Part of getting ready for the season means a Ndamukong Suh replica jersey and getting a handle on the college football landscape as a whole - who gets consideration as the top teams, the potential darkhorses and who fits in the muddled mess when you're ranking 20-25.
Corn Nation will be participating in the CBS Sports Blogpoll Top 25 poll again this season. The preseason ballot is due on Monday, August 24th. The blogpoll is unique in that it is the only college football poll that by definition and process seeks feedback from fans. Draft ballots will be posted every Monday for feedback from you, with the real ballot being due every 10 AM Wednesday.
Given that explanation, I'm posting my top ten for your consideration. I'll admit that I don't have a concrete method for picking a top 25, although as you'll discover, I am going to penalize some teams for playing a crappy non-conference schedule.
Feedback is strongly encouraged - ranking the top four is relatively easy - and then it drops off quite a bit after that. Ranking the top 25 teams in the preseason is a pretty tricky process and I can use all the help I can get.
I keep trying like hell to find things I don't like about Tim Tebow, and the only things I can find don't have to do with him, they have to do with the constant drooling over him by the media. Florida returns tons of talent, and they remain here until someone beats them.
The Sooners are above USC because of the Trojans' yearly propensity to lose to an unranked opponent. Oklahoma IS loaded - people might look to their offensive line as a possible weakness, but when you look at the guys who are stepping into those positions you'd quickly find out they're pretty darned good.
3. USC Trojans
They're USC. They have a huge population of recruits, they don't have a conference title game to worry about. The wonderful thing about USC is non-Trojan fans can nearly count on them losing a game every year to an unranked opponent and whether you like Ricky Neuheisel, UCLA is getting better.
Texas drops to the bottom of the "Big Four" because their non-conference schedule is embarrassing and they should be penalized for it. Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming Cowboys, UTEP Miners, and Central Florida - it's as if Mack Brown is desperate for another national title.
If the Longhorns somehow miss another national title game because of BCS points, they DESERVE it.
I'm a little apprehensive about the Nittany Lions being this high, but someone is going to win the Big 10, and I'll take them over Ohio State. Maybe it's a little hypocritical, given I'm penalizing Texas for a crappy non-conference schedule when the Nitts get Akron Zips, Syracuse Orange, Temple Owls and Eastern Illinois (way to challenge your team, JoePa!).
Let's take Nick Saban at face value (did I just say that?) and toss out that ugly loss to Utah because the Tide didn't want to play in the Sugar Bowl (cough, bullshit excuse, cough). ‘Bama has a very good defense, but not much on offense returning. Perhaps they're too high?
Ed Orgeron recruited ‘em, and Houston Nutt is teaching them how to play football. Remember that the Rebels beat Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl last season, not because it was a huge upset, but because they improved that much, winning five straight and then the bowl game at the end of the season. With playmaker Jevan Snead at quarterback, I'm not so sure they shouldn't be above Alabama and Penn State. Time will tell.
The Hokies get some credit for a helluva non-conference schedule, opening against Alabama and bringing the Huskers into Blacksburg. Frank Beamer did a helluva coaching job last season, pushing a bunch of young players to win the ACC and the Orange Bowl.
This year Beamer gets a lot more experience, the defense should be even better than last year's and if QB Tyrod Taylor could hit some passes, the Hokies will be in business.
Mike Gundy has all the offense he needs to win a ton of games this season, but that's been the case for a couple years now. The Cowboys seem to be ‘almost there' every year now, and Gundy has the excuse that he has to play in the same division as Texas and Oklahoma.
I'm not a Gundy fan - I think his "I'm a man" speech proved him to be a clown more than anything, but I'm given the Cowboys the benefit of the doubt here. After all, they're the third-best Big 12 team and we'll find out more about them early in the season.
Very good offensive and defensive lines, accompanied by RB Jahvid Best and QB Kevin Riley. California could make a run at USC this season. They're the second-best team in the Pac-10 and as far as I'm concerned that puts them above Ohio State.