It's anybody's BCS. A year after USC was everyone's preseason pick, five teams top at least one of our voters' lists. And there's reason not to love each of them. No. 1 Ohio State has nine new defensive starters, including the entire back seven. No. 2 Texas replaces a legend with two unproven youngsters. Notre Dame? Not enough D. Auburn? That schedule's a bitch. West Virginia? The comp is too soft. So who will be kings of college football? That's what the BCS championship game is for. Unless, of course, everyone ends up with a loss.
height="50" align="left" border="0">1. Ohio State Buckeyes
Last season: 10-2, 7-1 in Big Ten
He devours sports sections the way he gobbles up true-freshman guards. But DT Quinn Pitcock isn't looking for published pats on the back. "I look at my own quotes to see if I said something stupid," Pitcock says. "And I read them to find out if any of the new guys will take my position." Sorry, Quinn. You're already sounding a little silly. There aren't many linemen better than Pitcock, who was named second-team All-Big Ten last season despite a bum shoulder. Nine starters are gone from the Buckeyes' fifth-ranked defense (281.3 ypg), so OSU is counting on Pitcock and DT David Patterson (four sacks, 7.5 TFLs) to lead the nasty. "Combination-wise, they're as good as any two inside guys we've ever had," says defensive coordinator Jim Heacock. Ohio State loves how Pitcock, a 6-foot-3, 300-pounder with a 36-inch vert, plugs holes and runs down screens with his 4.95 speed. "Quinn's very explosive and holds our point of attack," Heacock says. "He's just not out there telling everyone about it." Hey, better to look smart than sound stupid. -- Liam McHugh
Yes, the statement raises eyebrows, but RBs coach Dick Tressel still likens monster recruit Chris Wells to a legend. "He really reminds me of Jim Brown," Tressel says. "Not just the size, but also the running style." Example: On his first carry this spring, the 6-1, 225-pound Wells bowled over a tackler on a seven-yard run. Better still, with Antonio Pittman (1,331 yards in 2005) back, Ohio State won't need Wells to be Jim Brown right away.
"The Troy Smith-Vince Young comparisons are legit. He's a nightmare to plan for Pittman's overshadowed, but he's great They always have a good
D-line, and Pitcock might be the best lineman in the Big Ten They'll just plug in stars on the rest of the defense OLB James Laurinaitis was a true freshman in 2005, but he got our attention. He flew around the field like a blur last year and made plenty of big plays MLB John Kerr could also be special."
Let's Ask Bristol
Will Ohio State make better use of Ted Ginn Jr. this year?
Yes. He's improved quite a bit as a receiver. Ginn's much better at running routes and in coverage recognition. And Ohio State has a package called the Shot Ginn, where he lines up beside Smith and takes direct snaps or handoffs, or just acts as a decoy. Expect to see Shot Ginn again this year. He'll also return kicks again, and don't be surprised if Ohio State sneaks him in at DB. -- Chris Spielman