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Evaluating ESPN's Preseason Top 25 and Regular Season Predictions

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Evaluating ESPN's Preseason Top 25 and Regular Season Predictions
(Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)

Special thanks goes to Ryan Faller, whose top 25 of a similar nature inspired me to post mine written a few weeks ago on a personal blog site.

The students are back on campus, bars are full once again, and soon stadiums across the country, whether they hold 10,000 or 100,000, will be inundated with tailgaters on the outside, and screaming ticket holders on the inside. Streets will be closed, car flags will fly on the windows, and the sweet combination of the smell of all manner of tailgating fare and alcohol will grace the air. What an atmosphere! 

At this time of year, every college town has promise. Every team starts undefeated. Every fan teems with optimism.

But whose optimism is unfounded? Is ESPN hyping up the wrong teams? Join me as I dive through ESPN's Preseason Top 25 teams, highlighting whether I think they are placed correctly (should be higher/lower), some upcoming big games for each, and their regular season record. Remember it's just my opinion. It's what makes college football so much fun to follow, right?

 

1. Florida

Right where they belong

The Gators are circling the calendars for: Tennessee (because of Lane Kiffin), @LSU, Georgia (@ Jacksonville), Florida State

Don't overlook: Troy (you laugh now...), @Kentucky, Arkansas

Prediction: 11-1 (@ LSU)

 

2. Texas

A couple of spots too high, but definitely top 5.

The Horns are circling the calendars for: Texas Tech (the one game that stopped them from reaching the conference championship), OU (obviously), @ Oklahoma State (twice the Pokes have led Texas at half only to have Texas come back. Will it happen again?)

Don't overlook: @ Wyoming (maybe the altitude gets to them), @Missouri (I have a hunch Missouri isn't as bad off as people think), Kansas (One thing about winning the Orange Bowl: it brings recruits for the next couple years)

Prediction: 10-2 (OU (yeah, I'm a homer with this one), @ Oklahoma State)

 

3. Oklahoma

A few spots too high, but definitely top 10.

The Sooners are circling the calendars for: BYU (in Arlington), @Miami, Texas (obviously), @Nebraska, Oklahoma State (Bedlam)

Don't overlook: @Kansas, @Texas Tech

Prediction: 9-3 (@Miami, @Nebraska, @Texas Tech)

 

4. Southern California

A few spots too high, but definitely top 10.

The Trojans are circling the calendars for: @Ohio State (and as a football fan, pray it's a better game than last year's blowout in L.A.), @California, @Oregon, and sure, @Notre Dame

Don't overlook: @Washington (you laugh, but Sarkasian coached for the Trojans last year), Stanford, Arizona

Prediction: 10-2 (@Ohio State, @Oregon (USC finally loses to a high-caliber conference foe))

 

5. Alabama

A few spots too high, but definitely top 10.

The Tide are circling their calendars for: Virginia Tech (@ Atlanta), @Ole Miss, LSU

Don't overlook: Arkansas, @Kentucky (they played the Tide tough in Tuscaloosa last year), @Auburn (no doubt Bama will be ready for the Iron Bowl, but Auburn will play their best against their hated rival)

Prediction: 9-3 (Virginia Tech, @Ole Miss, LSU)

(Again, the Tide's record was predicted before that Darrell Evans' injury.)

 

6. Ohio State

Based on predicted record, maybe a little low. Think this is a fair ranking for the Buckeyes as if they prove they are back to prominence they can move up, but they aren't too high in the rankings to start with.

The Buckeyes are circling their calendars for: USC, @Penn State, Iowa, @Michigan

Don't overlook: Illinois, Minnesota

Prediction: 11-1 (@Penn State)

 

7. Virginia Tech

About right, maybe a little low.

Update: They lost their starting RB for the season, but since injuries happen and I predicted their record before that, I'll stick to it. Don't be surprised if they lose more than two games now, particularly their matchup with Alabama.

The Hokies are circling their calendars for: Alabama (@ Atlanta), Nebraska, Miami, @Georgia Tech


Don't overlook: Marshall, Boston College, North Carolina, @East Carolina, @Maryland, NC State, @Virginia (that's the balanced ACC for ya)

Prediction: 10-2 (@Georgia Tech, @Maryland)

 

8. Penn State

A few spots too low.

The Nittany Lions are circling their calendars for: Iowa (trendy breakout pick for the Big Ten), Ohio State, @Michigan

Don't overlook: @Illinois, @Northwestern, @Michigan State

Prediction: 11-1 (@Illinois)

 

9. LSU

A few spots too low.

The Tigers are circling their calendars for: @Georgia, Florida, @Alabama, @Ole Miss

Don't overlook: Vanderbilt, Auburn, Arkansas

Prediction: 11-1 (@Ole Miss)

 

10. Ole Miss (Mississippi)

A few spots too low. Yep, I'm drinking the Rebel Kool-Aid.

The Rebels are circling their calendars for: Alabama, LSU

Don't overlook: @South Carolina, @Vanderbilt, Arkansas (The Nutt Bowl), @Mississippi State (The Egg Bowl)

Prediction: 11-1 (Arkansas)

11. Oklahoma State

Too high. Great offense, but suspect defense will prove costly even in the offense-heavy Big 12.

