From up on high comes Tony Barnhart's Top 25. Tony, never one to rock the boat, has Ohio State at #1, followed by Texas, USC, West Virginia, and Notre Dame. He does fall into the trap of picking WVU high based on their schedule, which could ultimately become a self-fulfilling prophecy that has nothing to do with whether or not they are a top five team. The more I think about the Mountaineers, the more I think they're overrated. Their defense was not especially good last year. Statistically, they were impressive, but a weak schedule had a lot to do with that and Virginia Tech, Louisville, and Georgia all scored on them. (Georgia scored relatively easily once they stopped fumbling the ball on a regular basis and some of the Georgia receivers were embarrassingly open, especially in light of the fact that they were behind and WVU knew they would be throwing.) Plus, they have to replace a good chunk of that defense, especially the secondary, if I recall correctly. (Phil Steele, please help!!!)
Barnhart doesn't have an SEC team in his top five, so he can't be accused of being a homer. I'm in agreement with having Auburn as the top team in the SEC, although I've got that little voice in my head (the same one that told Ray Kinsella to "go the distance") reminding me that Auburn typically does well when nothing is expected of them and poorly when they are highly rated. I have a major logos/ethos dilemma to resolve about the Tigers before the season starts.
Barnhart seem to throw up his hands at the end of the top ten by including all three Florida teams, none of whom have been that good in the last several years. Seriously, when was the last time that Florida State finished in the Top Ten? They've averaged four losses per season since Mark Richt bolted out of town. At what point do people who are paid to know football start to sense a pattern that should be painfully obvious to anyone? Miami has lost three games in each of their two seasons outside of the Big East and just replaced their program lifers with...more program lifers. Florida...well, if you're going to rate West Virginia highly based on a weak schedule, don't you have to downgrade the Gators for having a Bataan Death March of a slate?