Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Who will be in the AP top-10?
By ESPN.com staff
Phil Steele has projected how he believes the AP top-10 will look next August, and his vision includes a pair of Pac-12 teams.
He projects the top-10 going like this: 1. LSU; 2. USC; 3. Alabama; 4. Oregon; 5. Oklahoma; 6. Georgia; 7. Michigan; 8. Florida State; 9. Arkansas; 10. West Virginia.
Here's what he writes about Oregon:
The Ducks have become a fixture among the nation’s elite under HC Chip Kelly with 3 straight BCS appearances and last year captured their first Rose Bowl win since 1916! While QB Darron Thomas and RB LaMichael James are gone, their replacements are plenty capable as QB Bryan Bennett and RB’s Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas return with some valuable game experience and the Ducks do not open with a marquee non-conference game like they did last year vs LSU.
Last year while the probation-stricken Trojans were not eligible to play in the Pac-12 title game, I picked them to be the best team in the South and clearly they were just that going 10-2 (7-2) beating their crosstown rival Bruins who were the de facto Pac-12 South Champs 50-0 in the regular season finale! The Trojans locked up their spot here with the surprising return of QB Matt Barkley who is clearly one of the Heisman favorites in 2012. He will have plenty of skill position talent surrounding him with his top 2 WR’s Robert Woods and Marqise Lee back and 1,000 yd rusher Curtis McNeal also returning. A case could be made at the end of last season that no team in the country was hotter than USC winning 7 of their last 8 games with a 3OT loss to Stanford their only blemish. With 15 returning starters, the Trojans clearly will be one of the favorites to take home the crystal ball.
This isn't how Steele projects the top-10, just how he believes the AP will see things.