Next week is game week, so we'll finish up the preseason stuff here before turning our attention to kickoff and who's not on UCLA's injury report.
The most prestigious of the preseason picks is to "guess" the National Champion. But since I've now crossed the threshold into the realm of the completely irrational and don't want to write another impassioned post about how the Vols are going to win every game, only to see it go up in flames on the West Coast in Week One, I've instead cleverly channeled my insane and boundless optimism this way: selecting the 10 BCS participants.
The four BCS bowls plus the National Championship will once more be comprised of the champions of the six major conferences, plus four at-large bids. A mid-major conference champion is eligible to receive one of those bids if it finishes in the top 16 of the final BCS standings. And no conference is allowed more than two teams in the BCS, which means lots of unhappy campers in the SEC and Big 12 this year, and more equal revenue sharing.
So, with that in mind, and with no determining factors here like which are the conference champions or who's ranked No. 1, these are my 10 picks for the 10 teams that will be playing in the BCS bowls come January:
Florida - Do you really think they'll lose four games again this year? Head-to-head, I still don't trust Georgia to beat them with any consistency, and the Gators actually have an easier schedule.
Ohio State - Even if you don't think they'll play for the whole thing or beat USC, there's simply way too much returning talent for the two-time runners-up to not see them as the overwhelming Big 10 favorite.
Oklahoma - As I've mentioned elsewhere, I think this is the team with the best combination of fewest questions, most answers, and most manageable schedule. Whether they win or not once they get there is another issue.
South Florida - The best-looking Cinderella from '07, the Bulls have a home date with stepsister Kansas and then the same old same old. Even with a loss, I think they get in simply because only two are going from the SEC and the Big 12.
Tennessee - Because it's always a good idea to pick two teams from the same division in one conference, since the loser of the conference championship game almost never goes to the BCS. And because I dare you to find me a Tennessee fan who'll tell you that they're afraid of Georgia with a straight face.
Texas - Picking two teams from the same division, part two. Kansas stole this spot last year only when the Horns lost to Texas A&M. Missouri will be better than both of them again this year...but Texas will get the spot because that's who people want to see on TV, and the Horns didn't lose in the championship game.
USC - Somebody has to win the Pac-10, and guess who it's going to be? Again. I think the Trojans are at the bottom of the National Championship contenders list, but they'll still get in the BCS.
Wake Forest - Because I don't trust Clemson at all, Virginia Tech has zero experience, and Wake Forest has a bunch of guys with 2006 ACC title rings still walking around campus, plus they catch Florida State while their players are still suspended.
West Virginia - Like South Florida, even at 11-1 I think they'll still get in even if they need the at-large. Beating Auburn would ensure their name in the National Championship race.
Wisconsin - Are Wisconsin and South Florida better than LSU, Georgia, Missouri, and any of the other teams you're asking about? Nope. But, again, two teams per conference...plus, I don't think any mid-majors are going this year, so it's the Badgers making it to the big time.
Disagree? Of course you do. Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.