- Others receiving votes: Arizona State 158, West Virginia 149, Utah 50, Miami (FL) 49, Iowa 41, Northwestern 30, Arizona 28, UCF 22, Michigan 19, Air Force 15, North Carolina 14, Houston 13, South Florida 9, Hawaii 8, Clemson 7, Tennessee 7, Southern Miss 6, Brigham Young 5, North Carolina State 4, NORTHERNIL 4, Oregon State 4, Pittsburgh 3, Washington 3, Nevada 1, Georgia Tech 1,
-Florida State at 5. Really? A team that got BLASTED at Oklahoma, lost at freaking North Carolina State, lost at home to a depleted North Carolina and got lit up by Tyrod Taylor and Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game is the fifth best team in the country? There's no doubting they're loaded with talent, but what if Marcus Lattimore wasn't knocked out of the first drive of the Chick Fil A Bowl and South Carolina wins? Are the Noles # 5 in this poll? Of course they're not. Are the Gamecocks as low as # 12? Of course they're not. Aside from the fact that bowl games are so frequently coin tosses (who reacts to the weeks off better, who's more motivated to be there, etc.), why are the Noles apparently getting so much credit for a 9 point win over an opponent without its best player? It's not just that though - Florida State is a brand name and beyond that, they're the favorite to win the ACC for the first time since 2006. They're a great team and should have a terrific season but to objectively put them this high in the preseason is asinine. One final thought - I saw these guys in person last November when our ACC title hopes were on the line. They handled us...but at no point did I think I was seeing anything resembling a top 10 team - and that's when they had Christian Ponder at QB.
-Penn State at 25. Really? A 7-6 team with a feeble offense that loses the school's all time leading rusher is ranked? How are they above a Utah team that went 10-3, losing only to Boise State (with no Jordan Wynn), TCU and Notre Dame (when not focused after the TCU loss) and returns Wynn as well as most of the rest of its offense, which brings in Norm Chow as its new coordinator for good measure? Brand name, brand name, brand name. But forget about Utah. How about looking within the Nittany Lions own conference? Iowa went 8-5, ripped PSU 24-3, throttled then-unbeaten Michigan State 37-6 and capped the season with a stunning upset of # 12 Missouri in the Insight Bowl (as opposed to the Nittany Lions getting handled 37-24 by an unranked Florida in the Capital One Bowl.) If you're gonna count bowl games like the pollsters apparently did with FSU/SC, why give Penn State a pass on their turnover-filled performance in theirs? I guess it's because their win over Temple was one of many victories they had over teams who won at least 8 games. Whoops, it was their only one.
-Arkansas at 14. Okay, great. Tyler Wilson ripped apart an atrocious Auburn secondary (apart from two interceptions) when Ryan Mallett got hurt. Suddenly, that makes him good enough to step in for by FAR the best quarterback in Razorback history? This is going to sound unfair considering the "brand name" argument I've been making...but Mallett took Arkansas to its highest heights since it joined the SEC. Not even Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis could take the Hogs to a BCS bowl, but Mallett did. Here's the problem: the year after those three left, Arkansas went 5-7. Fine, that won't happen again but this program isn't a power - it can't just overcome a loss like Mallett (and D.J. Williams) right away. Wilson's unproven, this program is unproven in the aftermath of one of its best players in school history and 14's just too high. Some of the teams right below the Hogs should absolutely be above them but we'll get to that tomorrow :)
-Auburn at 19. They're the lowest a mythical national champion has been ranked in the preseason USA Today poll...and they're not low enough. Six starters return. Not on offense or defense - six starters total. Neither Cam Newton nor Nick Fairley are among that six and we still have no idea if Gene Chizik can actually coach. Yes, Gus Malzahn's an offensive genius - maybe one of the best offensive minds of our generation - and it's a minor miracle no one (SUCH AS MARYLAND) has hired him away to be a head coach...but there's just not a lot to work with on offense right now besides the running game. Michael Dyer and Ontario McCalebb are both studs but the offensive line is pretty much completely green, as is the passing game. The defense wasn't even that great last year - and the pass defense was atrocious - and it too is being completely revamped. Even special teams are breaking in new starters! Mississippi State, who they beat by 3 early in the season before the Bulldogs started to gel, should no doubt be above them at the very least.
-Georgia at 22. I'm a sucker for the Dawgs. I always am. Not sure why. Maybe it's because everyone else usually underrates them and they very easily get lost in the SEC shuffle since they're the one "superpower" that hasn't won a MNC in the BCS era (yes, Tennessee got the first one all the way back in 98.) But people don't realize that the 2002 team was absolutely loaded and got unlucky that (a) it choked in the Cocktail Party (like it usually does) and (b) they were the top one loss team in a year with two unbeatens (Miami and Ohio State.) But anyway, there's no defending this ranking. They went 6-7 last year. Not one of their wins was over a team that finished with a winning record. The last time they played, they scored 6 points in a 10-6 loss to UCF in the Liberty Bowl. And they return just 11 starters total, one of whom not being A.J. Green, who carried their offense for most of the season. I honestly want to know: what's the argument for this team being ranked? THEY FUCKING LOST TO COLORADO FOR GOD'S SAKE.
And with that inappropriate outburst, we'll cap this post. Check back tomorrow for the teams who are underrated in the "coaches" poll. Can you tell that I hate that I care so much about college football? Just wait until November and December.