Eagles To Face Three Top Ten Programs In 2011 ... According To Athlon

Running back Cierre Wood #20 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates a touchdown against the Miami Hurricanes during the Hyundai Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl on December 30 2010 in El Paso Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Athlon Sports is counting down their preseason college football Top 25, and the magazine is awfully high on three of Boston College's 2011 opponents. Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Florida State all cracked Athlon's top 10, with the 'Noles ranked the highest at number 4.

"Florida State's players, coaches and fans are confident this program is on the cusp of a return to national prominence, but those dreams will be tested during a crucial two-game stretch in late September. First, the Seminoles will play host to an Oklahoma team that simply dismantled them last year in Norman, Okla. Then, they will go on the road one week later to face Clemson, which always seems to give them fits; FSU hasn't won at Death Valley since 2001."

It's easy to see why pundits and prognosticators are high on the Noles this year, especially for a team that returns 16 starters from last season 10-win team. But like I said when Andy Staples unveiled his Post-Spring Top 25, I'm not about to put the Seminoles in the National Championship Game discussion quite yet. They have to earn this back. Ranking FSU as high as four seems like a bit of a stretch.

Speaking of stretches ... Notre Dame checks in at number 6 in Athlon's 2011 rankings. Are you serious?

"Sprinkle [Michael] Floyd back into the mix, maximize [Cierre] Wood's abilities, and find a quarterback who can avoid the crucial mistake, and it looks like the Irish should be able to generate enough offense to accommodate an improving and suddenly depth-laden defense. The combination of [Brian] Kelly's offensive track record and the improving defense could send the Irish in pursuit of a BCS bid in 2011."

As ESPN blogger Brian Bennett points out, this preseason ranking for the Irish is way too high. Top 25? Sure. But ranking the Irish in the Top 10 just gives Notre Dame haters more fodder for when this year's team finishes with 7 or 8 wins. How quickly we forget that this was an Irish team that started last season going 1-3 and stood at 4-5 at the end of October, including blowout losses to Stanford and a Navy program that wound up losing to Duke. Via the transitive property, Duke > Notre Dame.

The Hokies are the third BC opponent ranked in Athlon's preseason top 10, garnering a preseason ranking of 7:

"Even with a new quarterback, Virginia Tech should be the class of the Coastal Division. The schedule sets up favorably, with four winnable non-conference games to open the season. The Hokies also host Miami and won't play Florida State or NC State during the regular season. They're a dark horse national title contender."

Dark horse national title contender? Perhaps, but my guess is the Hokies will have a hard time reaching the BCS National Championship Game this season. Even if the Hokies go undefeated in the regular season, a non-conference schedule that includes Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State and Marshall isn't going to impress many voters. If there are two other undefeateds from BCS conferences left standings, VT will probably be left at the altar a la Cincinnati in 2009.

Finally, the U is ranked 18th in Athlon's Preseason Top 25, but they still have Jacory Harris playing at QB, so we good ... we good.

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