Nebraska in Early at #19 for the 2009 College Football Season

It’s never to early to start talking about the 2009 season. Mark Schlabach from ESPN.com has released his uber-early rankings for next season.

ESPN’s 2009 College Football Top 25

#1 Florida Gators
#2 Oklahoma Sooners
#3 Texas Longhorns
#4 Alabama Crimson Tide
#5 Virginia Tech Hokies
#6 USC Trojans
#7 Ohio State Buckeyes
#8 LSU Tigers
#9 Penn State Nittany Lions
#10 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#11 Ole Miss Rebels
#12 Oregon Ducks
#13 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#14 Georgia Bulldogs
#15 TCU Horned Frogs
#16 Iowa Hawkeyes
#17 Boise State Broncos
#18 California Bears

19. Nebraska Cornhuskers – “In his first season as Nebraska’s coach, Bo Pelini went a long way toward restoring the pride in the Cornhuskers’ defense. Nebraska will have to worry more about its offense going into the 2009 season after losing quarterback Joe Ganz, tailback Marlon Lucky and receivers Todd Peterson and Nate Swift. Patrick Witt and Zac Lee will battle to replace Ganz, and Roy Helu looked like Nebraska’s best running back at times during the 2008 season. Seven starters should be back on defense, including Ndamukong Suh, who returned to school instead of entering the NFL draft. The Big 12 schedule might set up nicely for the Cornhuskers, who will play Texas Tech and Oklahoma at home and won’t play Texas during the regular season.” – Mark Schlabach

#20 Kansas Jayhawks
#21 Utah Utes
#22 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#23 Florida State Seminoles
#24 Michigan State Spartans
#25 Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Some initial reactions…

  • Nebraska appears to be right on after a strong finish in 2008, especially on the defensive side of the ball. With only two games on the schedule that I can’t see us winning, every other game on the 2009 schedule is winnable. @ Va. Tech and Oklahoma @ home are probably going to be games where we would be extremely, extremely fortunate to win. After that, @ Missouri, Texas Tech @ home, @ Baylor, and @ Kansas are probably our next toughest games. In a perfect world, we could win all of those games. Say we win 3 of those 4 games and lose to Oklahoma and Virginia Tech, that puts us at 9-3 on the season and more than likely a Big XII Championship game berth.
  • Five Big XII teams in the Top 25 is to be expected after last season’s success. I think that when the AP and Coaches Polls are released we might see Texas Tech in that Top 25, which would make six. No Missouri**? Ha.
  • Virginia Tech is really high at #5. They were one of the youngest teams in Division 1 last season and with Tyrod Taylor and Darren Evans returning, they will have a much more experienced and explosive offense (if the passing game improves) to go with a great defense. That September 19 game in Blacksburg will give the Huskers an early indication of either how far away or how close we are to competing with the nation’s best.
  • Four Big 10 teams in the Top 25 seems a bit much. Iowa had one of the strongest finishes to the 2008 season as anyone, but the loss of Shonn Greene will kill what has been an inept offense since Kirk Ferentz took over. Michigan State loses both Javon Ringer and Qb Brian Hoyer but has an extremely easy schedule made easier by Notre Dame, Michigan, Iowa, and Penn State at home and not having Ohio State on the schedule. You got to love how the Big 10 seems to always omit potential conference championship games from the schedule.
  • Rutgers is the only the Big East team in the Top 25 at #25? Talk about kicking the dog while he’s down. It blows my mind how a conference can be so dominant in one sport and be so horribly awful in another.
  • Charlie Weis and Notre Dame ranking in at #22 will put even more pressure on the 2009 Fighting Irish. All eyes will be on a team loaded with blue chip recruits and 15 returning starters. I know we hear this every year, but Notre Dame’s 2009 schedule sets them up for what I think is 9 wins. If not, I think Charlie punches a one-way ticket out of town.

**The Nebraska/Missouri game will be played on Thursday Oct. 8 in Columbia, Mo., with kickoff set for 8 p.m on ESPN.**

At #19 on ESPN’s ultra-early 2009 college football rankings, Nebraska is:
( polls)

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