Originally created 07/06/06

Bulldogs, Tigers earn respect in magazines

Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech and South Carolina will not be competing in the 2007 BCS Championship Game. The national title drought will continue for the four local schools.

That's according to the five major college football publications' preseason rankings. Athlon Sports, Lindy's, Phil Steele's, Sporting News and Street & Smith's all predict either Notre Dame, Oklahoma or Ohio State to stroll through the Big Easy after winning the BCS title game, the Jan. 3 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

Of course, all of those magazines believed Southern Cal would win the whole shebang last season. Then, Vince Young scored two late touchdowns to give Texas a thrilling 41-38 comeback victory over the Trojans in the BCS championship game.

And four of the publications had Florida or Tennessee winning the Southeastern Conference East in 2005. Only Phil Steele's correctly chose Georgia (10-3 last season) as the division champ.

Georgia and Clemson are the lone local teams receiving any respect from the magazines. Georgia is ranked between 12th and 19th in all five magazines, while Clemson checked in between 12th and 24th.

Here's a take on what the publications have to offer about the local Division I-A schools:

CAN CLEMSON FINALLY BREAK THROUGH?: The Tigers (8-4 last season) have not won an Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 15 years. Most of the magazines say this is the season the Tigers break through and become a major player on the league scene once again - four of the five have the team picked second or higher in the ACC Atlantic Division.

Despite the loss of quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson is predicted to win the division by Athlon Sports. The magazine cited the return of the team's entire offensive line and the pending emergence of junior running back James Davis, who led the team with 879 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

WILL GEORGIA'S GROUND GAME BE AS GOOD AS ADVERTISED?: Athlon Sports says Georgia has the best running back corps in the nation with the return of Thomas Brown, Kregg Lumpkin and Danny Ware. None of the three has rushed for 1,000 yards in a season - the last Georgia player to do so was Musa Smith (2002).

Brown, Lumpkin and Ware combined to gain more than 1,500 yards and score eight rushing touchdowns. Not exactly Herschel Walker-type numbers, but enough for them to be considered the best in the land.

By the way, Sporting News ranks Auburn as the top backfield and does not have Georgia in its top 20. Phil Steele's has Georgia's running backs corps eighth.

WHAT'S IN STORE FOR GEORGIA TECH AND SOUTH CAROLINA?: Apparently nothing. Neither team is ranked in the top 25 in any of the publications.

Prognosticators aren't expecting much from second-year South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, despite his team's wins over Tennessee and Florida as part of a 7-5 finish last season. South Carolina is picked to finish fourth in the SEC East in every magazine.

The good news coming out of the Georgia Tech camp is star wide receiver Calvin Johnson drawing heaps of national attention as a second-team All-America. Lindy's thinks Johnson will be the fourth player taken in the 2007 NFL Draft, behind Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson and Georgia defensive end Quentin Moses.

The Yellow Jackets (7-5 last season) are predicted to finish third in the ACC Coastal Division, behind Miami and Virginia Tech.

WHO'S ON THE HOT SEAT: The state of Michigan might need to prepare for a wholesale administration change. Michigan's Lloyd Carr and Michigan State's John L. Smith are at the top of Street & Smith's hot seat list. The Wolverines went 7-5 last season, and Carr is 1-4 against Ohio State's Jim Tressel. Smith is 18-18 in three seasons.

Surprisingly, Miami's Larry Coker is on the hot seat. All Coker has done in five seasons is win 53 of 62 games, including the 2001 national championship.

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.


Preseason rankings of college football publications:


1. Oklahoma

2. Notre Dame

3. USC

4. Ohio State

5. Florida

6. West Virginia

7. Texas

8. California

9. Auburn

10. Louisville

11. LSU

12. Clemson

13. Michigan

14. Miami

15. Georgia

16. Iowa

17. Florida St.

18. TCU

19. Oregon

20. Tennessee

21. Va. Tech

22. Texas Tech

23. Utah

24. Arizona St.

25. Nebraska


1. Notre Dame

2. Ohio State

3. West Virginia

4. Texas

5. Florida

6. USC

7. Oklahoma

8. Auburn

9. California

10. LSU

11. Michigan

12. Florida St.

13. Louisville

14. Georgia

15. Utah

16. Miami

17. TCU

18. Clemson

19. Arizona St.

20. Va.Tech

21. Penn State

22. Nebraska

23. Oregon

24. Texas Tech

25. Iowa


1. Ohio State

2. West Virginia

3. Texas

4. Notre Dame

5. Florida

6. California

7. USC

8. Auburn

9. LSU

10. Oklahoma

11. Florida St.

12. Michigan

13. Louisville

14. Miami

15. Va.Tech

16. Arizona St.

17. Nebraska

18. Alabama

19. Georgia

20. Penn State

21. Iowa

22. Texas Tech

23. Clemson

24. Oregon

25. TCU


1. Notre Dame

2. Ohio State

3. Auburn

4. LSU

5. West Virginia

6. USC

7. Texas

8. Florida

9. Oklahoma

10. Florida St.

11. Iowa

12. Georgia

13. California

14. Miami

15. Penn State

16. Va. Tech

17. Michigan

18. Tennessee

19. Louisville

20. Texas Tech

21. TCU

22. Nebraska

23. Oregon

24. Clemson

25. Alabama


1. Oklahoma

2. Auburn

3. Louisville

4. USC

5. Texas

6. Miami

7. Notre Dame

8. Ohio State

9. Virginia Tech

10. Florida St.

11. Michigan

12. Tennessee

13. Arkansas

14. Georgia

15. Iowa

16. California

17. W. Virginia

18. Clemson

19. Boise State

20. Florida

21. LSU

22. Nebraska

23. Utah

24. Purdue

25. Oregon


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