The CF.C 2002 Preseason<br>College Football TOP 35

OUR ANALYST has left no depth chart unturned, no schedule unexamined, and no vertical leap unmeasured in his quest for the definitive preseason college football poll.

Okay, so there's no such thing as a "definitive college football poll," but Our Man Moore has employed a tactic we think makes his preseason rankings stand out from the rest: he actually researched it!

 

1. TEXAS

  • Key Longhorns: QB Chris Simms; HB Cedric Benson; WR Roy Williams
  • Strengths: Offensive weapons are awesome; great schedule break, conducive w/a BCS bid; should be facing fairly one-dimensional offenses
  • Weaknesses: Simms could fall apart again; need to replace 3 O-lineman; must replace entire linebacker corps
  • Big Games: Oklahoma; at KSU; at Neb; at Texas Tech; Texas A&M; ISU
  • Starters back: 8 offense; 5 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 3
  • 2001 record: 11-2

 

2. FLORIDA STATE

  • Key Seminoles: QB Chris Rix; WR Anquan Boldin
  • Strengths: Entire O-line is back; solid at skill positions; Rix has the potential to be great
  • Weaknesses: Returning a fairly week defense; only one player back in the secondary; brutal schedule
  • Big Games: ISU; at MD; Florida; at Louisville; at Miami; ND; GT; at NC St
  • Starters back: 9 offense; 8 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 5
  • 2001 record: 8-4

 

3. OKLAHOMA

  • Key Sooners: QB Nate Hybl; QB Jason White; FB Quinten Griffin
  • Strengths: Great secondary (even w/out Roy Williams); few weak points to exploit; veteran WRs and TE
  • Weaknesses: Counting on JCs to fill holes at linebacker; moderate QB controversy; could use a good HB to help Griffin
  • Big Games: at Texas; at Texas A&M; ISU; Bama; Colorado; Tex Tech; Oklahoma St
  • Starters back: 8 offense; 7 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 4
  • 2001 record: 11-2

 

4. COLORADO

  • Key Golden Buffalos: RB Chris Brown; QB Craig Ochs
  • Strengths: Great stable of RBs; fairly experienced team; no Texas or Texas A&M; want to payback Pac-10
  • Weaknesses: Lost best 2 O-lineman; no secondary depth; badly in need of receivers
  • Big Games: Colorado St; USC; at UCLA; at Neb; at Oklahoma St; ISU; Texas Tech; KSU
  • Starters back: 7 offense; 7 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 3
  • 2001 record: 10-3

 

5. MIAMI

  • Key Hurricanes: QB Ken Dorsey; WR Andre Johnson
  • Strengths: Excellent all-around QB; excellent D front 7; talent abounds (though green in places)
  • Weaknesses: Lost entire secondary among 11 NFL draftees; lost 3 excellent O-lineman; thin at RB and WR due to draft and injuries
  • Big Games: at Florida; at Tennessee; BC; FSU; Pitt; at Syracuse; VT
  • Starters back: 4 offense; 6 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 4
  • 2001 record: 12-0

 

6. WASHINGTON STATE

  • Key Cougars: QB Jason Gesser; WR Mike Bush; LB Al Genatone
  • Strengths: Offense looks loaded; solid defensive line w/great pass rushers; solid CBs and special teams
  • Weaknesses: Unproven at RB and safety; LBs unit is thin; need defensive leadership
  • Big Games: at Ohio St; at AZ; USC; UO; UW; at UCLA; at Hawaii (likely to be canceled)
  • Starters back: 7 offense; 6 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 5*
  • 2001 record: 10-2

 

7. GEORGIA

  • Key Bulldogs: QB David Greene; WR Terrence Edwards; RB Musa Smith
  • Strengths: Talented receivers; 4 returning O-lineman; offense appears loaded
  • Weaknesses: Unproven at RB; very thin secondary; defense must step up
  • Big Games: at Bama; Tennessee; at Florida; Ole Miss; Auburn, GT
  • Starters back: 7 offense; 5 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 5
  • 2001 record: 8-4

