Team previews for Nos. 5-1

Impact players and win projections for the nation's top 5 teams

Originally Published: August 10, 2012
By Travis Haney, Mark Schlabach, KC Joyner and Brian Fremeau | ESPN The Magazine
BarkleyJayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireMatt Barkley and the USC Trojans have high expectations to meet this season.

These top-25 team previews also appear in the college football preview issue of ESPN The Magazine. They will be released five per day this week on ESPN Insider.

Team capsules are written by Travis Haney and Mark Schlabach, kick-starter player sections by KC Joyner and Football Outsiders season win projections by Brian Fremeau.

5. Oregon Ducks

Last season: 12-2 (8-1 Pac-12 North)

HEIGHTENED VELOCITY
Anyone who saw freshman RB De'Anthony Thomas unleashed in open space last season had to have one thought: That Duck can fly. Built on the foundation of speed, both in terms of personnel and number of snaps, Oregon continues to find pieces to fit its all-systems-go attack, which led the Pac-12 by gaining 522.8 ypg and scoring 46 ppg. Thomas (2,235 all-purpose yards), Kenjon Barner and two burners at QB in freshman Marcus Mariota and soph Bryan Bennett form what may be the nation's fastest backfield. The rest of the Pac-12 should also be worried about a disruptive defensive line headed by 6'7" senior DE Dion Jordan (7.5 sacks) and 6'8" true freshman DE Arik Armstead. With a few breaks at USC, Chip Kelly's team could be running for more than roses.

Brian Fremeau

ESPN Insider
• Has been a contributor to ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine since 2009
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com