OU is ranked No. 1 because the Sooners return most of their players from last year's unbeaten national championship team. Back are 16 starters, the 23 freshmen and sophomores on last year's final two-deep, and the best coaching staff in college football.
If these rankings prove accurate, OU will play Florida in the Rose Bowl, for the 2001 national championship. What a coaching matchup. OU coach Bob Stoops against his former mentor and OU wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. against his dad, Florida coach Steve Spurrier.
Florida has 17 starters back from last year's Southeastern Conference title team, including nine on a defense that should be, and had better be, far better than last year.
No. 3-ranked Miami of Florida begins what will be, if good things happen to good people, a long and successful reign by new coach Larry Coker. The Hurricanes return 14 starters from the team that waxed Florida 37-20 last year and should have played OU in the Orange Bowl.
And speaking of good coaching matchups: Miami's defensive backs coach is Mark Stoops, younger brother of OU's Bob and Mike.
No. 4-ranked Texas isn't coached by a Stoops brother, of course, but the Longhorns are guided by, like Coker, a former OU offensive coordinator, Mack Brown.
Brown has had three straight nine-win seasons in Austin, but he lost to OU 63-14 (sixty-three to fourteen!) last year. With 17 starters back from a 9-3 team, Brown needs to stick with a quarterback, Chris Simms or Major Applewhite, because having more than one starting quarterback is liking have no quarterbacks at all.
No. 5-ranked Florida State may still be shell-shocked from the Orange Bowl loss to OU, and the Seminoles lost 14 starters from that team. They also lost their offensive coordinator, new Georgia head coach Mark Richter.
But Bobby Bowden always (well, almost always) finds a way, and he'll find it this time with his new offensive coordinator, son Jeff.
There's no place like Nebraska, so the song goes, and there have been few coaches like Frank Solich, who is trying to be successful in succeeding Dr. Tom Osborne.
Solich has a 31-7 record as Dr. Tom's successor. Only three coaches in history have won more often in their first three years: Walter Camp at Yale, George Woodruff at Penn, and The King (Barry Switzer) at OU.
I'm ranking Nebraska sixth here, but the Cornhuskers could just as easily finish first. The Huskers have OU and Kansas State at home, and nine starters back on defense.