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Top 25 countdown

August 24, 2008|Chris Dufresne

The Times' Chris Dufresne unveils his preseason college football top 25, one day (and team) at a time:

No. 5 Florida

Florida being recently named the No. 1 party school by Princeton Review might be interesting to beer-keg distributors, but it doesn't answer a more important question: Has the school ever been any good in football or basketball?

Records indicate the football team is coming off a bowl loss to a Michigan team that lost to Appalachian State.

And the basketball team didn't even make the NCAA tournament.

OK, it hasn't been that long.

An archives search reveals Florida has fared well in the revenue-producing sports, not long ago sandwiching a football championship between two basketball titles.

We have rebound hopes for this year's football Gators after last year's fouled-up, four-loss campaign.

Tim Tebow, the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, has decided to become a junior -- and that means more quarterback romps in the Swamp.

The season opener is at home against a Hawaii team lacking only June Jones, Colt Brennan and a chance.

Florida still hasn't played a nonconference game outside Florida since 1991, but it doesn't have to with Miami and Florida State already on the board.

This year, there are only three true Southeastern Conference road games -- at Tennessee, Arkansas and Vanderbilt.

The Gators should be national title contenders, provided they can keep Tebow out of traction. He rushed for 23 touchdowns and 895 yards last year, and that's simply pressing your knee ligament lottery luck.

The idea this year will be to make Tebow more of a facilitator. He has speedy Percy Harvin at receiver (although he's been hampered with a heel injury) and the team hopes to add a running back into the mix.

Moody . . . the name rings a bell. Oh yeah, Emmanuel Moody, the former USC tailback who transferred to Gainesville after getting caught in a backfield numbers game.

Florida's problem is it plays in the East wing of the nation's toughest conference. The SEC East -- Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt -- isn't a division, it's a multiplication problem.

Florida plays all those teams, plus defending national champion Louisiana State from the SEC West.

The East title may come down to the Nov. 1 showdown against Georgia in Jacksonville.


The countdown so far:

25. Notre Dame; 24. California; 23. Fresno State; 22. Florida State; 21. Rutgers; 20. Illinois; 19. Penn State; 18. Oregon; 17. Tennessee; 16. Arizona State; 15. Texas Tech; 14. Brigham Young; 13. Wisconsin; 12. Kansas; 11. Auburn; 10. Texas.; 9. West Virginia; 8. Clemson; 7. Louisiana State; 6. Missouri; 5. Florida.


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