Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Justify my thug - preseason picks

Since we, the blogpollers, have until Wednesday morning to submit our final ballots, we actually get to think about how we're voting. And, best of all, we can interact with other voters and the nonvoters who read our sites and have our opinions swayed, not relying on anecdotal evidence for our opinions but on people who actually paid attention to games we didn't watch! It's pretty brilliant.

Anyway, I'm hoping to become a little more disciplined in what I post here and when. One of the things I really want to do is to make sure that my Blogpoll ballot indicates what I think about the current week's rankings, with my readers' opinions taken into account. As such, I intend to post my weekly ballot some time on Monday, surf the college blogosphere on Monday and Tuesday to get other opinions while reading the comments here and any emails I might receive, and submit a polished ballot to the poll at large on Wednesday. Of course, the part of this equation that's missing is YOU. So, be sure to come around and tell me what I'm doing wrong! And right, if that's your thing.

So, here's the reasoning behind my preseason poll. Hope you like it.

1. Auburn
2. LSU

It's a universal truth that the SEC is the most irritating conference in football. Heavy on the football and light on the college, it's the conference that made cheating famous. With only Vanderbilt and, to an extent, Florida to prop up its academic reputation, this is a conference that lacks class and that I loathe like no other. But most of all, I just can't stand their SOUTHERN SPEED!!! Every December and January, the SEC is supposed to tear apart the plodding brontosauri of the Big Ten teams who come down south to play the unhealthy number of bowl matchups that the two conferences share. And every year, the two conferences seem to go .500 in these bowls. Last year, Florida's SOUTHERN SPEED beat Iowa. But the hapless Badgers, the sacrificial victims for those viciously speedy Auburn Tigers, somehow pulled out a two-touchdown victory, taking a knee at the Auburn 3 with the clock running down. Nothing ever changes. In 2004, Iowa beat LSU. Minnesota beat Alabama. The Badgers, as I remember it, didn't play in a bowl game.

But you get the point. It has been empirically proven in the past that the SEC is the most irritating conference in the land (data not shown) and this year college football is bound to annoy me. We have a new coach, a shaky secondary, and a brilliant quarterback -- who will be running for his life as his inexperienced offensive line breaks down in front of him and his inexperienced wide receivers can't shake their defenders.

So, there's your #1 and #2 teams: at the top because I'm destined to be personally picked on by the college football deities.

3. Ohio State
My real number one pick, the Big Ten's token SEC team returns Troy Smith, Ted Ginn, and a bunch of other well-compensated neanderthals. Are you concerned about their defense? Don't be; Diamond Jim Tressel will plug in the best linebacking corps and secondary that money can buy. The Buckeyes will average 30 points a game and will stomp opposing offenses with a better-than-advertised defense.

4. Texas
Everyone seems to like Texas, and I guess I don't have much trouble buying that. Their QB will not be Vince Young, which is unfortunate for them, but they return a lot of talented dudes and they're flush with recruits from the most football-heavy state in the union. They'll be in the conversation late into November.

5. Southern Cal
See my note on Texas, replace quarterback and Vince Young with your choice of positions and Matt Leinart/Reggie Bush/LenDale White, refrigerate two hours, serve with fresh guacamole.

6. Notre Dame
I really hate having them this high, but they're the best of the non-contenders. It will be enjoyable to demote them when consecutive losses to Georgia Tech, Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State cause Charlie Weis to wake up in a pool of his own ambergris.

7. West Virginia
In the interest of not having to repeat "I really hate having them this high," just prepend that statement to every team's summary until we get down to, say, #12. I would like to note that this high ranking does not reflect the fact that the Mountaineers' schedule is easier than an Ole Miss cheerleader (or the diction of her admissions essay). Rather, it stems from the absolute embarrassment that West Virginia put on Georgia during the 2006 Sugar Bowl. (The careful reader will note that this pretty much invalidates my pick of Auburn as a #1 team, but work with me). Their superstar tandem of White and Slaton will punish numerous subpar Big East defenses, and might just trounce some real teams before the season's over, too.

8. Miami (Florida)
Going out on a limb here and invoking the law of averages. After their 40-3 loss at the hands of LSU, the 'Canes will redeem themselves. This is possibly the flimsiest logic you'll see in this whole past. Possibly.

9. Iowa
Maybe it's my Badger bias, but I will not be calling Kirk Ferentz a genius, nor will I be calling Drew Tate a superstar. They just don't deserve those appellations. However, they do return a solid team, and they will challenge for the Big Ten crown.

10. Oklahoma
Losing Rhett Bomar is not as big a deal as it seems. The fact that he was able to throw ten picks and only ten touchdown passes and still the Sooners wound up with a 7-4 season and a bowl win over Oregon should tell you all you need to know about just how much of a placeholder QB this guy was. They won't do much worse than him, and they might actually make great strides without him there.

11. Georgia
They got smoked by WVU, but they almost won the game. After finding themselves in a 28-0 hole, the Dawgs lost by a mere three points. Joe Tereshinski III should be a fine leader, although no team ever wants to lose a Shockley.

12. Florida State
They're always pretty good, right?

13. Arizona State
My PAC-10 sleeper. Probably should be ranked lower given the fact that the the inmates may be running the asylum. Their defense will just plain suck, but their offense will light up everyone they face. I expect them to outscore almost everyone they face.

14. Penn State
This pick comes down to two questions: how good is Morelli, and will there be a sophomore slump? If the answers are "pretty darn good" and "not much of one, anyway," look out Big Ten.

15. Louisville
Brohm and Bush are impressive, no doubt. And Bobby Petrino is a sharp guy. But do you think they'd win head-to-head against Penn State? Or USC? Or LSU? If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, you need to take a week and just leave Kentucky, since the fumes from a certain baseball bat factory might be compromising your neurological health.

16. Nebraska
Last year's march toward adequacy will continue, and the giant that is Nebraska will awaken. Soon enough, everyone will be really annoyed with them again.

17. Michigan
Raise your hand if you honestly expect them to stay down. (OK, that's enough, you can put your hand down Enlightened Spartan. We see you.)

18. Cal
Moving solidly into guessing territory here. I know nothing of the Golden Bears except what others tell me.

19. Michigan State
If you keep saying, "This Will Be the Year!" every year, eventually you'll be right. Well, Spartan fans, This Will Be the Year! They'll rely on a PAC-10 caliber defense and JUCO transfers aplenty, but Drew Stanton will be the spark that ignites the dyn-o-mite Spartan offense. I am going to watch as many Spartan games as I can this year because I just love John L. Smith. I especially love that he's not my team's coach.

20. Florida
The Legend will not be satisfied with this low ranking. I expect them to climb. NB however that Chris Leak sucks.

21. Arkansas
I don't read Phil Steele, but lots of Blogpollers do, and they ranked Arkansas. They fit in with my "SEC exists to irritate the living hell out of me" theme, too, so I'll run with it.

22. Wisconsin
Hey, look, someone ranked the Badgers!

23. Georgia Tech
24. Tennessee
25. South Carolina

Well, I ranked the Badgers, and I still have three spots to go. Since I utterly refuse to include mid-major teams that don't need to be ranked, I decided to go for some middling southern teams. Sorry Northern Illinois, Fresno State, and UTEP. (Actually, I think the inclusion of Georgia Tech was based on the glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, they'll have what it takes to beat the Irish. Either justification works, though.)

So, that's the list. Enjoy, use the comments box to hammer me, and expect massive seismic activity here next week, after the teams above actually, you know, play.