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August 18, 2010
Picks by Rivals.com staff; text by Olin Buchanan
Each of those schools has four players listed on the Rivals.com preseason All-America team, which includes the reigning Heisman winner, a quarterback who could be the first to pass for 6,000 yards in a season and the nation's leaders in interceptions and sacks.
Running back Mark Ingram, who last season became the first Alabama player to win the Heisman, aims to build on a spectacular sophomore season in which he rushed for 1,658 yards and scored 17 touchdowns.
Duplicating a season that productive won't be an easy task, but it's certainly seems more likely than matching the standard that Houston quarterback Case Keenum set for himself. Keenum passed for more than 400 yards in seven games in '09 on the way to leading the nation with 5,671 yards and 44 touchdown passes and helping the Cougars post 10 victories.
He could post even gaudier statistics this season. The Cougars' schedule includes six opponents that ranked 98th or worse in the nation in pass defense last season.
Keenum threw 15 interceptions in '09 (an average of one in every 46.7 passes), and nine occurred in the last two games. That will be a point of concern when the Cougars travel to face free safety Rahim Moore and UCLA on Sept. 18; Moore led the nation with 10 interceptions last season.
Every league except the Sun Belt is represented on the three preseason teams. The Pac-10 has the most selections with 15, followed by the SEC with 13, the ACC and Big Ten with 11 each, the Big 12 with nine, the Big East with six, Conference USA and the Mountain West with four each, the Western Athletic with three and independents and Mid-American with one each.
Here are the three preseason teams.
First team analysis: A year ago, Pittsburgh boasted one of the nation's highest-scoring teams, and that doesn't figure to change with running back Dion Lewis, offensive tackle Jason Pinkston and wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin back in the fold. Lewis rushed for nearly 1,800 yards last season, while Pinkston made some All-America teams and Baldwin averaged 19.5 yards per catch.
In two previous seasons leading the Broncos, the extremely poised and accurate Moore has passed for 7,022 yards and 64 touchdowns (against just 13 picks). Even more impressive, Boise State is 26-1 with Moore as its starter.
Third team analysis: Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, one of two Michigan transfers to appear on the preseason All-America team (first-team selection Justin Boren is the other), looks to improve on a strong first season as a starting quarterback.
Mallett passed for 3,627 yards and 30 touchdowns with just seven interceptions as a sophomore. He should be even better with a year of experience running Bobby Petrino's offense.
The running backs also are extremely productive juniors. Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers has exceeded 1,000 rushing yards in back-to-back seasons, while Wisconsin's John Clay is coming off a 1,500-yard performance in '09.
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