2009 college football ranking predictions: Florida No. 1

Stewart Mandel of SI.com takes a crack at predicting how the top 25 will look in college football next season.

Tim Tebow1. Florida (13-1 in 2008)

Who’s back: QB Tim Tebow, DE Carlos Dunlap, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Joe Haden, S Ahmad Black.

Who’s not: WRs Percy Harvin* and Louis Murphy, T Phil Trautwein, G Jim Tartt.

Skinny: The defending champs return a former Heisman winner at quarterback, their top three tailbacks and, remarkably, their entire starting defense.

2. Texas (12-1)

Who’s back: QB Colt McCoy, WR Jordan Shipley, T Adam Ulatoski, LBs Sergio Kindle and Roddrick Muckelroy.

Who’s not: WR Quan Cosby, DE Brian Orakpo, DT Roy Miller, CB Ryan Palmer.

Skinny: McCoy and the offense should be potent again, and last year’s young secondary should improve with another year under Will Muschamp.

3. Oklahoma (12-2)

Who’s back: QB Sam Bradford, RBs DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown, TE Jermaine Gresham, DT Gerald McCoy.

Who’s not: WRs Jauquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson, T Phil Loadholt, G Duke Robinson, S Nic Harris.

Skinny: Bradford’s return is huge for an offense that must retool its line and receiving corps. The defense has nine starters back from the BCS title game.

4. USC (12-1)
Who’s back: RBs C.J. Gable, Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight, WR Damian Williams, S Taylor Mays.

Who’s not: QB Mark Sanchez*, DT Fili Moala, LBs Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing, S Kevin Ellison.

Skinny: New QB Aaron Corp or Mitch Mustain will have a solid supporting cast. The defense loses a boatload of staples but should be able to reload.

5. Ole Miss (9-4)
Who’s back: QB Jevan Snead, RB/WR Dexter McCluster, DE Greg Hardy, CB Marshay Green, S Kendrick Lewis.

Who’s not: T Michael Oher, DT Peria Jerry, LBs Tony Fein and Ashlee Palmer.

Skinny: After knocking off Florida, LSU and Texas Tech, the Rebels are ready to take the next step behind star QB Snead. Hardy’s return is a huge boost.

The 2008 season isn’t even a month dead yet and already I miss college football. (Although not the constant playoff debate, which shouldn’t even be a debate at all if BCS-supporters could ever get their heads out of their asses and realize they ruin college football every year.)

I like seeing Ole’ Miss that high. As Mandel points out, the Rebs knocked off Florida, LSU and Texas Tech last year, and also gave Alabama a run for its money, too. Snead is the real deal and that’s a team that will be fun to watch next season.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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