Thursday, August 7

I'm Back! With this year's preseason Top 25

That's right folks. Charlie's back after finally getting some time to do some research.

Before I delve in to the details of my top 25, let me preface by saying that this year OSU has a 50% chance of making it to the title game, and it all rests upon one date: September 13th. Everyone seems to be down on the Big 11, but the talent is rising in the conference due to the addition of some great coaches in recent years.

Let's start with Ron Zook, the premier talent recruiter of the conference. The Illinois team has ranked in the top 25 recruiting for the past 2 years. This year will be the year that talent will shine. Starting with a veteran quarterback, Juice Williams can lead this team to greatness even without Rashard Mendenhall.

Secondly, Marc Dantoni of Michigan State had a bust year recruiting wise, but he's adept at using the talent that John L Smith left him. Javon Ringer is the second best back in the league (yes, better than PJ Hill considering he's more consistent) and could have a breakout year.

Third and most important is the addition of Rich Rodriguez. Everyone knows how WVU decimated defenses in the Big East, but can it be done in the Big 10? A strong recruiting class for his first year (thanks to the Michigan name brand as well as his brand), a new offense... it will be an interesting show. Still, Michigan is no easy boat to sink, and they're still in my top 25.

So with that in mind, here's my Top 25:

#1 - USC. There's no doubt in my mind that they're the best and most talented team hitting the field to start the season. A veteran quaterback in Sanchez, a second year for premier recruit Joe McKnight, not to mention an reloadable defense that has consistently ranked in the top 15 defenses for almost a decade. Should they face Ohio State and win, they'll win out the rest of the games and face Oklahoma or Georgia in the title game.

#2 - Georgia. Moreno really burst onto the scene last year, and still decimated the top tier SEC defenses. This should really help out, along with Stafford getting another year under his belt. The SEC East is a little weaker than before and the only major challenge they face is Florida in their division. If they make it through ASU and Alabama unscathed early in the season, then their remaining challenge of Florida and then cruise to the title game.

#3 - Ohio State. This is frightening that even as a homer and knowing the talent they bring I would put them below Georgia... but I have to. The offensive talent is unproven, with only Chris Wells being the bright spot and Terrelle Pryor getting a few looks this year. The defense will be called upon to stop USC - the only major stumbling block for the Buckeyes. The talent in the Big 10 is rising (see notes above) but it's not quite there yet. Just wait until next year - it's likely that there could be six teams vying to be in the top 25 in 2009 (OSU, Michigan, Wisconsin, PSU, Illinois, Michigan State).

#4 - Oklahoma. Bradford came out shooting last year, and this year he has the same big guys throwing blocks for him. And with the Big 12 on another down year, they'll clean up the conference with ease. The back to back Texas then Kansas can be tough... but in the end it's still not enough to knock OU down.

#5 - Florida. Two words: Percy Harvin. Add one more: healthy. We all saw what Tebow could do last year, and he's going to do it again (mostly). However, Harvin is the key to getting them through, even though the SEC lost a lot of key players. They win against Georgia, and they'll be fine.

#6 - Missouri. What do you get when you have most of your eligible receivers are 6-8 inches taller than your opponents' cornerbacks? That's right - the ability to throw high balls midfield down range, or those pesky goal-line fades. Chase Daniel is a low Heisman contender, but he's an accurate enough passer and dangerous enough runner to give even defenses such as Texas a good run for their money.

#7 - West Virginia. Yeah, Slaton might be gone. But Noel Devine will do just fine as Pat White's sidekick in the Rodriguez system. In fact, with Cincinnati and UConn as the only challengers in this conference, I see them in a BCS bowl, easy.

#8 - LSU. No more JaMarcus Russell. No more Matt Flynn. [edited] And no Ryan Perrilloux. So who will come forth as the next QB of the Tigers, who have dominated SEC opponents for half a decade? Inexperience at this crucial leadership position will cause them to fall to Georgia and Florida, and will be left out of the BCS regardless of a sickly difficult schedule due to those two teams.

#9 - Texas. The Colt wasn't quite enough to fill VY's shoes, but as long as he manages the game the Horns will be fine. But they have to worry about Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas Tech - the former's all around attack and the latter's air attack. The Horns' secondary must step up to the plate, and should they do, they have a chance at beating Missouri and TT.

#10 - Virginia Tech. I've been wondering why everyone seems to put Clemson ahead of Virginia Tech, when year after year they are more consistent. Frank Beamer's team will find a way to win this year, especially lacking a Matt Ryan led BC. They are by far the weakest conference champion of the BCS Auto-berth teams.

11. Wisconsin
12. Clemson
13. Auburn
14. Texas Tech
15. Kansas
16. Illinois
17. ASU
18. Tennessee
19. Oregon
20. BYU
21. PSU
22. South Florida
23. Wake Forest
24. Cal
25. Alabama

National Title Matchup potential:
OSU vs USC: 0% - nobody will want a rematch, especially if OSU loses the first meeting.
OSU vs Georgia: 10% - considering Georgia will have to go through Florida.
OSU vs Florida: 10% - see previous note
OSU vs Oklahoma: 25% - if these two both win out, they go. It may mean leaving out the SEC champ if they go undefeated, but that's happened before.

USC vs Georgia: 25% - this is the matchup that should have happened last season.
USC vs Florida: 25% - it would be awesome to see Superman face this defense.
USC vs Oklahoma: 50% - rematch of 2004? Very probable, considering how the BCS works.

Oklahoma vs Georgia: 20% - this means both USC and OSU will have to have lost a game. Highly unlikely as one or the other will win out.
Oklahoma vs Florida: 20%

Dark Horse contenders:
Let's face it. For right now, only Missouri can have a chance, but they have to beat both Oklahoma and Texas to get there, AND win the conference championship. WVU in the championship game? Only if their non-conference schedule included teams from the BCS6 conferences. Texas? Nah. Anyone other than USC from Pac10? My gosh that conference looks out of sorts at the top other than USC. Virginia Tech? They're playing in the second worst BCS6 conference, and will likely drop at least a game. Does LSU have an outside chance? They have huge ladders to climb, with formidable Georgia and Florida along the way. How about someone from the Big10? The middle is rising in the division, but this is not the year.

Ranking of the BCS6 conferences:
1. SEC - the most talent, consistently, year in/year out.
2. Big 12 - will field very, very competitive teams this year. Big names, big potential. Their stock rose last season with breakout seasons by Missouri and Kansas.
3. Tie Big 10/Pac 10 - the two conferences that are against playoffs are the two conferences that are suffering the most in the middle right now. They have talent! But it's not proven. OSU and USC are the only powerhouses in those conferences right now, and one great team does not a good conference make.
5. ACC - Wake Forest, Clemson, and Virginia Tech are great teams, all with one little quirk - they just can't "get it done". None of them seem to be able to go through a mediocre conference unfazed.
6. Big East - WVU is clearly the cream of the crop, and Cincinnati and UConn are rising. But everyone else? blah.