Unlike the NFL, there has never been a doubt this summer that there will be college football. Even though there was no lockout, college football has had its fair share of unpleasant unhappy news. First, Ohio State was caught giving players illegal benefits. Then, it was discovered that chairman John Junker corrupted the Fiesta Bowl. North Carolina Coach Butch Davis was fired. It was discovered that Oregon payed $25,000 to an agent. And just when you thought that all this woeful news was over, and football season was going to start, the largest story of the offseason broke. A booster at the University of Miami gave players millions of dollars worth of illegal benefits. With this crazy off-season behind us, it is finally time to play football. Which teams are in my top ten?

Could Trent Richardson win the Heisman?

1.  Alabama Crimson Tide: Not only do the Crimson Tide have one of the best coaches in the country in Nick Saban, but they are also out for revenge. Players are ferocious after the 28-27 loss to Auburn last year. In 2008, Bama lost to Florida. The whole off season the team wanted revenge. The next year, the Tide left Florida quarterback, Tim Tebow, crying on the sideline in the SEC Championship and beat Texas in the National Championship. In Bama’s practice facility, Coach Nick Saban has been showing 2010’s 28-27 loss to Auburn on every TV. There are ten (out of eleven) returning starters on defense. Running back Trent Richardson should have a Heisman-worthy season and will anchor the offense. Watch out for the Crimson Tide!

2.  LSU Tigers: Standing at 6’5 224 pounds, quarterback Jordan Jefferson has the ability to take LSU all the way this season. New offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa plans to take lots of chances downfield to compliment his Jefferson’s arm. Jefferson was very inconsistent last year, but Jefferson has performed very well this summer. Last year, the Tigers had one of the best defenses in the league, and seven starters are returning.

3.  Oklahoma Sooners: I’m holding my nose and typing with my left hand, but the truth is the Sooners have stud quarterback Landry Jones, and Jones’s favorite target, wide receiver Ryan Broles, is also back for another season. Since Jones first put on his Sooner red jersey, Sam Bradford has overshadowed him. This is the year Landry Jones can finally shine.

4.  Florida State Seminoles: After being Bobby Bowden’s offensive coordinator for three years, Jimbo Fischer is making a name for himself as a head coach in Tallahassee. Since he started recruiting for Florida State in 2007, the Seminoles consistently had a great recruiting class. This year, a lot of those recruits are finally upper-classmen and are ready to win. Quarterback E.J. Manuel is getting his first chance to be a starter. He has proven himself by playing well in two bowl games, because Christian Ponder was hurt. Expect big things from in Tallahassee.

5.  South Carolina Gamecocks: Last year, true freshman running back, Marcus Lattimore, ran for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns. Now in his sophomore season, Lattimore knows what to expect from the great defenses in the SEC. In the offseason, the number one recruit in the country, defensive end Jadaveon Clowney, committed to South Carolina. The Gamecock’s defense also has great players in Delvin Taylor, Travian Robertson, and Stephen Gilmore. The Gamecocks have a lot of talent.

6.  Boise State Broncos: If the Broncos beat Georgia on September 3rd, it is safe to say they will finish the season undefeated. The question is can they beat the Bulldogs? Quarterback Kellen Moore has returned for his senior year, as well as running back Doug Martin, left tackle Nate Potter, and Defensive end Shea Mclelin. It’s all about that game against Georgia.

7.  Oregon Ducks: Chip Kelly coached his team to the National Championship last year. The Ducks ultra-high tempo offense had never been seen before in football. Now that it has been seen by teams, they know what to expect. Heisman finalist LaMichael James is back for his junior year and the November 12 contest against Stanford should be one of the biggest games of the year.

Why???

8.  Stanford Cardinal: Andrew Luck. And that Beard.

9.  Wisconsin Badgers: Wisconsin is one of the most boring teams to watch. They run run run, and there’s normally never anything exciting about those runs. No matter how boring it is, it gets the job done. Running backs Montee Hall and James White will be getting the ball the majority of the Badgers’ plays. NC State quarterback Russell Wilson transferred to Wisconsin and should make the Badgers a better passing force. They have a good defense, and should win the Big 10.

10.  Nebraska Cornhuskers: In their first year in the Big 10, the Cornhuskers are a contender. The Huskers have one of the best defenses in the league. Lavonte David, a linebacker, averaged 10.9 tackles a game as a junior last year. Defensive Tackle, Jared Crick, will look to be Ndamukong Suh’s replacement in Nebraska. Quarterback Taylor Martinez was great last year as a true freshman. If he can stay healthy and score points, the Huskers D will be able to lead them to victory.

There are always surprises in college football. I won’t be surprised if these teams to better than expected:

Dan Persa could lead Northwestern to a surprising season.

Northwestern Wildcats: Quarterback Dan Persa returns for his senior year along with wide receiver Jeremy Ebert, defensive lineman Vince Browne, and safety Brian Peters. Coach Pat Fitzgerald finally has some talent to compliment his football genius.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: They won’t be in a BCS bowl, but Rutgers should have a better season than most expect. True freshman Savon Huggins should turn a bad running game around. Quarterback Chase Dodds will have much better weapons on offense then he did in 2010. Wide receiver Miles Shuler-a four star recruit-should make an instant impact for Rutgers. If the Scarlet Knights are going to win games, they will need an improved defense. Only five starters are returning, but that might not be bad. Last season, the Scarlet Knights’ defense gave up 156.4 rushing yards per game and 217.8 passing yards per game. No starters are returning from the defensive backs (safety, corner back). If their defense can step up, the Scarlet Knights can surprise.

Texas Longhorns: Stay tuned for next week’s article on the Horns.

College football is back! I know it will be an entertaining, exciting, and electrifying season. Nothing is as unpredictable as college football, but one thing is for sure. The way the rankings start is never the way the rankings will end.

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