The poll spearheaded by the Greek is going to be a good thing. It gets the opinions of the fan out there, and should be interesting to see how it compares to the 'experts'. Have been really busy this weekend with family in town, but the Greek has done a great job of getting this thing going, and the poll looks great, with the top teams separated by a VERY slim margin.
I thought I would disclose my ballot so everything would be out there and I could be put on the grill for my picks. The preseason polls are not my favorite thing, because it is almost all guesswork. That said this is just my opinion at this point and injuries and surprise teams could certainly change this.
Ok here it goes:
My Top 25
1. Georgia- The team is loaded with young talent, including Knowshon Moreno. Moreno is one of the top backs in the nation, and Matthew Stafford provides a good passing attack for the Dawgs. The defense has potential and should improve. The thing that may hold them back is a tough stretch of games they have in the SEC.
2. Ohio State- Easy now…not a homer pick here. The Bucks return a bundle of starters from a team that made a title run last year. Todd Boeckman will have to improve and become more consistent, and more confident in the pocket (he was very nervous the last couple of games of the season) in order for the passing game to keep the field open for one of the top running backs in the country Chris “Beanie” Wells. Watch for Beanie to be in the Heisman talk…
3. Oklahoma- Oklahoma is also loaded with young talent. The Sooners got run over in the Fiesta Bowl, and have struggled in BCS games lately, but that doesn’t diminish the talent that squad has. Stoops should be able to get this team ready for the improved Big 12 to make a run at the National Title.
4. USC- The Trojans still have a lot of talent on this team. Sanchez is finally getting his chance to start (Mustain still crying?). The USC offense should be impressive this year with a great stable of running backs, perhaps Joe McKnight is the best one. The WR position is where the Trojans have a lot of young, unproven type of talent. The defense is just nasty and the Trojans should be Pac 10 Champs, a date in early September against the Bucks should be a great game.
5. Florida- The Gators have the reigning Heisman trophy winner, and Superhuman Tim Tebow. He was the do everything player for Florida, but the addition of Moody at RB should take some carries away from Tebow (thankfully for Tebows health). Percy Harvin will continue to be one of the most versatile players in college. The offense will be explosive without a doubt…the defense will probably still leave something to be desired.
6. Missouri- Missouri has a great offense. Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin are outstanding offensive players. The loss of their two TEs Rucker and Kauffman may hurt their offense slightly. The way Daniels has run that offense puts him in the Heisman discussion. Defense will have to continue to step up if they want to seriously compete for the NC.
7. WVU- Stewart is now the headman at WVU but he will keep the same scheme in place, and still has Pat White. Although Slaton is gone Noel Devine remains to keep the offense potent. I am unsure if the defense will remain a 3-3-5, I would guess it has to because of personnel. The defense is the question for this team, and they could be competing in another BCS game.
8. Auburn- The Tigers play a nasty brand of defense. Even with the loss of Muscamp the defense will be very good. The offense will be the thing to watch on this team as they go into the more wide open offense. If the offense can protect the ball and put up points every once in a while the defense will win them a lot of games.
9. Texas- Texas had perhaps one of the best offseason of any team. Sure they got their share of recruits but most importantly they got Will Muscamp to be DC. He has lead great schemes everywhere he has been and with the talent at Texas he should put up a great defense. This is the 3rd year that Colt will be the starting QB and he appears ready to lead the offense to new heights…especially with an improved D.
10. LSU- The defending champs fall all the way to 10. The loss of RP will hurt the offense. The defense however will remain stout, and look for Ricky Jean Francois (he could only play for LSU…or France with that name) to be an absolute monster. The question mark in my opinon is the CB. The CBs last year were great for LSU and allowed them to play some serious pressure on the QB losing Zenon and Jackson could hurt the D…although LSU is loaded with talent. This is a team that could be doubted and sneak into the top 5.
11. Clemson- Yes those Clemson Tigers. This is a team who had a great recruiting class to go with a pretty successful season last year. The Tigers still posses Thunder and Lightning with Spiller and Davis but to that attack Harper vastly improved last year. The offense should be pretty dynamic, but the loss of several key defenders will be question marks. They start with Bama, then have a soft ACC schedule (which doesn’t even include VT!).
