5 Up, 5 Down - 5 most overrated teams  

Posted by Walter

The 5 Most Overrated Teams in America

#5 - Oregon (preseason #20 in coaches poll)

In a nutshell, the Ducks lost too many good players and play too many good teams (the Pac-10 is loaded this season) to be ranked in the preseason top 25. Let's start with the schedule. The Ducks play 6 away games this season: at Fresno State, at Arizona State, at California, at Washington State, at USC, and at Oregon State. Realistically, the Ducks should be the underdog in all 6 games and could legitimately be looking at an 0-6 road record this season. Furthermore, the Ducks have to play their two most physical games of the season in back-to-back weeks at Fresno State and then at home against Oklahoma. Both Fresno and Oklahoma come from conferences that emphasize physical defense, and a pounding running game, something which Oregon will not be accustomed to playing against.

But what about the personnel? I cannot deny that I love their running game with true Sophomore Jonathan Stewart (who was spectacular at times as a kick returner last season). Oregon also returns all 5 O-Lineman from last season, but this unit struggled in 2005 running the ball consistently. There has also been major turnover at QB where stalwart Kellen Clemens has graduated, leaving either Dennis Dixon (the likely starter) or Brady Leaf to take over. While Dixon showed flashes last season, it is a safe bet that the Ducks are not going to get the type of production they are used to out of the QB spot, especially without a clear go-to receiever. The defense also lost its three best players from last season in DT Haloti Ngata, and CB's Justin Phinisee and Aaron Gipson, and do not have the same type of athletes ready to step in.

Bottom line: It's never a good thing when a Leaf is prominently involved (Brady is Ryan's little brother). Oregon looks to be at least a season away from replicating the 10 wins of 2005. I would be moderately suprised if Oregon won 7 games this season, and I think a 6-6 record is more likely.

#4 - Tennessee (preseason #23 in coaches poll)

Unlike Oregon, I believe the Vols actually have the talent to justify, or perhaps even surpass, their preseason ranking. They don't have a killer schedule with most of their toughest games coming in Knoxville (California, Florida, Alabama and LSU), though road trips to Georgia, South Carolina, and Arkansas will not be easy. So then why do they find themsevles on the overrated list? Well it's simple, I just don't believe in either Phil Fulmer or Erik Ainge.

Let's start with Fulmer. It's difficult to argue with his record at Tennessee, although the fact that his SEC success has gotten him mentioned in the same breath as Bear Bryant is a travesty. True Fulmer won a national title with the Vols, but has there ever been a coach who has done less with more talent. Even the national title team was an inexplicable Clint Stoerner fumble away from ruining their season. And I still contend that Fulmer and the Vols lose to Florida State by 30 points if the Seminoles have either of their top 2 quarterbacks healthy for the title game (you'll remember FSU started the eminently forgettable Marcus Outzen). In my view, Fulmer's problem is a lack of imagination. Blessed with unbelievable athletes, Fulmer exhibits no offensive creativity whatsoever. No matter who he has on the outside, Fulmer would rather run it up the gut on 2nd and 3 then take a shot downfield. Perhaps bringing in former Ole Miss. coach David Cutcliffe will temper Fulmer's uber-conseravative philosophy, but even if he is finally ready to open up his playbook, I'm not sure he has the personnel to do it this season.

Which brings us to Ainge. Ainge burst onto the scene as a true freshman and played way over his head that year. That he failed to improve at all last season has to be a major concern for the Volunteers. Perhaps more troubling though, is the lack of depth behind Ainge should he falter. Unlike past seasons where Ainge had experienced (Ric Clausen) or talented (Brent Schaeffer) backups, the entire fortunes of the Tennessee offense fall on Ainge's shoulders. This is a totally different Volunteers offense than the one Ainge thrived in as a freshman, and one that is far less talented (the Vols do not have any skill position players who are All-SEC caliber). In order for this team to win Ainge will have to be far better than he was last season or as a freshman, and I am not sure he has it in him.

Bottom line: It would be ironic and unfortunate if this is the season Fulmer finally gets creative on offense, because it is one of the few years he doesn't have the talent to succeed. The schedule is not a killer so 8-4 is within reach, but I say the Vols lost at least 2 games they are supposed to win and finish 7-5.

#3 - Georgia (preseason #14 in coaches poll)

If I were a betting man, and whose to say I'm not, I would wager that the Bulldogs end the season with a 10-2 record and ranked almost identically as they are now. So how then, you may ask, can I put them on my list of most overrated teams? Well consider it a preemptive strike. Looking at Georgia's schedule and personnel, assuming they survive a trip to South Carolina in week 2 (which is not a given mind you), the Bulldogs could roll into the World's Biggest Cocktail party sporting an 8-0 record and a top 5 ranking. Am I buying Georgia as a potential national title contender? You bet I'm not. Although Mark Richt is a pheonomenal coach, and perhaps the most underrated in the nation, the Bulldogs are not ready to take the leap this season. Despite the easiest schedule int he SEC, I predict the Bulldogs will fade down the stretch (as they seemingly do every season) losing to the two best teams on their schedule: Florida, and at Auburn. Though they will start 8-0, they will probably finish 10-2, and they will no doubt fall out of the top 5.

