As you all know, as baseball season winds down, I like to try to turn this board into as much of a college football forum as possible. Half the board's readers are ND alums/students, and a couple more have been fans for a long time. This year, we're getting an early start on things cause I'm so pissed at baseball right now.
Just missed: Oregon, Alabama, UTEP, Utah, BC
25. Arizona State
Rudy Carpenter had a great season filling in for an injured Sam Keller last season. So good that he was named starting QB this season, forcing Keller to transfer to Nebraska. You'll hear a lot of Carpenter to Zach Miller touchdowns this year.
24. Penn State
They've upgraded their team speed over the past few seasons, but that doesn't change the fact that their geriatric coach should have left several seasons ago. Yes, they finished 3 in the country last year, but they lost 15(!) fifth year seniors off that team. The 06 model simply won't be as strong.
23. South Carolina
Steve Spurrier is a talented college football coach, but he's more of a his system/players guy. This team could and will be a lot better in the next few years, but since the SEC is so f'in tough this year, they're down at the bottom of the pack for now.
I don't know anything about them, but they're supposed to be pretty good, so I have to put them somewhere.
A lot of people expect a lot of big things from Clemson this year, given the way that they finished last year. If Charlie Whitehurst were returning at quarterback, they'd probably be ranked higher, but it's tough to win without a proven signal caller in college football.
David Cutcliffe was supposed to be quarterbacks coach for Notre Dame before quadruple bypass surgery forced him to resign. David Cutcliffe coached both of the Mannings. Tennessee finally has some stability at QB with Ainge getting 100% of the snaps, and their defense should be strong again this year.
19. Texas Tech
Mike Leach's offense and Tech's terrible schedule will make Tech another mainstay in the top 25 this season.
Several people are a lot higher on this team than I am. They should dominate a Big East-like Big 12 north, but should get handled by both Texas and Oklahoma. May finish the season 10-3, but they'll be the worst 10 win team in division 1-A.
17. Virginia Tech
This team could easily be ranked higher, but without a reliable quarterback for the moment, the Hokies' defense and dominant special teams will only carry them so far.
I expect big things from Iowa this year. They've gotten off to slow starts in the past couple years, but traditionally make a push late in the big ten season. Kirk Ferentz has repeatedly shown he has the ability to be coaching on Sundays, and he'll need to coach like that to pull off the upset we all want to see Sept. 30 at home.
15. Florida St.
Been overrated in preseason polls for several years. Fuck that. I am not impressed by Drew Weatherford, and frankly - Calrson, I'm sure you'll agree - the Seminoles haven't been the same since Mark Richt left town.
Speaking of Richt, Georgia clocks in at #14, for two reasons: We all know how I feel about teams with first year starters, and the SEC is going to be SO blasted tough. Again. That being said, Quentin Moses may be my favorite player not on Notre Dame. He's my early pick for player I gush over like Mario Williams hoping Green Bay picks him in the draft.
My hate for unproven quarterbacks continues. This team is top 3 with Rhett 'Russ Darrow' Bomar, but sucks balls with Paul Thompson (see: last year's start). Adrian Peterson is a close second on the Quentin Moses list above. 13 too low? Paul Thompson sucks.
I'm scared shitless of Michigan. They are traditionally overrated in preseason polls, akin to FSU, but they return a
This regularly scheduled poll is interrupted to bring you this, from Tuesday morning's cold pizza
host: Should Frank Thomas be a hall of famer?
T.Bub and $: Yes
Skip Braynless: NOOOOO WAAAY! He was the clubhouse T.O. for those White Sox.
T.Bub has broken his computer in a fit of rage. He just called Donte Stallworth better than Terrell Owens, too. Please hold while I fetch another porn bot to finish my poll.
great offense, including Chad Henne, Mike Hart, and Mario Manningham. While Lloyd Carr should find a way to screw things up, he may feel that open flame under his ass and surprise a few people this year.
I'm not a fan of the quarterback controversy (I think JaMarcus Russell is the best fit here, plus he beat out Quinn for the Heisman in my first season on NCAA 2007). I think Les Miles is a better coach than he is given credit for. They may be the second most talented SEC team, including the league's strongest defense, but their road schedule (@ Auburn, Tennessee, and Florida) will make it hard for them to make a legitimate NC run.
Did you see these fuckers in the Peach Bowl? The seventh floor crew clearly had no interest in being there. However, they may be the most talented team in the country that didn't play in the Rose Bowl last year. I just find it hard to believe that the team will succeed without #1 wideout Ryan Moore, suspended indefinitely for violating a team rule (starting runningback Tyrone Moss was suspended for the first game against Florida St. for a similar violation). Will Larry Coker pull in the reins on this mess in Coral Gables? Tough to tell. Miami looks strong, and his skeletor-lookin-like ass is surprisingly on the hot seat, but they've underachieved since Ken Dorsey Left town.
