25 Thoughts on USA Today 2012 Preseason College Football Poll
It's official, the 2012 college football season is almost upon us with USA Today releasing its preseason Top 25 poll today.
Now before you read this article there is something you should know, and that is how I wrote this article.
As said in the title, these are thoughts, not facts.
When I first read the Top 25 rankings, I wrote down every little thought in my head on a piece of paper.
No second guessing. No consideration. Nothing. Just instant, gut reaction thoughts.
Enjoy seeing college football through my eyes.
LSU Won't Finish Ranked No. 1
Sorry, Les Miles, but no one ever goes wire to wire and starts and finishes the season ranked No. 1.
Just look at the photo above.
LSU has the makings of a great ball team, but the loss of Michael Brockers, Morris Claiborne, Rueben Randle and a new quarterback is just not going to allow this team to win the BCS National Championship.
Georgia Should Be in the Top 5...
OK, yes, Georgia is not far off being ranked sixth, but still.
The loss of Isaiah Crowell is not going to be a huge blow to this team. Will it hurt? Yes, but it isn't a fatal blow.
Aaron Murray is my dark-horse pick to win the Heisman Trophy this year, and with his top receiver returning, he's going to be that much better.
Jarvis Jones is the best pass-rusher in the nation and is going to wreak havoc on the SEC.
Watch out for this team. It has a chance to go places.
...And Oklahoma Shouldn't
I just can't trust Landry Jones or Oklahoma.
Jones was heralded as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation heading into last season but was an utter disappointment.
His stats were respectable, but he got worse as the year went on, and we were all expecting so much more.
Look for West Virginia, Texas, Kansas State and TCU to all defeat the Sooners this season
The SEC Nepotism Is Going to Fail
Let me explain.
Alabama and LSU are both ranked Nos. 1-2 heading into the season.
It won't end that way.
As I said earlier, LSU isn't going to finish the year ranked No. 1, and I don't see Alabama faring well this season after losing Kirkpatrick, Hightower, Upshaw, Barron and Richardson. Just too much talent has been lost for them to hold that ranking.
My prediction for Michigan-Alabama on September 1 is the Wolverines pulling off the upset.
Will FSU Finally Prove the Media Right?
There wasn't a more embarrassing team last year than Florida State in my mind.
EJ Manuel was seen as a favorite for the Heisman, and many thought the Seminoles could contend for the national title.
Instead they went 9-4, respectable, but did not live up to expectations.
Florida State is pegged at seventh right now, but will the 'Noles finish close to that this year?
We shall see.
Kansas State Deserves to Be Higher
A ranking of 21st for a team that went 10-3 last year, and returns its top two rushers, top two receivers and their quarterback? You have got to be kidding me.
The Wildcats do have a tough road schedule at Oklahoma, TCU and West Virginia, but I think they can defeat at least two of those teams and finish the season better than they ended last year.
Notre Dame Will Fall out of the Top 25 by Week 3
Most likely, Gunner Kiel will be the starter this season.
As proven in the past, freshman quarterbacks aren't the greatest news for their team, and Kiel will continue that trend this season.
Starting the season, the Irish are ranked 24th, already barely in the Top 25, and losing to Navy in the opener in Dublin, Ireland is an impossibility.
Purdue should be an easy game, but it won't do much to help them in the rankings.
And then Michigan State comes along. Sparty should easily handle the Irish.
Michigan Is the Top Team in the Big Ten
I love Brady Hoke and the Wolverines this year.
This team is going to be better then they were in 2011, and with a year in Hoke's new offense under his belt, Robinson will be more like Denard Robinson circa 2010 then Denard Robinson circa 2011.
The Wolverines have a tough matchup against Alabama in Week 1, but I predict them to win that game. And if they don't, they will win out the rest of the season.
Stanford Does Not Deserve to Be Ranked...
Honestly, Stanford being ranked is just out of courtesy.
Luck, the offensive line and the top receivers are all gone, and Stanford just might finish fourth in the Pac-12 North behind Oregon, Washington and Washington State.
Stepfan Taylor is going to have a tough season, and Stanford will struggle all year long.
I hope they enjoyed the success while it lasted.
...And Neither Does Boise State
Boise State 2011 and Boise State 2012 are like night and day. There is virtually no comparison between the two.
Kellen Moore and Doug Martin, the top two offensive playmakers, are gone, and the Broncos will not be the dominating team that it have been in the past.
Boise State's savior is that it plays in the Mountain West Conference that no longer has TCU.
Sadly the Broncos open the season at Michigan State.
Maybe 2013 will be better.
USC and Oregon Will Be 1-2 by the Time They First Meet
By now I predict that LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma will all have lost, meaning USC and Oregon are going to be ranked No. 1-2.
I have a feeling that this year's edition of the "Game of the Century" is going to be better then "Field Goal Fest 2011."
Look for a showdown between two great offenses and stout defenses.
Read on to see who I think will win.
