Surging Bulldogs start atop '08 preseason top 10
Posted: Tuesday January 8, 2008 12:21PM; Updated: Tuesday January 8, 2008 12:21PM
NEW ORLEANS -- One of the main reasons there was so much attrition at the top of the polls in 2007 was that, with the exception of national champ LSU, most of the teams that populated the top 10 were highly dependent on young, inexperienced players.
Oklahoma started a freshman quarterback. Georgia started three freshman offensive linemen. USC spent the entire season trying to find a new, reliable receiver. While all these teams were amongst the best this season had to offer, all were also susceptible to upsets.
Looking ahead to 2008, one can only start foaming at the possibilities. Nearly all the teams that finished this season in the top 10 are projected to return the large majority of their starters. Familiar faces like Heisman winner Tim Tebow (Florida), finalist Chase Daniel (Missouri) and Fiesta Bowl hero Pat White (West Virginia) will be back for another go-around.
All of which means that, a year after crowning a two-loss team as national champion, we can probably expect a more traditional national-title race next year. At least a couple of the teams below are going to emerge as juggernauts; it's just a matter of which ones.
Early Top 10 for 2008
1) Georgia: The Dawgs ended 2007 as the nation's hottest team. Their offense should only get better with the return of QB Matthew Stafford, RB Knowshon Moreno and nearly the entire line, while the defense that so thoroughly overwhelmed Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl brings back all but three starters, including CB Asher Allen.
2) Ohio State: It's hard to believe the Buckeyes reached their second straight BCS title game despite fielding a team with just two senior starters. RB Beanie Wells and QB Todd Boeckman lead the guaranteed returnees, while defensive stars Vernon Gholston, James Laurinaitis and Malcom Jenkins face impending NFL decisions.
3) Oklahoma: The Sooners won 11 games with an extremely young team and might have merited preseason No. 1 status if not for their Fiesta Bowl debacle. If WR Malcolm Kelly returns, the Sam Bradford-led offense should be pretty unstoppable. Star defenders Curtis Lofton, Auston English and Reggie Smith could all be back as well.