A Look Back at The 2008 Pre-Season Top 25
Every year before College Football season I rant about how meaningless pre-season rankings and polls are. I am a firm believer that until the last National Champion loses they are still number one.
At my site, The Sports Chat Place, we don't do rankings until at least a few weeks in and last year it wasn't until I added it to my "Ten Top Ten" series I do here at Bleacher Report that I did rankings at all.
I also don't vote in any polls before pre-season and for those of you who are newbies, Trey Bradley runs one for BR and Kristofer Green runs another nice one for the top writers in the college football section I believe he calls the unofficial poll.
Everyone is also welcome to enter the weekly free picking contest against the spread on my site which is free to enter and features cash prizes. It's a lot of fun and a lot of Bleacher Creatures participate and several have won as well including Kristofer Green and Tim Pollack.
In any event, before this season's official USA-Today Poll comes out, let's look at how close or how far away the voters were last pre-season.
Of the final top 25, Utah (4), Alabama (6), TCU (7), Boise State (13), Mississippi (15), Cincinnati (17), Oklahoma State (18), Oregon State (19), Iowa (20), Georgia Tech (22), Florida State (23), Michigan State (24), and California (25) all entered the season unranked. These are the teams that were:
25. Fresno State
Finished the season unranked in what was largely a disappointment. This was a team who simply couldn't tackle. They lost a heart beaker at home to Wisconsin in their second game and finished the regular season by losing by 51 points to Boise State.
The Bulldogs ended up 7-6 and lost to Colorado State in a bowl game once again giving up 40 points.
The one word to describe Michigan's season is disaster. The Wolverines finished 3-9 and ended their nation's longest bowl streak. Losing to arch rival Ohio State by 35 to end the season probably didn't feel too good either.
23. Wake Forest
Jim Grobe's squad sputtered most of the season and finished at 8-5 which wasn't good enough to be ranked. Two of their wins came against Navy as we saw the whole Bowl affiliation thing give us another tiring rematch of a game played during the regular season.
22. Penn State
At least the pollsters had the Lions hitting the poll even though they weren't all that close. PSU won the Big Ten including beating Ohio State in Columbus and came an Iowa field goal from playing in the National Championship game.
PSU lost in the Rose Bowl but it was just another example of just how far a good coach who does things the right way can carry a football team.
21. South Florida
The Bulls started the season 5-0 but once Big East play began things went downhill in a hurry. The Bulls finished the season 8-5 and unranked after and easy blowout win against an over matched Memphis team in their bowl game.
The Ducks lost only three games and finished in the top ten at number nine. It was a pretty amazing feat and one of the better coaching jobs you'll ever see since the Ducks were losing more than a QB a week to start the season and were four deep on the depth chart by week two.
Ron Zook's Illini did the old win one-lose one for the first ten weeks of the season until they lost their last two games and finished at 5-7. It was a big disappointment for a team who had gone to the Rose bowl just a year earlier.
Looking back it was an upset loss to Western Michigan that was a big part of the difference.
National Championship winning coach Phil Fulmer spent several years on the hot seat and last season's 5-7 record and home loss to lowly Wyoming was finally enough to send him packing. It was a rocky ride in Rocky Top for Fulmer and his Vols but over the long haul his teams usually showed up when it mattered most.
17. Brigham Young
BYU went 10-3 and finished the season ranked 21. For a good part of the season the Cougars were thought to be BCS busters but it was them who got busted up when they ran into a buzz saw of a TCU team who chopped them down to size in the Thursday Night showdown.
16. Arizona State
The Sun Devils weren't even a shadow of the team who surprised everyone and went bowling a year earlier. ASU was embarrassing to their faithful going 5-7 though it took wins against Northern Arizona, Washington, and Washington State to even get to that.
15. Virginia Tech
The Hokies ran into the early season Cinderella East Carolina and looked to be reeling but Frank Beamer and Bud Foster managed to rally the troops. VT won the ACC and went to and won the Orange Bowl and finished the season ranked number 14.