Washington Should Be Ranked
Washington is one of the few teams that I feel were snubbed in the preseason rankings this year.
I have the Huskies tabbed to finish second in the Pac-12 North, being the only team from that division to test the Ducks.
Keith Price is going to become one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and lead UW to a 10-win season this year.
Oh yeah, and going along with my crazy predictions, Huskies over LSU in Week 2.
Texas Will Finish the Year Ranked Higher Than Oklahoma
You've already read that I am not a fan of Oklahoma this year.
I am, however, a fan of Texas. The offense is made up of mainly sophomores and juniors while the defense might just be in the Top 10 this year.
Malcom Brown and Jonathan Gray are going to be the best backfield tandem outside of Oregon's Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas.
Nebraska Is Where It Should Be
The Cornhuskers have been incredibly inconsistent the past couple of seasons.
With the Big Ten being extremely competitive this season with the Michigan schools and Ohio State, the Cornhuskers are a good team and deserve their 16th ranking.
West Virginia Is a Top 10 Team
Geno Smith is going to be even better in year two of the Dana Hologorsen era and is another quarterback I think highly of this season.
The move to the Big 12 is not going to hurt the Mountaineers at all. Hologorsen was the offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State before moving to West Virginia, and the Air Raid offense has proven success in the Big 12 (see Texas Tech and Oklahoma State).
Arkansas and SCAR Should Be Flipped
Again, not a big deal seeing how Arkansas is ranked right below South Carolina, but I see the Razorbacks being the better team this year.
Knile Davis and Tyler Wilson are back, and I have the Razorbacks winning the SEC West this season.
South Carolina I have falling behind Georgia.
Virginia Tech Is Too Low
A lot of people have Virginia Tech playing poorly this year and being a disappointment this season, but with Logan Thomas a year older, I just don't see that happening.
The tall, lanky passer can beat you with his arms and his legs, and he is another favorite for the Heisman Trophy this season.
I have the Hokies finishing third in the ACC this year behind Florida State and Clemson, but I think they warrant a higher ranking than 20th. Stanford and Oklahoma State should be behind Virginia Tech in the preseason poll.
Utah Will Finish the Year Ranked in the Top 25
Utah might just give USC a run for its money this season.
Not likely but there is still a possibility.
Jordan White and Jordan Wynn are a great running back-quarterback tandem, and with new offensive coordinator David Johnson returning the program to a more spread-based offense, I have a feeling that the Utes are going to return to the glory days of Urban Meyer and the magic 13-0 season of 2008.
Florida Will Be a Surprise Team This Year
Florida hasn't been the same the past two seasons and I put that on John Brantley.
Not all of it was Brantley's fault however. He didn't fit in Urban Meyer's spread offense and was injured as he tried to re-adjust to a pro-style offense.
The Gators have two sophomore quarterbacks that saw playing time last year, Jeff Driskel, who reminds me of Tim Tebow, and Jacoby Briskett.
Driskel and Briskett are battling it out for the starting job right now, and the success of the Gators will fall on them.
Wisconsin Will Finish Lower Than It Starts
Wisconsin has been a top team in the Big Ten the past two seasons with back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances.
Both were losses.
I don't see the Badgers finishing any better than 12th this year, however.
Montee Ball is back and is a touchdown machine, but the Badgers will be starting a new quarterback and also lost Nick Toon, their top receiver from last season.
Georgia, Michigan, and USC Will Finish the Year as the Top 3 Teams
Remember how in slide 11 I said you would find out who I predict to win the USC-Oregon game? Well here is your answer.
And believe me, as an Oregon fan, it was hard to pick.
While I don't know what order Michigan, USC and Georgia will finish in, I have this gut feeling they will be in the Top 3.
Clemson Should Be in the Top 10
I still love the tandem of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins. Both have Heisman potential and will lead this Clemson team to great things.
The Tigers and Florida State are going to be the top teams in the ACC, and when they meet on September 22, a berth in the BCS National Championship Game could be in the winner's future.
Oregon Is Exactly Where It Should Be
Oregon would be my pick for No. 1 had Darron Thomas stayed for his senior year, but he didn't so the Ducks fall to fifth.
The offense will be fine with Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas. Incoming freshman Bralon Addison is a breakout player to keep your eye on, and the defense is going to be one of the best in the nation.
TCU Will Drop
While I predict West Virginia to have a smooth transition into the Big 12, I don't see the same happening for TCU.
Casey Pachall will improve, but facing competitive teams more than once a year is not going to bode well for the Horned Frogs.
They will probably finish the year ranked 25th at best.
Oklahoma State Being Ranked Is a Courtesy Call
Like Stanford and Boise State, Oklahoma State is ranked just out of courtesy to its 2011 season.
The Cowboys circa 2011 and the Cowboys circa 2012 are completely opposite. Almost no one is back from Oklahoma State's Fiesta Bowl champions team, and the Cowboys will finish in the middle of the Big 12.