With less than a week until the mid-week games kick off, this is most definitely one of my favorite times of year. I'm a "would rather have my cake than eat it" guy. The excitement of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams (plus 4 provisional), all have a chance to win the title. Well, maybe not, but all have a chance to make an impact on the season, pull off upsets, win their conference (should they be in a conference), or have their player win the Heisman. But I digress. I thought I'd run through My Top 25. Then as an engineer by trade, put some sort of metric on whether I think each team will exceed or falter vs. the AP/Coaches (see "higher/lower" below), then rate my picks at the end of the season. Sounds like fun? Here we go!
Bold teams win the conference, Italics make the conference title game.
My Top 25
1) Alabama (higher)
2) Oregon (higher)
3) Texas (higher)
4) USC (lower)
5) Wisconsin (higher)
6) Oklahoma (lower)
7) LSU (lower)
8) West Virginia (higher)
9) Florida State (lower)
10) Michigan (lower)
11) South Carolina (lower)
12) Arkansas (lower)
13) Georgia (lower)
14) Boise State (higher)
15) Notre Dame (higher)
16) Michigan State (lower)
17) Clemson (lower)
18) Nebraska (lower)
19) Florida (higher)
20) Ohio State (lower)
21) Virginia Tech (lower)
22) TCU (lower)
23) Louisiana Tech (higher)
24) Georgia Tech (higher)
25) Kansas State (lower)
Non ranked Conference winners:
Big East: Cincinnati
Conference USA: Southern Methodist
MAC: Northern Illinois
Sun Belt: Arkansas State
Top 5 Questions answered:
1) What the hell are you thinking with Texas #3
A: I am biased, but I think the team has the running game and defense that can keep them in all the games they play. The Big 12 gauntlet will be tough, won't get out unscathed, but I think this is a year where 1 loss or 2 will still make the title game. If the QB situation implodes and injuries at RB take a toll, then this team drops to .500 quick.
2) Louisiana Tech at #23. Really?
Other than an odd loss at Hawaii last year, all losses were close (to teams like Houston by 1 point, Southerm Miss by 2 points, TCU by 7 points). Lost only 1 game after October 1st, this team gets Sonny Dykes system. Early schedule is the most intriguing, with Texas A&M at home, then on the road with Houston, trips to Illinois and Virginia loom (good team can win those games). Then it's easy sailing (no trips to Oahu).
3) Why Alabama #1?
They lost a lot on defense, but are so, so deep. LSU isn't as much a threat as people think, only 3 ranked teams on the schedule (2 in the first 3 weeks, then LSU). Every week you're going to watch this team play and expect them to win by 10 points.
4) Okay, Notre Dame at #15. You're smoking something!
Kelly has this team playing the right way. They've got some depth for the first time in a while. Brutal schedule (give them credit), but all their opponents I think are slightly over slot. They should have beat Michigan last year at the Big House (now everyone thinks Michigan is Top 10). If this team gels by the 2nd half of the season, watch out!
5) Boise State ain't that good.
A trip to Michigan State early, then there's nothing stopping them. Neutral site, I think they'd give the teams behind them fits, and the teams in front of them good games. I'm gambling they'll beat an overrated Michigan State team, then end up 12-0 like they usually do, crashing the BCS.
Other random picks:
Heisman: Matt Barkley
Coach of the Year: Sonny Dykes
Teams that are WAY overrated: Stanford, Oklahoma State (notice a theme here with QB's leaving), Georgia, Michigan State
Team outside the Top 10 that could run the table: West Virginia - we don't know how good this team is in a tougher conference, they might explode against an average Big 12.
Team in the Top 10 most likely to end up out: Georgia - has the benefit of a good schedule, but if the team gives up after early losses, there's a lot of games they may not win.
Things to bet your house on: Wisconsin representing the Leaders division in the Big 10 title game - two teams aren't eligible, the others are Illinois, Indiana, and Purdue.
BCS Games (winner in bold) plus Cotton and Peach (the next best two)
Championship: Alabama (12-1) vs. Oregon (12-1)
Rose: Wisconsin (11-2) vs. USC (11-2)
Fiesta: Texas (10-2) vs. Boise State (12-0)
Sugar: LSU (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (10-2)
Orange: Florida State (10-3) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)
Cotton: West Virginia (9-3) vs. Arkansas (9-3)
Peach*: South Carolina (10-3) vs. Virginia Tech (10-3)
*Peach goes by Chick Fil'a these days.