{FSMETA} College Football: Rivals.com - College Football

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September 13, 2007

The Rivals 25: Pre-Fall rankings

It's never too early to start ranking teams.

With fall workouts in full swing for many programs around the country, we've decided to take an in-depth look at which teams are in great shape.

Though several teams on the prestigious list earned a spot in our 2007 final rankings, others are making their first appearance.

Baylor is a team to watch out of the Big 12, while Wake Forest is the biggest surprise.

Louisiana-Lafayette enters fall workouts with one of the nation's top weekend rotations, while St. John's is in great shape with Scott Barnes leading the charge.

While not ranked to end last season, Miami should be a national title contender.

We take the first look at the nation's best teams for 2008.

'07 Record: 42-17
'07 rank: NR
Barring a major surprise, the Wildcats should be contenders in 2008. Junior right-hander Preston Guilmet leads the charge on the mound, while fellow weekend starter David Coulon hopes to have a strong fall. Arizona also welcomes back relievers Jason Stoffel and Daniel Schlereth. Offensively, the Wildcats should be in good shape with C.J. Ziegler, Colt Sedbrook and Brad Glenn leading the way.
'07 Record: 49-15
'07 rank: 5
The Sun Devils disappointed when they didn't reach the CWS Finals last season. Though that team was good, the Devils might be in even better shape entering fall workouts. Veteran left-hander Josh Satow is back in the mix, while sophomore Mike Leake hopes to have another strong fall. Offensively, the Devils are once again loaded. Hard-hitting first baseman Brett Wallace leads the charge at the plate.
'07 Record: 35-27
'07 rank: NR
The Bears had one of the nation's youngest teams last season, and it showed on numerous occasions. A year older and wiser, they enter fall workouts optimistic about their chances to succeed in 2008. Veteran shortstop Beamer Weems is one of the nation's best at his position, while sophomore third baseman Raynor Campbell is coming off a productive freshman campaign. Baylor definitely has upside.
'07 Record: 38-25
'07 rank: 10
The Titans didn't put together an overly impressive regular season campaign in 2007, but found a way to reach the College World Series. Even without ace right-hander Wes Roemer and gritty outfielder Clark Hardman, the Titans should enter fall workouts with confidence. Senior right-hander Jeff Kaplan is back in the mix, while sophomore outfielder Josh Fellhauer leads the charge at the plate.
'07 Record: 49-13
'07 rank: 14
With the departures of second baseman Tony Thomas Jr. and ace right-hander Bryan Henry, the Seminoles have huge holes to fill. However, they should still contend for the ACC title with the return of catcher Buster Posey, outfielder Jack Rye and third baseman Jason Stidham, among others. The Seminoles have more questions than answers on the mound. Veteran right-hander Ryan Strauss must rise to the occasion.
'07 Record: 45-17
'07 rank: NR
After making some waves last season, the Ragin' Cajuns enter fall workouts with more to prove. Though they must replace Jonathan Lucroy and Jefferies Tatford, they welcome back Scott Hawkins, Nolan Gisclair and Josh Logan, among others. The Cajuns will have one of the nation's best pitching staffs with Danny Farquhar, Hunter Moody, Brent Solich and Buddy Glass leading the charge.
'07 Record: 47-24
'07 rank: 7
The Cardinals shocked the country when they reached the College World Series last season. But don't worry, that appearance wasn't a fluke. Though the Cardinals must replace several key offensive players, they enter fall workouts with weekend starters Justin Marks and Zack Pitts leading the charge. Chris Dominguez hopes to solidify the offense, while transfer Andrew Clark should help immediately.
'07 Record: 37-24
'07 rank: NR
After having somewhat of a disappointing 2007 campaign, the Hurricanes enter fall workouts with a chip on their shoulder. Just like last season, Miami welcomes back one of the nation's most talented lineups. Hard-hitting first baseman Yonder Alonso leads the offensive charge, while Mark Sobolewski, Jemile Weeks, Blake Tekotte and Dennis Raben are capable of giving opposing pitcher's headaches.
'07 Record: 42-19
'07 rank: 21
The Wolverines caught everyone's attention last season when they knocked off top-seeded Vanderbilt in the Regional round. But with that accomplishment in the past, Michigan hopes to take the next step. The Wolverines welcome back one of the nation's top two-way players - Zach Putnam. They also return an experienced and talented lineup with Derek VanBuskirk and Nate Recknagel leading the charge.
'07 Record: 40-25
'07 rank: 15
The Rebels had another talented and successful team last season, but were once again unable to reach the CWS. As coach Mike Bianco and the Rebels hope to take the next step, they will do so with junior right-handed pitcher Lance Lynn leading the charge. Cody Satterwhite should also log significant innings. Offensively, the Rebels enter fall workouts with Jordan Henry and Zach Miller the leaders.
'07 Record: 38-22
'07 rank: 8
After getting picked to finish near the bottom of the SEC standings last season, the Bulldogs proved the doubters wrong by reaching the College World Series. Though State must replace key contributors Jeffrey Rea, Mitch Moreland and Ed Easley, among others, they welcome back weekend starters Justin Pigott and Chad Crosswhite. Reliever Ricky Bowen also provides some stability on the mound.
'07 Record: 42-18
'07 rank: 24
