Monday, June 19, 2006

Preseason Round Table

Via Bruce Ciskie's blog, a quality site.

Which preseason college football magazine is your favorite?

Honestly, I'm still in baseball mode this time of year. (Keep that in mind as you read the rest of my answers.)

SMQ has been doing an oustanding job. That blog is good enough for me as far as previews go. But if I had to pick a magazine, I'd try Phil Steele. Obscure abbreviations and a "unique" stat-packed writing style seem right up my alley.

What team is being supremely overrated in the preseason rankings?

I could play devil's advocate and pick Notre Dame here. Close analysis of last season shows Charlie Weis is still learning on the job: The offense couldn't put up big numbers against Michigan, Michigan State upset them in the home opener, and sloppy play in the second half of the season led to a disappointing Fiesta Bowl loss. But the schedule this year favors a top 10 finish. (Of course, last year's schedule looked like an 0-6 start to some, so we'll have to wait and see.)

Most of the traditional powerhouses of the last 5-10 years are overrated. Michigan seems about right at 10 or 11, as does Nebraska in the bottom five. But placing Miami in the top 10 and Tennessee in the top 15 is a bit too much. Tennessee's defense is solid, but Ainge has yet to perform up to lofty expectations. If you put Oklahoma in your top 3, it just looks like you're trying to justify overhyping Adrian Peterson over the past two years.

Everyone seems to be pretty high on Clemson. I haven't watched them much over the past few years, so for the time being I'm going to assume their rankings are justified.

West Virginia's soft schedule may give them a good record, but does a final ranking of #6 mean they're better than all but five teams in the country? I suppose that's an argument for another day.

Turn the tables. Who is underrated?

I'm going to go with three teams who have been atop the SEC as of late: Auburn, Georgia, and LSU. All three have managed to stay consistent, even immediately after losing key players to the NFL. Ironically, what's inconsistent is the polls' opinions of these three teams. Steele has Auburn at #2 and Rivals has LSU at #4, but other than that the opinion of these three teams isn't incredibly high.

Which conference will be the best in 2006?

As a blogger following an Independent team, I'm going to stay out of this one.

Which "non-BCS" conference will be the best in 2006?

This would be a perfect time to show love to the MAC (it's MAC-tastic!), but that conference is in a down period right now.

Top to bottom, I'd have to go with the Mountain West. The WAC has a good argument with Boise State (Boise isn't a state) and Fresno State (neither is Fresno). There are a few other teams who could make a decent showing if they wanted to. But then there are perennial homecoming opponents like Idaho and Louisiana Tech. The Mountain West is led by TCU, with BYU and Utah on the rise. Colorado State always turns in a decent showing, and San Diego State is bound to beat a Big Ten opponent one of these days.

Which non-BCS conference team will have the best season?

I want to see Navy do well this season, and I think they can. However, it will be interesting to see how the quarterback position plays itself out.

But what would preseason predictions be without a blatant contradiction or two? I just said the Mountain West would be a tough conference. Now I'm going to tell you that TCU is also going to have a great season.

Let's get your first read on this one...who will win the H*i*m*n? Oh, by the way, players whose last names begin with the letter "Q" are ineligible.

Well, that saves me the trouble of checking on Dan Quisenberry, Jr. status.

CFR put together a good list of players who fit Heismandment 7. That's a good place to start. Names that jump out for me:
  • Chauncey Washington - USC is still USC, and Washington does have experience in that offense.
  • Adrian Peterson - If only to satisfy the hype machine. Of course, if he averages 200+ yards a game, that's not just hype.
  • Troy Smith - If the Bucks are undefeated come the end of the season, will some voters feel that giving Smith the Heisman somehow makes up for the Vince Young "situation" last year? (I'm not implying Young deserved the Heisman over Reggie Bush, or that Smith and Young should be in any way connected. I'm just wondering aloud if some voters would think that way.)