9. West Virginia
You probably won't find West Virgina much lower anywhere else. I'll begin justifying why I have them this low. 1. Everybody else has them ranked highly because of their schedule. 2. Outside of Pat White and Steve Slanton, name me another Mountaineer. 3. Their defense is overrated as it feasted on shitty talent most of last year (see their performance against a real offense in the Sugar Bowl last year). 4. I think Rich Rodriguez is a douche. 5. They're going to lose on the road to
Bobby Petrino may be a bit of a WOP prick, but he's not even the biggest one coaching at Louisville. He is, to be sure, a tremendous offensive genius. His offenses consistently put up buttloads of points, and he has two Heisman contenders in his backfield. Brian Brohm is one of the five best quarterbacks in the country, and would probably be #2 had he not f-ed up his knee last season. Michael Bush also used to be a quarterback, now he's just a behemoth runningback with good speed that will run over a lot of teams. They play WVU at home and I expect them to win. They also have Miami at home, which should be one of the best games this year.
Urban Meyer is another clear offensive guru, but yet to be determined is the degree of success he'll experience in the SEC with the spread offense, especially with Chris Leak at the helm. SEC defense are much quicker than anything he saw in the WAC or MAC, and, frankly, Leak is slower than anything he had coaching Utah or Bowling Green. Alumni may call for true freshman Tim Tebow early if Leak's struggles continue. One thing's for certain, Ron Zook didn't leave the cupboard bare in Gainesville. Talent on both sides of the ball, including a Gator defense featuring 9 upper classmen. Meyer's second year magic (9-3 BG, 12-0 Utah) may be a factor at Florida, but so will their BRUTAL schedule (Alabama, LSU, @UT, @ Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina, @FSU). Holy shit, they may be bumped down in a post-posting edit.
5. (Tie) USC
They lost Bush, Leinart, White, and most of the O-Line, but they've brought in top 2 recruiting classes for the last 5 years, so they should reload nicely. John David Booty will fill in at quarterback and was a top flight recruit out of high school. However, he came from Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, which has produced such overrated #1 QB prospects as Brock Berlin. The offense will be reloaded and will demonstrate raw talent, but the absence of Norm Chow will be particularly evident this season in LA. The defense is going to have to carry this team. There is speed and talent all over the place on this defense, highlighted by junior linebacker Keith Rivers. They again have a favorable Pac-10 schedule, but one that features matchups against two other top ten teams. Loads of talent + unproven quarterback = #6 ranking.
5. (Tie) Cal
Jeff Tedford is mind-bogglingly awesome as a quarterback developer at the collegiate level. He has repeatedly pulled the wool over NFL gm's eyes with regards to the talent of his quarterbacks (Aaron Rogers, Joey Harrington, Trent Dilfer, Kyle Boller). Nate Longshore should be the next in line. He lost most of last season to a broken leg, but should step in and follow the Jeff Tedford recipe for success - a mechanical breakdown of reads and exactly which receiver to throw to in which scenario. As always in a Tedford offense, there will be little improvisation by the quarterback. Meanwhile, Marshawn Lynch will have a great season and receive some Heisman pub, but as his name is not Brady Quinn, he will probably not win the award. While the offense will get a lot of name-recognition, the defense will carry this team. Brandon Memane, Nu'u Tafisi, Desmond Bishop, Daymeion Hughes, and Tim Mixon are all seniors that should get AA consideration on defense. Two toughest games this year are on the road, but this team has the right combination to have a legitimate national championship shot.
They are probably the most talented team in the country, but I have to stay consistent with my punishment of other teams in the top 25: Texas will be starting a redshirt freshman at quarterback (Colt McCoy) and I can't justify ranking them #1. Not to mention, the quarterback that left Texas meant much more to his team than any of the other quarterbacks creating top 25 vacancies this year. Would Texas have won the Rose bowl last year without Vince Young? No. Would they have even played in the rose bowl? Probably not. Are they the #1 team in the country this year without him? Not at all. Look, this defense is going to be dominating, again, but you just can't win with an inexperienced quarterback, especially with a week two matchup against
3. Ohio State
But the Bub, everybody else has OSU ranked #1. I mean, everybody. You must be on drugs. My answer: they're all on drugs. THEY LOST NINE MOTHERFUCKING STARTERS ON DEFENSE FROM LAST YEAR. They lost two other first round offensive players last year. Teams that lose that much talent to the NFL draft NEVER IMPROVE on their previous season. It does not happen. Troy Smith is phenomenal, and may even be the #2 Heisman contender now that Rhett Darrow is at Sam Houston St. Jim Tressel has shown a dominant strategy for winning football games in college, including a consistenly strong defense, but, I repeat, THEY LOST NINE MOTHERFUCKING STARTERS ON DEENSE FROM LAST YEAR. And #1 receiver santonio Holmes. And all world center Nick Mangold. I still believe they will beat Texas because Colt McCoy won't be ready for a major college defense yet. Look back to #16. I make a reference to an upset that we all want to see on Sept 30. That is when the Buckeyes travel to Iowa City to play the Hawkeyes. Provided Notre Dame can make it through their first five (I'll explain why that's going to happen shortly), and that Colt McCoy is going to be as green as I expect, a Hawkeye win would light up the #1 atop Grace Hall, likely remaining that way until nov 25th, if it goes out at all. 9 starters, expect at least two losses, but I don't want to look like a wacko ranking them any lower.
