Logan prediction: Ohio State leads way in top 25 race
Strength of schedule is a key factor in determining the final national rankings, along with depth of talent, which is why Boise State and TCU should contend for the national title to the very end. Here are Greg Logan's picks for the top 25:
1. Ohio State - QB Terrelle Pryor has matured; DE Cameron Heyward leads top defense; must avoid potholes at Wisconsin and Iowa.
2. Boise State - Broncos return 22 of 24 starters from 14-0 team, including QB Kellen Moore; have two-game season vs. Virginia Tech and Oregon State.
3. Texas - Coach Mack Brown shifts emphasis to running of RB Tre Newton; season hinges on Oklahoma and Nebraska games.
4. Alabama - Defending national champs have Heisman RB Mark Ingram but lost nine defensive starters and might face Florida twice in tough SEC.
5. TCU - Horned Frogs return 17 starters from 12-1 team, including QB Andy Dalton, WR/PR Jeremy Kerley; need to win at Utah for BCS bowl bid.
6. Virginia Tech - Frank Beamer wins with defense, RBs Ryan Williams and Darren Evans and QB Tyrod Taylor; Hokies can go higher with Boise upset.
7. Florida - Coach Urban Meyer's return calmed turmoil; QB John Brantley unleashes his arm replacing Tim Tebow; Gators can reach SEC title game.
8. Oklahoma - Experience gained by QB Landry Jones replacing injured Sam Bradford proves invaluable; challenging early schedule preps Sooners for Texas.
9. Wisconsin - QB Scott Tolzien, RB John Clay lead offensive powerhouse; soft schedule boils down to back-to-back vs. Ohio State and at Iowa.
10. Oregon - QB Jeremiah Masoli transferred to Ole Miss, but Ducks have skilled offense led by RB LaMichael James; best of Pac-10 should reach Rose Bowl.
11. Nebraska - Not sold on Huskers QB Zac Lee, who had surgery on throwing shoulder, but a home upset of Texas would put them in national title picture.
12. West Virginia - New QB Geno Smith must step up, but he has RB Noel Devine and plenty of skill around him; road games at LSU and Pitt are season key.
13. Iowa - Hawkeyes have a winner in QB Ricky Stanzi; get Penn State, Wisconsin, Ohio State at home, but last year's run of luck can't continue, can it?
14. Miami - QB Jacory Harris is a playmaker and coach Randy Shannon has restocked the talent pipeline, but brutal schedule features eight bowl teams.
15. Utah - Underrated Utes have won nine straight bowls, will be instant Pac-10 contender in 2011; November schedule (TCU, at Notre Dame, BYU) is key.
16. Penn State - Joe Paterno is considering freshman Robert Bolden in three-way QB battle; toughest games (Alabama, Iowa, Ohio State) are all on road.
17. Georgia - Defense let down last season, but Bulldogs finished strongly and head coach Mark Richt hired new coordinator Todd Grantham.
18. Pittsburgh - Lost the big ones to West Virginia and Cincinnati after 9-1 start; Panthers rely on RB Dion Lewis but face opener at Utah and early test vs. Miami.
19. Houston - QB Case Keenum can sling it; Cougars should dominate C-USA, but non-conference games (at UCLA, Mississippi State, at Texas Tech) tell story.
20. Arkansas - Many consider Ryan Mallett top NFL QB prospect, but Bobby Petrino's Hogs must improve SEC's worst defense to excel.
21. USC - New coach Lane Kiffin talks a good game but hasn't backed it up with NFL Raiders or at Tennessee; now must handle fallout of bowl ban.
22. Florida State - Jimbo Fisher pushed out Bobby Bowden a year ahead of schedule, gets QB Christian Ponder back from shoulder surgery, adds new coaches.
23. Navy - Coach Ken Niumatalolo's triple-option offense led by QB Ricky Dobbs is an anachronism, but it works and schedule is very manageable.
24. Cincinnati - Coach Brian Kelly moved to Notre Dame, and his shadow, Butch Jones, follows just as he did at Central Michigan to inherit load of talent.
25. Georgia Tech - Jackets return QB Josh Nesbitt and add defensive coordinator Al Groh, but face tough finishing stretch (at Virginia Tech, Miami, at Georgia).