ESPN Writer Gives His College Football Top 25 for 2004

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John Corn

John Corn

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http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=maisel_ivan&id=1756803

It's early, but intresting none the less.......

1. USC
Losing Mike Williams is big, but hearing before spring practice will help sophomore wideouts Steve Smith and Whitney Lewis adjust. The Trojans also signed one of the best recruiting classes in years. Given Pete Carroll's philosophy about playing freshmen, they should help bolster what is already a very talented team.


2. LSU
Matt Mauck's departure will affect the offense, but the Tigers won with defense. The defense still looks powerful.


3. Georgia
The Bulldogs lost safety Sean Jones to the NFL draft, but the decision by defensive end and spiritual leader David Pollack to return for his senior season means a great deal to what is still a young team.


4. Oklahoma
The Sooners remain loaded on defense, and once more have issues with their running game. That has been their m.o. during the Stoops era, so expect the same level of success.


5. Miami
Huge losses on defense, with the early NFL departures of safety Sean Taylor and tackle Vince Wilfork, but the 'Canes depth should make the difference.


6. Texas
Yes, the Longhorns woo all of us every spring, then disappear at crucial moments in the fall. But Mack Brown gets four stars for hiring veteran defensive minds Greg Robinson and Dick Tomey to overhaul the defense. They will make a difference.


7. Florida State
The Seminoles are younger on defense than I first realized, but man, what an offense.

8. Michigan
Wolverine fans celebrated when none of the celebrated juniors left early, but the decisions by wideout Braylon Edwards, defensive back Marlin Jackson and offensive lineman David Baas came as no surprise. They will form the backbone of another formidable Michigan team.

9. Maryland
In Ralph We Trust.

10. Utah
A lot of readers disagreed with my decision to rank the Utes 14th in my January poll. I think they missed an important component of polling. The champions of the Mountain West and Mid-American Conferences, if they are one-loss teams, will rise this high in the polls. Utah is good enough to be 10-1 this year.


11. California
12. West Virginia
13. Ohio State
14. Tennessee
15. Iowa
16. Auburn
17. Missouri
18. Clemson
19. Florida
20. Virginia
21. Purdue
22. Kansas State
23. Minnesota
24. Oregon State
25. Toledo
 
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