Would be ranked #1 no question if they did not play in the SEC. Kenny Irons is a top five back (along with Peterson, Bush, Lynch, and Slanton) and Brandon Cox Showed all the ability in the world to lead this offense last season. The defense should be one of the five best units in the country (perhaps second to only Cal). This team improved with every game last season, and will come out to start this season with a fire in their bellies after dropping the capital one bowl to wisconsin last year. All tough SEC games are at home (LSU, Florida, Georgia), but the Iron bowl will be in Tuscaloosa this year. If any SEC team has a chance to go undefeated this season, Auburn is the team.
1. Notre Dame
Ok, call me a homer
BCS Readers: Bub, you're a homer!
Brewcitybub: Yeah? Well fuck you!
Notre dame will feature the #1 offense this year, mark it down. Returning 3.5 of 5 starters on the o-line (there was a four man rotation on the interior of the line, so dan stevenson is only a half a loss), and the line will feature 6-8 behemoth Sam Young, who will be the first true freshman to start his first game on the o-line in nd history (I think). They lost Maurice Stovall to the draft, but will have Rhema McKnight filling in, who was the #1 receiver in 03, 04 and heading into last season, but was injured in the Michigan game and receivd a medical redshirt for 06. By all accounts, McKnight has been extraordinary thus far in practice and is a very clear #2 behind Samardzija. Speaking of the Shark, stupid teams will double team him, so expect pedestrian numbers early, but as soon as McKnight proves that he demands more than single coverage, expect All-American numbers from this Cubs fireballer.
Everybody looking for a hole in the 06 squad can point to this defense and their poor performance in the Fiesta Bowl. However, unlike Ohio State, this unit RETURNS 9 starters, including all of the d-line and secondary. Maruice Crum returns to anchor the linebackers, and Travis Thomas has converted from runningback to linebacker. Mike Richardson is (unfortunately) back as the #2 corner, but fresmen Darrin Walls and Raeshon McNeil have tremendous speed and should press for playing time early. Speaking of speed, that is the huge knock all media outlets point to when disregarding the Irish. Coach Weis has consistently pointed to an improvement in team speed that will only be visible when the Irish take the field. We will see if he's correct on Sept. 2 when the Irish play Georgia Tech, but I, for one, believe him. Much like a pre-Lee trade Doug Melvin, Charlie Weis has not steered me wrong before, so until he does, I believe everything he tells me about his football team.
The schedule features a tough slate early: Ga. Tech, Penn St., Michigan, and MSU, but is soft until USC at the end of the year. I don't believe Georgia Tech will be as difficult as most prognosticate, especially given the dismantling Notre Dame performed in Pittsburgh for last year's opener. In fact, I'll be featuring this in my betting lines this weekend. Penn State makes their first trip to South Bend since 1992's Snow Bowl, one of the five best ND games this Bub has ever watched. However, as I pointed out before, PSU lost 15 5th year seniors, and the only player that truly scares me is Paul Posluszny, who is coming off a serious knee injury. Then, we get to Michigan. They return a lot of talent. Lloyd Carr is on the hot seat. They're upset that we beat them last year in Ann Arbor. And they still can't win road openers. They've lost their last five under Lloyd Carr, and none of those five teams has been even remotely as talented as Notre Dame. The game will be close, certainly, but expect an Irish victory. Then there's Michigan State. They've won somehting stupid like 8 of 10 against Notre Dame, which is astounding cause I don't know that they're 8-2 against Illinois or Indiana. They've got ND's number. However, the Irish are fuming that they lost that game last year and want to prove that they're better than the team that lost 44-41 in OT last year. The next 7 games should feature ND as double-digit favorites. And on nov. 25th, Notre Dame travels To Los Angeles.
If this game were in South Bend in Mid-october instead of at the end of the season in LA, I would book my flight for Phoenix tomorrow. Notre Dame stands a better chance of winning this game at home, and still has a shot at #2 in the BCS with a mid season loss. If they lose to USC, their season is over. Their last two trips to the Colliseum have resulted in 31 point losses, but this game reminds me of a monkey-off-their-backs game like the 2000 game was. For those that don't recall, notre dame traveled to Southern Cal with Bowl Alliance/BCS berths on the line in 96 and 98 and could not get the job done, but the third time was the charm as they dismantled the Trojans in 2000. While the 04 Irish had no such aspirations, the 02 team certainly did, and I envision this team coming in looking to finally beat their nemesis and prove they belong on the same field. They can still feel the salt in their wounds from the Bush push last season. Charlie Weis had the perfect game plan to win the game on oct 15 05, and were one perfectly placed pass away from doing so. Expect this team to be 100% mentally prepared to win, and the game plan to be perfect. They still don't have the same talent as the Trojans, but IF they show up like they did against USC last year, expect a victory and a trip to the BCS championship game to face Auburn.
Coming soon: My 3 picks for the weekend.