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College Football is back!  After an exciting and controversial ending to last season, the initial preseason polls have been released for this year’s top 25 teams in the nation.  Of course, the list is full of surprises and snubs.  A closer look at the Top 5 shows some pretty solid reasoning behind the cream of the crop in college football.

5) Oregon Ducks

The departure of LaMichael James and Darron Thomas lead many people to doubt the Ducks’ ability to remain at the top of the rankings this season. Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas will have some big things to say about that.  Oregon shouldn’t miss a beat at tailback.  Barner has been electric as a backup and on special teams as a kick returner.  He has gained notoriety for his speed but also the intensity behind each of his runs.  De’Anthony Thomas is a legitimate threat to score every time he touches the ball.  The sophomore receiver has scored on long plays in many different ways.  A 91-yard run in the Rose Bowl put Thomas on a national level and raised his stock for the Heisman Trophy in 2012.  Thomas has been put on a short list of potential contenders for the award in the upcoming season.  All this offensive firepower should help Oregon live up to their motto, Speed Kills.

4) Oklahoma Sooners

Landry Jones has and will continue to dominate headlines in Norman, OK.  The superstar QB returns to Oklahoma as one of the favorites for the Heisman Trophy this season.  Jones will have his work cut out for him, as the receiving core provides some of the bigger unanswered questions for the Sooners.  The offseason was marred with suspensions and uncertainty around starting spots.  The transfer of Penn State WR, Justin Brown, should help add a little depth to the group.  Tony Jefferson will be the player to watch emerge on the defensive side of the ball.  Jefferson is being moved back to safety to help enhance his natural abilities.  This should provide for some fireworks in the secondary.  Oklahoma should have a lock on the BIG 12, and if everything goes as planned, they will be moving up higher than #4.

3) USC Trojans

After a postseason ban, USC is back right where they left off.  The Trojans are the favorite to win the Pac-12 and are receiving first place votes already.  USC will trot out the Heisman favorite, Matt Barkley, to help in the quest for a BCS National Championship.  USC is sure to have one of the most potent offenses in all of football behind Barkley, Robert Woods, and Marquis Lee.  The all-world QB returned for his senior season and boasts the best receiving core in the country.  The only issue with Woods and Lee is trying to determine who is better.  Both have the ability to change a game at any time for the Trojans.  The transfer of Silas Redd from Penn State only adds to the ridiculous offensive firepower in Southern Cal.  USC should keep up the tradition of high scoring in the Pac-12, while trying to put an end to the SEC dominance.

2) Alabama Crimson Tide

2011-12’s BCS National Championship came amidst controversy for the Tide.  After losing to LSU, Alabama was able to get revenge in the title game, causing enough outcry that a playoff system will be put in place for next year.  A.J. McCarron is back to prove last year was just the beginning for Bama.  The revolving door of running backs has landed on Eddie Lacy this season.  Lacy actually had a better YPC average than Trent Richardson last season.  The Tide will need big things from their Junior running back this season.  The biggest questions for Alabama will be the defense.  After losing a huge part of their defense to the NFL draft last season, Alabama will have to revamp the defense on the fly.  It should help that the Tide came into the season with the top recruiting class is college.  Regardless, there should be plenty of Rammer Jammer chants in Tuscaloosa once again.  Roll Tide!

1) LSU Tigers

LSU players and fans had plenty to complain about after the ending to last year’s college football season.  After splitting 1-1 with Alabama, LSU was declared the 2nd team in football. The bad taste is still on the tip of every tongue in bayou country.  With four returning offensive lineman, Michael Ford and Spencer Ware should have a big year in the brutal SEC.  The conference has become known for their hard hits and brutal style of play.  Most notably, the defenses coming out of the SEC are too much to handle for the rest of the country.  LSU is no stranger to phenomenal defenses.  DB University, as they have become lately, constantly produces the best defensive back prospects in the country.  This season is no exception.  All eyes will be on Tyann Mathieu when the season starts.  Mathieu has taken some criticism about his coverage skills, but the junior will look to do what he does best – make huge plays.

It will be a fight to the top for supremacy in college football.  This year’s race is tighter than ever.  There are multiple teams in the top 25 that could ascend to the pinnacle of college greatness.  Michigan, Florida State, and Georgia will have a great deal to say about the outcome of this season.  With 5 teams from the SEC ranked in the top 10, this season will be brutal from start to finish.  Every game counts, although none more so than September 1 at Cowboy Stadium.  The Wolverines will travel to Dallas to take on Alabama in a game that will more than likely put one team out of contention for a National Championship.  Watch every week as the drama unfolds around the country.