When the 2012 NCAA College Football rankings were unveiled, the first thing many people noticed was the brawn of the Southeastern Conference. The SEC have five teams in the top 10 of the newest AP Top 25 and because of this should have a representative in several major bowls, including a national championship.
If only teams like Boise State could be so lucky.
But this season, there are some reaches in the Top 25 including everybody's sexy pick, the Florida State Seminoles. The Seminoles, ranked No. 7 in the AP Top 25, had its highest-ranked recruiting class in over a decade and has a squad full of talent.
But as seen in previous seasons, talent does not automatically equate to victories or unblemished seasons. It would be hard to see the Seminoles justify a top-10 ranking after falling in three of its first five games in 2011. A losing streak to start the season speaks to a team's maturity and focus. I just don't see how a young, albeit talented, recruiting class improves the team's leadership and approach to the game.
One that may not be so much of a reach as a misplacement is the top-ranked Southern California Trojans. USC obviously has the firepower to shoot-out with anyone, but the substance is lacking.
Matt Barkley, who is at the top of everyone's Heisman list, has the ability to make all of the throws and manage the game, but USC is not as stout defensively as it would lead you to believe. In 2011, the Trojans ranked No. 45 overall in points against at 23.6 points allowed per game.
In 2011, the Trojans ranked No. 54 in total defense allowing 374.75 yards per game. That is nearly 200 more yards per game allowed than the Crimson Tide allowed last season. The Trojans Achilles' heel in 2011 was its passing defense, which allowed 263.33 yards per game and good for No. 102 in the nation.
Do you think that a team can transform itself into a national powerhouse again in the span of one season, where its defense was suspect at best? Fox News says, "With a potent offense, the Trojans' defense will not have as much pressure thrust upon it."
Don't be blinded by the fireworks that Barkley and Robert Woods are sure to light. This USC team is better than the one that lost to Arizona State and Stanford last season, but it is not worthy of a No. 1 overall ranking over the stellar cast of SEC schools.
USC will also have to face No. 5 Oregon and No. 25 Stanford this season as its toughest opponents, a far cry from a typical SEC slate.
As put mildly by the Chicago Tribune: "If ever there was a season to forget for Ohio State, it was last year."
The Ohio State Buckeyes may not be ranked in the top 10, but it is still hard to justify a No. 18 ranking. In 2011, the Buckeyes lost seven games for the first time since 1897. Somehow, the Big Ten hype has helped the Buckeyes on to a list where they don't belong. The Buckeyes had more losses than everyone in the top-25 last season yet still rank above teams such as Boise State, who went 13-1 last season.
Urban Meyer may be a great coach, but he won't be able to transform a seven loss team into a three loss team in one season, even in a down season for the Big Ten. As the Washington Post reports: "So what effect will new coach Urban Meyer have on Ohio State Buckeyes fans about to find out."