A few thoughts on my rationale, such as it is:
- I was tempted to go with USC at #2. At one point, I thought that this could be a down year for them (meaning two losses) because of a true freshman under center. Now that I'm thinking that Aaron Corp will be fine for the season, I'm very high on the Trojans. For one thing, it's dumb to ever not be high on them. For another, if there's any coach whom I trust to handle the loss of eight starters on defense, it's Pete Carroll...and his hydra of five-star badasses. And at some point, they have to end this habit of losing to mid-table Pac ten teams, don't they?
- I don't love Alabama at #5 because of the offensive line, but they seem a little more balanced than Virginia Tech (there is no Julio Jones on the Hokies' roster) and they were so much better than LSU last year that I can't put the Tigers ahead just yet.
- I like Cal over Oregon in the Pac Ten because they just strike me as a more balanced team. How exactly did SI pick the Ducks as a team to watch when they lost their head coach, as well as 13 of 22 starters. I guess that Jeremiah Masoli has magical powers that will allow him to overcome a defense that returns only five starters from a unit that allowed a mere 390 yards per game last year. So no, I'm not high on the Ducks. I am, however, intrigued by a Cal team that returns 15 starters from the best defense of the Tedford era. A Pac Ten team that plays defense and isn't named "USC?" Color me fascinated.
- I've already explained my reasoning on Iowa; the reasoning for Clemson is much the same. They have 15 starters coming back overall, eight on a defense that allowed only 300 yards per game. This vote is not a vote in favor of Dabo Swinney. Rather, it's a vote in favor of the recruits that Tommy Bowden left, combined with a year one boost for a player's coach. This year will be the high-point of the Swinney era, but the trip to the title game should be fun.
- Could someone explain to me why Texas Tech isn't ranked? Does anyone really think that Mike Leach is going to struggle moving the ball with new faces on offense? What, the Raiders are going to average 500 yards per game instead of 530? They averaged 496 yards per game in 2005 when they returned four starters. They averaged 530 yards per game when they returned five starters in 2007. Oklahoma State is preseason #9 and Oregon is preseason #16; can someone set forth a rationale for why either of these teams would be ahead of the Red Raiders?