In an effort to draw together the disparate fringes of college football blogosphere, the fine gents from Every Day Should Be Saturday are running a regular blog poll. After I got over the shock that a bunch of jean short wearers from Ocala have access to the internet for purposes other than googling digitally altered pictures of LeAnn Rimes, I was more than happy to join. Anyway, on with the show:
1. What's THE critical game of the season on the national scene?
My initial inclination is to say Oklahoma-Texas, both because the winner of that game will have relatively clear sailing to the national title game (especially if no one emerges from the Big XII North) and because this year is absolutely critical for Mack Brown in the Rabbi Hillel sense: if not now, when? Then again, I suspect that Texas will not be unbeaten by the time they get to the Red River Shootout.
LSU-Florida gets my vote, although I feel a little queasy about it because the two teams are likely going to meet again in December in Atlanta. There are few, if any, teams in the country that have recruited as well as these two over the past three years. Florida is getting a massive coaching upgrade, while LSU's coaching change isn't going to hurt them much because they are getting an offensive upgrade by adding Les Miles to Jimbo Fisher and the defense shouldn't drop off much with Bo Pelini calling the shots. Florida will take care of Tennessee (Urban Meyer against John Chavis? Please.), as will LSU and they'll meet in a battle of top five teams on October 15 in Baton Rouge.
2. What's the most critical matchup for your team?
Since I'm defining "my team" as the entire SEC, I think I answered this question above. However, if you must pigeon hole me as a Georgia fan, the most critical game for the Dawgs this year is the Auburn game. Losses to Tennessee and Florida can be stomached. Those teams are both top ten caliber and losing to them is no great shame, especially since one game is on the road and the other is in Georgia's house of horrors. A loss to Auburn, on the other hand, would be hard to take because it would firmly place Georgia back in the middle class behind LSU, Florida, and Tennessee. Auburn is rebuilding this year and the Dawgs owe them after getting abused on the Plains. If they don't win this one, then Georgia fans are going to start to question how much of Mark Richt's success was the result of his now departed defensive coordinator.
3. What's your wingnut upset prediction of year?
Remember when Nebraska had won two national titles in a row? Remember where their winning streak ended? Right, Sun Devil Stadium. Give me Arizona State over USC. The Trojans are going to miss their defensive tackles from last year, but more importantly, they are going to miss Norm Chow in a big way. Pete Carroll is a great defensive mind, but he needs a smart guy to handle his offense and he just lost the smartest guy in college football. Everyone is tagging USC's trip to Oregon as the upset game, but Autzen has been overrated for the past few years and USC is going to be paying attention for that one. The trip to Tempe, on the other hand, will be the second of two straight road games, it's against a team that the Trojans blew out last year so their guard will be down, and Dirk Koetter ought to be able to scheme some points against the USC defense. ASU will be battle-tested after their trip to Baton Rouge and won't be shocked by USC's speed.