12. Kansas- Rock Chalk…JayHawk, and I’m not talking about basketball either (although they did win that championship). The JayHawks are solid on offense with Reesing leading the charge at QB. The defense should be improved from last year even with the loss of Aquib Talib. A tough two game stretch of at Oklahoma and hosting Texas Tech will show a lot about this team.
13. Illinois- The Fighting Illini are a young talented team. Juice Williams continues to lead a tough offense although the loss of Rashard Mendenhall will be tough to fill. On defense the Illini is solid but the loss of leader J Lehman will be tough to fill. The Illini has to play Missouri, Penn State, Michigan, and Wisconsin all on the road…tough road.
14. Texas Tech- A lot of people are really high on this team… I am not sure what to think. Sure they have a great offense with Harrell and Crabtree but their defense has me wondering. The problem with a team like this in my opinion is they keep teams in the game because of the amount of times they throw. They don’t have the play where they just run out the clock. I am still skeptical of this team.
15. Arizona State- The Sun Devils have a tough meeting with UGA early in the season, but it will tell us a lot about this team. Rudy Carpenter will be back and is a strong QB and good leader for this team. This appears to be the second best team in the Pac 10 and a date at USC will probably decide the Pac 10.
16. BYU- The Cougars are a solid team and have a fairly easy schedule. The Cougars have a rematch with UCLA from the whatever bowl that was, appears to be the toughest OOC game. They are a talented team that will win the MWC conference. The question is will they get an invite to a BCS Bowl?
17. Wisconsin- The Badgers are losing Tyler Donovan at QB but still have a very good backfield with PJ Hill and Zach Brown. The offense will be mostly run oriented but that is not new for the badgers. The defense will have to improve from last year. The real key for the Badgers is their schedule with Ohio State, Penn State, and Illinois all at home…watch out for a rowdy Camp Randall, it is where ranked teams go to lose.
18. Tennessee- The Vols are also losing an experienced starting QB (like the Badgers). It seemed as if Erik Ainge was there for like 12 years…but that is beside the point now. A new offensive coordinator will have to install a new system to fit Johnathan Compton. This team has a chance to be a good ballclub playing Auburn and Florida back to back will be tough, and then having to visit UGA between the hedges.
19. VA Tech- Last years ACC champs will have a tough time replacing Brandon Ore who is no longer on the team. Glennon and Taylor will most likely continue to share time at QB which is not really a great idea in my opinion. Sometimes if you have 2 QBs you don’t really have 1… The defense and special teams will be outstanding as always and will keep them in a lot of games…especially with a fair weak schedule.
20. Pittsburgh- The Panthers have some really good young talent under Dave Wandstandt. Sophmore RB LeSean McCoy will be one of the top in the nation, even reminding some of Tony Dorsett (including Dorsett). The defense should improve and the team can build on the late season victory over WVU.
21. South Florida- Does anyone remember this team was number 2 at one point last year. They are a pretty talented team who can make a run at the Big East championship if they can get past WVU and a few others. George Selvie still leads the defense and is an electric player.
22. Penn State- If this team can get past the off field problems they can be a semi-factor in the Big Ten race. They will have a good defense as is usual, but the offense will leave something to be desired. Look out for Royster to be a sort of breakout RB for the Lions. Oh and they still have Joe Pa…for better or for worse.
23. Fresno State- Pat Hill will play anyone anywhere…and he put it in practice in 2008. Out of conference they begin At Rutgers then host Wisconsin, then at Toledo and UCLA. That is a pretty good OOC schedule and then get into their WAC schedule. Look for the Bulldogs to take 2 or 3 of those OOC games and possibly contend for a BCS game.
24. Wake Forest- This is not a team with a bunch of names that are known throughout households in America, but they just get it done. They play tough and compete in the tough games. This team could surprise some in the ACC.
25. Cincinnati- The Bearcats return 16 starters and could be contender in the Big East. Brian Kelly is a good young coach who can lead the Bearcats to another successful season.
Teams who just missed but should be watched: Michigan State (everyone loves Dantoni), UCONN, ND, Alabama, Miami (FL)