, and they took No. 2 USC down to the wire in the regular season finale, but they've still got a lot more to prove for me to move them into the top-20. They do have 16 seniors starting for them this year, including 10 on defense, which is impressive. If those upper classmen can build on last year's mark, they could make a run for the Pac-10 title. I just don't think they're ready for Cal or USC yet.

20. Hawaii They play in a weak conference and get to catch half of their opponents while they're vacationing in Waikiki. Not only that, but they've got one of the most explosive players in the country in Colt Brennan. They will put up lots of gaudy numbers on the ESPN ticker each night because there aren't too many defenses that can stop that offense. They get Boise State, Fresno State and New Mexico State all at home, so if they stay focused against inferior teams on the road, they'll have a shot at the BCS. They don't have any marquee non-conference opponents though, which might come back to bite them.

19. Florida State Yes, the Seminoles. They've got a lot of talent, but that hasn't done a lot for them over the past three seasons, especially during last year's 6-6 campaign. They've brought in some new assistant coaches, but they've got a really brutal road schedule with games at Clemson, Colorado, Virginia Tech, Florida and a neutral game against Alabama. They're similar to the Aggies going into the year, but they just didn't show the same promise at the end of last season. However, they do have the same potential to win their conference if the cards fall right and compete for a BCS shot.

18. Oregon The Ducks were a very good team in 2006, but turnovers killed them in conference play—maybe it was poetic justice after the "turnover" that they recovered on the onside kick against Oklahoma in September. They outgained their opponents in nine of 13 games last year, and averaged 136.4 more yards than their opponents. But their -10 turnover margin cost them. If they can turn that around, they will have a shot at a showdown with USC (in Eugene, OR) with a shot at the Rose Bowl on the line.

17. Alabama – All eyes will be on Nick Saban this year, and he'll probably have a better first year than most people expect. He's got a very favorable schedule with road games against Vanderbilt (UA has won 33 of the last 34 against Vandy), Mississippi, Mississippi State and Auburn. They will have to beat Arkansas Georgia and Tennessee at home, but I think they'll challenge for the SEC West title after another year. They're not ready for LSU this year, even if the game is in Tuscaloosa, but they'll do much better than a lot of people think.

16. Texas – This might be the only poll that doesn't have Texas in the top-10 that you'll see until October (when the Horns' fall from grace begins) but I just don't think they've got the depth they've had in years past. If Colt McCoy gets injured, the season is over for Texas. They're going into 2007 with lots of injuries at receiver, including their go-to guy, Limas Sweed. I think TCU puts a scare in the Horns and is a precursor for things to come in 2007. Texas gets my vote for the most overrated team in the preseason polls.

15. Texas A&M The Aggies are loaded on offense and there aren't many question marks except for wide receiver. If McGee can find some go to targets downfield this year, the A&M offense will be unstoppable. There are still lots of questions on defense, but the Aggies have a shot to be a top-10 team or better by seasons end if that side of the ball is able to take its game to another level in 2007. The Aggies will challenge for the Big 12 South this year, and the game at Oklahoma on Nov. 3 could determine that crown. The division will be a three-team race and the Aggies will have to overcome a brutal road schedule as the first Big 12 team to ever have four conference road games in a five week period.

14. California The Bears have Top-10 talent but they've got a schedule that is right up there with the Aggies'. They travel to UCLA, Oregon and Arizona State and host USC and Tennessee, which will be one of the rare marquee match ups in September. A&M fans gained a lot of respect after watching them dismantle the Aggies in last year's Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, so this ranking should come as no surprise for anyone on this site. They return eight starters on offense from that team, so they'll contend for the Pac-10 title once again.

13. Ohio State The Buckeyes lost four playmakers on offense to the NFL, but they've got six returning starters on defense and one of the top offensive lines in the country. They'll have to overcome road games at Penn State and Michigan to have a serious shot at returning to a BCS bowl game, which I don't think they'll do without Ted Ginn and Troy Smith, but they're still a top-15 team.

12. South Carolina This is a pick based solely on the talk coming out of South Carolina this year. Spurrier seems to think his team will compete for the SEC championship this year and there are a lot of experts that tend to agree. I'm not so sure they're going to win the SEC, but any Spurrier-coached team is going to compete week in and week out. With a couple of recruiting classes under his belt with the Gamecocks, the talent level is as high as he's had at USC. He'll have to do it on the road against Georgia, LSU, Tennessee and Arkansas, but that won't intimidate Spurrier.

