Yup, it’s that time again. Here’s the official WBE preseason top 25 as submitted for the one, the only, the OG BlogPoll:
War Blog Eagle Ballot – Week 1
|2||TCU Horned Frogs||—|
|3||Alabama Crimson Tide||—|
|5||Boise St. Broncos||—|
|7||Ohio St. Buckeyes||—|
|12||Virginia Tech Hokies||—|
|13||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||—|
|19||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||—|
|21||Boston College Eagles||—|
|24||North Carolina Tar Heels||—|
SB Nation BlogPoll College Football Top 25 Rankings »
The requisite notes on how I arrived at this mish-mash:
Philosophy: These aren’t “power rankings,” as I specifically took team schedules and my resulting fuzzy-soft record projections into account. Brian hates this approach, but I hate ranking Team A ahead of Team B on this preseason ballot and having to add the caveat “Just so you know, Team B is totally going to have the better season, though, because of scheduling issues,” so we’re having to agree to disagree. Feel free to take this as the WBE’s shorthand prediction for how each of these teams will finish.
On specific teams and spots …
1-2: The only two teams–save Boise and Houston–I expect to finish the season with fewer than two losses, or at least the far-and-away best bets to run the table. With Okie St., Mizzou, and Texas Tech’s decline, the Big 12 is a three-team league, and I don’t think either the ‘Horns or ‘Huskers have enough to handle Oklahoma. The Sooners coule easily have both the league’s best defense and best offense. Meanwhile, lost in the Boise hype parade is the fact that TCU also went undefeated last regular season and did so in substantially more impressive fashion against a substantially more difficult schedule. One bowl game does not necessary a firm prediction for the following year make. The Frogs lose just about nothing on offense and always have the MWC’s best defense … who’s going to beat them this year, either?
3-10: These teams are just about interchangeable. The Tide come in No. 3 as the projected SEC champion–I don’t like it any more than you do–thanks to that pillowy-soft schedule (road trip to Arkansas aside) and Florida’s issues of their own. But it wouldn’t surprise me if they lost three games, so go figure. Oregon I’m high on despite the Masoli brouhaha; Kelly’s never had any problem finding a quarterback up there and every other unit on the team is improved. I don’t like Boise to win the cross-country opener, but they won’t lose again, so No. 5 seems about right.
At No. 6 and 7, I like Wisconsin’s loaded offense to blow past the stodgy Buckeyes at home at Camp Randall and earn the Rose Bowl berth. (A word about Ohio St.: this is a team that was a two-point try away from going to OT with Navy [at home], lost to a mediocre USC team [at home], got throttled by Purdue, got outgained by Wisconsin by nearly 200 yards and won on three different touchdown returns [at home], and went to overtime against an Iowa team missing its starting quarterback [at home]. Their supposed role as Big Ten and national championship berth favorites rests on the sudden maturation of a quarterback whose final regular season game saw him go 9-for-17 for 67 yards–3.9 per attempt– with 1 TD and 1 pick … against the worst secondary in the conference. But he looked great for 60 minutes against an eminently skewerable Duck defense, and now he’s turned a corner? Right.)
Florida could swap places with ‘Bama easily; both offenses should be solid and the Gators could–maybe should–have the better defense. But Florida just looked sort of lost last year and I don’t think losing Strong will help. Neither Nebraska nor Texas should really be all that overpowering, but they’re both miles better than anyone else in that conference.
Huge, yawning gap: Please just take it on faith that I don’t think anyone really deserves to be ranked in the 11-15 spots. I like the top 10, but it’s all straw-clutching for these next several rungs of the ladder.
11-15: The upper-middle of the SEC and the five- or six-team top shelf of the ACC are similar: several good teams, but a fair share of losses on deck as they beat each other up. I like the Dawgs to emerge as the SEC’s third-best team with Auburn a bit behind; I like Virginia Tech to emerge fro mthe ACC scrum with Miami running in second with a solid nonconference pelt or two. They get smashed together here with Notre Dame, who has too much talent to keep flailing under a coach as good as Brian Kelly.
16-17: The flyers. Everyone forgets that Houston was on course for a BCS challenge before tripping up against UTEP; all the skill position guys are back, there’s a new DC, and the slate is even easier. I bet they win 11. UConn is the best-coached team in the Big East, has a great offensive line, and the best schedule of any Big East contender; they may start 0-1 after their season-opener at desperate Michigan, but won’t drop too many after that.
18-25: Arkansas, Iowa, and Pitt are all lower than they’ll generally be ranked; I don’t think the Hogs have the defense, the Hawkeyes the offense, or Pitt the schedule to make good on their preseason buzz. (Seriously, the Panthers play at Utah, vs. Miami, and at Notre Dame just outside of conference.)
