- 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,
-Boise State at 7. Here we go again. Because Kyle Brotzman missed two kicks, a team that went 12-1 and returns 16 starters, including Heisman candidate (again) Kellen Moore and RB Doug Martin has to fight and scrap for even an iota of respect again. I'm not going to rant about this. But if you objectively compare this team to Florida State, there's no rational argument for this team being below the Noles. There just isn't. But Boise haters are like Tea Partiers - it doesn't matter what you say to them, they're set in their beliefs and won't change them no matter what. And the worst part is that a couple of spots in the polls could mean all the difference for the Broncos because of how this broken system is set up and how people will always continue to feel about them because of the conference they play in - or, more accurately, the one(s) it doesn't.
-TCU at 15. Here are some facts people don't realize. TCU is 25-1 in the past two years and 36-3 over the past three. The program has SEVEN double digit win seasons this past decade and that's not counting going 10-2 in 2000. It remains the last team to beat Oklahoma in Oklahoma Memorial Stadium - all the way back in 2005. And no one can use the Boise argument - since 05, TCU's been dealing with Utah and BYU in the Mountain West (and now it'll be dealing with Boise) and prior to that, it was in Conference USA with the red hot Louisville program that eventually jumped ship to the Big East. This is a true powerhouse. And now apparently, people think that because Andy Dalton's gone, this isn't an elite team anymore. Tank Carder returns to anchor the defense, which will dominate like pretty much every TCU defense in recent memory has. Imagine where Auburn would be ranked if Nick Fairley were back? There will be turnover on offense with Dalton and most of the line gone but there are plenty of running backs and receivers back. This is still a team that belongs far higher than 15.
-Notre Dame at 18. Michael Floyd's officially back on the team and now it's game on. To be fair, many if not all ballots were submitted when his status was in limbo but the reports have said he was likely going to play this year. Regardless, this is FAR too low for a team that brings back 17 of 22 starters, including Floyd and QB Dayne Crist. If those two stay healthy - a very, very big if - the Irish should make a run at the BCS. Floyd's the best receiver outside the Big 12 and possibly the best in the country. Manti Te'o is one of the best linebackers in the country. And Brian Kelly is a fantastic coach who was able to keep the team not only playing hard, but kicked it in to stride after the Declan Sullivan and Elizabeth Seeberg tragedies. Say what you will about how Kelly and the university handled themselves, but the Irish finally started to play up to their potential in the final four games. And let's not forget that their first two losses were because of a Denard Robinson Heisman performance and a fake field goal in overtime. The team lost focus during the Navy and Tulsa debacles but regained it in the last month of 2010 and now this year's team looks primed for a huge year. They should be in the top 15.
-Arizona State, unranked. If Texas can get ranked without making a bowl, why can't ASU? The Sun Devils actually won 6 games but two were against FCS teams. A cynic would say that two more were against Washington State and 4-8 UCLA but the counter to that is easy: of the 6 losses, two were by a point (@Wisconsin and @USC), one was by a field goal (@Oregon State), one was by four (Stanford) and one was by 11 (Oregon.) The only truly bad performance was a 50-17 meltdown at Cal but the Sun Devils were a tough-luck squad last season that showed considerable ability in pulling off nice road wins at Washington and rival Arizona and went 15 rounds with super heavyweights Wisconsin, Oregon and Stanford. They return 8 starters on offense, 7 on D and those don't include Brock Oswiler, a 6'8, 235 lb. junior who made the attack rock at the end of last season. This is one of those "it" teams that may (Arkansas last year) or may not (Ole Miss two years ago) work out but the truth, is that they're the top team on paper in the new Pac-12 South and they should at least be ranked.
-Wisconsin at 10. I like Texas A&M and I really like Oklahoma State. But there's no way the Badgers should be below either. This is another program that has become a powerhouse without a lot of people realizing it, having won double digit games in four out of the last six seasons. And over the second half of last season, no one had a better offense. The Badgers hung 83 on Indiana, 70 on Northwestern and at least 31 on everyone from October 9 until the end of the season. TCU's otherworldly defense shut them down in the Rose Bowl but they still only lost by the margin of a failed two point conversion at the end. They return 6 starters on each side of the ball and the loss of Scott Tolzien might be more than marginalized by the addition of Russell Wilson. Wilson, the only reason N.C. State was remotely respectable over the past few years, transferred out of the program like any sane human with considerable football talent would and now he's in Madison. Owner of the record for most consecutive passes without an interception (389), he'll fit right in to the ball control offense. They're closer to the top 5 than the teens, realistically.