The Oklahoman's Top 25 team capsules

BY DARNELL MAYBERRY Published: August 29, 2011
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Oklahoma

Coach: Bob Stoops (13th season)

2010 record: 12-2, 6-2 in Big 12

Noteworthy: The Sooners averaged just 3.3 yards per carry last season, last in the Big 12. Shoring up the ground game has been one of OU's primary focuses this year.


2010 postseason: Fiesta Bowl, W 48-20 over Connecticut.

Makes a BCS bowl if…The Sooners can notch road victories at Florida State in Week 2 and at Oklahoma State in the regular season finale, as well as avoid a slipup at home against Texas A&M on the first weekend in November.

Alabama

Coach: Nick Saban (Fourth season)

2010 record: 10-3, 5-3 in SEC

Noteworthy: The Crimson Tide lost loads of offensive firepower in running back Mark Ingram, receiver Julio Jones and quarterback Greg McElroy. But Bama has plenty coming back as well. Tailback Trent Richardson could have a big season.

2010 postseason: Capital One Bowl, W 49-7 over Michigan State.

Makes a BCS bowl if…The Crimson Tide protects its home field. Bama's toughest tests will come inside Bryant-Denny Stadium against Arkansas and LSU. Road games against Penn State and Auburn are tall tasks as well. Anything less than 2-2 in those four won't cut it.

Oregon

Coach: Chip Kelly (Third season)

2010 record: 12-1 (9-0 in Pac-10)

Noteworthy: On defense, the Ducks lost five starters from the front seven. But on offense, Oregon returns Heisman candidate LaMichael James at running back and Darron Thomas at quarterback.

2010 postseason: BCS Championship Game, L 22-19 to Auburn.

Makes a BCS bowl if…The Ducks just find a way to topple Stanford on the road. The rest of the schedule is a piece of cake after a season opener against LSU inside Cowboys Stadium.

LSU

Coach: Les Miles (Seventh season)

2010 record: 11-2 (6-2 in SEC)

Noteworthy: Keep a close eye on the Tigers' special teams play. LSU lost its place-kicker, punter and its best return man.

2010 postseason: Cotton Bowl, W 41-24 over Texas A&M.

Makes a BCS bowl if…The Tigers can survive a brutal schedule that includes two non-conference games against Oregon and at West Virginia, as well as a clash with Alabama on the road.

Boise State

Coach: Chris Petersen (Sixth season)

2010 record: 12-1 (7-1 in WAC).

Noteworthy: This season will mark the debut of the Broncos in the Mountain West Conference after 10 seasons in the WAC. But the Broncos will probably find replacing the production of receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young (combined 142 receptions and 19 touchdowns) much tougher than anything the new schedule throws their way.

2010 postseason: Maaco Bowl Las Vegas, W 26-3 over Utah.

Makes a BCS bowl if…The Broncos can steal a road win at Georgia in the season opener and protect its home field against TCU. The rest of the schedule shouldn't be a problem.

Florida State

Coach: Jimbo Fisher (Second season)

2010 record: 10-4 (6-2 in ACC)

Noteworthy: In 2010, the Seminoles won 10 games for the first time since 2003. For Florida State to take the next step, junior quarterback E.J. Manuel must shine in his first year as the full-time starter. He waited patiently behind Christian Ponder for three seasons. Now, the fans in Tallahassee are expecting big things out of Manuel.

2010 postseason: Chick-Fil-A Bowl, W 26-17 over South Carolina.

Makes a BCS bowl if…The Seminoles win in back-to-back games against Oklahoma in Tallahassee (Sept. 17) and at Clemson (Sept. 24).

Oklahoma State

Coach: Mike Gundy (Seventh season)

2010 record: 11-2 (6-2 in Big 12)

Noteworthy: How good was the offense in 2010? The Cowboys averaged 537.6 yards per game, 44.9 points per game and outscored opponents 168-47 in the third quarter. And OSU has 10 starters returning on that side of the ball. Look out.

2010 postseason: Alamo Bowl, W 36-10 over Arizona.

Makes a BCS bowl if…The Cowboys can win on the road. Oklahoma State must play at Texas A&M, Texas, Missouri and Texas Tech.

Virginia Tech

Coach: Frank Beamer (25th season)

2010 record: 11-3 (8-0 in ACC)

Noteworthy: Three-and-a-half year starter and 2010 ACC Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor is gone, and heralded sophomore gunslinger Logan Thomas now steps in under center for the Hokies. A lot is on Thomas' shoulders as Tech seeks its fourth ACC title in five seasons. Is Thomas ready? He's thrown just 26 career passes.

2010 postseason: Orange Bowl, L 40-12 to Stanford.

Makes a BCS bowl if…The Hokies don't fall victim to an upset. Tech is better than every team it will line up against this season prior to a likely meeting with Florida State in the ACC title game.

Texas A&M

Coach: Mike Sherman (Fourth season)

2010 record: 9-4 (6-2 in Big 12)

Noteworthy: The Aggies finished last season in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1999. Under coach Sherman, Texas A&M has gradually improved, going from four wins to six to nine over the past three seasons.

2010 postseason: Cotton Bowl, L 41-24 to LSU.

Makes a BCS bowl if…The Aggies can win at Oklahoma on Nov. 5. It looks to be the only real test A&M will get on the road.

Stanford

Coach: David Shaw (First season)

2010 record: 12-1 (8-1 in Pac-10)

Noteworthy: Shaw is in his first season as a head coach. The 39-year-old is a pupil to former Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh, as well as Bill Walsh and Dennis Green.

2010 postseason: Orange Bowl, W 40-12 over Virginia Tech.

Makes a BCS bowl if…Quarterback Andrew Luck stays healthy. The nation's best passer threw for 3,338 yards and 32 touchdowns a year ago. Keeping him healthy is a bigger challenge than anyone on the Cardinal schedule.



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