Early look at '07
|NCAA Football Power Rankings|
USC Trojans (11-2 in 2006)Who's back: QB John David Booty, T Sam Baker, DE Lawrence Jackson, LBs Keith Rivers and Brian Cushing.
Who's not: WRs Dwayne Jarrett* and Steve Smith, C Ryan Kalil.
Skinny: All but one starter return from an already dominant defense, and Booty will have a new set of stud receivers, Patrick Turner and Vidal Hazelton, at his disposal.
* -- underclassman who declared for the draft
LSU Tigers (11-2)Who's back: RB Keiland Williams, WR Early Doucet, DE Tyson Jackson, DT Glenn Dorsey, LB Ali Highsmith.
Who's not: QB JaMarcus Russell*, WR Dwayne Bowe, S LaRon Landry, S Jessie Daniels.
Skinny: New QB Matt Flynn will benefit from a veteran offensive line. All-American Dorsey's unexpected return ensures the Tigers yet another loaded defense.
Florida Gators (13-1)Who's back: QB Tim Tebow, WRs Andre Caldwell and Percy Harvin, DE Derrick Harvey, S Tony Joiner.
Who's not: QB Chris Leak, WR Dallas Baker, DE Jarvis Moss*, LB Brandon Siler*, S Reggie Nelson*, CB Ryan Smith*.
Skinny: Urban Meyer's offense will be even more dynamic with Tebow as the starter, but nine of the 11 defensive starters from the BCS championship game have departed.
Louisville Cardinals (12-1)Who's back: QB Brian Brohm, WRs Harry Douglas and Mario Urrutia, C Eric Wood, LB Malik Jackson.
Who's not: RB Michael Bush*, DT Amobi Okoye, LB Nate Harris, CB William Gay.
Skinny: Projected first-rounder Brohm's decision to come back is a huge boost for first-year coach Steve Kragthorpe. A healthy Brohm is capable of throwing for 4,000 yards.
West Virginia Mountaineers (11-2)Who's back: QB Pat White, RB Steve Slaton, RB Owen Schmitt, WR Darius Reynard, S Eric Wicks.
Who's not: C Dan Mozes.
Skinny: It's hard to believe White and Slaton each have two years of eligibility left. White could become the nation's most dangerous weapon, and the Mountaineers' defense will be more experienced.
Michigan Wolverines (11-2)Who's back: QB Chad Henne, RB Mike Hart, WR Mario Manningham, T Jake Long, LB Shawn Crable.
Who's not: WR Steve Breaston, DE LaMarr Woodley, DT Alan Branch*, LB David Harris, CB Leon Hall.
Skinny: There's no questioning the Wolverines' offense. The last two games of '06, however, raised doubts about a defense that must now replace its four biggest stars.
Wisconsin Badgers (12-1)Who's back: RB P.J. Hill, TE Travis Beckum, DE Matt Shaughnessy, LB Jonathan Casillas, CB Jack Ikegwuonu.
Who's not: QB John Stocco, T Joe Thomas, LB Mark Zalewski.
Skinny: Nearly every key starter returns for the nation's fifth-ranked defense. Senior Tyler Donovan will be a capable replacement for the underrated Stocco.
Texas Longhorns (10-3)Who's back: QB Colt McCoy, RB Jamaal Charles, WR Limas Sweed, DT Frank Okam, LB Rashad Bobino.
Who's not: T Justin Blalock, DE Tim Crowder, CB Aaron Ross, S Michael Griffin.
Skinny: The sky's the limit for McCoy, Charles and the rest of the 'Horns offense, though the line loses several veterans. Improving the pass defense will be a priority.
Ohio St. Buckeyes (12-1)Who's back: RB Chris Wells, T Alex Boone, DE Vernon Gholston, LB James Laurinaitis, CB Malcolm Jenkins.
Who's not: QB Troy Smith, RB Antonio Pittman*, WRs Ted Ginn Jr.* and Anthony Gonzalez*, DT Quinn Pitcock.
Skinny: With Smith's departure, this team could look more like the 2002 Buckeyes, with Jim Tressel leaning on new feature back Wells and a veteran defense.
Virginia Tech Hokies (10-3)Who's back: RB Branden Ore, DE Chris Ellis, LBs Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi, CB Brandon Flowers.
Who's not: DE Noland Burchette, S Aaron Rouse.
Skinny: Seventeen starters return for a team that should boast one of the nation's top defenses yet again but needs to get more production out of its quarterback.