Paul Zeise's preseason Top 25

How Post-Gazette writer Paul Zeise sees the Top 25 less than a week from the start of the 2014 season:

1. Florida State

The defending champs lost a lot of key players to the NFL but they are still loaded and have Jameis Winston leading the way.

2. Oregon

The Ducks have one of the best offenses led by one of the best QBs in the country in Marcus Mariota. The defense should be strong as well.

3. Oklahoma

Bulk of team that throttled Alabama in the Sugar Bowl returns and should contend for a playoff spot, especially if the 'D' continues to improve.

4. Alabama

QB is a question, the rest of the roster is not, as Nick Saban has built the Tide into a machine that just keeps churning out NFL players.

5. South Carolina

Steve Spurrier has slowly, patiently built the Gamecocks into one of the best programs in the country. And this could be his best team.


Brett Hundley is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and the Bruins should have one of the best defenses in the Pac-12.

7. Michigan State

If the Spartans can produce big plays with some consistency they could win the Big Ten and sneak into the four-team playoff.

8. Stanford

Has a top defense and will run the ball until opposing defenses cry uncle. If Kevin Hogan improves his passing, Cardinal is a playoff sleeper.

9. Georgia

Injuries wiped out the Bulldogs last year but they are again loaded. The only question is young QB Hutson Mason.

10. Auburn

Dynamic QB Nick Marshall is back as well as plenty of talent around him, so their offense will again be a handful. But can they stop anyone?

11. LSU

The wild card is freshman RB Leonard Fournette. If he is even close to being as advertised LSU could be the best team in the SEC.

12. Baylor

Bears could lead Div. I-A in a bunch of offensive categories. But the defense will have to make plays if they are going to get into the Top 10.

13. Southern California

Has little depth while still recovering from NCAA sanctions, but it has explosive playmakers and a starting 22 that can compete with anyone.

14. Arizona State

Only three starters return on defense but the offense should be high-octane. Taylor Kelly is one of the better quarterbacks in the country.

15. Clemson

The Tigers lost a lot of skill players to the NFL. This version may actually be more talented, though it is far less experienced and accomplished.

16. Wisconsin

Badgers are young, but have an excellent offensive line (surprise!) and a stable of powerful running backs (another surprise!).

17. Texas A&M

Even without Johnny Football, offense will rack up a bunch of yards and a bunch of points. The defense still won't be great but should be improved.

18. Notre Dame

QB Everett Golson should add some spice to the Irish offense but a tough schedule will prevent them from getting into the Top 15.

19. Mississippi

A lot of young players at key positions with plenty of athleticism, speed and depth. If they mature quickly they could be a sleeper in the SEC.

20. Washington

Chris Petersen had plenty of success at Boise State but is he ready for the big time? The Huskies should be very good on offense.

21. Nebraska

Bo Pelini knows defense. However, his Huskers offenses have lacked consistency and prevented them from returning to the nation's elite.

22. Florida

Injuries and failed promise have hurt the past two years, but this team is as talented as any in the SEC East and should be a force in the division.

23. Oklahoma State

Has a chance to make a statement in Week 1 vs. Florida State. It may not quite be ready then, but this team figures to get better each week.

24. North Carolina

One of the best resurrection jobs has been done by Larry Fedora. If the QB position settles they should win the ACC Coastal Division.

25. Ohio State

Buckeyes would have been a Top 5 team but lost QB Braxton Miller to a season-ending injury. They still have enough to compete for the Big Ten title.

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