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Auburn makes Top 25

Sometimes it’s hard for me to write about Auburn since I’m such an avid Alabama fan.

But when a state team such as the Tigers are showing so much promise for the upcoming season I have no choice but to recognize their potential.

With backs Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown holding off National Football League careers one more year to play their senior seasons, Auburn has a good chance of winning the SEC title and making a run for the National Championship. When the backfield duo made the announcement that they would stay, the Tigers’ stock rose tremendously.

Williams and Brown are key elements to the Tigers’ offense, which showed strong promise last season. The defense has always been strong and should again be strong this season.

I don’t know if Williams and Brown’s decisions made a difference, but the Tigers are ranked No. 18 in the ESPN/USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll released yesterday.

Topping the poll is the University of Southern California, which if the changes to the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) were made, should have won sole possession of the National Title last season. Instead, LSU won the Sugar and the BCS and shared title with USC.

USC received 44 first-place votes and LSU five first-place votes.

Oklahoma is ranked No. 2 ahead of No. 4 Georgia and Miami, which make up the Top 5.

USC should have another remarkable season this year as should LSU, but the Tigers will have three key SEC road games against Auburn, Florida and Georgia that could make or break them.

As for Oklahoma and Georgia, the two schools are always in the mix thanks to a strong tradition. Miami, on the other hand, loses a lot of players the National Football League each year, but always reloads and performs to great heights each year.

Florida State, which seems to run wide each season; Michigan, Texas, Ohio State and Florida, which are traditionally strong make up the Top 10.

West Virginia, Iowa, Kansas State, Tennessee, California, Clemson, Missouri, Auburn, Virginia and Maryland placed in the Top 20 respectively.

Maryland, Utah, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue and Oregon round out the Top 25.

As for the Crimson Tide, they only made it into the &uot;others receiving votes&uot; category following a 4-9 record last year under first-year Head Coach Mike Shula. Although Bama didn’t do well last year, I expect them to quickly work their way into the Top 25 after a great recruiting season.

I also believe that within the next two years, Alabama will once again be a huge force to reckon with. They may be a powerhouse as early as this season. All us fans will know in the next six weeks.

Although I do agree with a majority of the rankings in the preseason poll, I do believe it will be flip flopped dramatically following the first week of college football.

All I know for certain is that I’m ready for the season to begin.

Adam Prestridge is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. He can be reached at 382-3111, ext. 122 or by e-mail: adam.prestridge@greenvilleadvocate.com