The Year in Review- Preseason Top Tens  

Posted by Frazier

It's time to look back again, all the way to our preseason top tens. This is where we selected the top ten teams based on hype, analysis of the previous year, recent changes, and educated guesses about the growth of players or coaches, and the effects of schedule. Now, everyone does these things, and everyone is wrong. That's kind of a given. But we here at the 323 are going to actually take responsibility for these picks. We will be held accountable, even if virtually no one else ever is. That's because we owe it you our devoted readers, and because it's the only way we'll ever get better.

Frazier's Top Ten

1) Ohio St.

Analysis: Yeah, I was pretty much right on these guys. They held on to the spot until the epic debacle against Florida. Still, their defense, as expected, managed to be pretty decent. Basically because it's Ohio St. and that's sort of how they roll. The absolutely dominated teams all year, and were totally deserving of their lofty ranking. It just turned out they weren't that great.

Hit or miss: Hit. This was a gimme.

No, this is a gimme. Ohio State at #1 was just the smart pick.

2) West Virginia

Analysis: Even though I predicted they would lose a game they shouldn't (South Florida) they still had a great year. They started #6 and ended #10, so that's a bit of a drop. But they still made some serious noise. Tons of talent, an offensive genius, and a soft schedule definitely help.

Hit or miss: Hmmm. A tough one. With the vagaries of the preseason it's tough to be too harsh when you land a team in the top ten. Compared to some of the other teams on the list, it's definitely a hit. A close hit, or a close miss.

3) USC

Analysis: Yeah, I was right, you really didn't want to play this team at the end of the year. They destroyed a solid Michigan team in the Rose Bowl. Basically, a consistent effort and they're probably the champs. Of course, champs are consistent, that's the point. But this is pretty much right where they should be. I was right about their linebackers, Jarrett, and overall speed, this team is easily #3.

Hit or miss: Hit. Nailed it.

4) Texas

Analysis: Has to be a disappointing year for the Longhorns. The Big 12 was really down, and they should have been the best of the bunch. But they lost a couple of games they simply shouldn't have. Texas A&M proved that this team simply wasn't as tough as they needed to be when it counted the most. They finished the year #13 in both polls, which is nice. But a win over Kansas St. and they'd be a top ten squad. Nice choke.

Hit or miss: It's a miss. A "coulda, woulda, shoulda". I'm sorry, in that pathetic conference, this team had no excuses not to be higher.

Chicken Bone?, that's Kansas State stuck in the windpipe.

5) Auburn

Analysis: Well, I was feeling pretty good about this pick when they beat Florida in thrilling fashion. I'd called them the class of the SEC, and they seemed like they just might be. Then they got blown out by Georgia, and I was sick to my stomach. Still, they went 11-2 on the year, and their other loss was to a very good Arkansas squad. They did beat the national champs as well. Their offense was just not good enough to get them over the hump. Inconsistent quarterback play, plus Irons seeming to run out of steam as the year progressed were serious problems. As it is, they finished in the top ten in both polls, #8 AP and #9 coaches, and they beat the champs.

Hit or miss: This feels like a miss, since Auburn didn't look great a lot. But they finished pretty close to where I predicted, and they beat the best team around. It's a hit. And a good one.

6) Notre Dame

Analysis: Ugh. I should have known better. Hell, I DID know better. Even I admitted that I was selling out with this pick, that if I had any balls I'd drop them out of the top ten. But I caved to the huge hype. I figured they would be so good offensively, and their schedule so weak, they could end up here. Of course I didn't know Michigan would be that good. And I kind of forgot they'd have to play a top team in a BCS bowl, a game I wouldn't favor them in (unless it was the ACC champ or something). Those extra losses booted the 'Domers all the way to #17 and #19 in the polls. Frankly, they may have been worse.

Hit or miss: Miss. A bad one. Just a stupid, stupid mistake on my part. As much as I knew they were overrated, I still bought the hype.

7) Florida St.

Analysis: Yikes. I had totally forgotten how much I liked them in the preseason. Nationally they were around the top ten when the season started, and I thought that might a little low. They fought an undefeated Penn St. team to the wire in the Orange Bowl the year before, and I figured it was one of those teams that was hung and stupid, but had worked themselves out and would be ready. But it was a fluke, not a building game for the next year. They even started things with a tough win over an equally overrated Miami squad, but things went south from there. They nadir was a 30-0 whupping at home to Wake Forest. An absolutely stunning game. I was wrong, Weatherford did not figure things out. He was less than useless. Xavier Lee was no better. They were both so terrible they made me want to puke. This team needed a bowl win just to prevent Bobby from having his second losing season in his illustrious history. Wow.

