College Football Rankings: ESPN Places Oregon 4th, Washington No. 21

Everyone loves preseason rankings. Yes, they basically mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, but a fan is always interested to see where some of the nation's experts think their team stacks up against the competition.

With spring workouts and practices in the books and the start of summer training camp just a couple weeks away, a few publications have released their final pre-preseason rankings for the upcoming college football season.

ESPN sees big things happening for the Oregon Ducks and Washington Huskies in 2012. Where do they have them ranked and what did they have to say about UO and UW?

The Ducks came in ranked No. 4 overall, two spots up from their pre-spring ranking. You can find ESPN's complete rankings here. Here's what they had to say:

After losing All-America tailback LaMichael James, it's hard to believe the Ducks might be even faster on offense in 2012. But with tailbacks Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas taking over, Oregon has two sprinters in its backfield. The quarterback battle between Bryan Bennett and Marcus Mariota might not be settled until preseason camp, but both players seem more than capable of running coach Chip Kelly's fast-paced offense. Oregon's defense must replace two starting linebackers and two defensive backs. The Ducks play five of their first six games at home and their nonconference schedule is much easier with home games against Arkansas State, Fresno State and FCS-foe Tennessee Tech. Road games at Southern Cal and California and a home game against Stanford might loom large in November.

The Huskies came in 21st overall in their ranking. They were previously unranked in the first round of predictions.

About the only defense that looked worse than Washington's during bowl season was Clemson's. The Huskies were ripped for 777 yards, including 482 rushing, in a 67-56 loss to Baylor in the Valero Alamo Bowl. As a result, Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian revamped his coaching staff, bringing in five new assistants, including former Boise State and Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. The Huskies bring back quarterback Keith Price, who threw for 3,063 yards and 33 touchdowns last season. But they'll have to replace tailback Chris Polk, who ran for 1,488 yards and 12 touchdowns. Perhaps no team faces a more difficult start to the season; UW plays LSU (road), Stanford (home), Oregon (road) and USC (home) in its first six games.

We will see plenty more preseason rankings in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back with SB Nation Seattle for all of the latest with the Ducks, Huskies, Washington St. Cougars and Oregon St. Beavers. It should be a great season for college football.

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