And we're back, just in time for the kickoff of the 2008 college football season. So while Athlon and Street & Smith and Sports Illustrated and ESPN and Fox Sports and everyone else and their mothers are putting up their own college football previews, here is a unique view of the upcoming college football season. Most importantly, it comes with the following disclaimer: I am biased. I have no problem admitting that. I will never predict Ohio State to win the national championship (although after the last two years, isn't that just being reasonable?) and I will never predict that UMass will lose a game. Well, almost never. SO, without further ado, this years top 25:
#1: Georgia - I was very excited to see both the coaches and writers get this one right. Anyone who saw this team at the end of last year knows that this is a smart pick. That being said, I'm not sure the Miami Dolphins could go unbeaten against this schedule. Borderline unfair, though if anyone can do it, Knowshon Moreno, Matthew Stafford and UGA can.
#2: USC - Pete Carroll and Jim Tressell like to play tough games. Remember a few years ago when the Trojans had a home and home with Auburn? Well, he's at it again with a September 13th game against Ohio State. This year's game is in LA, which is huge, because Mark Sanchez probably isn't ready to play in the 'Shoe just yet.
#3: Florida - Think about the games this team won and lost last year. They lost to LSU, barely, in Baton Rouge. They lost to Auburn (again) at home on a last second field goal. They lost to Georgia in that bizarre team-dance-party game in Jacksonville, and they were a total no-show for the Citrus Bowl, or whatever the Citrus Bowl is called now. Fix a few things, and this is a powerhouse team with Tebow and Percy Harvin.
#4: Missouri - People don't know how good Jeremy Maclin is because Missouri was on TV an embarrassingly small amount last year. The kids a freak of speedy nature. Oh, and that Chase Daniel kid isn't too bad at getting him the ball. Only question marks will be at tailback.
#5: Ohio State - Okay, I can't justify knocking this team down any further. James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins are the best in the country at their positions. However, did anyone else see Terrelle Pryor announce his decision to attend "The University of Ohio State"? Fortunately they have good tutors at Ohio State, who can help him out just like they've helped out other star freshmen.
#6: West Virginia - This would probably be my #1 team in the country if Steve Slaton had stayed. I don't actually think that the departure of Rich Rodriguez will have much of an impact this year, because the players they have can run the spread offense, and they will continue to have that type of offense in year one After Rich. Even without Slaton or Owen Schmidtt, Pat White will have a great year, and if Noel Devine can carry the ball 15-20 times a game without getting hurt, this is a dangerous team.
#7: Oklahoma - Sam Bradford is great, and he's got a plethora of talent around him (DeMarco Murray, Juaquin Iglesias, Allen Patrick). However, this team has really blown it in big games lately. They've lost two of three to Texas, and are getting embarrassed in BCS games.
#8: Texas Tech - This team will probably score 52 points per game and allow 30. That's a great recipe if your goal is to win 10 games, it's not a great strategy if you want to win a national - or even conference - championship. They also have one game I fear they may be overlooking in Lubbock.
#9: Auburn - The first of the Tigers is Tommy Tuberville's bunch. These guys are incorporating a new spread offense this year, so it should be interesting to see how that pans out. Really though, isn't the SEC a crapshoot? I mean, if Auburn played Georgia ten times, Georgia would win six, maybe seven times. Don't you feel bad for Vanderbilt? ... Me neither.
#10: Wisconsin - One of only two teams with a realistic shot at beating the Bucks in Big Ten play this year (the other being Illinois). PJ Hill was a dump-truck running back his freshman year, then lost some weight and was more of a finesse back last season. Hopefully this year he can make the switch back and roll over OSU.
Hey, I told you I wasn't objective. Now, for the rest.
#11: LSU - I'm not putting a team without a quarterback in the Top 10. Oh, and GO APP STATE.
#12: Clemson - Everyone's saying this team is going to be great this year. Don't we say that a lot in August? Not so much in November? Yeah.
#13: Texas - Colt McCoy had his sophomore slip-ups, but he should be strong this year, although what's this about him having to split time at the position this year?
#14: South Florida - Matt Grothe has another year under his belt, and if USF can beat the Mountaineers for the third straight year, this team might crash the BCS.
#15: Illinois - Juice Williams has a lot more on his shoulders without Rashard Mendenhall.
#16: Arizona State - This team won a huge portion of its games in the second half last year, but with Cal and Oregon falling off this year, they should be able to break 10 wins again in 2008.
#17: South Carolina - Someone is going to emerge as a surprise team in this conference this year. I heard some "experts" on ESPN today picking Ole Miss to win eight games. I see SC winning nine. Just a hunch.
#18: Penn State - JoePa is catching some flack for not having control of his program. Seriously? JoePa is expected to have control of a hundred 18-24 year olds? The man is 81 years old for chrissake! Oy.
#19: Kansas - I'm being generous here, I really believe this team was a flash in the pan.
#20: Virginia Tech - Yes, they've lost a lot of athletes, but this team is always in the mix. An ACC title wouldn't surprise me at all.
#21: Tennessee - Always in the mix. And remember, this team, not Florida and not Georgia, won the SEC East last year.
#22: Alabama - I loved seeing this team fade last year. But Nick Saban has a year under his belt now, and I don't see it happening again.
#23: BYU - I hate admitting it. They're good.
#24: Pittsburgh - They've been disappointing ever since the hired Dave Wannstedt. I haven't seen much of Lesean McCoy, but a lot of people are very high on this guy and if his numbers are any indication, he is one hell of a player.
#25: Appalachian State - Tell me they don't belong. Do it.
So there's my top 25. And while Appalachian State isn't the only FCS team that deserves some mentioning here, they're clearly the most legit. Armanti Edwards is an absolute monster, and he'll be even better this year. LSU had better be ready for the Mountaineers, just as UGA had better be ready for Georgia Southern, just as Texas Tech had better be ready for UMass. Otherwise, it'll be 9/1/07 all over again.
Stay tuned, the US News College Rankings should come out this week, and you know I love those.