I have a few obsessions: my wife, reading, lists, and college football. I can't get enough of the college game. I think it makes my wife a bit crazy, but I can't help it. It must be genetic. At this time of year I can't get enough preseason polls and analysis. I read every website and magazine I can find. There are probably better ways of spending my time, but I haven't found any yet. So, in honor of those preseason polls, here is my Top 10 for the upcoming college football season. I ranked them based on where I expect them to be in the final top 10 of the year, not the 10 best teams. If you agree/disagree, let me hear it.
1. Oklahoma - Three important keys to winning championships are good offensive and defensive line play, and good quarterback play. The lines win games in college football, and Oklahoma has two of the best in the country. The O-line returns four starters and plenty of NFL talent. Add to this Sam Bradford (the nations top-rated passer last year), DeMarco Murray (6 ypc), Juaquin Iglesias, and Jermaine Gresham, and you have an explosive offense (over 42ppg last year). The D-line is awesome. Auston English is one of the best ends in the country, and in McCoy and Granger the Sooners have two run-stuffing tackles. The secondary will be strong; the main question with this team is the linebackers. OU always has athletes, so I expect them to be fine. The schedule isn't too tough, with Texas and Kansas the toughest games. If OU can again beat Missouri in the Big 12 title game, expect them in the BCS title game.
2. Ohio State - I'm pretty sick of the Buckeyes, but once again Ohio State is loaded. Pardon me, The Ohio State University. Arrogant pricks. The game of the year happens on Sep. 13 when OSU goes to USC. If the Buckeyes can get through that one, the coast is relatively clear to a third straight BCS title game. No one in the Big 10 is close. The only hiccups might be at Wisconsin and Illinois, but Ohio State should win both. The only potential soft spot on the roster is the o-line, which was dominated by LSU last year. In spite of that line and some nagging injuries, Chris Wells ran for over 1,600 yards last year. He will be a monster this year and is my pick to win the Heisman. It will be interesting to see if USC pressures Boeckman the way LSU did in the title game last year and how the Buckeyes respond. Right now, I'm going with Ohio State to win that game and get to a third straight BCS title game. Of course, with their performance the past two year in the title game, the voters might not want to see them there again. I know I don't.
3. Florida - Florida could have the best offense in the country. They are flat-out loaded with Tebow, Harvin, and a very good line. Even though Harvin gets a decent amount of pub, he still might be underrated. He is dynamic with the ball and Meyer uses him in a variety of ways. The big question is defense, where they gave up over 25 ppg last year. They return 7 starters on D, but is that a good thing? The potential on defense is insane due to Urban Meyer's great recruiting, but that potential didn't show through last year, so why this year? The linebackers are solid, led by Brandon Spikes. The secondary needs work after the defense ranked 98th in passing yards per game. The defense is a work in progress. As good as the offense is, they still need to find a reliable tailback. Chris Rainey, who was tremendous in the spring game, or Emmanuel Moody (a USC transfer) could be the answer. Even with questions at tailback, the offense will outscore teams in most games, but because of shaky defense they're bound to slip up somewhere.
4. Georgia - I've seen UGA picked as the #1 team in the country in most polls. Why? Outside of Knowshon Moreno, is there an All-American on this team? Geno Atkins? Maybe. Rennie Curran? In the future, probably. Matthew Stafford? I'm going to go ahead and say no. I just don't see Georgia winning the title. Maybe if they wear their black uniforms in every game. Those uni's are awesome. I don't know that Matthew Stafford is capable of leading a team to the title. He might be. Just because he was highly recruited doesn't make him great. Mark Richt is a tremendous coach - one of the 5 best in the nation - and the team does have talent all over the field, but the schedule is too tough. They go to S. Carolina, Arizona State, Auburn, and LSU, play Florida on a "neutral" field in the state of Florida, and have Tennessee, Georgia Tech, and Alabama at home. If Georgia can win all those games, the SEC title game, and the BCS title game, they should be in the discussion for the team of the decade. I don't see it happening. I actually like them better than Florida and the Ohio State, but due to the schedule I have Georgia finishing below them.
5. USC - As always, USC will be in the national title hunt. I can't pick them in the top 2 or 3 after losing to Stanford last year. Someone can just creep up on them again. The Trojans will break in a new starting quarterback (Sanchez started a few games last year when Booty was injured) and have an underachieving set of receivers who haven't lived up to their recruiting hype. USC has a solid O-line and a good group of running backs. Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson could have huge seasons. The defense will be awesome this year. USC and Ohio State should have the best defenses in the country. Their LBs are easily the best in the country, the secondary is stout, and the D-line has studs everywhere. If you haven't heard of Everson Griffen, you will. He will have a breakout season as he takes over a starting role at end. The defense is chalked full of NFL players. I like USC to get into the BCS Championship game against Oklahoma if the Trojans can knock off the Buckeyes early on. Oh, by the way, FB Stanley Havili is severely overlooked. His versatility is ridiculous. I'm also excited to see Pete Carroll vs. Rick Neuheisel this year. I think Neuheisel's money is on SC.
6. Missouri - I never thought I'd see Missouri in the top ten, let alone ranked #1 in the country like they were at one point last year. The offense gets a lot of hype here, but the defense deserves some credit. The Tigers have a good group of linebackers and one of the best safeties in the country in William Moore. Missouri had a great turnover margin last year (+14) and it should continue this season. The offense is stacked with Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, and Chase Coffman being among the best in the country at their respective positions. Missouri has some tough games against Illinois, Texas, and Kansas, as well as a likely matchup against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. I was tempted to put Missouri higher than this, but the talent above them is just too much.
7. LSU - It's tough for me to put the Tigers at 7 because they have such good lines on both sides of the ball. I'm a firm believer that the lines win games in football, so why is LSU so low with such talent on both lines? First, the QB situation. Ryan Perrilloux was dismissed from the team a few months ago. They'd be higher on this list with him under center. Second, the corners are unproven. If LSU is to beat Auburn and Florida the corners better get up to speed in a hurry. Third, they play in the SEC. LSU plays at Auburn, South Carolina, and Florida and has Georgia at home. If the quarterback play is good and the corners learn quickly, LSU could end up much higher than #7. With Les Miles as coach and their recent recruiting hauls, they certainly have the talent to do so.