Beyond USC, I don't see a consensus for #2 through #5. Has there been a weaker group of 2, 3, 4, and 5 ever in College Football?
After watching Texas in 2006, it's hard to see LSU a clear candidate, with JaMarcus Russell gone and with the Oakland Raiders in the NFL? Will this really be LSU Coach Les Miles' year?
West Virginia has a very solid coach in Rich Rodriquez. They are clearly rejoicing that he turned down the Bama job. WVU is close to being a consensus pick for #1 in the Big East in 2007? With Phil Steele's 45th rated difficult schedule, maybe the Mountaineers are worthy, but I have a hard time putting them too high.
What about Michigan from the Big Ten? Can they beat Ohio State, despite the losses the Buckeyes will have to overcome in '07? Defense wins championships and the Wolverine defense have some players to replace, from a team that still seems to underachieve at times under Coach Lloyd Carr. Michigan last won a share of the MNC ten years ago in 1997. The fans in Ann Arbor are likely a little restless.
Texas has a nice young QB in Colt McCoy, but which Longhorn team will we see in 2007? The team that beat OU 28-10 or the team that lost at K-State 42-45 and at home vs. A&M 7-12? Nebraska narrowly missed upsetting the Longhorns too 22-20 in Lincoln and Iowa gave the Longhorns a scare in the Alamo Bowl 26-24 to close out 2006.
Where do the defending national champs figure in 2007? The Florida Gators were impressive in last year's BCS Championship vs. Ohio State 41-14. Coach Urban Meyer and the Gators will have to replace 5 starters on offense and 9 on defense and there #1 PK and Punter. Not an automatic resume for the Top 5 again.
No one currently see Virginia Tech in the Top 5, but the Hokies appear to be a Top 10 team and the best team likely in the ACC this fall.
Some like Wisconsin coming out of the Big Ten. The Badgers under second year coach Bret Bielema haven't visited a BCS bowl, since 1999, so are they ready for there first BCS coming out party this decade?
Louisville appears to be the highest rated team with a new head coach, with Steve Kragthorpe moving over from the University of Tulsa. They clearly are not a Top 5 candidate at this point, but return a talented QB in senior Brian Brohm.
Oklahoma and head coach Bob Stoops are always a popular choice for the Top 5. They will have to find a new QB again. They didn't finish '06 on top, with a surprise upset by mid-major Boise State in an exciting finish in the BCS Fiesta Bowl 42-43.
Tennessee and TCU are getting some props as a possible Top 10 team, but a Top 5 candidate clearly not.
It seems ever so clear, that beyond USC, there is no clear cut team. Parity appears par for the course in 2007 again.
It should be interesting 2007 NCAA Football campaign this season, after USC. Of course, when it comes to college football, clearly expect the unexpected. The conference races should be outstanding with many clearly a toss up this fall. We all remember that Ohio State vs. USC appeared to be on the horizon for the 2007 BCS Championship Game, then defeat was sprung on the Trojans and it turned out to be a different championship game.
More in 2007... we will see later on!