Trojans re-loaded for another run

Coach Pete Carroll, who has drawn interest from the Atlanta Falcons to fill their opening at head coach, should have the Trojans hungry to reach the big game.

The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 11:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 11:55 p.m.

After what we witnessed in 2007, there's only one name that ESPN can put on the next college football season Letdown Leap Year.

There's no way 2008 can top what we saw this past season. It was weird, wild stuff. Not only is the craziness bar set at an all-time high with a two-loss team winning it all and that Trinity play with 13 laterals and a sophomore winning the Heisman and the No. 2 ranking being coated in petroleum jelly, but there is another reason why 2008 figures to be a little closer to normal.

Because a big part of the zaniness was caused by so many prominent teams being so young. A year older doesn't always mean a year wiser, but the next season has to be a little calmer. Doesn't it?

It's never too early to look ahead. And start counting the days.

With that in mind, here's the 2008 pre-spring top 25 according to Sun sports writer Pat Dooley.

1. Southern Cal

The Trojans lose a lot of talented players including defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis, tight end Fred Davis and quarterback John David Booty. But the Trojans are well-stocked and hungry to get back to the big game. This ranking assumes Pete Carroll doesn't go to the NFL.

2. Oklahoma

Forget the Fiesta Bowl. It was one game and indicative of a team still growing up. The Sooners return 16 starters and should have learned from the ups and downs of this past season.

3. Ohio State

If the Buckeyes weren't playing at USC early in the season, they'd be ranked No. 1. That was a rebuilding team that made it to the title game for the second straight year. Don't be surprised if the Ohio State University is in Miami where it will be SECond again.

4. Georgia

The revitalized Mark Richt will probably carry the burden of being No. 1 or No. 2 going into the season and the Bulldogs should be at the top based on talent. But a brutal schedule awaits and will probably keep Georgia out of the national title game.

5. Missouri

Chase Daniel was a Heisman finalist for a reason and returns with a star-studded offense that includes receiver and return specialist Jeremy Maclin.

6. LSU

The Tigers lose a lot of seniors plus defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, but there is no shortage of talent in Baton Rouge.

7. Florida

The Gators should have the nation's best offense but unless there is a vast improvement on defense they could be returning to the Inconvenience Bowl in Orlando.

8. Virginia Tech

Good coaches, solid talent, bad conference (nice bowl record, ACC). It all adds up to another league title for the Hokies.

9. Texas

Is Colt McCoy college football's version of Eli Manning good one week and terrible another? This is the season we find out.

10. Arizona State

Defensive end Dexter Davis leads a defense that should be better, but the Sun Devils need consistent play from the quarterback.

11. Kansas

Diminutive Todd Reesing will be hurt by the loss of lineman Anthony Collins and the Jayhawks have South Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri on the schedule.

12. Clemson

Cullen Harper came into his own this season, but Tommy Bowden still hasn't turned the corner to the elite level.

13. West Virginia

You saw what Pat White can do in the Fiesta Bowl, but we still are baffled by the hiring of Bill Stewart.

14. Wisconsin

The Badgers have quietly become a second-tier dynasty (if there is such a thing) and may be ready to move up this year.

15. Brigham Young

Max Hall is a big-time quarterback on a team with the easiest path to 12-0.

16. Texas Tech

Graham Harrell throwing and Michael Crabtree receiving? Again? Watch the records fall.

17. Auburn

The Tigers are replacing both coordinators, which should set them back a bit, but the offense will be better.

18. Boise State

Get used to it. The blue turf on Friday nights will be part of college football fans' lives forever.

19. Oregon

Once the Ducks figured out it wasn't all about Dennis Dixon, they were pretty good.

20. Michigan

New coach, new offense, a lot of new players. But there is enough left to be solid in Rich Rodriguez's first season.

21. Tennessee

The Vols lose a lot from the SEC East champions and have UCLA, Florida and Auburn in successive weeks.

22. Illinois

Losing Rashard Mendenhall is a blow for Ron Zook's team but it will be a bowl team again.

23. Oklahoma State

Everyone was a year early on the Cowboys. Let's see if Mike Gundy is still a man at 41.

24. South Florida

The Bulls need junior leadership from Matt Grothe and George Selvie to take the next step.

25. Miami

Transition year behind him, Randy Shannon will pull some upsets with his incredible recruiting class.

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