 

8. OREGON

  • Key Ducks: RB Onterrio Smith; WR Keenan Howry; LB Kevin Mitchell
  • Strengths: Few weak points to exploit; easy non-conference slate; play UW and USC at home; tough games after new QB gets some experience
  • Weaknesses: Need CBs; no more Joey Harrington, devoid of leadership; need to replace 2 O-lineman
  • Big Games: Miss St; at AZ; at UCLA; USC; UW; at WSU; at OSU
  • Starters back: 5 offense; 6 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 4
  • 2001 record: 11-1

 

9. WASHINGTON

  • Key Huskies: QB Cody Pickett; WR Reggie Williams; LB Kai Ellis
  • Strengths: Pickett/Williams combo is fantastic; 4 returning O-lineman; still young and improving
  • Weaknesses: Need 2 more linebackers; secondary must improve and stay healthy; lack of depth at WR; must win on the road
  • Big Games: at Michigan; at USC; at Oregon; at WSU; UCLA; Oregon State
  • Starters back: 7 offense; 5 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 5
  • 2001 record: 8-4

 

10. MARSHALL

  • Key Thundering Herd: QB Byron Leftwich; RB Franklin Wallace; WR Darius Watts
  • Strengths: Plays the nation's easiest schedule; VT lost 13 starters, QB Grant Noel will not play; given their offense alone, 10-1 or 11-0 is inevitable
  • Weaknesses: Defense will still stink (not that it matters); must rebuild linebacking corps; strength of schedule is a joke, making BCS unlikely
  • Big Games: at Virginia Tech (Sept 9); Miami of Ohio; Central Florida
  • Starters back: 9 offense; 6 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 0
  • 2001 record: 9-2

 

11. TEXAS A&M

  • Key Aggies: QB Mark Ferris; CB Sammy Davis
  • Strengths: Entire offense is back; defense should be excellent; secondary is a strong suit
  • Weaknesses: Entire offense is back; defense is a little thin up front; must find a way to score more points
  • Big Games:  at Pitt; VT; Texas Tech; Nebraska; Oklahoma; at Texas; at OSU
  • Starters back: 9 offense; 7 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 3
  • 2001 record: 7-4

 

12. TENNESSEE

  • Key Volunteers: QB Casey Clausen; WR Kelley Washington
  • Strengths: Clausen and Washington; some great recruiting in recent years; excellent secondary
  • Weaknesses: Lost 4 fantastic D-lineman to the NFL; few experienced players left; 10 NFL draftees; face a lot of tough teams at home
  • Big Games: Florida, Arkansas; at UGA; Bama; at SC; Miami; at MSU
  • Starters back: 5 offense; 5 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 5   
  • 2001 record: 11-3

 

13. FLORIDA

  • Key Gators: QB Rex Grossman; HB Earnest Graham
  • Strengths: Grossman is a one-man offense (or had better be); 3 O-lineman back; get an early crack at Miami  
  • Weaknesses: Must replace all WRs; must replace entire secondary; new coach, under lots of pressure to win immediately
  • Big Games: Miami, at Tennessee; at SC; at Ole Miss; LSU; UGA; Auburn; at Fla St
  • Starters back: 6 offense; 5 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 7
  • 2001 record: 10-2

 

14. BOSTON COLLEGE

  • Key Eagles: QB Brian St. Pierre; LB Vinny Ciurciu; WR Jamal Burke
  • Strengths: 17 starters returning, seniors abound; no weak point on defense; easy schedule
  • Weaknesses: Need WRs; must replace William Green at RB; no dominating players
  • Big Games: Stanford; at Miami; VT; at Pitt; at ND; at W. Virginia; Syracuse
  • Starters back: 8 offense; 9 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 1
  • 2001 record: 8-4

 

