College Football Rankings 2011: Who Will Be Overrated, Who Will Be Underrated?
At the beginning of the every season, preseason polls take their best shot at ranking teams that have yet to take the field. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it.
Unfortunately, every season these polls get it wrong. Some teams will be overrated, while others will be underrated.
Luckily for you, this article will tell you what to expect from these polls.
These are the teams that will be overrated or underrated in the 2011 preseason college football polls.
Arizona State Sun Devils: Underrated
It is hard to rank a team in the preseason that only went 6-6 the year before, but the Sun Devils deserve it. They are returning 19 starters from a season ago and are considered by many to be the early Pac-12 South favorite.
Last season, the Sun Devils lost to Wisconsin, Oregon, USC and Stanford by just a combined 17 points. It showed that their talent level is as good as the elite teams in the nation.
The Sun Devils had a young team last season that made mental errors in key moments. This season, head coach Dennis Erickson believes that his team is going to start winning those big games.
Erickson’s confidence is rubbing off on his players and fans in Tempe as well. When junior cornerback Omar Bolden announced he was returning for his senior season at ASU, he also said that he plans to win the Pac-12 title in 2011.
The Sun Devils are as fast as any team in the nation and will be one of the most-experienced teams in the country next year. If they can finally turn the corner and start winning big games, they could easily be a top 15 team in 2011.
Arkansas Razorbacks: Underrated
Arkansas might have been just an interception away from winning the Sugar Bowl last season. The Razorbacks made great strides and were one of the most-improved teams in 2010.
Running back Knile Davis has emerged as one of the best backs in the country and their defense was much improved.
They are returning eight starters from that defense and also return six starters on the offensive side of the ball.
Tyler Wilson is expected to take over for NFL prospect Ryan Mallett at the quarterback spot. Wilson showed a lot of promise against Auburn in which he threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns.
If the Razorbacks were not in the SEC, I would say they were title contenders. However, the road to the national championship includes two tough road games at LSU and Alabama.
I expect the Razorbacks to win around 10 games and compete for the SEC title.
Florida State Seminoles: Overrated
The Seminoles have a very good chance of winning the ACC and are definitely improving under Jimbo Fisher, but they are not a Top Five team like most early polls are projecting.
The Seminoles defense was very inconsistent in 2010 and they were embarrassed against the top two teams on their schedule, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech. The Seminoles don't have the defense for their team to be ranked in the Top Five.
They are also losing their quarterback and leader Christian Ponder. He will be replaced by E.J. Manuel, who has already thrown eight interceptions and just six touchdowns in 199 career passing attempts.
The future is bright in Tallahassee, but don’t expect Florida State to compete for a BCS title quite yet.
Georgia Bulldogs: Underrated
Last season, Georgia had a disappointing 6-7 record. It was the first season the Bulldogs ran a 3-4 defensive scheme and it did not go well. One of the reasons is because Georgia didn’t have a true nose tackle on the roster.
In the offseason they addressed that issue and signed junior college-transfer nose tackle Jonathon Jenkins.
Jenkins is a 6’4” 340-pound mountain of a defensive lineman. He should greatly impact the defense next year.
On offense, the Bulldogs are led by quarterback Aaron Murray. He was one of the most-efficient passers in the nation last season in his freshman campaign.
Along with a favorable schedule and one of the best recruiting classes in the nation this offseason, the Bulldogs are poised for a comeback season in 2011.
Stanford Cardinal: Overrated
It is hard to be confident in a team that is losing three starting offensive lineman, their head coach and seven defensive starters.
New head coach Brian Shaw has work cut out for him if he wants to keep this team on the map. His Cardinal might be losing too many key players to be dominant in a very tough Pac-12 conference.
One thing to be confident about regarding Stanford is Andrew Luck. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and could be the front-runner to win the Heisman Trophy this season. However, if this line cannot block for Luck, he won’t be the same player he was in 2010.
I am very interested in seeing how the Cardinal fare in 2011. I feel Luck made a huge mistake staying in school and the Cardinal will be a middle-of-the road-team in the Pac-12.
TCU Horned Frogs: Overrated
Last season, TCU ended on a high note by upsetting Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. They will look to carry over their success into the 2011 season, their last season before they move to the Big East.
The Horned Frogs only return five starters on both offense and defense. Their lines on both sides of the ball are depleted and desperately in need of depth.
TCU is also going to have to replace their field general, Andy Dalton, along with both of the team’s leading receivers. He was the heart and soul of the team and will be missed.
TCU needs to run the table if they want to make a BCS game in 2011 again. Without Dalton and with so many new faces, I don’t see them getting past their tough MWC game at Boise State.
Tennessee Volunteers: Underrated
Tennessee ended the 2010 regular season last year on a four-game winning streak. They then lost to North Carolina at the Music City Bowl in a double-overtime heartbreaker.
Despite losing against the Tar Heels, the Vols showed that they have promise moving forward. They had to deal with three coaches in three seasons, but have finally found their man in Derek Dooley.
They have also found a new quarterback in Tyler Bray. In his freshman season, Bray threw for 1,849 yards and 18 touchdowns, impressive numbers considering he only started five games.
Tennessee is returning seven players on both sides of the ball and will look to crack the Top 25 at sometime in the 2011 season.
Texas Longhorns: Overrated
Every single poll seems to have Texas rated in the Top 20 despite not making a bowl game in 2010.
I don’t have confidence in Texas because there are too many new faces. Head coach Mack Brown is bringing in six new assistant coaches, including a new offensive coordinator and a new defensive coordinator.
Quarterback Garret Gilbert was dreadful in 2010. He threw for just 10 touchdowns and 2,744 yards, which was offset by a dreadful 18 interceptions.
Along with sloppy quarterback play, the Longhorns are expected to have Malcolm Brown be the feature running back in 2011.
A new coaching staff, a below-average quarterback and a true freshman running back; nothing about Texas seems too appealing
USC Trojans: Underrated
USC may be on probation for the conference championship game and bowl games, but they can still play spoiler for other teams.
The Trojans scare me. They are returning seven players on both sides of the ball, will be looking to get revenge on teams next season and have one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Matt Barkley.
I would argue that the main reason the Trojans were not great last season is because of a lack of motivation. If they can find some, then their talent will carry them to a lot of wins.
Barkley has vastly improved each season he has been at USC. I expect his third to be his best yet.
The Trojans have something to prove in the inaugural season of the Pac-12. They need to show that they are still a national power and that they will still dominate the conference.
Utah Utes: Overrated
The Utes seem to be very cocky coming into their first season in a BCS conference. Many Utah fans think that they are front-runners to win the South, but not so fast.
Utah has question marks all over the field. Quarterback Jordan Wynn will not be healthy enough to play in spring, they are scrambling to find running backs and they are losing both starting cornerbacks.
This team has very little depth and is not prepared to handle the gauntlet that is the Pac-12 schedule.
I feel Utah will be nothing more than a middle-of-the-road Pac-12 team, scrambling with Arizona and UCLA for a bowl berth.