It's only been a couple of days since Bama blasted LSU and ended a somewhat boring 2011 college football season that was embroiled in more controversies than good stories. But it's time to turn the page and look at what 2012 brings. So here is the annual college football's way too early 2012 top 25.
1) Alabama-Yes they are losing Trent Richardson, Dont'a Hightower and Dre Kirkpatrick all early to the NFL draft but they still got 5 star players littered all over their roster ready to shine. QB AJ McCarron will be a Heisman favorite. The schedule is tough but manageable.
2) LSU-The Tigers were a good QB away from having one of the best teams ever in college football. If QB Zach Mettenberger steps up it will be hard to see LSU losing to anybody else not named Bama.
3)Oregon-The Ducks return QB Darron Thomas and the Black Mamba De'Anthony Thomas in what should be another high scoring Chip Kelly offense in Eugene. They will more than likely have to beat USC twice which probably won't happen in order to get to the BCS Championship.
4) USC-Talent wise it would be hard to find a better team in the country than the Trojans especially on the offensive side of the ball with QB Matt Barkley and WR's Robert Woods and Marquise Lee back. The problem with USC is their depth especially on the all-important lines. Any injuries up front could crush their PAC-12 hopes.
5) West Virginia-It's hard to ignore how impressive Geno Smith and the offense looked in the Orange Bowl vs Clemson. They beat the living shit out of the Tigers and pretty much everybody is coming back. The big question is who will they play next season? Right now they are in limbo waiting on a decision in court whether they can start playing in the Big 12 next year after leaving the Big East.
6) Oklahoma-The Sooners were a disappointment last year but I expect them to bounce back in a big way with QB Landry Jones coming back. The Sooners will put up a ton of points and with Texas and Okie State both questionable they should again be favored to win the Big 12. Bob Stoop's brother Mike should help the defense.
7) Michigan-The Wolverines made a deal with the devil and somehow won 11 games last year. With Shoelace back their "luck" should continue into 2012. The schedule is rough with Bama in Arlington and road games vs Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Ohio State but you can expect Shoelace to throw some duckfarts up and more than likely his prayers will be caught.
8) Arkansas-The Razorbacks get Alabama and LSU at home next year. Probably won't matter since right now they aren't in their discussion of elite teams. Knile Davis coming back from knee surgery should be huge. Who knows maybe they can upset Bama or LSU but right now I'm not betting on it.
9) TCU-The Horned Frogs are jumping up to big boy territory with their arrival to the Big 12 next year. Last season was considered a "down" year despite going 11-2 and beating Boise State and winning their last 8. Expectations are high and with nearly everybody back I think TCU has a legit shot at winning the conference.
10) Wisconsin-Montee Ball had nearly 2000 yards rushing and scored 39 TDs in 2011 but more importantly will be back. They got a lot of pieces to replace including QB Russell Wilson but you know head coach Bret Bielema will find somebody in the spring from the minor leagues.
11) Michigan State-Sparty has won 11 games each of the past two years and should have won the Big Ten title last year. I was never impressed by Kirk Cousins so losing him I don't think is that big of a deal. What is a big deal is their rough schedule. They got tough home games vs Boise State and Notre Dame in early September. If they can manage to win those two out of conference games then 2012 could be a magical season for Sparty.
12) South Carolina-Marcus Lattimore is the best RB in the country and with him coming back from a serious knee injury it should be a major boost for the Gamecocks. People tend to forget they won 11 games last year including a road win at UGA despite the QB turmoil with Stephen Garcia and losing Lattimore to the injury. The Ole Ball Coach will have them ready to compete for the SEC East. Clowney is going to be a menace for QBs all year.
13) Georgia-I know Georgia fans are going to kill me with this statement but so be it: UGA is an elite head coach away from being an elite program. Don't get me wrong Mark Richt has done a wonderful job in Athens but the Bulldawgs have been serious disappointments for the past 4 seasons in my opinion. Pretty much everybody is back of importance and I think freshman RB Keith Marshall will have an instant impact for UGA. The schedule again is very weak so don't be surprised to see UGA in the SEC Championship again.
14) Kansas State-Collin Klein had a breakout 2011 season and with tailback John Hubert and Chris Harper back they should put up a ton of points. Arthur Brown might be one of the best linebackers in the country and you know head coach Bill Snyder will have the Wildcats ready to compete for a tough Big 12 title next season.
15) Ohio State-It's time for Urban Meyer to work his magic in Columbus. They won't be eligible for the Big Ten title or a bowl game next season but it should be a good "exhibition" season for Meyer to install his spread offense with Braxton Miller at QB. Urban will have the Buckeyes competing for a BCS Bowl game in 2013.
16) Stanford-Obviously losing Andrew Luck is huge. You can't replace a Luck on your roster. But Stanford does have a stout defense coming back and the offense returns RB Stepfan Taylor who should have a big season. The only two losses I see on their schedule are USC and Oregon.
17) Nebraska-It's time for Nebraska to take the next step up under head coach Bo Pelini. Unfortunately they have a turnover machine in Taylor Martinez at the QB position. The Blackshirts defense returns 8 starters so maybe they will be the difference between another 9 win season and a double digit win season.
18) Virginia Tech-The Hokies defense should be sick next year. Logan Thomas is back at the QB position and with a relatively weak nonconference schedule it wouldn't shock me to see VATech competing for a BCS Championship game appearance in December.
19) Clemson-Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins should be fun to watch. The defense though was atrocious in the Orange Bowl. If Dabo can get himself a decent D then Clemson could be a top 10 team. Unfortunately they aren't even close to that right now.
20) Auburn-Auburn got a great D coordinator in Brian VanGorder and he could be the difference between last year's 8-5 record and a 10-12 win season in 2012. They still need to decide who the QB will be but talent wise Auburn can play with anybody in the SEC. Next year will be a good barometer of how good of a head coach Gene Chizik really is.
21) Boise State-Chris Petersen knows what he is doing. Again I repeat Petersen knows what he is doing. A lot of pundits think the Broncos will fall off the face of the earth now that Kellen Moore is gone. It won't happen. Petersen got plenty of playing time for his underclassmen last year in the second half of ballgames in which Boise destroyed teams. They won't compete for a title but they will still be a top 25 team easily.
22) FSU-It seems every year the Seminoles are overrated but I think 22 is a good spot for them. They have a good defense with most of their starters back but the question is can their offense get back to being halfway decent? EJ Manuel will get another chance to prove his 5 star ranking out of high school wasn't a misnomer.
23) Oklahoma State-No doubt it's going to be tough replacing Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon and 3 offensive line starters for an offense that put up record numbers in 2011. The Fiesta Bowl champions need to develop a good defense in order to compete every year for a top 10 finish.
24) Texas-I'm not overly impressed by their offense but their defense was the best last year in the Big 12. They have a shitload of talent at the tailback position so if they can just pick a QB out and go with him they could be a top 10 team. Problem is Mack Brown is too complacent with his roster and needs to get the Longhorns hungry again.
25) Arkansas State-I just felt like putting a wildcard team in here. With Gus Malzahn as their head coach and Michael Dyer at tailback the Red Wolves could go undefeated. Seriously.
Just missed-Rutgers, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Penn State, Southern Miss