On Thursday night the 2011 NCAA football season kicks off another exciting year. Now we go inside the huddle and preview the top ten teams entering the 2011 season.
10. Nebraska – The favorite to win the Big Ten this season behind their option quarterback Taylor Martinez. Rex Burkehead has his work cut out for him replacing Roy Helu Jr, who had a monster year in their backfield last season. The defense will still be solid but losing Prince Amakamara leaves a huge hole in their secondary.
9. Oklahoma State – The combination of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon will be a nightmare for Big 12 secondaries. The Cowboy offense will be lethal but the defense needs to step up, the problem is only two of their front seven return this season.
8. Texas A&M – Ryan Tannehill, Jeff Fuller and Cyrus Gray lead an Aggie offense that will put up a ton of points. The linebacking corps which was such a strength last season loses first round pick Von Miller.
7. Stanford – Cardinals lose Jim Harbaugh to the NFL but return the Heisman front-runner Andrew Luck. Secondary will still be very strong with both safeties returning but they lose 11 starters on both sides of the ball.
6. Florida State – The Seminoles may have their best team since Bobby Bowden’s prime. E.J. Manuel takes over the reigns from Christian Ponder with plenty of play makers on offense. Mark Stoops, brother of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops will bring some new excitement to the defense.
5. Boise State – Kellen Moore returns for his senior season, but his offense is not nearly as explosive without receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young. It’s not all bad though because basically the whole offensive line returns and they have a speedy tailback in Doug Martin. A good portion of the defense returns with Shea McClellin dominating on the defensive line and Byron Hout making tackles at linebacker.
4. LSU – Les Miles will have a really good football team, but will be without his starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson for their big showdown against Oregon Week 1. The offense returns almost everyone but the defense has some big holes in middle linebacker and cornerback after losing Kelvin Shepard and Patrick Peterson.
3. Oregon – Chip Kelly will have the Ducks hungry after being so close to a National Championship last year. Get your tracks shoes on with this offense because LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and Darron Thomas will put up a ton of points and do it quickly.
2. Alabama – Offense loses three key pieces in Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Greg McElroy. Trent Richardson will step in for Ingram behind an offensive line loaded with talent. If they do not figure out the quarterback situation the Crimson Tide could struggle in the very competitive SEC.
1. Oklahoma – Sooners head into 2011 as the team to beat. The quarterback-receiver tandem of Landy Jones and Ryan Broyles could keep some Big 12 defensive coordinators up at night. Bob Stoops’s offense is lethal but the defense will make some noise as well with Travis Lewis at linebacker and Jamell Fleming at cornerback causing chaos all over the field.
Title Game and Conference Champion Predictions:
ACC – Florida State vs Virginia Tech
Big East – South Florida
Big Ten – Ohio State vs Nebraska
Big 12 – Oklahoma
Mountain West – Boise State
Pac 12 – Oregon vs Arizona State
SEC – South Carolina vs LSU
Heisman Winner – LaMichael James