The Daily's college football top 25 countdown: Nos. 15 to 11
2012 preseason top 25
College football season is fast-approaching, and we here at The Daily are releasing out own preseason top 25. We will release five teams a day for the rest of the week, finishing with our top five Friday. Up today: Nos. 15 through 11.
No. 15 Stanford
The Cardinal will be without with top quarterback Andrew Luck, but Stanford is stacked at the linebacker position and get senior inside linebacker Shane Skov back after his ACL injury last season. The Cardinal also return all three of the team's top running backs, who combined for more than 2,000 yards last season, and will have an experienced offensive line that will help create the lanes needed for this Stanford team that will rely on its running game this year.
No. 14 Kansas State
K-State cruised through the Big 12 season last year, besting all of the Texas opponents before dropping games to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and falling to Arkansas in the 2011 Cotton Bowl to finish with a 10-3 overall record. That same team returns this season for another run at the conference championship, led by senior quarterback Colin Klein and 13 other returning starters.
No. 13 Florida State
Florida State failed to meet its exceedingly lofty expectations in an otherwise-solid nine-win season last year. The Seminoles lost both games it played against top-25 teams and once again missed out on capturing an ACC championship — something FSU hasn’t done since the inaugural conference championship game in 2005. The talent will be there for coach Jimbo Fisher in 2012, just like it has been for past two decades, but whether Florida State can reclaim a spot among the nation’s elite remains to be seen. The 'Noles return 17 starters from a year ago, including senior quarterback E.J. Manuel and senior corner Greg Reid, but Florida State will have to improve upon a rushing offense that finished 104th in the nation last year if it wants to finally get over the hump.
No. 12 Ohio State
Ohio State had a turbulent year in 2012, to say the least. The Buckeyes lost their coach and three best offensive players to suspension before they even took a snap last season. Interim head coach Luke Fickell couldn’t keep Ohio State from avoiding its first losing season since 1988, but with the hiring of new coach Urban Meyer in the offseason, expect the Buckeyes to recover quickly and recover well. Dual-threat sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller — who led the Buckeyes in both passing and rushing and compiled an impressive 13-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio as a true freshman last season — is a perfect fit for Meyer’s lauded spread option offense.
No. 11 Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Badgers are one of those teams that always seems to be around and you can never quite count out. Senior running back Montee Ball is an absolute monster, appearing on more than one of our preseason watch lists. Ball ran for nearly 2,000 yards and 33 touchdowns last year, when he was bolstered by quarterback Russell Wilson. Now that Wilson was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, his backup, sophomore Joe Brennan, should be a solid replacement, and Wisconsin should once again be around.