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Top Teams

1. Nebraska - The nostalgia craze hits Lincoln, Neb., as the Cornhuskers field an old-fashioned Big Eight team that brings back memories of 1971, when Nebraska was the consensus No. 1 choice. 2. Pittsburgh - It's hard to imagine a rookie head coach winning the college football sweepstakes, but Foge Fazio should come close with the talent he inherits. 3. North Carolina - Not to be outdone by the school's championship basketball team, the Tar Heels would like to complete an unprecedented sweep - the No. 1 ranking in both sports. Three straight bowl victories prove they're worthy. 4. Alabama - The hubbub surrounding Coach Bear Bryant's record 315th win has subsided, but the Tide keeps rolling along. 5. Washington - A perfect season is within reach, but prognosticators haven't done the Huskies any favors by making them a pre-season favorite. 6. Penn State - If there's a dark horse for the national title, here it is. Nobody outcoaches Joe Paterno, who has the skill positions filled, but must develop some linemen and linebackers. 7. Arkansas - A surprise. The Razorbacks look solid throughout, an advantage in a tight Southwest Conference race. 8. Ohio State - The Buckeyes are loaded. There's only one small problem: Art Schlichter, the greatest passer in the school's history, has graduated. 9. Southern Methodist - Coach Ron Meyer has fled to the pros, but he's left the program in good shape. 10. Southern California - How often do the Trojans drop out of the rankings? Hardly ever. So even without the incentive of playing in the Rose Bowl, don't expect the Probation Kids to go away. 11. Miami - A lot hinges on the arm of QB Jim Kelly, the Hurricanes' all-time leading passer. 12. Michigan - The Wolverines are free of last year's burden (as the pre-season No. 1 choice) and can now hound people, instead of playing the fox's role. 13. Clemson - After last season's Never-Never Land experience, the defending national champions will come down to earth, but not too suddenly. 14. Notre Dame - Looking back at his 5-6 college inaugural, Coach Gerry Faust said, ''I enjoyed every minute of it, except for the six days we lost.'' With Notre Dame's roster, a sense of humor may be optional equipment this year. 15. Texas A&M - If the Aggies are going to pay a king's ransom to their new coach, Jackie Sherrill better produce - pronto. And he just might do so by applying a fresh coat of confidence to a program that needs it. 16. Oklahoma - A seasoned defense should hold the fort while the offense gets its bearings. 17. Florida - Not many people want to wrestle the Gators with Wayne Peace zeroing in on the school's passing records. 18. UCLA - Talented backs and receivers make the Bruins dangerous. 19. Georgia - Herschel Walker returns. That says it all. 20. Brigham Young - The Cougars' pass-oriented offense may be bigger than the individuals in it.

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