The Buzz: The potential exists for all 11 defensive starters – and each of their backups – to be back in 2009. If QB Tim Tebow returns, the Gators will be prohibitive favorites to repeat.
The Buzz: QB Colt McCoy’s decision to return means the offense again will put up a ton of points – and the running game should be better in 2009. The secondary could be a strength, but the front seven needs some tweaking.
The Buzz: The defense will undergo an overhaul, from the coordinator down to the players. But the offense could be truly explosive.
The Buzz: If quarterback Sam Bradford, TE Jermaine Gresham and DT Gerald McCoy go pro, this ranking will drop. If all three return, OU will battle for the Big 12 – and maybe national – title.
The Buzz: QB Jordan Jefferson’s performance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl provides hope that the offense will be more consistent. The linebacking corps needs to be rebuilt.
6. Ohio State
The Buzz: You have to figure the coaches will unleash quarterback Terrelle Pryor, which will jazz up the offense. The defense will be fine even without CB Malcolm Jenkins and LB James Laurinaitis.
7. Virginia Tech
The Buzz: The Hokies look as if they will be the class of the ACC. The defense always will be good, and if QB Tyrod Taylor becomes a better passer, the offense actually could be dangerous.
The Buzz: The offensive line could have some questions and there will be a new quarterback, but depth should be better and there are some talented skill-position players on hand.
9. Boise State
The Buzz: QB Kellen Moore can become a star. If the Broncos can get their front four on defense settled, an undefeated season is within their grasp.
10. Oklahoma State
The Buzz: The Cowboys should have a deadly offensive trio in QB Zac Robinson, TB Kendall Hunter and WR Dez Bryant. The defense, though, has some work to do.
11. Georgia Tech
The Buzz: The Yellow Jackets were surprisingly good in coach Paul Johnson’s first season, and Year Two in the triple-option offense could lead to big numbers. The defense should be fine.
The Buzz: Jahvid Best may go into the 2009 season as the nation’s best running back. Coach Jeff Tedford needs to settle on a quarterback and the linebacking corps must be rebuilt.
13. Penn State
The Buzz: QB Daryll Clark and TB Evan Royster return, though there are questions about the offensive line, the receiving corps and the secondary. The front seven on defense could be outstanding.
14. Ole Miss
The Buzz: Coach Houston Nutt changed the culture around the program, and if Tim Tebow goes pro, Jevan Snead will be the best quarterback in the SEC. There is a lot of skill-position talent around him, too.
The Buzz: The Ducks will need to settle on a quarterback and do some tweaking in the secondary. But the rushing attack again should be the team strength.
16. Florida State
The Buzz: The defense has a lot of potential, if the coaches can find some safeties. The offensive line actually could be a strength. But the passing attack must improve.
The Buzz: The passing game will be a huge question. But the defense returns a lot of key players in the front seven, and the Utes will be able to run the ball.
The Buzz: Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno are gone. But it’s not as if the Bulldogs’ roster is bereft of talent. The offensive line should be much better, as should the defense.
The Buzz: On paper, at least, the Jayhawks look to be the class of the Big 12 North. The return of QB Todd Reesing means the offense should be one of the most productive in the nation. But the defense must replace three starting linebackers.
20. Texas Tech
The Buzz: No Graham Harrell. No Michael Crabtree. A rebuilt offensive line. A tougher schedule. And the same old defense.
The Buzz: Yes, star running back Shonn Greene is gone, but the defense again should be tough. The offensive line should be stout and there still are some good backs on campus.
The Buzz: Replacing four starters on the offensive line is the top priority for the Cougars, whose defense should be much better.
23. Notre Dame
The Buzz: Hey, calm down there, all you Irish haters. Notre Dame has talent, the schedule is navigable and a staff shakeup should help on the field.
The Buzz: One of these seasons, USF will start fast and finish strong. Next season will be the final go-round for quarterback Matt Grothe, who must cut down on his mistakes.
25. Oregon State
The Buzz: The Rodgers brothers mean the offense should be fine, and coordinator Mark Banker always seems to find answers on his defense.
Others that received consideration (in alphabetical order): Air Force, Colorado, Houston, Michigan State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern and Texas Christian.
Rivals.com football staff members Steve Megargee, David Fox, Olin Buchanan and Mike Huguenin compiled the Rivals.com Preseason Top 25.