15. MARYLAND

  • Key Terrapins: RB Bruce Perry; LB EJ Henderson
  • Strengths: 4 O-lineman return; excellent RBs; nice home break w/a very weak slate, at worst 9-4
  • Weaknesses: Big shoes to fill at QB; big holes in secondary; defense is talented but thin
  • Big Games: ND (in New Jersey); Florida St; Georgia Tech; North Carolina St
  • Starters back: 8 offense; 7 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 2
  • 2001 record: 10-2

 

16. MICHIGAN STATE

  • Key Spartans: QB Jeff Smoker; WR Charles Rogers; LB Mike Labinjo
  • Strengths: 4 returning O-lineman; Smoker to Rogers combo should be great; 8 home games, skip Ohio St and Illinois
  • Weaknesses: Must find replacement for RB TJ Duckett; young group w/only 5 seniors starting; need additional receivers other than Rogers
  • Big Games: ND; Wisconsin; at Michigan; Purdue; at Penn St
  • Starters back: 7 offense; 8 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 4
  • 2001 record: 7-5

 

17. ALABAMA

  • Key Crimson Tides: QB Tyler Watts; HB Ahmadd Galloway; WR Antonio Carter
  • Strengths: Return most starters in Div 1; SEC West is wide open; favorable conference schedule w/no Florida
  • Weaknesses: Badly need receivers; pass defense must improve; no potential for a bowl game may result in player apathy
  • Big Games: at Oklahoma; Arkansas; Ole Miss; UGA; at Tenn; MSU; at LSU; Auburn
  • Starters back: 9 offense; 10 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 7
  • 2001 record: 7-5

 

18. LOUISVILLE

  • Key Cardinals: QB Dave Ragone; TE Ronnie Ghent; FS Anthony Floyd
  • Strengths: Defense should be excellent; Ragone covers up a lot of O inexperience; favorable schedule w/hardest games at home
  • Weaknesses: Lost 4 starting O-lineman; need more receiving targets; Florida St game will decide BCS fate
  • Big Games: at Colorado St; Florida St; TCU; E. Carolina; Cinci; at Southern Miss
  • Starters back: 5 offense; 10 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 1
  • 2001 record: 10-2

 

19. OHIO STATE

  • Key Buckeyes: QB Craig Krenzel; WR Chris Vance; SS Mike Doss
  • Strengths: Excellent receivers; Krenzel and RB, Ross must continue to excel; 8 home games including Michigan; PSU; WSU
  • Weaknesses: Somewhat inexperienced backfield; weak CB corps will get tested early; lost a lot of talent and experience on offense
  • Big Games: Texas Tech; WSU; PSU; Wisconsin; at Purdue; at Illinois; Michigan
  • Starters back: 5 offense; 7 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 6
  • 2001 record: 7-5

 

20. PENN STATE

  • Key Nittany Lions: QB Zack Mills; DT Jimmy Kennedy; HB Larry Johnson
  • Strengths: Mills will play behind 4 returning O-lineman; plenty of offensive weapons; solid depth at D-line and secondary
  • Weaknesses: Johnson is only reliable RB; weak at LB; tough conference slate, must win on the road
  • Big Games: Nebraska; at Wisconsin; at Michigan; at Ohio St; Illinois, Michigan St
  • Starters back: 8 offense; 7 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 6
  • 2001 record: 5-6

 

21. ILLINOIS

  • Key Fighting Illini: QB Dustin Ward; LB Jerry Schumacher; WR Brandon Lloyd
  • Strengths: Plenty of talented receivers; pair of outstanding corners; LBs are a strong suit
  • Weaknesses: QB play remains an X-factor; need to solidify RB situation; need to fill holes at O-line and safety
  • Big Games: Michigan, Purdue; at Wisconsin; at Penn St; Ohio St
  • Starters back: 7 offense; 6 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 5
  • 2001 record: 10-2

 