So is it a cop-out to consider a team overrated based on a predicted 8-0 start and top 5 ranking? I don't think so. This edition of the Bulldogs should never be ranked in the top 5. Though they have some individual talent, they lack the gamebreakers on offense, and complete players on defense. On offense, Richt is counting on Senior Joe Tereshinski who looked way out of place in a division 1 game when he started against Florida last season. Richt would be wise to work true freshman Matt Stafford in as much as possible. On defense, the Georgia hype machine (patented for David Pollack) has latched onto Quentin Moses. Moses is a Jevon Kearse type player who can rush the passer, but will do little else to help his team win. He is a one dimensional player that can and will be easily exploited by SEC coaches. Moses' counterpart, Junior Charles Johnson, is a much more complete player and could end up with a superior NFL career.

Bottom line: This Georgia team is not as good as last season's edition. Though they will finish 10-2, that will seem like a disappointment given where this team will be ranked by midseason.

Fearless Prediction - Georgia will enter the 2007 season as the preseason number 1.

#2 - Florida (preseason #8 in coaches poll)

Is Florida one of the 5 most talented teams in America? Yes. Do they have one of the brightest offensvie minds in the game as head coach? Yes. Do they have a Heisman caliber QB who is experienced enough to win big games? Yes. Doesn't sound like an overrated team to me, does it? Well, yes. For all the accolades showered upon Urban Meyer and Chris Leak, the Gators are just not ready to challenge for a national title this season. Last year Leak looked uncomfortable in Meyer's spread offense. Even the most ardent Gator supporter would concede that watching Leak fit his skills into Meyer's offenses evokes images of a square peg and a round hole. Meyer has to be given time to recruit his own players and fill the positions in his own offense as he sees fit. Landing top recruit Tim Tebow was a huge step for Florida, as he is generally regarded as a QB born to play in Meyer's spread offense. But this process takes time, and expecting the Gators to compete for a national title this eason is unfair, especially with games at Tennessee, Auburn, and Florida State on the schedule.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, the Florida offense is a step behing the defense. For reasons stated earlier, the offense needs time (as in years, not days) to grow under Meyer. That said, these Gators should have an opportunity to win every game because of a strong defense led by a dominating group of linebackers headlined by junior Brandon Siler and senior Earl Everett. If the Gators played in the Big 12 or Big 10, I would agree that an undefeated season might be within reach. However, in the SEC you need to be able to execute your offense and make huge plays in both the running and passing game. While Leak will be steady if unspectacular, the Gators have major holes at RB, O-Line, and WR. And no matter how good he is, a QB can't break big plays all by himself (well unless his name is Vince Young).

Bottom line: The Gators are two years away from returning to national prominence. This 2006 team looks like an 8-4 squad to me, and I would not be surprised to see Tebow take over for Leak at some point.

#1 - Notre Dame (preseason #3 in coaches poll)

Even I ranked Notre Dame too high in my preseason poll (#5). I suppose the allure of all that NFL offensive talent is too much to ignore. Offensive firepower notwithstanding, the Irish cannot be taken seriously as a potential undefeated team and national title contender for two reasons. First, their schedule makes it nearly impossible to go 12-0. I understand that the Irish make a ton of TV revenue by not affiliating with a conference, but such action also leads to a murderous schedule that looks like an unholy cross between the Big 10 and Pac-10. The Irish have 5 road games and not a single one is a gimme: at Georgia Tech, at Michigan State (who always play up to their competition), at Navy (a bowl winner last season and a potential top 25 team in 2006), at Air Force (CO Spings is never an easy place to play), and at USC (no explanation needed). Add home games against Big 1o powers Michigan and Penn State, as well as Pac-10 teams UCLA and Stanford, and Notre Dame is playing the toughest schedule top to bottom in America.

The second reason this team cannot be taken seriously as a national title contender is that they simply do not play defense. More specifically, they cannot defend the pass. Their best defensive player, safety Tom Zbikowski, is more linebacker than defensive back. Though they return all 4 starting defensive backs, I am not certain that is a good thing. Notre Dame was consistently torched last season by mediocre pasing offenses such as Michigan State and Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. In addition, the Irish will be breaking in two new outside linebackers who will probably provide little help covering the flats and curl areas. The Irish pass defense has to be a whole lot better this season, especially with the likes of Calvin Johnson, Dwayne Jarrett, Derrick Williams, and Steve Breaston on the schedule.

Bottom line: If the Irish go 12-0 it will be one of the more remarkable seasons in recent memory. More likely, though, the Irish lose at USC and at least one other against Penn State, Michigan, or Michigan State. But, if Notre Dame loses its opener against Georgia Tech they could be headed for a big time collapse.