14. Texas Tech
Mike Leach's team was once again one of the most entertaining to watch and played in a game against Texas which will be remembered as one of the best games and finishes ever. The Red Raiders had a shot at the title game but lost to Oklahoma and then took a physical beating in the Cotton Bowl against Mississippi. They finished ranked 12th.
The Jayhawks were a good team but the way it all played out for them in the Big 12 they were playing a top 10 ranked team seemingly every week. The two games that cost KU the most in the rankings were an early season loss to South Florida and a late season loss to Nebraska.
The Jayhawks are among the lengthy list of ranked preseason teams to finish the season unranked.
12. Wisconsin- The Badgers promising season became a train wreck when they just couldn't hold onto a lead in the fourth game at Ann Arbor against the Wolverines. It was downhill from there and it took a one point win against Cal-Poly to even get to a bowl. When the Badgers arrived for their bowl, they promptly got it handed to them by Bobby Bowden and the FSU Seminoles in a 29 point romp.
When Coaching changes happen in mid-season in college football, you know things are bad. Auburn fired their offensive coordinator and by season's end Coach Tommy Tuberville was gone as well. One of the season's biggest disappointments.
Colt McCoy came into his own last year and Texas could have easily been in the National Title game. If it wasn't for the final five seconds or so against Texas Tech, they would have been an automatic.
The Longhorns finished heir campaign by an exciting finish of their own to beat Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl which got them a number three ranking.
Clemson were run around, past, and over on both sides of the ball in their opener against a fired up Alabama team and never recovered. By mid season Tommy Bowden was gone as Head Coach.
Clemson rebounded and made a New Years day bowl game but only five of their wins came against FBS teams. Not good enough to be ranked.
8. West Virginia
The Mountaineers also got bit by the ECU upset bug and then took a bad loss at Colorado. Unranked wasn't the way Pat White wanted to go out but he was a real team player both on the field and in front of the microphone.
Chase Daniel was talked about as a Heisman Trophy contender for most of the early part of the season. By season's end Daniel didn't even get a trip to New York. The Tigers finished he season ranked 16th which may have still been a little high.
It wasn't quite the season LSU fans had hoped for as the Tigers clawed and scratched their way to the top of the rankings only to give it all back with erratic QB play. The Tigers ended up unranked for the first time in a while but took out their frustrations on an unsuspecting Georgia Tech team in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
The Gators and QB Tim Tebow took home their second national Title in three years. After losing a home game to Ole Miss Tebow gave a speech that will go down in history as he and his team mates backed up every word, every second of every game the rest of the way.
By virtue of an odd Big 12 tie breaker, the Sooners played in the National Title game and lost a hard fought battle to Florida. QB Sam Bradford took home the Heisman Trophy and the Sooners absolutely murdered most of the teams they played.
3. Ohio State
The Buckeyes showed up for their early season showdown at USC without their top player, RB Beanie Wells, and left with their dreams crushed as the Trojans delivered a beat down. QB Todd Boeckman also left town without his starting job and the Terrelle Pryor era began in Columbus.
OSU lost at home to PSU and then lost again in the Fiesta Bowl as the Buckeyes finished uncharacteristically out of the top ten.
It seems that unless the Trojans run the table they are going to be on the outside looking in when the BCS title is being played. USC lost early at Oregon State as 25+ point favorites and never got high enough in the rankings to play in the big game. Pete Carroll's bunch settled for yet another Rose Bowl win.
The Dawgs dreams came crashing to Earth in one of the most perfect halves of football you'll ever see played as demonstrated by the Alabama Crimson Tide. The showdown between the hedges was a mismatch and the Georgia took at whooping at the hands of the Gators in the cocktail party for good measure.
A loss to Georgia Tech later Bulldog fans realized that QB Matt Stafford was never going to live up to expectations.
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