Hit or miss: Um, the worst miss ever? Worse that my UConn pick. Maybe worse than saying Florida was overrated. This was painfully, brutally, disgustingly wrong.

Who is that under the bus? Oh it's just Seminole offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden.

8) California

Analysis: This pick looked terrible after the Tennessee disaster. Then it looked brilliant up until the Arizona stinker. And then they lost to USC, so it was a lost season. And then they destroyed a Texas A&M team that had looked very, very good. So it was one of those years for Cal. Another season where they just couldn't break through. All they had to do was beat USC, and it didn't happen. Lynch was good, but not great. This team just didn't break on through. Beat Arizona, and this pick is dead-on. But another stupid loss was incredibly costly.

Hit or miss: Close miss. They finished #14, which is pretty close, but my whole point was that this team was finally going to break through, and have an excellent year. Not enough.

9) Oklahoma

Analysis: I really loved this pick. After being talked about for title considerations, national pundits ran away from them in droves after Bomar was booted. I said people would regret writing them off, and I was dead-right about that. Stoops did a phenomenal job, and Thompson kept his team in games. Even with Peterson injured, they kept plugging along. A ton of credit to great coaching, with a little help from a dismal conference. Although the stunning loss to Boise St. shocked many folks, Oklahoma came a long way from being written off. Oh, and remember that the Oregon loss shouldn't count. Great year from this bunch.

Hit or miss: Nailed this guy. They finished #11 in both polls, and out-performed what was expected after the stunning loss of their quarterback in the preseason.

10) Louisville

Analysis: My only real mistake was picking them to lose to WVU. The Cardinals stormed the national party with a one-loss campaign. Hell, I even predicted them to lose a single game all year (I was just wrong about which game). I was also right that Petrino would be a genius, and that Brohm might be the most pro-ready quarterback in the country. This was a hell of a year, and it could have been even better without a stunning loss to Rutgers (which was kept alive thanks to an incredibly stupid penalty on the missed figgie).

Hit or miss: An absolute hit. Picked the number of losses, and they finished #6 AP and #7 coaches. Pretty damned good.

Overall analysis: I was right more often than I was wrong. But when I was wrong, I tended to be very, very, very wrong. This happens with preseason polls. You just don't know enough to say anything meaningful, so you take your best shot. It's hard for anyone to look through all the hype and bullshit, and sometimes even us at the 323 get blinded by it. Some of these teams simply underachieved, and others just sucked and I was totally wrong about. Overall, I'm pretty proud of my performance. Of course, the champs don't even register, so what do I know?

Overall grade: I hit 5 pretty much dead on. I had a close hit with West Virginia, and a close miss with Cal. So that leaves 3 that I was just wrong about. The Texas pick wasn't terrible, but the Notre Dame one was, and the FSU one was historically bad. And only the Oklahoma pick was really inspired. A pretty good job, but not good enough, B-.

Walter's Top Ten

1) Auburn

Analysis: What a mess. Based almost entirely on their schedule, I had Auburn as my preseason #1 team, undefeated and playing Louisville for the national title. Whoops. Auburn started the season strong, but finished poorly. I will pat myself on the back a little bit for identifying their home date versus Arkansas as a potential trap game (the week before Florida), but that isn't impressing anyone. Auburn didn't completely shit the bed, finishing in the top 10 (#9), but unsurprisingly when the pressure was on to go undefeated, Tommy Tubberville's squad stumbled against teams they clearly should have beaten (at home vs. Arkansas and Georgia).

Hit or miss? - Miss, big time. And I lose even more points for actually referring to Brandon Cox as "one of the more underrated signal callers in the conference, if not the country." Ugh, what was I thinking.

Trust me, Brandon Cox is a lot worst in real life.

2) Louisville

Analysis: I, like everyone, was convinced that Louisville's season would come down to their game against West Virginia, which I predicted they'd win. They did, but they bombed in the 2nd half against Rutgers. Louisville had the look of a national title team all season, rolling up impressive offensive numbers and an unheralded but nasty defense. Louisville finished #6 in the nation, but given that they beat WVU anything short of a top 2 finish has to be considered a disappointment.

Hit or miss? - Miss. The Big East was stronger than we thought but Louisville won the game they needed to win. Losing to Rutgers puts this in the miss pile. Oh, and Frazier, no way you can take West Virginia at #2 as a hit. They lost their only meaningful game of the year!

