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OFD Pre-Fall Top 25: No. 5-1

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It's Trent Richardson's time to shine in the Alabama offense. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
It's Trent Richardson's time to shine in the Alabama offense. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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At last, we've made it to the top five. 

We had a last minute shake up due to an injury in Norman, but the same five teams stay in this last post.

Here are the teams up until today:

 

25. Texas

24. Auburn

23. Mississippi State

22. Missouri

21. Ohio State

20. Michigan State

19. Florida

18. Virginia Tech

17. Georgia

16. Nebraska

15. Oklahoma State

14. USC

13. Wisconsin

12. Notre Dame

11. Arkansas

10. Florida State

9. TCU 

8. Texas A&M

7. Boise State

6. South Carolina

And now the country's top 5 teams heading into the 2011 season with previous ranking in parentheses:

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5. Stanford Cardinal (14)

The Cardinal are one of three big movers in this new poll after some careful reconsideration of their prospects in 2011.

The loss of Harbaugh and some key athletes from last season really hurt (hence me dropping them to No. 14 before spring), but with Luck still under center I think those losses aren’t nearly as crippling as they should be.

They have recruited really well in recent years (for Stanford, extremely well) and there are still plenty of returning players who made a big impact last season. The schedule is back-loaded, the offense might be impossible to stop at times, and I just don’t see this team being any worse than 9-3, with 10-2 being more likely.

With Andrew Luck, and what I would consider a historically weak top 10 in the polls surrounding them, the Cardinal have decent national title game odds. 

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4. Oklahoma Sooners (3)

A lot of people have the Sooners as the favorite to win it all, but the death of linebacker Austin Box and broken foot of another linebacker Travis Lewis, could really hurt what wasn't a great Oklahoma defense in the first place. 

I really like their offense and Landry Jones should have a monster season in Norman. I’m just not sold on their defense being great enough to warrant a No. 1 ranking, especially in comparison to two other SEC teams.

Nevertheless, there are a lot of top teams inside the top 10 with a decent amount of questions and Oklahoma winds up at No. 4 with a very good chance to play for a BCS title in 2011. 

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3. Oregon Ducks (5)

With Thomas and James returning to the Duck backfield, it would seem obvious to have Oregon inside the top 5 after a 12-1 season in 2010. I’m just a little uncomfortable with them here due to some pretty crucial personnel losses, having their best defender recently suspended and possible trouble from the NCAA looming over the program.

Still, the offense will continue to be beyond explosive, but this could be negated by a decrease in defensive playmaking ability and a rather stout schedule that will test the Ducks right away in week one.

I sense a 10-2 season for Oregon, which depending on how things break in the Pac-12, could lead them back to another BCS bowl appearance.

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2. LSU Tigers (2)

I seriously questioned putting LSU here.

One, Jordan Jefferson is still the Tigers quarterback. The coaches have been singing his praises since the spring, but even with a new OC I think Jefferson is one of the least talented passers, not just in the SEC, but in all of college football.

Two, where are the superstars? No doubt LSU can be a great team without some big name players (I do have them at No. 2 after all), but there are just some programs (Penn State comes to mind) where if there aren’t three or four household names, they are probably not going to be as successful as some think.

Three, LSU plays an absolutely brutal schedule.

If LSU either wins the SEC or a BCS title, Les Miles will become the governor of Louisiana. For life.

As usual, the Tigers defense should be very stingy and that always helps in the SEC. They should be able to rough up Oregon on defense to open the season---similar to what Auburn did---and that is going to give LSU a huge boost of confidence.

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1. Alabama Crimson Tide (1)

No change for the Crimson Tide as they remain atop my pre-Fall poll and I cannot envision a scenario (besides massive suspensions or some key injuries in August) where they will not remain the top dog.

The losses on offense are offset by the nation’s best returning defense, plus one of the top rushing attacks in all of the land. With plenty of experience on the offensive line, solid playmakers at receiver, and a quarterback ready to blossom (McCarron), this truly feels like the country’s elite team.

With an easy schedule for SEC standards and Saban working on building a dynasty, I think we’ll see Alabama back in the BCS title game.