22. NEBRASKA

  • Key Cornhuskers: RB Dahrran Diedrick; QB Jammal Lord
  • Strengths: Always seem to reload; don't play Oklahoma, play Texas and Colorado at home
  • Weaknesses: Lost Eric Crouch and 3 O-lineman; need LBs and improved secondary
  • Big Games: at Penn St; at ISU; at Texas A&M; Texas; at Kansas St; Colorado
  • Starters back: 5 offense; 5 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 4
  • 2001 record: 11-2

 

23. NORTH CAROLINA STATE

  • Key Wolfpack: QB Phillip Rivers; WR Bryan Peterson; FS Terrence Holt
  • Strengths: Other than Florida St, ACC should be fairly week; Rivers is a strong QB, has 5,600 yards in 2 years; have some solid receiving targets
  • Weaknesses: Defense is somewhat thin, need LBs; 2 holes to fill at OG, replacements unclear; running game needs improvement
  • Big Games: at Texas Tech; at NC; Georgia Tech; at Maryland; at Clemson; Florida St
  • Starters back: 7 offense; 7 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 2
  • 2001 record: 7-5

 

24. MISSISSIPPI

  • Key Rebels: QB Eli Manning; WR Chris Collins; LB Eddie Strong
  • Strengths: Terrific O-line; Manning is a great QB; LBs look strong (no pun intended)
  • Weaknesses: Must improve against the run; need corners; JC RB Ronald McClendon must deliver
  • Big Games: at Texas Tech; Florida; at Bama; at Arkansas; Auburn; at UGA; at LSU
  • Starters back: 7 offense; 7 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 6
  • 2001 record: 7-4

 

25. UTAH

  • Key Utes: QB Lance Rice; LB Sheldon Deckart; DE Jason Kaufusi
  • Strengths: Return 3 O-lineman from a group that allowed just 5 sacks; defense is outstanding; QB play is very solid
  • Weaknesses: need a RB; need some corners
  • Big Games: Indiana; at Arizona; at Michigan; Air Force; Colorado St; UNLV; BYU
  • Starters back: 5 offense; 8 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 1
  • 2001 record: 8-4

 

26. OREGON STATE

  • Key Beavers: QB Derek Anderson; LB Richard Seigler; CB Dennis Weathersby
  • Strengths: Very weak schedule, plenty of warm-up time; defense could be the best in the conference; plenty of receiving targets
  • Weaknesses: O-backfield is very green, need a leader; struggling O-line must replace 2 starters; new QB and RBs could be turnover prone
  • Big Games: Arizona; at USC; at Washington; Oregon
  • Starters back: 7 offense; 8 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 3
  • 2001 record: 5-6

 

27. SOUTHERN CAL

  • Key Trojans: QB Carson Palmer; WR Kareem Kelly; SS Troy Polamalu
  • Strengths: Return nearly entire offense from last year; WRs Kelly and Keary Colbert give Palmer good targets; running game should be improved w/Justin Fargas
  • Weaknesses: Holes in the secondary; lack of depth on both lines; schedule is absolutely brutal
  • Big Games: Auburn; at Colorado; at KSU; at WSU; UW; at UO; at UCLA; Notre Dame
  • Starters back: 9 offense; 5 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 5
  • 2001 record: 6-6

 

28. PURDUE

  • Key Boilermakers: QB Kyle Orton; RB Montrell Lowe; FS Stuart Schweigert
  • Strengths: Return essentially entire team from last season; 9 starting seniors (must show their leadership); no Penn St or Wisconsin, play Michigan and Ohio St at home.
  • Weaknesses: Corners must improve; receivers must improve; lost All-American kicker/punter Travis Dorsch
  • Big Games: at ND; at Illinois; Michigan; Ohio St; at Michigan St
  • Starters back: 8 offense; 8 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 4
  • 2001 record: 6-6

 

