College Football Preseason Top Five: Strength in Numbers
The anarchy of the fall is truly upon us now! That's right, sports fans! I'm back...and so is football season. While the NFL is taking an extra few weeks, the college ranks have decided to get kicked off with some smashmouth games.
And after the preseason ranks came out, everyone has an opinion of who is overrated and who is underrated. But while they are handling that debate, I decided to take a look at the top five teams and see who has the toughest road to the BCS National Championship.
Will Alabama repeat the feat? Is this the year that the Big XII finally gets back its pride? Will Boise State overcome the scrutiny and finally play for the National Championship in their final year with the WAC? Will God once again Love The Buckeyes...or will Florida lay claim to their third National Championship this decade?
No. 1: Alabama Crimson Tide (Defending SEC, National Champions)
Last season's magical run was culminated with victories over two of the most impressive quarterbacks in the country: Tim Tebow of Florida and Colt McCoy of Texas. In the end, Mark Ingram was the ultimate equalizer that led the Tide to the National Championship back in January.
But it's a new year with new contenders...mainly in the SEC.
Despite ESPN's love affair with Alabama, the Tide are not at the top of the list of teams that will win it all in the SEC. LSU has come up in conversation, as has of course Florida.
Despite the Gators losing Tebow to graduation and the NFL, there are those who feel that Alabama is the most complete team in the SEC.
And their schedule helps their chances of another perfect season, and another national crown.
Out of their entire schedule, six games stick out as red flags for the Tide's quest to win it all again. Right out of the gate, the Tide host Big Ten sluggers, Penn State before welcoming underdogged Duke and unappreciated Arkansas.
The journey continues when they host Florida in a SEC Championship rematch before traveling to face LSU and hosting Auburn in the annual rivalry game.
Out of all their games, I see Alabama losing at least one game this upcoming season. Whether it's to Lions, Tigers or Gators (OH MY!) is completely up to Nick Saban. Just beware of the NC Hangover, Nick!
Key 2010-11 Games: vs. Penn State (9/11), @ Duke (9/18), @ Arkansas (9/25), vs. Florida (10/2), @ LSU (11/6), vs. Auburn (11/26)
No. 2: Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten Champions)
See that mugshot there? It's been a while since Jim Tressel and Ohio State was able to flash those pearly whites. Not since their defeat of , Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl has Ohio State looked good.
In fact, ever since being crushed by Florida a few years ago, Ohio State went on a losing streak in regards to bowl games.
After losses to LSU and Texas, Ohio State finally got over the hump with their first victory in postseason play since the Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame.
Now once again, Ohio State is in the running for the National Championship, slated to win the final outright Big Ten Championship before the Big Ten Championship Game begins next season.
They are also most likely picked to outlast both the SEC and Big XII, and host the BCS Championship at season's end.
But their schedule is not as easy as they think.
Like Alabama, Ohio State starts out with a slugfest against "Da U!" as the Hurricanes visit the Shoe. After a few minor speed bumps, Wisconsin hosts the Buckeyes before heading home to battle Penn State, traveling to face Iowa and finishing off with Michigan.
Considering everyone who is die hard Miami fans, here's a thought: Expect a fight in that game. These two teams haven't battled with these kind of implications in years. And considering Penn State wants redemption, and both Michigan and Iowa are looking for satisfaction, Ohio State should continue looking over the shoulder all season.
Key 2010-11 Games: vs. Miami, FL (9/11), @ Wisconsin (10/16), vs. Penn State (11/13), @ Iowa (11/20), vs. Michigan (11/27)
No. 3: Boise State Broncos (WAC Champions)
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I got nothing for Boise State. The Broncos were once the most underrated team in the BCS. Then they defeated Oklahoma in the postseason, and finished undefeated for the last few years. Yet, they are still denied the right to play for the National Championship.
Now does the picture make sense?
