2012 College Football Preseason Top 25: No. 25 – 21

No. 25 Washington Huskies

Last season results:

7-6 (Lost Alamo Bowl)

Key Losses:

RB – Chris Polk, WR – Jermaine Kearse, WR – Devin Aguilar, DT – Alameda Ta’amu, LB – Cort Dennison & CB – Quinton Richardson

Returning Players:

QB – Keith Price (JR), TE – Austin Seferian-Jenkins (SO), C – Drew Schaefer (SR), LB – Josh Shirley (SO) and CB – Desmond Trufant (SR)

Projected 2012 record:

8-4 (3rd in Pac-12 North)

Key Games:

at LSU (9/8), vs Stanford (9/27), at Oregon (10/6) and vs USC (10/13)

Finishing the past two seasons at 7-6, the Huskies are looking to improve in 2012 behind QB Keith Price. Price is an explosive weapon at quarterback with his throwing and running abilities. Residing in the Pac-12, the Huskies face a tough stretch between playing Stanford, at Oregon and vs USC in consecutive games. Washington has not had an eight-plus win season since 2001.

No. 24 Oklahoma State Cowboys

Last season results:

12-1 (Won Fiesta Bowl)

Key Losses:

QB – Brandon Weeden, WR – Justin Blackmon

Returning Players:

RB – Joseph Randle (JR), OG – Lane Taylor (SR), K/P – Quinn Sharp (SR), LB – Shaun Lewis (JR) and CB – Brodrick Brown (SR).

Projected 2012 record:

8-4 (Tied 5th Big 12)

Key Games:

vs Texas (9/29), vs TCU (10/27), at Kansas State (11/3), vs West Virginia (11/10) and at Oklahoma (11/24)

In 2011, the Cowboys won their first Big 12 title (outright) in school history. Head coach Mike Gundy has matched or exceed the school’s win total every year since his arrival in 2005. So what should we expect in 2012? I’m not expecting (or calling) for Gundy to exceed a 12-1 season in 2011. The Cowboys lose two very important offensive players in Weeden and Blackmon. Gundy does, however, have the program going in the right direction. Gundy named freshman Wes Lunt starting quarterback after their 2012 spring game.

No. 23 Stanford Cardinal

Last season results:

11-2 (Lost Fiesta Bowl)

Key Losses:

QB – Andrew Luck, OG – David DeCastro, OT – Jonathan Martin and TE – Coby Fleener

Returning Players:

RB – Stepfan Taylor (SR), TE – Levine Toilolo, OG – David Yankey (SO), DE – Ben Gardner (JR) and LB – Chase Thomas (SR)

Projected 2012 record:

9-3 (2nd in Pac-12 North)

Key Games:

vs USC (9/15), at Washington (9/27), at Notre Dame (10/13) and at Oregon (11/17)

After back-to-back BCS bowl trips, Stanford will have a lot to overcome to reach their third straight BCS game. The Cardinal must replace No. 1 overall pick, QB Andrew Luck and two key offensive linemen. Sophomore Brett Nottingham is expected to start at quarterback and should be helped by RB Stepfan Taylor to lead the offense. The defense will have to be the anchor for the Cardinal if they hope to compete for the Pac 12 title.

No. 22 BYU Cougars

Last season results:

10-3 (Won Armed Forces Bowl)

Key Losses:

RB – Bryan Kariya, RB – J.J DiLuigi, OT – Matt Reynolds and LB – Jordan Pendleton

Returning Players:

QB – Riley Nelson (SR), WR – Cody Hoffman (JR), LB – Kyle Van Noy (JR), LB – Brandon Ogletree (SR) and CB – Preston Hadley (SR)

Projected 2012 record:

10-2

Key Games:

at Boise State (9/20), vs Oregon State (10/13), at Notre Dame (10/20) and at Georgia Tech (10/27)

BYU will be entering their second season as an Independent after leaving the Mountain West in 2010. Their schedule includes matchups with four WAC schools and three Pac-12 schools. The Cougars return 14 starters from 2011, which should help them achieve a similar (double digit) win total in 2012.

No. 21 Texas Longhorns

Last season results:

8-5 (Won Holiday Bowl)

Key Losses:

QB – Garrett Gilbert (transferred), RB – Fozzy Whittaker, OG – David Snow, OT – Tray Allen, LB – Emmanuel Acho, S – Blake Gideon and K/P Justin Tucker.

Returning Players:

QB – David Ash (SO), QB – Case McCoy (JR), RB – Malcolm Brown (SO), WR – Marquise Goodwin (SR), DE – Alex Okafor (SR), LB – Jordan Hicks (JR) and S – Kenny Vaccaro (SR)

Projected 2012 record:

8-4 (Tied 5th in Big 12)

Key Games:

at Oklahoma State (9/29), vs West Virginia (10/6), vs Oklahoma @ Dallas (10/13), vs TCU (11/24) and at Kansas State (12/1)

Are the Longhorns back? After two disappointing seasons in 2011 & 2010, the expectations are once again high for the Longhorns in Austin. The biggest question for Texas is at the quarterback position. With Gilbert out of the picture, David Ash and Case McCoy will battle for the starting job. If the Horns can get production out of their quarterback, they could be the surprise team of 2012.

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