Tuesday, August 10, 2010

College Football Preview

Below you see the USA Today Coaches polls’ for the final rankings in College Football 2009, and this year’s pre-season rankings 2010. I’ve decided to tackle the rankings and give you my take on teams, as I break down the Top 10 teams. Teams 6-10 will follow Thursday.

USA Today Poll 2010                                                            USA Today Poll 2009
RK TEAM                                                                               RK TEAM RECORD


1 Alabama (55)                                                                     1 Alabama (58)      14-0
2 Ohio State (4)                                                                     2 Texas                13-1
3 Florida                                                                               3 Florida               13-1
4 Texas                                                                                 4 Boise State         14-0
5 Boise State                                                                         5 Ohio State          11-2
6 Virginia Tech                                                                      6 TCU                   12-1
7 TCU                                                                                   7 Iowa                   11-2
8 Oklahoma                                                                           8 Penn State         11-2
9 Nebraska                                                                            9 Cincinnati          12-1
10 Iowa                                                                                10 Virginia Tech     10-3
11 Oregon                                                                             11 Oregon             10-3
12 Wisconsin                                                                         12 Brigham Young   11-2
13 Miami (FL)                                                                       13 Georgia Tech     11-3
14 Penn State                                                                       14 Nebraska            10-4
15 Pittsburgh                                                                        15 Pittsburgh          10-3
16 LSU                                                                                  16 Wisconsin          10-3
17 Georgia Tech                                                                    17 LSU                   9-4
18 North Carolina                                                                  18 Utah                  10-3
19 Arkansas                                                                           19 Miami (FL)         9-4
20 Florida State                                                                     20 USC                   9-4
21 Georgia                                                                            21 Mississippi          9-4
22 Oregon State                                                                     22 West Virginia     9-4
23 Auburn                                                                              23 Texas Tech        9-4
24 Utah                                                                                 24 Central Michigan 12-2
24 West Virginia                                                                    25 Oklahoma State  9-4

Before I begin, real quick, I want to address the bottom half of the 2009 final rankings, from #14 on down. And yes, last year is over and done with, yada yada yada. Bear with me.

I don’t care who you lost to or who you beat, but any time you finish the season with a four-loss record, your team does not deserve to be ranked. Period. Your team sucked you cannot legitimately debate this. Claiming they belong in the Top 25 because your team has a lot of individually talented players, your school has a storied program and on paper you’re supposed to be really good (I’m talking to you LSU and USC) does not. Mean. Jack. ----. Because guess what: you went nine and FOUR. Your team lost four times. That is thirty-three percent of your games El Captain. Nine and four, by no means, equals a relevant football season.

There are exceptions to this rule however. Last season we saw an example, with a bunch of teams finishing the season with four losses, so naturally we had teams in the Top 25 with that kind of record. The problem is that these teams somehow managed a higher ranking than teams that had fewer losses. Below you’ll find the rankings as they are and as they should have been, because, well . . . I actually have a spine and everything.

BOGUS/LEGITIMATE

14 Nebraska 10-4/Pittsburgh 10-3
15 Pittsburgh 10-3/Wisconsin 10-3
16 Wisconsin 10-3/Central Michigan 12-2
17 LSU 9-4/Utah 10-3
18 Utah 10-3/Nebraska 10-4
19 Miami (FL) 9-4LSU 9-4
20 USC 9-4/Mississippi 9-4
21 Mississippi 9-4/Miami (FL) 9-4
22 West Virginia 9-4/West Virginia 9-4
23 Texas Tech 9-4/USC 9-4
24 Central Michigan 12-2/Texas Tech 9-4
25 Oklahoma State 9-4/Oklahoma State 9-4



On with the 2010 College Football Preview:

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE, SEC West
USA Today Rank: 1
My Rank: 1

The reigning National Champions took a hit on the defensive end, thanks to the NFL draft. Losing four players in first two rounds of the draft alone, Rolando McClain (ILB) will be missed the most. The 6-4 254 pound signal caller, was taken 8th overall by the Oakland Raiders. Look for touted recruit Petey Smith or junior linebacker Chavis Williams to fill this gap this season. Don’t worry, the Tide will basically reload—that kind of thing happens when you’re Alabama and your head coach is Nick Saban—plus they have the reigning Heisman Trophy winning running back returning. That oughta help. Starting quarterback Greg McElroy will also be back for another year. For those of you that do not know a ton about McElroy, he is really, really good . . . at handing the ball off to Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson.

OHIO STATE BUCKEYES, Big Ten
USA Today Rank: 2
My Rank: 2

I don’t like the Buckeyes. I always root against them. I hate the voting bias they receive in all the polls. Maybe it’s the way the fans carry themselves; almost as if it is an exclusive club that outsiders are not allowed to be a part of. Or the Buckeyes are God’s gift to college football. I can’t stand it. I will nonetheless give credit where credit is due. This year’s high pre-season ranking is deserving. This is the year of Terrell Pryor. Last year was supposed his year, but I wasn’t sold because I thought it was too early. Now, in year three, he has no room for excuses. His passing will be more accurate, more than people are expecting and naturally it will open up his ground game. Look for 2500 passing yards, and 900+ in the run game. The entire offense is returning. I hope they go 7-6. Not likely.