The Broncos have felt like they were punched in the mouth even when they didn't get a share of the National Championship. They defeated Oklahoma the same year that Florida took down Ohio State, and yet they got nothing but a pat on the back. So does it make sense that the Broncos are out for blood in their final year in the WAC Conference?
Their final road to the WAC Championship and possibly vindication will be a little bumpy to start as they battle Virginia Tech to start the season, followed by Oregon State on the 25th of September. After a collision course with both Hawaii and Idaho, they get Fresno State and Nevada to finish the season.
Every year, the Broncos win the WAC. Every year, they either finish undefeated or with one loss. But every year, they fight. They get bloodied in the process, but they always fight back. So this final year will be no different in my opinion. But will they still feel punched in the mouth when the smoke clears on Selection Sunday?
Key 2010-11 Games: @ Virginia Tech (9/6), vs. Oregon State (9/25), vs. Hawaii (11/6), vs. Fresno State (11/19), @ Nevada (11/26)
No. 4: Florida Gators (SEC Runner-Up)
A majority of the offense is gone. A huge part of the defense is gone. Charlie Strong is off to try it on his own. Oh yeah, and Tim Tebow has replaced his Gator Blue with Bronco Orange. Can the news get any worse for the Gators' quest to win another National Championship?
Yes...they have Alabama on their schedule this year.
Now if there is anyone who can make a quarterback a superstar, it's Urban Meyer. He made Alex Smith into a first round draft pick.
He molded Chris Leak into a NC-winning quarterback. He made Tim Tebow into a household name, a Heisman history maker and a National Champion. So can he do this again with John Brantley?
Honestly, Urban and the Gators just want to punch Alabama and anyone who gets in their way in the mouth after the SEC Championship Game.
Following Florida's decimation of Cincinnati, their attention returned to Alabama and the thought that they will have to lock horns with each other with one of them most likely playing for the National Championship.
Now Florida can still boast that they are the only team out of the SEC to win the National Championship twice in the past four years. And while LSU and 'Bama have themselves one, Florida is eyeing a third and the SEC's fifth straight National Crown.
But for the Gators, this isn't about rebuilding...it's about returning to glory.
For Florida, it means taking out the powerhouses of Division I and Division II. Namely, South Florida, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Appalachian State and Florida State.
Can it get any worse for the Gators? Yes....they have to prove that it wasn't just Tim Tebow or Brandon Spikes that won those games for them.
Key 2010-11 Games: vs. South Florida (9/11), @Tennessee (9/18), @ Alabama (10/2), vs. LSU (10/9), vs. Georgia (10/30), vs. Appalachian State (11/20), @ Florida State (11/27)
No. 5: Texas Longhorns (Big XII Champions, National Runner-Up)
For Texas to return to the promise land, they must replace several lost members of their departed team from last season. Jordan Shipley is busy fixing his scrambling brain and bad neck.
Colt McCoy has left his tears on the field and migrated to the Dawg Pound. Now Mack Brown will have to find a third edition of Vince Young.
For the Horns to run the Big XII before the big divorce happens next season, they will have to be more smashmouth than ever before. They will have to find a new field general and more flying angels to lead them against the Sooners, Raiders, Aggies and the departing Buffs.
Now in all fairness, the Longhorns have always had a hard road when it comes to their conference. From Oklahoma to Oklahoma State to even Kansas and K-State, Texas will have their hands full.
And it starts with a visit from the Mountain West Conference.
After entertaining Wyoming, they visit Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Nebraska before returning home to battle Gundy's Cowboys and the Aggies!
But it all starts with who will lead the charge before anything else. Get your offense back, then work on the defense, and maybe (just maybe) they will do enough to stay in the top ten...cause I don't think they can last in the top five after October.
Key 2010-11 Games: vs. Wyoming (9/11), @ Texas Tech (9/18), @ Oklahoma (10/2), @ Nebraska (10/16), vs. Oklahoma State (11/13), vs. Texas A&M (11/25)