that the college football season has officially
ended - final rankings have been released, bowl
game winners and losers have been taken into consideration
and most important...players leaving early for
the NFL Draft can now be figured into the mix.
After digesting all of the 2011 preseason polls
we could find this early, it's time to debunk
and/or establish a few trends about what is likely
to happen six months down the road as teams jostle
for poll position.
First, what has now become an overwhelming sentiment,
the Oklahoma Sooners look like the sure-fire team
to start out in the No. 1 spot. This case was
far from settled just a month ago when NationalChamps.net
was the first to release a 2011 look ahead with
the GoDaddy.com Early Bird Preview. Some people
scoffed at the notion the Sooners would be top
dog as the early presentation showed. Now that
the versatile Ryan Broyles has decided to return
for his senior year and given that head coach
Bob Stoops shook off his usual BCS woes while
defeating an out manned UConn in the Fiesta Bowl,
this team is going to be starting out on top.
If anyone else is going to push for this honor
it's going to be Alabama, LSU or Oregon.
Alabama - The Tide lost three
major players early to the NFL Draft (Ingram,
Jones and Dareus) or this might have been that
top team for 2011, at least in a few other polls.
Everything is set in Tuscaloosa for a run at the
SEC Championship minus the play of a new quarterback.
The only team standing in their way would be…
- The Bayou Bengals looked fantastic offensively
in their Cotton Bowl performance. Quarterback
Jordan Jefferson may finally be turning the corner,
an ingredient that has held Les Miles' team back.
With so much personnel returning, they help make
the SEC West the best Divisional split in all
of college football by a landslide.
- The Ducks have the ability to get back to the
BCS National Championship Game if anything based
solely on the fact both quarterback Darron Thomas
and top Heisman contender LaMichael James at running
back are in this crazy quick-strike offensive
mix. They have to find better answers on the line
of scrimmage before they can be compared to the
likes of the people ranked in front of them.
It's been said by some television commentators
(including the Orange Bowl crew) that Stanford
will be a front-runner for all the marbles if
quarterback Andrew Luck returns as the Cardinal
has upwards of 16 starters returning. This is
far from the truth; they only have 11 starters
back. That does not even include the loss of their
head coach Jim Harbaugh. With Luck back, sure
Stanford is somewhere in the Top 10 to start next
season, but claiming they are one of the favorites
to win it all is a stretch with so many holes
TO DO WITH THESE SUSPENDED BUCKEYES?
Looks like all five Ohio State players that are
to be suspended for the first five games of 2011
have actually kept their word and decided to return
to Columbus while skipping the NFL Draft. Had
all these guys not been suspended, the Buckeyes
could easily be sitting in the Top 5 this preseason.
They won't climb that high, but they won't be
that far off either. Even if those five guys never
did comeback, Ohio State would still be one of
the most talented/well-coached teams in America
on the field.
The big jump/surprise in these preseason polls
has been the extremely high ranking of Florida
State. A few prognosticators have even gone so
far to place Jimbo Fisher's team in the Top 5.
Hold on a minute! While the talent pool continues
to be solid through recruiting some holes still
need addressed including inconsistencies on defense
and the loss of the two top blockers. E.J. Manuel
looks like the real deal behind center though.
The truth however is that no ACC team should ever
rank that high. History should have told everyone
this much. But this certainly is a year that could
start the Noles down the path of finally being
STATE OF OKLAHOMA IS OFFENSIVE
You want offense? When Brandon Weeden and Justin
Blackmon decided to return to Stillwater for another
season, Oklahoma State laid claim to first rights
in the Big 12 conference chase of the in-state
rival Sooners. Ten starters will line up on this
side of the ball for the Cowboys. Nine will line
up offensively for the Sooners. Both of their
quarterbacks were tabbed All-Big 12 this past
fall. If either one of these teams can learn how
to play defense, the winner of the Bedlam Series
could be headed for a national title showdown
without having to finally play a conference championship
game to get there. With only ten teams for now,
the Big 12 just made their team’s road to
the BCS much easier.
STILL GETTING NO RESPECT
So the Horned Frogs have some serious rebuilding
to do. Only ten starters are coming back from
the nation's undefeated No. 2 ranked team. When
will people learn that head coach Gary Patterson
does well no matter how many starters come back?
A trend exists in Fort Worth that continues to
get ignored on years such as this. Get real...they
don't deserve a lofty preseason ranking, but they
also don't deserve the disrespect they seem to
be getting by being placed in the lower half of
the Top 25. NationalChamps.net made the necessary
If fans in the BCS aligned conferences are sick
of hearing about Boise State claiming they belong
in the discussion for top honors...don't look
now but the Broncos with Kellen Moore back behind
center will continue to be this year's top version
of the politically correct “non-AQ”
(non-automatic qualifier) team. The Broncos move
from the WAC to the newly aligned Mountain West
didn't do much for their schedule difficulty...or
Mississippi State finished the 2010 season ranked
15th in the AP Poll. They also bring back the
same amount of people, if not more, when compared
to everyone else ranked in front of them. So how
is it that their average ranking from all these
early preseason polls drops to around No. 21?
This makes no sense. The offense is starting to
pick up the pace and head coach Dan Mullen has
his Dawgs barking as Michigan head coach Rich
Rodriguez found out at the Gator Bowl coaching
his last Wolverine game. NationalChamps.net made
the necessary adjustments.
RESURRECTION PART XII
Notre Dame has a new coach. Notre Dame just got
a rare bowl victory over a Hawai'i team that finished
.500 for the season. Oh wait, that was two years
ago. This bowl win was against a Miami team in
the middle of a complete meltdown. The point is,
with so many players coming back in South Bend
the media is sure to blow these Irish bagpipes
all the way into September talking about how first
year coach Brian Kelly has turned the program
around. Same story, different coach. This team
surely has potential to be much better. But jumping
them from their final No. 33 ranking in the 2010
AP Poll into a Top 15 spot for next year is malarkey.
For once this century can Notre Dame prove they
NationalChamps.net pegged Tulsa as a Top 25 team
in the first Early Bird Release last month. Some
folks disagreed. After beating a good Hawai'i
team on the islands Christmas Eve, the Golden
Hurricane finished ranked 24th in the AP Poll.
New head coach Bill Blankenship just inherited
a "golden" mine full of 24-carat players.
GAME STRIKE OUTS
Here are a few teams that really got hurt in these
preseason polls by a horrible bowl performance.