The Pokes are circling their calendars for: Georgia, Missouri, Texas, Texas Tech, @Oklahoma
Don't overlook: @Baylor, @Iowa State, Colorado

Prediction: 8-4 (Georgia, Missouri, Texas Tech, @Oklahoma)

 

12. California

About right. Maybe a bit too high as Cal tends to drop from this annual preseason top 15 ranking during conference play.

The Golden Bears are circling their calendars: @Minnesota, @Oregon, USC, Oregon State, @Stanford

Don't overlook: Maryland, @UCLA, Arizona

Prediction: 9-3 (@Minnesota, @Oregon, USC)

 

13. Georgia

Too high. Stafford and Moreno will be missed this season as they draw LSU along with the SEC East.

The Dawgs are circling their calendars for: @Oklahoma State, Arizona State, LSU, Florida, @Georgia Tech

Don't overlook: @Arkansas, @Tennessee, @Vanderbilt, Kentucky

Prediction: 8-4 (@Arkansas, LSU, Florida, @Georgia Tech)

 

14. Oregon

Too low. A top 10 team.

The Ducks are circling their calendars for: @Boise State, California, USC, Oregon State
Don't overlook: Utah, @UCLA, @Arizona

Prediction: 10-2 (@Arizona, Oregon State (The revenge of the Beavers from last year))

 

15. Georgia Tech

A bit low. See this team challenging for the ACC crown. Especially now that VT is without a proven RB.

The Yellow Jackets are circling their calendars for: Miami, @Florida State, Virginia Tech, Georgia

Don't overlook: Clemson, @Mississippi State (those cowbells are annoying), North Carolina, Wake Forest

Prediction: 9-3 (@Miami, North Carolina, @Florida State)

 

16. Boise State

Too low. See them around #12 or #13 due to scheduling.

The Broncos are circling their calendars for: Oregon, @Tulsa, Nevada

Don't overlook: @Fresno State, @Hawaii (it's so beautiful out there), @Louisiana Tech (ask MS State how that trip went...)

Prediction: 11-1 (Oregon)

 

17. TCU

Talented team, but a tough schedule lands them in the mid-range. Maybe a spot or two higher in the final poll.

The Frogs are circling their calendars for: @Virginia, @Clemson, @BYU, Utah

Don't overlook: SMU (rivals), UNLV, @Wyoming

Prediction: 9-3 (@Virginia, @Clemson, @BYU)

 

18. Utah

About right.

The Utes are circling their calendars for: @Oregon, @TCU, @BYU

Don't overlook: @San Jose State, Louisville, @UNLV, New Mexico

Prediction:9-3 (@Oregon, @TCU, @BYU)


19. Florida State

Too high. Not a horrible team, but not the 'Noles I grew up with.

The 'Noles are circling their calendars for: Miami, @BYU, South Florida, Georgia Tech, @Florida

Don't overlook: @Boston College, @North Carolina, NC State, @Clemson

Prediction: 7-5 (Miami, @BYU, @Boston College, @North Carolina, Florida)

 

20. North Carolina

About right.

The Heels are circling their calendars for: @UConn, East Carolina, @Georgia Tech,Florida State, @Virginia Tech, Miami

Don't overlook: @Boston College, @NC State

Prediction: 8-4 (East Carolina, @Virginia Tech, Miami, @NC State)

 

21. Iowa

A bit low. The Hawkeyes are on the rise.

The Hawkeyes are circling their calendars for: Arizona, @Penn State, Michigan, @Wisconsin, @Michigan State, @Ohio State

Don't overlook: Northern Iowa, Arkansas State, Northwestern, Minnesota

Prediction: 9-3 (@Penn State, @Ohio State, @Wisconsin)

 

22. Nebraska

About five spots too low.

The Huskers are circling their calendars for: @Virginia Tech, @Missouri, Oklahoma, @Kansas, @Colorado

Don't overlook: Arkansas State, Texas Tech, @Baylor, Kansas State

Prediction: 9-3 (@Virginia Tech, @Kansas, @Colorado)

 

23. Notre Dame

Based on record, about right. Based on who they won't beat, they shouldn't be ranked.

The Irish are circling their calendars for: @Michigan, USC

Don't overlook: Nevada, Michigan State, Boston College, UConn, @Stanford

Prediction: 8-4 (Nevada, Michigan State, USC, Boston College)

 

24. Brigham Young

Way too low. I'm thinking more like #9.

The Morm..I mean, Cougars are circling their calendars for: Oklahoma, Florida State, TCU, Utah

Don't overlook: Colorado State, @UNLV, @New Mexico

Prediction: 10-2 (Oklahoma, @New Mexico)

 

25. Oregon State

Too low. This is a mid-range team.

The Beavers are circling their calendars for: Arizona, @USC, @California, @Oregon

Don't overlook: Cincinnati, @Arizona State, UCLA

Prediction: 9-3 (Cincinnati, @USC, @California)

Should be on the list: Kansas should be where Notre Dame is. They are going to challenge Nebraska for the Big 12 North crown.

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