This number could go way up or way down because the Gators are surrounded by unknowns. Who will be the coach in 2010? Will it be Urban Meyer or interim coach Steve Addazio? Will quarterback John Brantley live up to his vast potential? Will youngsters such as linebacker Jon Bostic, safety Will Hill and defensive end William Green shine as bright as the stars they must replace?
The Nittany Lions lose their quarterback (Darryl Clark) and their best linebacker (Navorro Bowman). Rising senior tailback Evan Royster and center Stefen Wisniewski should stabilize the offense for sophomore quarterback Kevin Newsome, but new stars will have to emerge on defense.
Oklahoma crashed in 2009 after an opening-night injury to quarterback Sam Bradford. It's safe to say the Sooners won't be as unlucky in 2010 as this past season, when they lost Bradford and tight end Jermaine Gresham and had to use four different centers because of injuries. Quarterback Landry Jones matured under fire after replacing Bradford. Now, youngsters such as defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland and linebacker Ronnell Lewis must live up to their considerable recruiting hype.
Defensive end Allen Bailey is coming back. So is receiver Leonard Hankerson. Those two join a talented group of rising juniors (quarterback Jacory Harris, linebacker Sean Spence, defensive tackle Marcus Forston) to lead a program that might finally be ready to rejoin the nation's elite.
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is gone, but Suh has said for months that he thinks rising junior tackle Jared Crick might turn out to be better. That's a terrifying prospect for Big 12 North quarterbacks. The question mark for the Cornhuskers is their offense, which was downright miserable at times this past season. It remains to be seen whether surgically repaired Zac Lee or Cody Green will start at quarterback, but if the Huskers can move the ball, they're going to be tough to beat.
Rising sophomore tailback Dion Lewis will start the season as a Heisman Trophy contender, and junior Jonathan Baldwin is one of the nation's best receivers. The Panthers have some holes to fill, though. Quarterback Bill Stull has graduated. Meanwhile, defensive end Greg Romeus has yet to decide whether he'll return for his senior season.
The Beavers lose quarterback Sean Canfield, but they bring back a ton of starters on both sides of the ball. The Rodgers brothers (James and Quizz) would make any offense dangerous. Meanwhile, the defense could get a big boost if defensive tackle Stephen Paea returns for his senior season.
The Tar Heels' best juniors -- including defensive tackle Marvin Austin, linebacker Quan Sturdivant and receiver Greg Little -- decided en masse to return to Chapel Hill, and that's bad news for the rest of the ACC. If North Carolina can avoid the inconsistency (lose to Florida State, then beat Virginia Tech) that plagued them in 2009, the folks on Tobacco Road may forget basketball for a few minutes.
Losing coach Brian Kelly, quarterback Tony Pike and receiver Mardy Gilyard certainly hurts the Bearcats, but don't expect them to fall off the face of the earth. We already know quarterback Zach Collaros can play, and we already know coach Butch Jones can follow Kelly successfully. Cincy should still compete for the Big East title.
Shane Vereen proved after Jahvid Best's injury that he can capably fill Best's cleats. Add quarterback Kevin Riley, four returning offensive line starters and a solid group of returning defensive starters and you have the makings of a Pac-10 title contender.
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