ESPN college football analyst and ’91 Heisman winner Desmond Howard picks his big conference favorites.
The Tigers have a good chance if they can weather their November schedule. They return 16 starters and boast one of the best backfields in the ACC with quarterback Cullen Harper and running backs James Davis and CJ Spiller.
* West Virginia
WVU is returning only 12 starters, but it is bringing back some of the league’s best talent in quarterback Pat White and running back Noel Devine. They are coming off an impressive Fiesta Bowl win and had a very good spring.
* Ohio State
Under head coach Jim Tressel, it has played in three national title games in seven seasons. It returns 19 starters, including Heisman hopeful Chris “Beanie” Wells, so I don’t see this train slowing down any time soon.
The Sooners are the team to beat. They’re coming off an ugly Fiesta Bowl loss and have something to prove. Outside of the Texas game, they get two of their top competitors at home and have five road games that all seem winnable.
This conference is so loaded that it’s difficult to choose just one top team. LSU stands out as the defending national champ, but Georgia should also be noted. It was very young last year but finished the season ranked No. 2 in the country.
The Trojans are still the team to beat out west. Junior QB Mark Sanchez is more than capable of leading. They return only 11 starters but have one of the best D’s in the country. They also take on all their top opponents at home.