BOISE STATE BRONCOS, WAC
USA Today Rank: 5
My rank: 3

STOP THE HATING. The hatred is entering year five for those of you keeping score at home. A Top 5 ranking is really good, but come on now voters. The five spot? Really? For a team that went UNDEFEATED last season? A team that is returning EVERYBODY on both sides of the line? Did you know starting quarter back, Kellen Moore, was 10th in passing yards (3536), 2nd in passer rating (161.7), 2nd in touchdowns (39) and only threw THREE interceptions all of last year.

It should come as no surprise that the Broncos had the nation’s best scoring offense. And who wouldn’t with such a dominant O-line? The Boise State offensive line was last season, in a word: stout. Guess how many times his offensive line allowed Moore to get sacked. I’ll give you some hints:

25 times LESS than the revered Texas Longhorns offensive line
24 times LESS than the esteemed Florida Gators offensive line
17 times LESS than the illustrious Ohio State Buckeyes offensive line
13 times LESS than the National Champion Crimson Tide offensive line

The correct answer: Kellen Moore sacked 5 times all of last season and two of the quarterbacks from those teams were the best scramblers in football. I could go on pages about the Broncos. They’re not even my team. I just respect greatness and you know, possess the aforementioned spine. But whatever…

TEXAS LONGHORNS, Big 12 South
USA Today Rank: 4
My Rank: 4

The Longhorns lost four really big pieces in the off season. QB Colt McCoy, S Earl Thomas, OLD Sergio Kindle and WR Jordan Shipley. I’ve wondered “What might have been?” had McCoy, who won more games than any other quarter back in NCAA Division I football history (45), not been knocked out of the championship game. What’s done is done I suppose, either way, Garrett Gilbert was baptized by fire before millions of people seven months ago. This is how I remember it:

[Moments after McCoy heads to the locker room, with his throwing arm hanging lifelessly at his side, Mack Brown (played by Clint Eastwood) approaches Garrett Gilbert (played by Shia LeBouf). Wide shot of Brown slowing walking and stopping in front of Gilbert, who is sitting on the bench, takes a moment to pause; kicking an empty Styrofoam water cup].

[Close up of Brown] Brown: (apologetically) Well, son… McCoy is done. We don’t know how long. In sixty seconds, that whistle is going to blow and you’re gonna be responsible for bringing a National Championship to the great state of Texas.

[Close up of Gilbert nervously looking up from cleats; meeting eyes with Brown hesitantly. Medium shot, sideview, of Brown and Gilbert. Brown speaks]: It’s OK, you know the drills. The men are going to be looking to you for leadership. Trust your instincts. Don’t panic. You can do this, son.

[Close up of Gilbert, eyes completely glazed over like Kylie, the building supervisor Opossum on Fantastic Mr. Fox. Whistle blows, Gilbert, disconnected, slides his helmet on jogs on to the field trying to remember how to make his lungs inhale oxygen].

[As the play clock ticks down, Gilbert bends down to take the snap. Camera pans from the players on the field, Alabama clearly about to bring the entire house on top of Gilbert, to a close up Brown on the sideline, his eyes completely glazed over like Kylie, the building supervisor Opossum on Fantastic Mr. Fox].

And you know how the rest played out. It’s interesting to think, that Texas played that game without the university’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdown passes, handed the reins to a freshman quarter back, turned the ball over 5 times, and only lost the game by 16 points. Just saying. Look for Gilbert to do well with actual preparation for being the #1 guy. Look for Mack Brown to reload just like Nick Saban.

VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES, ACC Coastal
USA Today Rank: 6
My Rank: 5

Since 2004 the Virginia Tech Hokies have gone 10-3, 11-2, 10-3, 11-3, 10-4, and 10-3. This year I see them as a one-loss team, falling to Boise State in the season opener. 2009 introduced us to red shirt freshman Ryan Williams who totaled 1655 and 21 touchdowns. I don’t think teams will be able to contain him and their record will show it. Williams broke every single one of Tech’s single season rushing records, except for TD’s scored. That honor goes to Lee Suggs who scored 27 in 2000. All I’m going to say is that Williams is breaking records (school or national) and ankles this season. You read it here before it happened. I predict 2000+ yards and 23 scores. Maybe more. Mark Ingram and Toby Gerhart overshadowed Williams and the things he did in 2009. Not this year.

By the way, how did Gerhart not win the Heisman with 1871 yards and 27 TD’s—213 and 10 more than Ingram—goodness gracious! The fact that Gerhart is a white running back ought to give him a handicap of 500 yards and 5 scores.

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