Mark Schlabach, SEC bootlick, and ESPN college football analyst, put up his revised preseason Top 25, presumably on the strength of breakout Spring game performances wherein quarterbacks tortured 3rd teamers with unerring accuracy and proliferate moxie.
Obviously, it's early, but I thought I'd weigh in with a few thoughts. And, in fairness to Schlabach, I'm sure many of his opinions will change, but likely for the wrong reasons. I'll just look at his Top 10.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
This is the default media stance of rewarding the defending champion, as if titles transfer from one year to the next with a team made up of 50% new faces. I do think Alabama will be successful in replacing one of their corners capably with Dre Kirkpatrick, I love Dareus far more than Cody, but the D's issue actually has to do with range at safety, whatever their accolades.
Quarterback Greg McElroy, who hasn't lost a game as a starter since the eighth grade...
Schlabach is already parroting the Bama media guide in playing the "Greg McElroy hasn't lost a game since 8th grade" card, and, after seeing Greg McElroy in person, he doesn't belong on any list other than "Appeared To Have Money On Texas In MNC Game" or "May Visibly Shit Himself On National Television." I fear a media massgasm for McElroy's winnerness that will be Tebowian in its scale. "Yes, he handed off to Ingram and Richardson 45 times and only threw 11 passes, but did you see HOW he did it? With winnerness."
2. Boise State Broncos
If the Broncos can beat Virginia Tech on Labor Day night at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., there's a good chance they'll finish unbeaten for the second season in a row. And with a Sept. 25 home game against Oregon State looming on the schedule, Boise State could very well be in the BCS title game hunt at season's end.
He's right, and this irritates me on several levels. First, Boise is supposedly "stepping up" by playing Oregon State at home and Virginia Tech in Maryland, essentially giving them a two game season. 2-0 bangs the dumb drums for them to get a national title shot, 1-1 keeps them in the Top 10, 0-2 just reconfirms their scrappy cuteness.
Oregon State has comparable athletes to Boise - they basically are what Boise St would be in a major conference - and Virginia Tech is reliable in its ability to roll out daunting looking teams that will lose to Maryland or North Carolina State.
The common retort on Boise's behalf is that big conference teams play scrubs too. Sort of. The degree of scrubiness is key and where the hidden risk of a college football season is found. Texas Tech, however bad you may think they'll be, is not San Jose State. When Boise plays Idaho and such, they have a 99% chance of winning. When Texas plays Oklahoma State, we have a 90% chance of winning. Not a big deal, right? String together just four games of that sort and Boise's chance of being 4-0 after that stretch is 96%.
Our chance with only a slight decrease in chance of winning? 65%.
The hidden risk of a college football season isn't in one big game - it's in the totality of playing a respectable schedule. As funny as it sounds, average teams are dangerous. Ask USC. This is what Boise apologists don't get.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes
I buy this. Pryor had offseason knee surgery, he's running again, the Rose Bowl was a big confidence boost for him, and they have a friendly Big 10 schedule aside from a tough roady at Iowa.
4. Texas Longhorns
What I know about first year starters at quarterback is that they will have at least one game in which they throw three interceptions. What I know about this offense is that we will drop 40+ on a number of softies and play in the teens or low twenties against quality defenses. Our defense will be very good, but situationally vulnerable. We can't have three and outs from our goalline or quick change turnovers. Common sense tells me that spells two losses after the full season plays out. Does that get you to #4?
5. Virginia Tech Hokies
It seems every year that sportswriters, bloggers, and college football fans predict that this is Virginia Tech's year to really do something. Every year, Virgnia Tech offers a luge-style descent from hype after losing on the road to some non-entity. Then doing it again three weeks later after "righting the ship." Amusingly, either Boise State or Virginia Tech will win big media bones early for essentially unmasking the fraudulence of the other.
6. TCU Horned Frogs
Their schedule dictates a 0, 1, or 2 loss season. Voters love that 0 in the loss column, irrespective of opponent, so yeah, I could see this. However, like Boise, their ranking may be best served by missing the BCS altogether - unless they can score another mid-major match or a ACC champ - then obliterating someone in a minor bowl, and then whining about being robbed. Voters will always boost you a couple of ranking spots based on what you might have been.
The holes on TCU's defense are more glaring after linebacker Daryl Washington, defensive end Jerry Hughes and cornerback Rafael Priest left. The linebacker corps might be a big problem area if projected starter Tank Carder doesn't recover quickly from shoulder surgery.
I'm not so sure I trust a TCU team that will win its games with offense. They'll get play out of their defense, as they always do, but the holes are too big to spackle over.
7. Nebraska Cornhuskers
They're certainly the prohibitive preseason favorite in the North and they get Texas at home, but a Top 10 ranking is predicated on the development of something more than disappointment from Zac Lee. Lee can light up bad defenses, but hits the wall quickly against a reasonable opponent. Cody Green needs to become a viable passer. If I'm Pelini, I may make the move to Green ASAP and take the lumps.
8. Florida Gators
A lot of things to consider with respect to Meyer's Mexican Health Dance, their 58% reduction in Christianity at quarterback, and losses from their defense. Still, these guys are brimming with talent and Meyer can coach. I don't really have a problem with this, particularly given the relatively soft SEC East.
9. Wisconsin Badgers
I have no comprehension of the preseason Wiscy love. If I have a Big 10 team here, it's likely Iowa. If it's simple ignorance, educate me.
10. Oregon Ducks
See #9. Oregon's affinity for taking thugs and miscreants is catching up to them and Masoli, even though he can't outrun a frat boy, was crucial to making the Oregon running game go. I don't doubt that Chip Kelly will have tricks up his sleeve on offense with Nate Costa at QB or sophomore Darron Thomas, but a QB transition paired with a defense that has yet to play any casts doubt on a Top 10 finish.
I suppose the thinking is that the Pac 10 is off, USC is down, so naturally it's Oregon's year. I can find three losses without looking too hard.
If you're swayed by offense and unreliable defense, why not Arkansas?
What are your way-too-early thoughts?