29. MICHIGAN

  • Key Wolverines: QB John Navarre; DT Shawn Lazarus; DE Shantee Orr
  • Strengths: Defense should be excellent
  • Weaknesses: Brutal schedule and no Indiana or Northwestern; closed spring w/out settling on a QB; offense needs QB, RBs, WRs, and O-line
  • Big Games: UW; at ND; at Illinois; PSU; at Purdue; MSU; Wisconsin; at OSU; Utah
  • Starters back: 5 offense; 8 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 8
  • 2001 record: 8-4

 

30. ARKANSAS

  • Key Razorbacks: CB Ahmad Carroll; FS Ken Hamlin; HB Fred Talley
  • Strengths: DBs are excellent; deep at RB and WR; weak non-conference schedule
  • Weaknesses: Team lacks consistency; need a QB; lost 3 O-lineman
  • Big Games: Bama; at Tennessee; Boise St; at Auburn; Ole Miss; at SC; at MSU, LSU
  • Starters back: 7 offense; 8 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 6
  • 2001 record: 6-5

 

31. WISCONSIN

  • Key Badgers: QB Brooks Bollinger; WR Lee Evens; RB Anthony Davis
  • Strengths: Have (had) 2 Heisman contenders in Evens and Davis; return 5 starting O-linemen; 9 home games, weak non-conference slate
  • Weaknesses: Defense will stink; defense could really, really stink; loss of Evens hurts bad, but it's not fatal
  • Big Games: Arizona; PSU; OSU; at MSU; Illinois; at Michigan; *no hard games until Oct.
  • Starters back: 9 offense; 3 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 5
  • 2001 record: 4-7

 

32. LSU

  • Key Tigers: QB Matt Mauck; RB LeBrandon Toefield; LB Brady James
  • Strengths: Toefield is a great back, if knee is healthy; have 2 solid CBs; 3 O-linemen return
  • Weaknesses: Loss of Rohan Davey and Josh Reed is huge; need to find a way to pressure QBs; appear one-dimensional on offense
  • Big Games: at VT; MSU; at Florida; S. Carolina; at Auburn; Bama; Ole Miss; at Arkansas
  • Starters back: 6 offense; 6 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 5
  • 2001 record: 11-3

 

33. AUBURN

  • Key Tigers: HB Carnell Williams; LB Dontarious Thomas; CB Karlos Dansby
  • Strengths: Defense should be outstanding; new offensive and defensive coordinators; entire secondary is back
  • Weaknesses: QB controversy and installing new offense; need 2 DE s lack of pressure on QBs; lost 3 O-lineman and 2 top receivers
  • Big Games: at USC; at MSU; Arkansas; at Florida; LSU; at Ole Miss; UGA; at Bama
  • Starters back: 7 offense; 8 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 7
  • 2001 record: 7-5

 

34. BOISE STATE

  • Key Broncos: QB Ryan Dinwiddie; RB Brock Forsey; FS Quintin Mikell
  • Strengths: Return a 3,000 yard QB and a 1,100 yard RB; top 4 receivers are back; nice schedule break w/key WAC games at home
  • Weaknesses: Lost 3 O-lineman; defense gave up way too many points in 2001; a weak WAC could hamper any credibility
  • Big Games: at Arkansas; at Wyoming; USU; Fresno St; Rice; LA Tech; Hawaii
  • Starters back: 7 offense; 7 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 2
  • 2001 record: 8-4

 

35. HAWAII

  • Key Warriors: QB Timmy Chang; WR Justin Colbert; LB Chris Brown
  • Strengths: Defense is essentially intact, except for safeties; Chang looked excellent before getting injured; fairly easy 13 game schedule
  • Weaknesses: Chang has a wrist injury and sat out spring; must rebuild a wide receiver corps; need to fill 2 holes on O-line
  • Big Games: BYU; at Boise St; at Fresno St; at Rice; Cinn; WSU (likely to be canceled)
  • Starters back:  6 offense; 8 defense
  • Top 35 opponents: 2*
  • 2001 record: 8-3

 

* # 6 Washington State at # 35 Hawaii likely to be canceled

 


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