Off Season Idiocy: Maize n Brew's Top 10 in June!

The only news of interest is Air Georgia getting a lot of looks from NBA teams (a 42 inch vertical will do that for you).

As there is absolutely nothing going on in the world of sports relevant to college athletics in June, all we truly have to talk about is rank speculation. Which is, of course, what the internets are for.

I figured now's as good a time as any to take a first look at the coming football season and make my first of many mistaken predictions.

Behold!

The Maize n Brew Easily Revocable June Top 10!

  1. USC - I know this will make Nestor's skin crawl, but on paper there isn't a better team talent or execution wise in the country. Despite being quieted in the first half of the Rose Bowl, USC's scoreboard warping offense put up 29 points in the second half against a fairly good Michigan defense. USC returns 10 starters on the defensive side of ball. Crank up the ESPN hype machine because these guys will be fun to watch. A tough road schedule stares them in the eyes, but unless criminal indictments or a massive outbreak of cholera strike the SC campus, USC should go undefeated this year.
  2. LSU - Despite the loss of Mike V and Hey-didn't-he-have-a-great-year-draft-him-first Jamarcus Russel, LSU is scary loaded. They also have a schedule tailor made for a MNC run. Every tough SEC game is at home (Sorry Nico, Saban or not, Bama's a year away) and if they can get past the aforementioned Tide in Tuscaloosa a Nov 23 showdown with Arkansas' Darren McFadden for a trip to the SEC title game. Now if their starting QB can only stay out of the bars....
  3. Texas - When Colt McCoy wasn't grimacing in pain on the K-State sidelines, he was pretty damn good as a freshman. The Horns are loaded at the skill positions, and the front 7 on defense. While the O-Line replaces 4 starters every one of the replacements has at least 6 starts. The weakness will be at the corners with a red-shirt freshman and a sophomore praying their senior safety help will clean up their mistakes. Still, with the offense Texas possesses mixed with the raw athleticism of their recruits and returning starters, this is MNC contender and my pick (right now) to win the Big 12.
  4. Oklahoma - When picking between a highly talented but inexperienced O-Line or a highly talented but inexperienced QB for a single season, I've gotta go with the O-Line. In addition, the loss of Adrian Peterson means no one is sure how the offense will really pan out until the new QB steps in. Losing your work horse and starting QB in one season is tough for any team, but OU has just about everyone else back. Despite some questions at Linebacker, this should be one of the best defenses in the country. On offense, OU's offensive line scares the bejeezus out of me. They are absolutely huge, have starting experience, and their backups could start for any team below the top 20. The Sooners could be excellent if their offense clicks, if not they'll still be really good.
  5. West Fuckin Virginia - The greatest show on turf returns in Pat White. Watching him play last year was like watching Troy Smith, except by myself. Somehow with all the Big Ten hoopla around Smith, his Morgantown clone (except with a MUCH bigger arm) went relatively unnoticed. Injuries may be the reason, playing at WFVU could be the other, but as a seasoned junior QB, expect big things this year. Coupled with Steve Slaton, a favorable schedule (is there any other kind in Morgantown?) and Rich Rodriguez' how-the-hell-do-you-defend-this offense the Mountaineers should win the Big East, just a hair in front of Louisville. WFVU looks strong across the board, but there are gaps on the flanks with only one returning legitimate wideout.
  6. Michigan - The defense got torched in its last two games after leading the world in rushing yards allowed and concussed PSU quarterbacks. The offense looked like it could score at will, but managed only 18 points against USC. However, two games does not a team or season break. Michigan's O-Line is the best unit in the Big Ten and Michigan is unmatched in the midwest at the skill positions. While Michigan's offense looks potent, below the surface there are questions. Michigan has no experience at QB after Chad Henne and two sophomores behind Mike Hart. After Manningham and Arrington (who is back!) there isn't a burner to keep defenses honest if either gets injured. The defensive backfield is a major question mark after being charred beyond recognition by Ohio State and USC. Even so, on paper this is the best team in the Big Ten. The defense will determine if Michigan plays in the MNC or in the Citrus Bowl.
  7. Florida State - With the departure of the worst offensive mind in college football and Jimbo Fisher's arrival in Tallahassee, the long dormant FSU offense will return to its glory days and start stomping MFers. Face it, if not for Jeff Bowden's "Let's invade Russia in the middle of winter" level incompetence, FSU would've been a MNC threat every year for the past five years on talent alone. Fisher worked wonders on Russell at LSU and I expect similar results from his tutelage of Weatherford. In addition, the return of college football's most glorious man breasts as "assistant HC/LB coach" makes this Seminole team either a disaster waiting to happen or an ACC beast ready to kill. Loads of returning beef on both lines means FSU will march on its very difficult schedule with the ability keep every game close. I'm betting the offense wakes up and FSU wins the ACC.
  8. Wisconsin - Yeah. Them. Even though they lost LT Joe Thomas and QB John Stocco, the only real loss was Thomas. Stocco sucked. Tyler Donovan who couldn't beat Stocco out takes over as a senior. Going from mediocre QB to mediocre QB with less experience does not turn this team into world beaters. That aside, this is a very good football team. The O-Line that help Freshman butterball PJ Hill rush for a how-in-the-hell 1569 yards and 15 TDs lost only one guy and is back basically intact. While the Badgers aren't explosive on the wings, they are effective and experienced with two senior wideouts and my pre-season all Big Ten TE Travis "Bend it Like" Beckum. The defense is solid but unspectacular in the sense that there isn't a "holy crap!" guy in the front 7. There is, however, physical, nasty, and bleeping good corner Jack Ikegwuonu. There are secondary holes at safety, but this is one tough team.
  9. Louisville - Those of you still waiting for the "Brian Brohm has arrived" party please raise your hands. I thought so. To be honest, watching Pat White and Brohm regularly on Thursday night ESPN I was more impressed with White. It doesn't change the fact Louisville is back almost totally intact and loaded for another Big East run. The loss of Michael Bush didn't kill Louisville's MNC chances like I though it would, but his absence and the presence of a bunch of overwhelmed freshmen in the back field was noticeable. This year the OLine is back and arguably better than last year and all those scared freshmen saw significant playing time in Bush's absence. Brohm with time is excellent, and this offense should provide him with plenty. On the other side, Louisville lost four of its top five tacklers to graduation (and lost 6 of the top 10). Like Michigan, Louisville's year will depend on whether their defense can stay out of the way of their offense.
  10. South Carolina - The Visor is ready to unleash hell on the unsuspecting SEC. The Gamecock's defense is back almost totally intact, losing 1 friggin starter. Combine that with Spurrier entering his fourth year in Columbia, South Carolina may finally be in a position to stand tall with the Big Boys of the SEC. The fun and gun returns three of its top four receivers, both top rushers and sports a maturing offensive line. The question is whether Blake Mitchell is ready to step up as the Cocks' QB. He'd better be. Highly rated Stephen Garcia is waiting in the wings to plug himself into Spurrier's "fuck it, I'm goin deep" offense. While the "ole ball coach" is facing a ridiculously tough schedule, he has proven over years of SEC play your homefield advantage means nothing. In 3 years at South Carolina he's 6-3 on the road. Be wary SEC, be wary.
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