Sunday, January 08, 2006

My Final Top 25

1. Texas
2. Southern Cal
3. Penn State
4. Ohio State
5. West Virginia
6. Louisiana State
7. Virginia Tech
8. Alabama
9. Georgia
10. Wisconsin
11. Notre Dame
12. Auburn
13. UCLA
14. Florida
15. Miami (Florida)
16. TCU
17. Oregon
18. Louisville
19. Oklahoma
20. Boston College
21. Texas Tech
22. Clemson
23. Florida State
24. Iowa
25. Nebraska

Not too much thought had to go into the #1 spot. I briefly considered dropping USC behind Penn State or even Ohio State, but a team that was a half a yard from winning their 35th game in a row deserves a little more respect than that, even if the defensive issues that led me to feel like a lone wolf crying in the wilderness (or at least it seemed that way as Herbstreit preened endlessly on TV that Reggie Bush could win seven gold medals at the coming Winter Olympics) finally came around to bite them. In my heart of hearts, I wanted to rank Ohio State ahead of Penn State because I'm confident that the Bucks would be favored over the Lions on a neutral field, but I didn't have the balls.

I struggled with ranking the SEC teams, as the two best teams in the conference lost their bowl games, one at home and the other to a suspect Big Ten team that I ranked 24th in my last regular season poll, while the third, fourth, and fifth teams all had good bowl wins.

By the way, has anyone noticed how the early rankings for 2006 look almost exactly the same as the rankings at the end of 2005? And do you think that the writers composing them have any idea how many players are returning for the given teams, other than a few skill position players? I do have an early nominee for most overrated team next year: Florida. They meet both of the Charles Rogers Theorem criteria perfectly: they played better in their final two games and they return everything at the skill positions, but they replace the offensive line. The schedule is brutal next year, as well. They're at Tennessee, Auburn, and Florida State. The one countervailing factor is that they'll be in their second year in Urban Meyer's offensive scheme and West Virginia showed what properly run spread option can do to a good SEC defense, but Chris Leak probably isn't the right guy to run it and that will leave Meyer coaching a scheme that isn't his natural one.

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