January 9, 2007
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At this time last year Rivals.com picked Ohio State to win the 2006 national championship.
OK, so we were close.
SEC champion Florida crushed the Buckeyes in a lopsided championship game Monday night in Glendale, Ariz. The Gators also appeared in our first preseason top 10 a year ago, albeit not quite so high.
So it is that we embark on our first preseason poll for the 2007 season. Yes, it's our first because we'll deliver several between now and our final preseason poll in August. We jump out of the gate right after the curtain falls on the 2006 season in this poll, and our mission statement is to vote only with the knowledge of who already has announced they will turn pro early.
Otherwise, we are to assume that players who have yet to declare are returning to college. We'll update the poll in about two weeks, following the deadline for draft-eligible players to make known their intentions.
Like the Buckeyes a year ago, we have an overwhelming favorite to win the crown.
USC is loaded once again. After the way the Trojans dismantled an excellent Michigan team in the Rose Bowl, they are our pick to win the national title next season.
USC - which started only four seniors, including just one on defense - should emerge as an overwhelming favorite nationally. Our preseason poll has only one other Pac-10 team in the top 25 - California at No. 15.
That means it should be smooth sailing in the conference for the Trojans. They have road games against two other teams in our top 25, No. 14 Nebraska and No. 23 Notre Dame. Still, with John David Booty pulling the strings and a defense that should be nothing short of frightful, USC should be playing for it all.
The conference with the toughest road, according to our poll, will be the SEC. It has six ranked teams, two more than the Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 in our poll. LSU checked in at No. 2 to lead the way for the SEC, with national champ Florida (fifth) the league's other representative in our top 10.
Here is the top 25 in the first Rivals.com preseason poll for 2007:
Also receiving votes: Wake Forest, UCLA, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Maryland, South Florida, South Carolina, Oregon, Alabama, Miami, TCU, Miami, Boise State, Missouri
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