June 12, 2008

Today, Rivals.com completes its 2008 countdown, releasing the preseason ranking of the Division I-A teams from No. 120 to No. 1.

We started at the bottom in groups of 10, then moved to a daily countdown from 50th to first, with our No. 1 team - Southern California - unveiled July 31.

Now, you won't see any college team rankings from Rivals until early October. The reason: We will wait until enough games have been played so we can legitimately rank the teams.

The rankings were compiled by football writers Olin Buchanan, Tom Dienhart, David Fox, Mike Huguenin and Steve Megargee. They look forward to your e-mails and your comments on the message boards.

Rivals.com 2008 preseason top 120 countdown
1. Southern California - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 2nd | Highlights
Mark Sanchez and the rest of the offense will have to jell before Sept. 13, when USC plays Ohio State in a potential national title elimination game. Read the full preview
2. Georgia - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 6th | Highlights
The Bulldogs face lofty expectations and the not-so-small matter of getting through perhaps the nation's toughest schedule. Read the full preview
3. Ohio State - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 6th | Highlights
This edition of the Buckeyes may be better than the previous two. But unlike the 2006 and 2007 squads, this team may finish the job. Read the full preview
4. Oklahoma - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 8th | Highlights
Yes, the Sooners are in the national championship picture, which would have locals going loco at most places. But that's status quo in Norman. Read the full preview
5. Missouri - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 5th | Highlights
With a Heisman-contending quarterback, a big-play receiver, an experienced defense and a favorable schedule, Missouri has a legitimate shot at the national title. Read the full preview
6. Florida - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 20th | Highlights
It's a title-worthy offense. The defense has some issues, though, and those issues could keep Florida from playing for its second national championship in the past three seasons. Read the full preview
7. Auburn - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 15th | Highlights
Auburn hasn't won the SEC West since its undefeated season of 2004, but that could change in '08. Despite a new QB and two new coordinators, the Tigers the talent. Read the full preview
8. West Virginia - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 4th | Highlights
If the defense can play a little better than average, the Mountaineers have enough offense to advance to the BCS title game they came so close to reaching last season. Read the full preview
9. Clemson - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 29th | Highlights
Clemson still hasn't reached the ACC Championship Game despite having one of the league's top talent bases each of the past three seasons. If not now, when? Read the full preview
10. LSU - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 7th | Highlights
LSU's QB situation and a demanding road schedule make it difficult to predict a repeat national title, but the Tigers have enough talent to merit a spot in the top 10. Read the full preview
11. Kansas - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 7th | Highlights
The losses from last season are few but significant. Those absences plus a more challenging schedule will make it difficult for the Jayhawks to match last season. Read the full preview
12. BYU - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 13th | Highlights
The Cougars return nine offensive starters from an 11-2 team, so an unbeaten season isn't out of the question if they can pass two early Pac-10 tests. Read the full preview
13. Wisconsin - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 30th | Highlights
Wisconsin has become one of the nation's top programs. That won't change this season. The Badgers have the timber to win the Big Ten title. Read the full preview
14. Texas Tech - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 23rd | Highlights
Tech fans will readily acknowledge this is the season they've been waiting for. Is this the year Tech usurps Oklahoma and Texas to win the Big 12 South? Read the full preview
15. Texas - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 9th | Highlights
Texas has seven consecutive 10-victory seasons, but there are plenty of questions to be answered this season. If the answers are not correct, the streak will end. Read the full preview
16. Arizona State - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 12th | Highlights
The Sun Devils' experience on offense should enable them to finish in the top three or four in the Pac-10. If the defense tightens up, a second-place finish is within reach. Read the full preview
17. Virginia Tech - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 11th | Highlights
Though Virginia Tech lost most of its top players from a team that won the ACC title, the Hokies remain prohibitive favorites to return to the championship game. Read the full preview
18. Illinois - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 21st | Highlights
Illinois is a young team (no Big Ten school lost more lettermen, 24) bursting with talent. Winning the Big Ten crown isn't out of the question, but it's a long shot. Read the full preview
19. Tennessee - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 14th | Highlights
If the momentum from 2007 carries over, the Volunteers could be in the thick of the SEC title race again. But they're projected no better than third in the East. Read the full preview
20. South Florida - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 25th | Highlights
The Bulls have a ton of good athletes, and those athletes are allowed to attack and make plays. While a 10-victory season is possible, eight or nine seems more likely. Read the full preview
21. Oregon - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 18th | Highlights
Oregon was close to playing for the national title last season, but do the Ducks have the talent to replace QB Dennis Dixon and RB Jonathan Stewart? Read the full preview
22. Penn State - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 27th | Highlights
There is ample reason to rev up your RV and follow the winding road to State College. The Nittany Lions could be good really good if the quarterback play stabilizes. Read the full preview
23. Fresno State - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 36th | Highlights
Fresno State has designs on being the third WAC team in as many seasons to earn a BCS berth. But the Bulldogs' schedule will make it tough. Read the full preview
24. Wake Forest - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 26th | Highlights
