Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bearcatmark's Preseason Top 25

Bearcatmark’s Preseason Top 25

I have agreed to submit a top 25 ballot every week for NCAAbbs. With a desire for openness in mind I am going to post my top 25 every week so I can get some feedback and scrutiny. If you believe there was a gross omission let me know (it is possible to forget someone unwillingly). If you disagree make an argument, I’d like to hear thoughts one way or the other.

For my preseason poll I really looked at last year's results and who each team has returning. I did not consider what they may do this season based on their schedule, nor what I think the poll will look like at the end of the season. My main criteria was this: if these two teams met head to head on a neutral field who would I pick to win. The team I would pick was ranked hire.

This will not be how I always conduct the poll. It will have more influence early in the season, but as I see more and more games and teams begin to prove themselves I will factor results in. To me late in the season what “I think” teams can do is less important than what teams did. So since I am a Bearcat fan let me use this example. If UC goes to Oklahoma and beats the Sooners and then later in the season beats WVU they will be rewarded for that. I may think both Oklahoma and WVU had off games and would bet on those teams on a neutral field, but I would use the actually results more so than my feeling on who would win. Beating good teams will weigh heavily in my poll.

With that in mind… here is my preseason top 25:

1. “One of the” Ohio State Universities… in the case the Columbus branch- I know everyone hates on Ohio State and I hope I am very very wrong about them, but they are good. Really good. The defense is going to be stacked. I know the last two National Title games makes them look bad and they have had some trouble against spread offenses, but this team is more experienced than anyone else in the country. They really do know how to win. Laurinaitis is the best defensive player in the country. On a neutral cite I would not bet against them this season. I think they are the most proven team out of the entire top 25. (I also think the LSU game was closer than the score indicated for what that is worth)
2. USC - Makes for a great matchup early in the season doesn’t it? They have so much talent. I just trust them more than the other teams.
3. Oklahoma- The WVU game from last year scares me a bit, but everyone looks dreadful against WVU's offense. They return 15 starters including a QB that was a freshman last season and will surely be even better this year in Sam Bradford. Their offensive line is as good as there is in the country.
4. Georgia- Great season last year and they return 17 starters this year. They seemingly have not been able to get over the hump in big games though. The thrashing they took from Tennessee last year scares me. I do not know that they are much better than Florida, LSU, or Auburn. Honestly I am just a little too skeptical of Georgia to put them any higher than 4 (still really high and they will have plenty of chances to prove me wrong).
5. West Virginia- It’s always a question when a new coach takes over, but their offense is second to none and I think they have enough back on defense to maintain their success.
6. Florida- I trust Urban Meyer. I love the offense, I think the defense is ready to step up this year.
7. Missouri- A ton of experience back from a team that was oh so close to playing for the National Championship last year.
8. Auburn- They are always tough defensively. They return 17 starters. The QB position is a question mark, especially in a new system that will be more dependent on QB play, however I think this is a sleeper National Title contender.
9. Texas Tech- 19 starters back, prolific offense, and they actually played defense last year.
10. LSU- Defending National Champs…they have enough talent to warrant top 10 consideration. There are, however, questions at the QB position. This makes 4 of the top 10 from the SEC and 3 for the Big 12. Those conferences are going to be very tough this season.
11. Virginia Tech- I like them more then Clemson. I think the offense will be better than last year, and the defense always seems to reload. There is a lot of talent in that secondary.
12. Arizona State- They were a tough one for me. They did not prove they could win away from home last season which is worrisome. In the end they return a bunch of talent and Erickson always seems to get a ton out of his players.
13. Cincinnati- They finished 17 last year. I think this is the best team UC has ever had. QB questions are the only thing holding me back from predictions of a top ten season. Their defense is as good as any and they have the weapons on offense to compete. Kevin Huber and Jake Rodgers should continue to force teams to drive the ball a long way through great punting and deep kickoffs.
14. Clemson- A lot of people love Clemson. They have never convinced me.
15. Wisconsin- Someone has to be number 2 in the Big 10.
16. South Florida- Doesn’t have the questions at QB that UC has, but doesn’t have the weapons on offense or special teams either. Their defense is really good, but I also think UC’s secondary is superior. Ultimately that’s why they are a few spots below the Bearcats.
17. Kansas- They’ll have a better schedule to be judged against this season.
18.Tennessee- They looked great in beating Georgia and awful in getting thrashed by Florida. I tend to be optimistic about Tennessee, but it is hard to put them any higher at this point.
19. Illinois- They lose a bunch of starters, but still have the talent to finish top 3 in the Big 10.
20. Texas- They have a ton of talent, but have an uphill battle in the loaded Big 12.
21. Oregon- As deep as the PAC ten was last season, I do not think it’s as good this year.
22. Wake Forest- Look out Clemson, I really think Wake Forest can win the ACC Atlantic.
23. BYU- I am not being very friendly to the non-BSC teams. I considered a few and am sure Fresno State, Utah, TCU, and East Carolina will have ample opportunity to put themselves in the top 25. Right now BYU is just the team I am most sure about.
24. Penn State- I think the Nittanys have a ton to prove and the talent to do it.
25. Rutgers- I like this Rutgers team more than most do. I think Pitt and Rutgers will do battle for 4th in the Big East. If I was ranking based on who would win on a Neutral cite I would give Rutgers the edge. Their biggest problem is they have to travel to WVU, Pitt, South Florida, and Cincinnati… ouch. They also have nonconference games against Fresno State and UNC. If Rutgers is going to be viewed as a top team this year they are really going to have to earn it.

Other teams considered but missing (In no order): Utah, Fresno State, UCF, ECU, Pitt, Boston College, UCLA, South Carolina and Michigan.

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