College Football Rankings 2011: Florida State and Trendiest Picks in the Top 25
As spring football is finally in progress, the preparation for the 2011 college football season has finally begun.
Fans are bragging about how good their team will be next season, players are hyping themselves up and the media is already finding their new love interests.
As the earliest preseason polls are coming out, there is a noticeable trend of the teams found in these lists. Some are obvious top 25 teams, while others are surprising the casual fan.
The teams that find themselves in this position are being dubbed “sexy picks” or “trendy picks.” They are either constantly overrated or just seem out of place in the polls.
Whether it is because they are returning a lot of people or because they achieved success last season, the rankings are consistently having these same teams in each poll.
These are the 10 trendiest picks in the early 2011 preseason top 25.
Arizona State Sun Devils
The Arizona State Sun Devils might be the most unknown team in the preseason top 25. Most people think that they are just a mediocre team that has failed to make a bowl game for three straight seasons.
However, the Sun Devils were probably the best team not to play in a bowl game last season. They lost games to Wisconsin and USC because of blocked extra points, only lost to Stanford by four points and actually led Oregon at halftime until turnovers lost the game.
If Arizona State can finally finish some close games and not turn the ball over, they could be scary. They return nine starters on both sides of the ball, including All-American LB Vontaze Burfict.
After a hot finish to the 2010 season, the Sun Devils are one of the favorites to win the Pac-12 South. This is one of the most pivotal seasons in this program's history. If they fail, head coach Dennis Erickson will probably be fired.
Most of the time you would expect a team that lost a quarterback like Ryan Mallett to take a step back, but not Arkansas. The Razorbacks have cracked the top 10 in some preseason polls and have consistently been in the top 15.
Most of this hype is because new QB Tyler Wilson has showed a lot of potential. They return a experienced defense and RB Knile Davis is one of the best ball carriers in the country.
Arkansas could easily be called a BCS title contender, but there is just one problem. Their schedule is brutal. The Razorbacks will play Texas A&M, LSU and Alabama all on the road.
The Razorbacks deserve all the hype they are getting this preseason, but can they deliver? It is going to be tough.
After their amazing 2011 run, I understand why Auburn should be a preseason ranked team. However, I do not understand why they are getting so much love.
Auburn only returns four starters on each side of the ball and loses its two best players, QB Cam Newton and DT Nick Fairley. They will also be losing four offensive linemen and most of their defensive line.
Some polls have them ranked as high as sixth in the nation. I guess these polls think that running backs Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb are good enough to carry this team.
Now Auburn fans, I know what you are going to say: “This is the most talented Auburn team in years.” I have heard it a million times, but I am sorry. I am not buying it.
Florida State Seminoles
The Seminoles are probably the most hyped team for the 2011 college football season. They are returning eight players on both sides of the ball and had the best recruiting class in the nation.
There is a lot to be excited about in Tallahassee. Head coach Jimbo Fisher has the team on the right track, and they are one of the programs on the rise.
The game that defines their season in 2011 is going to come at home against Oklahoma in Week 3.
Oklahoma is picked by many polls as the top ranked team in the country. Seminoles fans seem to believe they have a serious shot at the BCS title next season. If they can beat Oklahoma, then they will definitely prove their worth.
However, even if they lose this game, they will still probably be a BCS team in 2011. They play in a very weak ACC and have a favorable schedule.
The Georgia Bulldogs are a very intriguing team. They are returning one of the best young quarterbacks in the nation, Aaron Murray, and had one of the best recruiting classes in the nation.
Aaron Murray is great, but the Bulldogs' problem last season wasn’t their offense. It was their defense in their first season running the 3-4.
Most of this ineffectiveness was due to not having a true nose tackle. In the offseason, Georgia addressed this issue by signing junior college transfer Jonathon Jenkins.
Jenkins is 6’4”, 340 and has the ability to plug the middle of the line.
If the Bulldogs can improve their defense, there is no reason they cannot be a top 15 team. They are exceptionally talented and miss out on playing the three toughest teams in the SEC (Alabama, LSU and Arkansas).
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Last season, Mississippi State was one of the most surprising teams in the country. They went 9-4 and ended the season with a blowout victory over Michigan in the Gator Bowl.
There are a lot of reasons to like the Bulldogs next season. They have a flashy quarterback in Chris Relf, return 15 starters and have one of the 2010 breakout players, Vick Ballard.
Mississippi State finds themselves ranked from around 15th to 25th, but it might be tough to maintain that. They have one of the toughest schedules in the country and have to play all of the toughest teams in the SEC.
Along with losing all three starting linebackers from season ago, their schedule might be too strong to overcome.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
It is hard to find a poll that doesn’t rank Notre Dame in the top 25. This is one of the most hyped Fighting Irish teams in years.
Head coach Brian Kelly is quickly improving this team and changing Notre Dame’s identity.
Under Charlie Weis, the Irish were purely an offensive team who seemed to not even practice defense. Now under Kelly, the Irish have shown vast defensive improvement and still maintain a solid offense.
Last season, Notre Dame had one of the best finishes in the country. They won their last four games of the season and only gave up an average of 9.75 points per game.
The Irish are returning one of the best receivers in the country in Michael Floyd and one of the most feared linebackers in Manti Te’o. If their defense can hold up, the Irish will be a tough team in 2011.
Stanford is the media’s sweetheart because they are a true representation of the student athlete. As much as I respect the program and what they stand for, I am not sure I believe in all the Stanford hype.
Stanford is losing a lot of talent from their Orange Bowl champion team. They are losing their head coach, three offensive line starters and seven defensive starters from that team. However, they are returning Andrew Luck.
Luck is good enough reason to feel confident in any team. He is the best quarterback in the nation and is undoubtedly the front runner to win the Hesiman trophy.
The Cardinal lucked out and get Oregon at home this season. Many people think that this game will decide who wins the Pac-12 in its inaugural season.
Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M was another surprise team in 2010, but they will start out near the top in 2011. The Aggies are ranked somewhere between seventh and 10th in most preseason polls.
They are led by a converted receiver now playing quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, and a talented running back named Cyrus Gray.
Most of their hype is due to their incredibly strong finish. After Tannehill became the starting quarterback halfway through the season, the Aggies didn’t lose another regular season game.
They had big victories over top 10 opponents line Nebraska and Oklahoma, proving they are ready to play with the big boys in the Big 12.
Texas A&M returns a total of 18 starters and should be one of the strongest teams in the Big 12 in 2011.