Wake has plenty of talent but doesn't have enough depth to withstand injuries to key performers, but the Deacons' starting lineup is dangerous. Read the full preview
25. Pittsburgh - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 70th | Highlights
Pitt's season-closing victory over West Virginia wasn't just a monumental upset. It's also the reason many feel the Panthers are due for a breakout season. Read the full preview
26. Cincinnati - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 16th
This team bears quite a bit of resemblance to the 2007 South Florida squad, which was ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation last season. Read the full preview
27. South Carolina - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 45th
Whether the Gamecocks are in SEC East contention depends on the health of the defense and above all else the emergence of a competent quarterback. Read the full preview
28. Utah - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 24th
Utah needs a lot to go its way in 2008, but a return to a BCS game is possible and a bowl bid of some kind looks to be a sure thing. Read the full preview
29. Alabama - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 49th
Will Alabama play more like the team that jumped out to a 6-2 start last year or the team that lost four in a row to end the regular season? Read the full preview
30. Michigan - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 19th
The nation won't be able to take its eyes off Ann Arbor as one of the nation's hottest coaches starts to change the culture at one of the nation's most storied programs. Read the full preview
31. California - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 38th
With the rise of Arizona State and the arrival of Rick Neuheisel at UCLA, Cal is competing for attention while it tries to heal the wounds from last season's collapse. Read the full preview
32. Michigan State - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 40th
Michigan State isn't ready to challenge for the Big Ten title, but don't be shocked if the Spartans finish as high as third in the conference. Read the full preview
33. Texas Christian - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 51st
While BYU and Utah are garnering the most preseason attention in the Mountain West, it's not out of the question to think TCU can win the league. Read the full preview
34. Colorado - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 56th
The starting lineup likely will have at least eight sophomores and freshmen, so at least four or five losses should be anticipated - but 2009 looks good. Read the full preview
35. Boise State - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 22nd
The Broncos will be in the hunt to reclaim the WAC title they lost to Hawaii in 2007 after ruling the conference from 2002-06, but this isn't a BCS-buster team. Read the full preview
36. Oregon State - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 22nd
It looks like a rebuilding season for the Beavers because of some key departures and the tough early schedule. But if they develop a running game, they could surprise. Read the full preview
37. Florida State - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 46th
Florida State looks to return to the top of the ACC, but the Seminoles may have an uphill climb after some academic suspensions. Read the full preview
38. Purdue - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 45th
Can the Boilermakers' defense improve enough to match last season's eight wins and send Joe Tiller into retirement on a high note? Read the full preview
39. Rutgers - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 44th
For the first time in 138 years of Scarlet Knights football, Rutgers went to a bowl for a third consecutive season. Will Greg Schiano's club run that streak to four? Read the full preview
40. Notre Dame - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 84th
It's probably asking too much to believe Notre Dame can make it back to BCS contention one year after delivering one of the worst seasons in school history. Read the full preview
41. Miami - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 64th
Even though Virginia Tech has to play at Miami this season, the Hurricanes probably don't have enough experience to challenge for a conference championship. Read the full preview
42. Oklahoma State - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 39th
The pressure on coach Mike Gundy is building. The offense should be fine under Zac Robinson, but the defense must start to catch up. Read the full preview
43. UCLA - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 47th
Rick Neuheisel's first season won't be easy. The schedule is daunting and the offense is unsettled, but UCLA has the overall talent and coaching staff to surprise. Read the full preview
44. Boston College - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 10th
Boston College should have enough on defense to get back to a bowl, but a lack of firepower on offense could make it tough to repeat as ACC division champs. Read the full preview
45. Nebraska - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 74th
The Cornhuskers defense gave up more points and yards than any Nebraska team since 1948. Can new head coach Bo Pelini fix the underachieving unit? Read the full preview
46. Louisville - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 58th
It all starts with Kentucky. Louisville's loss to the rival Wildcats last season set a bad tone. Another loss to UK increases the heat already on Steve Kragthorpe. Read the full preview
47. North Carolina - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 77th
Looking for a potential breakout team in the ACC? North Carolina is as good a choice as any. After Virginia Tech, the rest of the Coastal Division is up for grabs. Read the full preview
48. Mississippi State - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 33rd
Give Mississippi State credit for sticking by Sylvester Croom, who is building a solid program. Croom is an old-school coach who was seasoned in the NFL. Read the full preview
49. Central Michigan - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 69th
A potent offense featuring quarterback Dan LeFevour should make Central Michigan one of the nation's most fun teams to watch. But can the defense hold its own? Read the full preview
50. Connecticut - Final 2007 Rivals.com ranking: 35th
Connecticut's success in 2007 was greeted with a lot of skepticism. The Huskies padded their record with a soft non-conference schedule and had some lucky breaks. Read the full preview

MORE RANKINGS: Nos. 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-80 | 81-90 | 91-100 | 101-110 | 111-120


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