Ranking an early preseason Top 10
A few weeks ago, the producers at "College Football Live" requested that several of ESPN's writers and analysts submit our early preseason top 25 rankings. So for this week's list, I figured I'd share with you my thoughts on the top 10 teams on my ballot:
Quarterback Landry Jones, coming off a season during which he threw for 4,700 yards and 38 touchdowns, is a Heisman contender, and big-play wide receiver Ryan Broyles is one of the top three players at his position. Travis Lewis, who will lead a very fast defense, is one of the nation's best linebackers.
In small but dynamic Roy Finch, OU has a spark for its vexing three-back formation. And with Finch playing alongside highly regarded freshman running back Brandon Williams, the Sooners have enough backfield weapons to make up for the departure of versatile RB DeMarco Murray.
The schedule won't be easy, though, especially with a trip to FSU on Sept. 17. The Seminoles are out for revenge after getting blown off the field in Norman last year. The Sooners also will face two likely improved teams, the Texas Longhorns and Texas A&M Aggies, before heading to Stillwater to visit a loaded Oklahoma State offense. Still, Bob Stoops' team has the fewest questions heading into the season, and I think he has a very good shot at winning his second BCS title in Norman.
I've gone back and forth about whom I'm picking to win the SEC West about 76 times in the past two months, choosing between Bama and LSU. I think both will be very good on defense, although I have a little more faith in the Tide D, and their running game is more established with Trent Richardson returning. I also like that Bama gets to play LSU in Tuscaloosa.
I actually submitted LSU as my No. 2 team in the "College Football Live" poll, but I changed it after sending it in. After all, we've heard the "Jordan Jefferson has turned the corner" story before, and of the two teams, I think LSU has the more treacherous schedule. The Tigers have games against Oregon, at West Virginia, home against the Florida Gators, at the Tennessee Volunteers, home against Auburn, at Alabama and home against Arkansas. The Tide, meanwhile, play at the Penn State Nittany Lions, at home against Arkansas, at UF, at home against LSU and at Auburn.
To read the rest of Bruce Feldman's early preseason top 10 rankings, become an ESPN Insider today.