http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=forde_pat&id=1986233 Is this a little early to have pre-season rankings? 1. USC Trojans Why: The Trojans were the landslide choice a month ago -- and that was before Matt Leinart stunned everyone by announcing he's staying on campus. Now it's simply not a fair fight for the rest of the nation. Why not: The only reasons to bet against USC are the fact that nobody has won three straight wire-service national titles, and offensive mastermind Norm Chow might bolt for the NFL. 2. Texas Longhorns Why: Vince Young will be back behind a veteran offensive line, and we all know how well the Longhorns have recruited in recent years. Why not: Losing star linebacker Derrick Johnson and running back Cedric Benson will hurt, and Oklahoma is still on the schedule. 3. Michigan Wolverines Why: Chad Henne, Michael Hart and Steve Breaston make a pretty awesome skill-position trio to build around. Why not: Wide receiver Braylon Edwards made Henne look good on many occasions, and the Wolverines face a major rebuilding job in the secondary. 4. Tennessee Vols Why: Three proven quarterbacks return, plus plenty of additional experience after all the possible early-entry candidates decided to stay. And for once, the Volunteers have post-bowl momentum. Why not: In their last four SEC games of 2004, the Vols gave up an average of 32.8 points and 467 yards offense. That needs to improve before facing Urban Meyer, Mark Richt, Steve Spurrier, et.al. in '05. 5. Iowa Hawkeyes Why: Almost the entire offense is back, and Kirk Ferentz has firmly established himself as one of the nation's elite coaches. Why not: The Hawkeyes must do some rebuilding on the defensive front seven. .............................................................................................. 11. LSU Tigers Why: This team is littered with prep All-Americans, many of whom got valuable experience in a "rebuilding" 9-3 season. And signing prep superstud Ryan Perrilloux only makes the quarterback position that much more intriguing. Why not: After losing Nick Saban, it's hard not to think LSU settled for Les with Miles.