3) USC

Analysis: Now that's more like it. I identified USC as a team that had the talent and the schedule to compete despite massive departures to the NFL on offense. Yet, I also correctly recognized that the Trojans probably didn't have the horses to run the table in a deep Pac-10 conference. Thank goodness they decided not to show up against UCLA or USC would have played Ohio State in the title game and, by all accounts, probably won and finished #1 overall (that would have been a miss).

Hit or miss? - Hit. Dead on. I had them at #3, they finished at #4.

4) West Virginia

Analysis: My rationale for this was that, absent an undefeated team at year's end, the one loss Mountaineers could sneak into the top 5. Well, I was right about having no undefeated team, wrong about the Mountaineers only losing one game. As things stand, WVU finished the year 11-2 (thanks to a miraculous second half against Georgia Tech) and ranked #10. Still, as with Louisville I can't credit myself for this pick. In the Big East, being off by one game is akin to being off by a lot more.

Hit or miss? - Miss. Close but no cigar. My whole premise was that WVU would win every game but Louisville. Losing to South Florida dropped them too far to constitute a hit.

5) Notre Dame

Analysis: Fuck. I knew I had them ranked too high in the preseason, but I didn't have the stones to leave them off the top 10. Fuck. Notre Dame stunk this year, they were dominated by their four best opponents, and they couldn't play any defense. I did correctly identify the Irish pass defense as being amongst the worst in the nation, but this just serves to make my picking them at #5 all the more bewildering.

Hit or miss? - Miss. I lose some more points for typing "Brady Quinn is hands down the best quarterback in America." It may have been a correct statement at the time, but now we know better.

Even Jayson Williams is making fun of me for
pickingpicking Notre Dame at #5. Although
writing and releasing a published book does seem
bit extraneous.

6) Ohio State

Analysis: I never though the Buckeyes would win the national title. I never even thought they'd get there. I was so sure they'd lose one of their tough road games (read, Texas). Well I was wrong for the most part, but thankfully I was vindicated by their terrible performance against Florida. That game proved that it wasn't the Buckeyes who were good, but just that their schedule was bad. Michigan was proven a fraud against USC, ditto for Texas in their late season swoon. Ohio State was never worthy of the #1 ranking. Frankly, that they finished at #2 was probably nothing more than a function of pollsters not wanting to admit their year long mistake.

Hit or miss? - Hit. Off by four spots, but the premise was solid. They were never as good as people thought, and if you ask me, after the title game they look like the fourth best team in the nation at best (behind Florida, LSU, and USC).

7) Texas

Analysis: Well I was looking OK for a while, but Kansas State and Texas A & M put a quick end to that. Texas in the top 10 was premised on two things: line play, and Rhett Bohmar's dismissal. Well, Texas did have great line play, but Oklahoma ended up playing a whole lot better with Paul Thompson than anybody thought they would. Texas finished at #13, which is probably higher than they deserved, but they only played like a top 10 team for half the season. Plus not showing up against Ohio State counts for something.

Hit or miss? - Miss. Texas was a shell of themselves last year, and it wasn't all losing VY. Colt McCoy played well at times, but losing Ramonce Taylor (transfer) hurt, as did the departures in the secondary (Mike Huff and Cedric Griffin).

8) Miami

Analysis: Uh, oh, here's where the wheels really fall off. Do I even need to discuss this pick. Larry Coker is terrible, they had no quarterback, no running back, no WR, no team discipline. Can I just say that I was drunk when I made these picks..........?

Hit or miss? - Miss.

That's pretty drunk..........

9) Florida State

Analysis: ..........Uh, really drunk.

Hit or miss? - Miss.

.......but this is more like it. I mean I did pick
Miami and FSU back to back in the top 10.

10) California

Analysis: I went out on a limb with this one, and the limb broke big time. I thought that Cal was one of the most talented offensive teams in the nation and had a chance to challenge USC for the Pac-10 crown. Well they had tons of talent (check), but dreams of a top 10 finish were dashed when they decided not to show up against Knoxville the first game of the year. Cal was talented, but totally inconsistent, and never played anywhere near their potential level. True they finished #14, but I had them as a strong #10 with potential to finish higher.

Hit or miss? - Miss. Again. Noticing a theme?

Overall Grade: First the good. Ohio State didn't finish #1. Louisville finished over West Virginia. And USC was almost dead on at #3. Now the bad. Well Miami and Florida State totally sucked. Ditto for Brandon Cox who submarined my Auburn at #1 bandwagon. Notre Dame made me pay for my lack of balls. And Cal and Texas underachieved big time. In general my preseason top 10 was a total mess. I will give myself a C- and hope that nobody asks me to justify that high of a grade, because, frankly, I may not be able to.


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