11. Florida – This ain't the same Gator team from last year's national title squad. They lost nine players to the NFL draft and quarterback Chris Leak is out of eligibility. Oh, and they've got to play at LSU, South Carolina and Georgia, which will probably keep them out of the SEC title talk this year, but have no fear, they'll be back in the BCS hunt before too long with the recruiting classes that Urban Meyer is bringing in.

10. Wisconsin The Badgers return 16 starters from a team that went 12-1 in 2006, but they've got to play at Penn State and at Ohio State, which they didn't have to play in 2006. Throw in a Michigan team on the schedule that will compete for the national title and that makes things a little more difficult in 2007. However, that doesn't mean that Wisconsin can't get it done. If they're able to find a way to win those two games on the road, then the game against Michigan (a home game for Wisconsin) could determine one of the teams in the BCS Championship Game.

9. Georgia – This team has a lot of similarities to the Aggies as well. They knocked off three top-15 teams to finish the regular season and have a second-year quarterback with lots of expectations, which is ironic since Georgia is the school that Stephen McGee turned down to attend A&M. They'll have a chance to make a statement in the season opener at home against Oklahoma State, a program that's receiving a fair amount of attention by a lot of writers as a borderline top-25 team.

8. Penn State – The Nittany Lions have 14 returning starters from last year (8 on offense) and have a very favorable schedule in 2007, giving them an opportunity to make a run at the Big 10 title. They've only got one game on the road against a team that is in the Top 25. The only problem is that team is Michigan. But if Jo Pa and Penn State can find a way to win that game and hold serve at home, they'll be in the drivers seat down the stretch.

7. Louisville This is a big year for the Cardinals. They've got 14 returning starters, but lost their head coach Bobby Patrino to the NFL. They're going to have to go into a rowdy crowd at West Virginia on a Thursday night, and I'm not sure they're capable of pulling off that victory to have a shot at the Big East title, but with so many upperclassmen at skilled positions, anything is possible with this team.

6. Virginia Tech – After the tragedy on the campus of Virginia Tech this spring, the school became the school of the entire country, and this semester, the football team has the opportunity to provide the same healing touch for that campus that A&M's squad provided in 1999 with a win over Texas. The Hokies will have to be ready early though, with a game at LSU on national television. They've got eight returning starters on both sides of the ball and they're my pick to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title in 2007. It will be the feel good story of the year if they beat LSU and set themselves up for a national title shot.

5. West Virginia – They've got a Heisman Trophy candidate in running back Steve Slayton and a veteran quarterback in Pat White. They also get to play Louisville at home on a nationally televised Thursday night game, which should be the difference in the two teams' seasons. They're my pick to win the Big East and will have to win a couple of tough road games, but drawing Lousiville at home is huge for them.

4. Oklahoma – The Sooners are heading into the season without a firm name at quarterback, but with the talent in Norman these days, Bob Stoops will find someone and it will be okay by the time conference play rolls around. The only question is whether or not they'll have an answer when Miami comes to town on September 8. Luckily for Stoops (what else is new) that game is in Norman, where he's 47-2 as the Sooners' head coach. They'll beat Texas this year and will have to play a great game against the Aggies to hold onto their Big 12 South title.

3. Michigan – The Wolverines are loaded on offense with a talented offensive line and the trio of quarterback Chad Henne, running back Mike Hart and wide receiver Mario Manningham. They play eight home games this year and the only game on the road that should really worry Michigan fans is at Wisconson, which could determine the Big 10 Champion and possibly punch one team's ticket to the BCS title game in New Orleans.

2. LSU – Defense, defense, defense. That's what the Tigers bring to the table this year. With eight returning starters from last year's defensive unit, the Tigers will field one of the top defenses in the country, which should help the offense transition to a new quarterback. But QB Matt Flynn has lots of weapons around him and the Tigers won't have to play any top-10 teams on the road this year, which helps. An early match up with No. 6 Virginia Tech could make or break the Tigers' chances of playing for the national title in New Orleans.

1. Southern California – These guys are loaded on both sides of the ball, and have so many options at running back, that one of the top running back recruits in the nation just two years ago is transferring to a school to be named and sitting out a year. Pete Carroll has more five-star recruits on his roster than he knows what to do with and once again, they should dominate the Pac-10 and have a shot at the national title. I'm sure they'll be rooting against LSU all year as well, so as to avoid playing the Tigers in a "home game" of sorts for the national championship in New Orleans.

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