Top 25 Teams and Games — No. 7 Florida Gators


Published: Monday, June 23, 2008 at 11:53 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, June 23, 2008 at 11:53 p.m.

TEAM NO. 7 FLORIDA

The buzz: There are a lot of pre-season magazines in love with the mighty Gators this summer, based in part on the fact that the Gators return the Heisman Trophy winner. Urban Meyer has stacked three top recruiting classes on top of each other which should mean better depth for the Gators.

Difference-maker: Tim Tebow was amazing last year and may not come up with the same stats as he did a year ago. But he is still the straw that stirs the drink, a physical and emotional leader who can beat you with his arm, his legs and his will.

The upside: If Percy Harvin is healthy, Florida looks unstoppable on offense. The Gators have an outstanding offense line, the best quarterback in the game and a plethora of skill players with speed. Add in kick returner Brandon James and there shouldn't be a more potent attack this season.

The downside: When you are counting on a true freshman defensive tackle to make the difference on defense, you have problems. Omar Hunter may be good, but he can't cover anybody and the secondary has to get better. Florida will be young again and this is still a unit that was torched by Michigan and Georgia last year.

Schedule factor: It's not easy but not quite the gauntlet the Gators faced in 2006. Miami is still a year away and Hawaii lost its coach and quarterback. The Gators trade Auburn for Arkansas as the rotating SEC game. The Georgia game likely will be the one that matters most.

GAME NO. 7 ARIZONA STATE AT USC

Where: The Coliseum, Los Angeles, Calif.

When: Oct. 11.

Why it's sexy: Dennis Erickson seems to have the Sun Devils headed in the right direction but everything in the Pac-10 still goes through the Trojans. ASU thought it was ready for USC a year ago but stumbled in the third quarter and left the field a disappointed team.

Preseason buzz: While Southern Cal is among a handful of teams being considered as a national title contender, Arizona State is one of those teams outside the bubble. But if the Sun Devils can stun Georgia earlier and then beat USC it will be hard to keep them out of Miami.

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