The ACC is deep enough to yield a few more representatives: Georgia Tech was overrated last year but has Paul Johnson; Florida St.’s Good Twin BC is going to win games they have no business winning, just like always; and UNC still has a boatload of NFL defenders even without Austin. The same goes for the Pac-10; I went with Arizona’s steady climb under Mike Stoops and the leftover talent at USC over their leaguemates.
Waitlist: The Pac-10 is overrun with decent teams that deserve consideration; Cal, Oregon St., Stanford and Washington should all appear on someone’s ballots, even though I went elsewhere. South Carolina could have a big year if they can get past Georgia. (No, I didn’t consider LSU.) West Virginia is the other Big East team that could make a national mark, though having Stewart at the helm will catch up to them one day. Likewise, I expect the move to Jimbo Fisher to pay off for Florida St., and it could be this season, but until it happens the ‘Noles have earned the skepticism. In the mid-major ranks, Temple, Nevada, and the Utah-based usual suspects in the Mountain West could have big years.
I think that about covers it. If you think anything is really, terribly wrong here, you can try to argue me out of it in the comments.
Michiana Tiger says
I really like the way MGoBlog cast the votes. 🙂
Alex P in Smyrna G says
Isn’t just calling it a “Power Ranking” caveat enough to cover it?
Considering this exact problem is part (not all) of what caused AU to be odd man out in 2004I, am dissapointed in you Jerry.
Anything but power rankings give an unfair advantage to teams with easier schedules, because if Team B doesn’t lose, then you have a hard time justifying them being jumped regardless of how hard Team A’s schedule may be.
How many times did we hear the following in 2004? “If Oklahoma and USC don’t lose, then how can I drop them below Auburn”
It would make much more sense to use a power ranking and in case of two teams being equal rank the one with the HARDER schedule higher. Then, wins & losses & human bias will combine to result in a MUCH more accurate final poll at the end of the year.
Van P says
The polls have always been a joke because voters start out the year ranking the teams as they think they’ll finish– and then punish them during the season for losing games they’re expected to lose!!
I agree with the other commenters: the MGoBlog guys are right. You’re supposed to rank the best 25 teams. That needs no caveats. Saying ‘that makes the poll into a power ranking’ is a poor reason not to. I could counter by saying ‘you’re making the poll a prediction.’ Surely it should be more of a power ranking than a prediction. This becomes even more apparent when one considers it’s a prediction of how the final poll ends. I think the principles of preseason poll should be the same principles of midseason and postseason polls. If it’s a prediciton than midseason you’re simply predicting how the polls will look in a few weeks, then in postseason you’re predicting how the polls will look on the final week, or predicting what others will rank teams. The only consistent way that doesn’t get rediculous is to rank them like a power rankings.
AU at 15…………hmm………..?
Guys, this is the only poll in which future scheduling is taken into account. All other ballots, as has been the case with my voting the last couple of years, will be based on on-field achievement. If three teams go undefeated, it’s not whoever starts on top that stays there–it’s whoever plays the best against the best schedule.
I can understand the argument that the preseason poll should follow the same philosophy as the in-season versions … but I just think this way is more fun, frankly.
I appreciate that you did not fall in line with all the other polls and put Alabama at number one. and i am not saying that just because i am an Auburn fan.
Part of me thinks that Alabama should be number one until someone beats them, but the other side says they lost 9 starters from a defense that kept them from lossing at least 2 games last year (UT, AU). both of those games were decided by a less than a touchdown. playing those same games this year, they become losses instead of wins and you are looking at a 2 loss Alabama team. i just don’t see how they can be ranked number one missing well over half of the defense that won them all those games.
on the other hand their offense should be better…..but so should AU’s.
You know even the Oregon homer didn’t put the ducks higher than 10th.
1 week before kickoff and they still don’t have a clear starter at QB.
Drop the ducks in behind Texas and I’d say you’ve got a solid top 10.
Dump ND and insert Washington and your top 15 looks better.
They don’t need a clear starter at QB, because whoever Kelly settles on will light things up regardless. Plus he’s got plenty of time to settle on one–they open with New Mexico and assuming Tennessee’s as cruddy as I expect them to be, won’t play anyone with a pulse until they host Stanford Oct. 2. They won’t be an underdog until they go to USC at the end of October. They’ll drop at least one of the three tough late-season roadies (at USC, Cal, and Oregon St.), sure, but I don’t see anyone beating them outside of conference or at Autzen, and I think they’re going to the Rose Bowl. No. 4 is about right for that kind of season.
I’ve no problem with fitting Washington in somewhere, but top 15 is too high for a coach with no track record other than last season and a program that went winless two years ago. The Huskies are the Pac-10’s Mississippi St. at the moment, and no one’s suggesting MSU be in the top 15.