Posted by Frazier
My esteemed co-blogger did his top ten some time ago. However, his was based on the eventual chance to win the title, based on talent, coaching, and, most importantly, schedule. I am basing my top ten not on who I think will run the table, but purely on coaching and talent. The ever-fun hypothetical "if team A and team B met on a neutral field, who would win" list. Of course I will rue the day I compiled this list when I look like a complete fool by mid-October. But the hell with negativity, I am going to do my damndest to put this thing straight. Let's see how she plays.
1) Ohio St. Look, they ran up 600yds of offense against a Notre Dame team that everyone thought was the shit last year. That offense should be even better this year. I know they lost a lot on defense, but since when did Ohio St. really suffer defensively? The O should keep them in games until the inexperienced but talented defense starts dominating people. The big game is against Texas, and since it's in Austin, they might lose. Might. But I wouldn't want to be the Longhorns when this bunch shows up.
2) West Virginia. I know I picked them to have a disappointing year, but I believe that anything less than a perfect regular season should be counted as a disappointment. They have the talent and coaching to be the best team in the country, I just didn't think that they would pull it off. However, they haven't gotten enough credit for their HUGE Sugar Bowl victory last year. They were clearly underestimated going into that game, and they poured it on against a Georgia team with a ton of talent, and a ton of pub. I think the offense is amazingly even more potent with two guys who could someday challenge for a Heisman. The defense should come around, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to play them in a big game for all the marbles.
3) USC. By the end of the year, they could easily be the top team in the country. So if they have an earlier hiccup, just wait awhile before you start piling up on me for this pick. If they can find a running back they could be insane. They have the deepest set of linebackers in the country, and athletes at every position. Jarrett might be the best player at any position in football with his stunning combination of speed and size. They have another stud recruit calling the plays who has had a couple of years learning under some of the best in the history of college football. It would be insane to leave these guys out of the top three.
4) Texas. They were a top five team before Vince Young, and they should be a top five since he has moved on. Like you can't recruit amazing talent to Austin. The state is a hotbed of high school talent, you can't walk down the street without bumping into an all-american. Any team that might find itself favored against Ohio St., no matter where the game is actually played, would get the same respect I'm paying the Longhorns.
5) Auburn. The cream of the SEC should automatically make the top five every year. The conference is too deep and too good to do otherwise. Auburn has talent all over the field, and championship-caliber coaching. Irons may be the third great running back to come out of here in the last three years alone, but this time, an undefeated season should definitely be worth a title.
6) Notre Dame. I can only ignore Brady Quinn and that offense for so long. Although I do think that last year they were something of a paper tiger. No great wins, lost to the only truly good teams they played all year (and Michigan St. because they have zero pass defense). Their pass defense will still be a weak spot, although Quinn and company will outgun most other teams in the country. They will benefit standings-wise from the name and the uniform, but ultimately the title will be decided on the field, and that's where Notre Dame will falter.
7) Florida St. Bowden should finally have an offense capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time. Weatherford has stabilized the quarterback position, and while the defense lost plenty of players to the NFL, they always reload. Not to mention the fact that Rolle is one of the most stunning physical specimens around, and the rave reviews from his preseason work seem to be justifying his reputation as the top player coming out of high school last year. This was a team who had serious problems heading into the Orange Bowl last year, and still only lost to the consensus #3 (Penn St.) because their field goal kicker missed an extra point, and was less than worthless in OT. The big early test is Miami, of course, but if they can win that one, they might make a real run at the title.
8) California. They are the second best team in the annually disprespected PAC-10. They have been playing excellent ball, with an excellent coach, and flying under the radar for years now. Marshawn Lynch would be a Heisman favorite if he did his work east of the Mississippi. But he doesn't, and those 5:30 starts get ignored over here on the east coast. Well, this might be the year that the college football world learns the Tedford has quietly been creating a monster in Berkeley.
9) Oklahoma. Bob Stoops will not be kept down by one player, no matter how important you might think he is. The Big-12 is not as fearsome as it once was. Peterson is the real deal. Once Thompson gets settled (he's experienced, knows the offense, and is such a great athlete they had to have him switch positions to get his talent on the field) they should be golden. Look, Josh Heupel and Nate Hybl had success without the talents of someone like Peterson (oh, and Jason White also sucked, as his performance in the Sugar Bowl two years ago forever proved). Oklahoma will feed off the doubters, Peterson will show why he's such an amazing talent, and everyone will regret totally overreacting to this Bomar situation (as I did myself when I said he ruined their season, he didn't, but with him they could have been contending for a title).
10) Louisville. They should probably lose what, a single game all year? They have two players who are mentioned as Heisman hopefuls on their offense? They have one of the most sought-after coaches (both college and pro) in the country? Their quarterback will be one of the first chosen whenever he decides to go pro? I don't care what conference they play in. I don't care that this is supposed to be a basketball school. It isn't. It's a football school, and it's one of the best in the country.