A First Glance at the Maize n Ballot for 2007
This poll isn’t that different from my initial Pre-Season Top 10 drafted by in June. Personally, I think the top six make a lot of sense. I’m curious to see what people think about this.
One thing that I try to hold firm to in my predictions of Conferences and Polls is the postulate that a new starting QB will kill your National Championship hopes. Maybe Matt Leinart is an exception (wasn’t he a junior when he took over?) but I’m having trouble finding another (and no Orson, Tebow doesn’t count). A newbie under center is bad new unless there are three major balances present on the team: 1) Excellent Head Coach; 2) Veteran offensive line; and perhaps most importantly 3) Unicron on defense.
Ohio State’s 2002 Defense (at left) Seen Here Against Miami in the National Championship Game
Oklahoma certainly fits this description and it’s arguable that LSU does as well. You might even be able to argue this with Wisconsin it you wanted to, but I think that’s more of a stretch based on their game against Michigan last year when a very veteran line got sliced to pieces by Michigan’s front four. Wisconsin is very good this year, but the schedule is tougher with better defenses on the schedule, so I’ll reserve judgment.
Of the teams listed outside the top ten that I feel have the best chance of moving up, UCLA tops my list. The Bruins return far too many talented starters on both sides of the ball for a repeat of last year. Other teams to be wary of are Virginia Tech, Cal, Georgia, and Arkansas.
I do have some reservations about having both Texas and Oklahoma in my top five. They do, after all, play one another and there’s no way they end up like this later in the year. That being said, I believe they are two of the top five teams in the country and could likely beat any team below them.
The obvious question on this particular ballot (based on my allegiances) is whether West Virginia top Michigan on a neutral field. The two teams are 5 and 6 on my ballot, and my homer biases tell me Michigan should be ranked ahead of the Mountaineers. My brain says otherwise. After watching Troy Smith and OSU’s stable of talented running backs torch the Michigan defense, I don’t believe for a second this incarnation would keep Pat White and Steve Slaton under 30 points. Could WVU keep Michigan under thirty? I don’t think so, but I’ve got more faith in the WVU defense (on paper at least) than the Michigan defense at this point in the off season. It’d be a shootout, but right now I’d have to take WVU heads up.
Scares the hell out of me, yet makes me all tingly…
On to the rest of the Poll. There are several places where I’m going to look like an idiot.
No. 2 LSU - Everyone is pretty high on the Bayou Bengals this year. For good reason. The defense is stellar, the offense (save a new QB) is fairly experienced, and LSU is overflowing with talent. Even so, this team just reeks problems down the line. A brand new signal caller under center and running mouth of Les Miles could be serious stumbling blocks for the Tigers this year. Throw in a trip to Blacksburg along with a brutal SEC schedule and you wonder what’s gonna happen. That aside, good God, they may be the most talented team in the country not named Southern California. I’m inclined to drop them a slot or two based on the new QB theory, but I'm honestly not sure about it.
No. 4 Oklahoma - Just like LSU. Talent spilling out the windows, a defense that can carry the team, and a schedule that has Miami (FL) along with three creampuffs. Just like LSU, Oklahoma is breaking in a new QB. Oklahoma was stacked last year and had to replace their quarterback. It’s the same thing this year, except the replacement should be better. The big issue is how the Sooners will deal with the departure of All-World running back Adrian Peterson, because you can’t just replace a guy like him. Again the inclination is to drop them a spot or two, but nothing more.
No. 7 Florida State - Laugh all you want. I think FSU will be really bleeping good this year. As John L Smith so capably pointed out in East Lansing, incompetence on the sideline costs you games. The departure of Jeff Bowden and his replacement with LSU’s former OC is a HUGE deal. The caveat? Who knows how this team will perform. Bowden’s been around long enough to get a much better and consistent performance out of his teams than he got last year. Maybe he’s on the down slope. Who knows. I got burned by picking FSU and Miami high last year and I still haven’t learned my lesson. Talent wise this is as good a team as any in the conference or in the State of Florida. Bowden’s decision to relinquish some dead weight and bring in capable personnel to mold this talent will pay huge dividends.
No. 10 South Carolina - Oh momma, am I out on a limb on this one. Or am I? Superior is finally starting to get some talent in to his fun and gun system and with a third year QB, a talented running back and a killer defensive front, the SEC should be really, really scared. With the exception of the 18-0 loss to Georgia, all of the Cocks losses were by a touchdown or less. If not for the "hand of fate" (otherwise known as Jarvis Moss), South Carolina beats Florida at Gainesville. The Achilles heel, much like with Georgia, is a paper thin line that did not look good in the spring or so far in the fall. However, if the O-line come together, I could look really, really smart. Nahhh… never happen.
This Failed Prediction Brought to You By Jarvis Moss, Destroyer of Dreams and Troy Smith
Aren’t You Forgetting Someone? - Yeah. Kinda. Rutgers and Miami need to be in there somewhere. Illinois was put in there for giggles, they just keep getting better. There will be assertions that I’ve got K-State too high, but I did pick them to win the Big XII North. Speaking of too high, Florida at 13? Am I high, or do they deserve to be there? A&M and Bama are question marks for me, but I think they belong. Two teams I left out that could be excellent are BYU and their conference mate TCU. Who knows.
I know I sure as hell don’t. Help!