It's the Noles — this year and next!
College football beat writer Bob Asmussen’s Final Top 25
1. Florida State
2. Michigan State
5. South Carolina
10. Central Florida
11. Ohio State
16. Oklahoma State
17. Texas A&M
20. Notre Dame
21. Northern Illinois
22. Southern Cal
25. Fresno State
It is never too early to start filling out your preseason poll. Here is staff writer and AP poll voter Bob Asmussen’s 2014 preseason Top 10, eight months before kickoff:
1. Florida St.
Sure, the Seminoles will take some hits in the NFL draft. But Heisman winner Jameis Winston is back and figures to only get better. If he can avoid adding 25 pounds on the banquet circuit (that isn’t going to happen).
Way to go out on a limb, picking the BCS finalists for the top two spots. The Tigers earn the position with the return of quarterback Nick Marshall. Auburn fans will expect improvement on defense, where the talent level continues to rise.
3. Ohio State
Twelve games into the season, the Buckeyes had a shot at the 2013 title. The disappointing end will serve them well. Urban Meyer will never miss a chance to remind his guys about what they lost. Oh, and Braxton Miller is expected back.
Speaking of coaches who can use a bad finish for motivation, Nick Saban loves that trick. Yes, the Crimson Tide will miss A.J. McCarron, but the defense is loaded and the skill positions are dangerous.
Simple reason the Ducks belong in the Top 5: the healthy return of quarterback Marcus Mariota. He played part of 2013 with a bad wheel. If he’s right, he will challenge Winston for the Heisman.
Now that David Shaw is settled in as head coach, he can hit the road and add a bunch of studs to a loaded team. Lineman Andrus Peat will contend for national awards while plowing the way for Barry Sanders.
The finale was a bummer. But quarterback Bryce Petty will spend the summer working with his receivers. The Big 12 champions have some holes to fill on the offensive line. That’s the biggest concern.
The Sooners showed off their quarterback of the future, Trevor Knight, while beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. He could be the next Sam Bradford.
Good news abounds. First, coach Jim Mora Jr. decided to stay. Next, QB Brett Hundley will be back for another season. The biggest problem for the Bruins is they play in the powerful Pac-12. But the South isn’t as difficult as the North.
10. Mich. St.
The defense carried the team in 2013. Time for the offense to take a turn. Connor Cook has three offensive line starters back and a talented group of receivers.