The Tigers put together an impressive 2007 campaign and hosted a Regional. However, they were unable to advance to the Super Regional round thanks to Louisville. As the Tigers move forward, they welcome back one of the nation's best - right-handed pitcher Aaron Crow. They also welcome back reliever Kyle Gibson, while hard-hitting veteran Jacob Priday leads the offensive charge.
'07 Record: 57-16
'07 rank: 2
For the second consecutive season, the Tar Heels ended 2007 by losing to Oregon State in the CWS Finals. The Heels will try it again in 2008. Though the departures of weekend starters Robert Woodard and Luke Putkonen hurt, UNC welcomes back a talented pitching staff with Alex White leading the charge. The Tar Heels also have some holes to fill at the plate, but Dustin Ackley's return is huge.
'07 Record: 49-18
'07 rank: 1
After winning their first national title two seasons ago, there were some that thought the Beavers would decline in 2007. That simply wasn't the case, as they captured back-to-back titles. Just like last season, the Beavers have doubters. Sure, they must replace leaders Mitch Canham and Darwin Barney, but the return of weekend starters Mike Stutes and Jorge Reyes should be enough to carry the load.
'07 Record: 56-14
'07 rank: 3
There are few constants in college baseball, but Rice having an outstanding pitching staff is one of them. Though the Owls must replace offensive contributors Joe Savery, Tyler Henley, Brian Friday and Danny Lehmann, they welcome back veterans Jordan Dodson and Aaron Luna. On the mound, the Owls welcome back sophomore Ryan Berry and veteran Cole St. Clair in addition to other premier arms.
'07 Record: 43-18
'07 rank: 18
After earning a national seed and hosting a Regional last season, the Toreros hope to take the next step in 2008. Among other attributes, the Toreros return one of the nation's top weekend rotations with Brian Matusz, Matt Couch and Josh Romanski leading the charge. AJ Griffin gives USD a premier arm out of the bullpen, while freshman Kyle Blair should provide immediate assistance.
'07 Record: 46-20
'07 rank: 9
The Gamecocks must move on without former assistant Jim Toman (now at Liberty) and ace right-hander Harris Honeycutt. However, they should still be in great shape. The Gamecocks will once again have an outstanding lineup with first baseman Justin Smoak and third baseman James Darnell leading the charge. They also welcome back veteran Phil Disher and talented shortstop Reese Havens.
'07 Record: 41-19
'07 rank: NR
After earning a share of the Big East regular season title last season, the Red Storm earned a trip to the Myrtle Beach Regional. Though its season ended there, St. John's enters fall workouts with confidence. The Red Storm welcomes back an outstanding crop of pitchers with Scott Barnes, George Brown, Jared Yecker and Matt Tosoni leading the charge. Gil Zayas is the table setter offensively.
'07 Record: 46-17
'07 rank: 13
After failing to reach the CWS two seasons in a row, the Longhorns enter fall workouts with extra motivation. The 'Horns received a boost when hard-hitting outfielder Kyle Russell decided to return to school. Preston Clark is one of the nation's top catchers, while outfielder Jordan Danks is a good candidate for a breakout season. The return of pitchers Riley Boening and Kenn Kasparek should also help.
'07 Record: 47-17
'07 rank: 4
The Anteaters captured the hearts and minds of everyone with a gritty run through the College World Series last season. Though UC Irvine must replace head coach Dave Serrano, they should still be in great shape with right-hander Scotty Gorgen leading the charge on the mound. The Eaters also welcome back fellow weekend starter Eric Pettis, while outfielder Ollie Linton is a sparkplug at the plate.
'07 Record: 33-28
'07 rank: 22
Barring a major surprise, the Bruins should contend for the national title in 2008. Though UCLA must replace staff ace Tyson Brummett, they welcome back Gavin Brooks, Tim Murphy, Garett Claypool, among others. While the pitching staff is promising, the Bruins should have a productive offense with outfielder Gabe Cohen, shortstop Brandon Crawford and veteran Alden Carrithers leading the charge.
'07 Record: 54-13
'07 rank: 6
For much of last season, Vanderbilt was the nation's top team. But when the postseason rolled around, they dropped a heartbreaker to Michigan. Like Texas and others, the Commodores will enter fall workouts with something to prove. Despite the loss of David Price, Vandy is high on sophomore Mike Minor. At the plate, Pedro Alvarez, Dominic de la Osa and Ryan Flaherty produce at a high rate.
'07 Record: 45-16
'07 rank: 16
The Cavaliers routinely field one of the nation's most talented teams. But at the end of the season, they usually have nothing to show for it. As the Cavaliers move forward, they enter fall workouts with renewed confidence. Junior right-hander Jacob Thompson is one of the best in business, while reliever Michael Schwimer is consistent. At the plate, Greg Miclat and David Adams spearhead a talented lineup.
'07 Record: 34-29
'07 rank: NR
The Demon Deacons are probably the biggest surprise on our list, as they took a step forward with an NCAA Tournament appearance last season. Wake Forest welcomes back leading hitter Willy Fox and junior power hitter Allan Dykstra, among several other key contributors. The Deacs are also in good shape on the mound with the return of weekend starters Garrett Bullock and Brad Kledzik.
'07 Record: 53-22
'07 rank: 12
As long as the current coaching staff is in place, the Shockers will continue to develop premier arms. Though the Shockers must replace a few key components, they welcome back talented weekend starters Aaron Shafer and Rob Musgrave. They also return an impressive lineup with Conor Gillaspie and Andy Dirks leading the charge. Wichita State is primed for another run at the College World Series.