Anonymous   says 6:40 AM

Although I can agrree with one of your picks on here (Notre Dame) but they are a good team. It is obvious you hate the SEC! Tennessee did have a bad year but to say they only won the National title in 98 because of luck is a little much what about the other 12 games besides the Arkansas game esp on the basis Fla State did not have their QB The Vols were also missing Jamal Lewis who was not a big factor on their team either? But I guess he has had less sucess in the NFL than the two QB's at FSU? And for the luck thing they did indeed get very lucky in the Arkansas game however many teams have won National titles on luck. Fullmer is bashed year in and year out but has just continued to win over the years. He is mentioned with Bear because he almost has or is in reach of as many wins. Sorry thats all that counts. The talent at Tennessee has been down and the rest of the SEC has gotten better. You can say they have had top recruiting classes but they have not panned out in recent years. I think they will be underated this year. They always seem to be better when idiots say they have no chance.
Georgia 10-2 and overrated? Are you kidding me and no matter how easy their out of confrence schedule is they still play in the toughest confrence in the country so it is not like 10-2 is a overrated team! They play the tough GT team you talked about and Col this year they do not have the hardest schedule by any means but this is a team that could and would beat most teams in the country.
Florida I could see them not being as good as the hype but they will still be strong. If Urban Myer was not so cocky and would use the abilities of his stars then they would be great. They are not a spread team because Leak is not that type of QB if they would let him be a drop back passer than they would be great of the offensive side of the ball.
If you are going to write these things than why dont you title them I hate the SEC and I think they are overrated because they win. Did USC not get some luck in their National title runs last year came just as close to losing to ND as Tennessee did Arkansas. I dont think ND deserves the hype but teams like Tennessee do not get hype and everyone just waits for them to slip a little so they can bad mouth them. Get over your problem with the SEC or the SEC east which ever it is because when January rolls around you are going to be looking pretty dumbb when these teams have been great teams!

Anonymous   says 6:53 AM

Stop hating on the SEC!!!!! They are the best confrence in the country! Period. Fullmer will have more wins than Bear when its all said and done but I bet you would argue that theSEC is not as good as when the Bear was alive.
Fla state could have had anyone and still would have lost. The Vols were missing key players as well and FSU did not deserve to be there in the first place.
I am sure you think Manning did not deserve to win the Heisman his senior year either?
Georgia is a good team with excellent coaching period. 10-2 prediction and calling them overrated is quite possibly the dumbest thing I have ever heard
Fla will be very tough this year and I bet you loved Urban Myer before he was a gator.
Although I will admit the ND pick I agree with 100% I believe the lose to GT the first week on the road and remmber they did not beat a team last year who finsihed in the top twenty five.

You can't be overrated unless you have a good record, that's sort of how it works. Hence Georgia being overrated. They've really had no excuse not to break through with a huge year, but they fail to win the games they need to win. Remember Kansas St. in the mid to late 90s? Remember when all they had to do every year was beat Nebraska, or Colorado, and they never got it done? And they always blew the big game, and you kind of wondered how good they really were? Yeah, that's Georgia. And no Kansas St. is a mess (Georgia will never fall that far, too much talent) so I think the window may be closing on the bulldogs. I can attest that Walter IS a big Mayer fan, that's not the issue. Next year they will be great, this year they will struggle. Of course Manning deserved the Heisman. But it's hard to love Fullmer when he wasted Manning's talent, and the talent of a lot of other great players. It was a nice title run, but it was definitely a down year, and they caught some breaks. You can't take it away from them, but they were one of the weaker champs in recent history. That's all.

It's true the SEC is not my favorite conference. But all you SEC lovers out there rushing to comment kind of make my point for me. I think we can all agree that teams like Auburn and LSU deserve to be in the top 10. If we also argue just how great Tennessee, Georgia and Florida are, there simply isn't any way for all of 5 of those teams to have good seasons. They all play each other and someone how to lose. I believe that Florida has top 5 talent, and possibly the best defense in the nation. But because I think the SEC is so strong this year I think they are being overrated as national title contenders.

As for the "Big 3":

TN - There is no denying Fullmer's win total but lets be honest. They had an inordinate amount of luck when they won the title (far more so that USC) and without that title Fullmer would be long gone from Knoxville. He is an unimaginative coach, coaching in a conference that has some of the best coaching minds in the nation (Meyer, Nutt, Richt). He consistently gets outcoached and has a QB who hasn't improved at all since his freshman year. Add in a tough schedule and I don't see TN being all that great this season and certainly nowhere near the top 10.

Georgia - Clearly nobody read the intro to the Georgia post. 10-2 would be a fine season. However, when they start 8-0, a 10-2 season will feel like a disappointment to Bulldog fans everywhere.

Florida - I love Urban Meyer. Absolutely love him. Steve Spurrier is one of my all time favorite NCAA coaches and I think Meyer is the perfect fit in Florida. There is no doubt he will win multiple national titles during his time there. Florida is incredibly talented this year. I believe their defense is the best in the nation. All that said, Chris Leak is not a good fit for the Meyer offense and their schedule is just MURDER (at TN, at Auburn, LSU at home, Gergia, at FSU). I don't see how they don't lose at least 2 of those games. Once again, this is not me hating on the SEC. If anything it is a compliment that the league is so strong that even a team as talented as Florida can't seriously be considered a national title contender because they are bound to lose somewhere along the way.

Post a Comment

The Team

How's the look?