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21 Jun 2010

2010 College Preseason Top 25 (11-25)

by Bill Connelly

We're less than three weeks away from the release of Football Outsiders Almanac 2010, but this year we decided not to make college fans wait so long to find out who we expect to be walking away with the BCS Championship trophy next January. Not only will the college football portion of FOA 2010 be out a week earlier than the full book, but we're also unveiling our preseason Top 25 a few days early to get people excited for both the book and the brand new College Football Outsiders homepage.

The rankings below are in order of team strength (according to Projected F/+), not projected finish. You can find projected records, including win probability tables for all 120 FBS teams, in the College Football Almanac when it goes on sale July 1.

(A note on the book: Once again we will be selling a separate PDF with just the college football portions of the Football Outsiders Almanac. However, all readers who purchase the PDF version of the standard Almanac, or KUBIAK/FOA package deals, will get to download the college portion of the book on July 1, so you can get a head start on the 2010 season while we finish editing the NFL content.)

Moving forward, you will find increased usage of the F/+ figure, a combination of the two main college measures, FEI and S&P+. Merging the two measures covers up certain quirks that each measure possesses, forming a measure that is both powerfully predictive and sensibly evaluative.

The Projected F/+ has a foundation in both recent history and numerous transition factors. A team’s recent output (illustrated by the Program F/+ and weighted more toward later seasons), five-year recruiting success (using Rivals.com ratings for signees who actually enrolled at each school), and offensive and defensive fluctuation form the baseline data. We adjust that baseline with transition factors like returning offensive and defensive starters, talent lost to the NFL Draft, and disproportional success on passing downs. The result, Projected F/+, is a more accurate predictor of next-year success than any other data we have tested or used to date, with a remarkable 0.85 correlation between projected and actual wins.

Without further adieu, let's unveil the list. Today, you will find teams ranked 25th through 11th. Tomorrow, we'll give you the Top 10.

First, a list of teams that narrowly missed inclusion in the Top 25: Arizona, Auburn, Boston College, BYU, Cincinnati, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Stanford, Utah, and West Virginia.

No. 25 Ole Miss Rebels

2009 Record (Conference): 9-4 (4-4 SEC)
2009 Ranks: 25th F/+ | 28th FEI | 27th S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 35th F/+ | 34th FEI | 52nd S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 17th F/+ | 13th FEI | 19th S&P+
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 38th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 19th
Top 25 Opponents: 4 (all away)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. Key Defensive Returnees. The Rebels' big names were on offense in 2009, but the defense was the reason they reached nine wins for the second straight season. Only six starters return, but Houston Nutt's defense will be outstanding up the middle, with Jerrell Powe on the nose, Jonathan Cornell at middle linebacker, and Johnny Brown at strong safety.

2. Recruiting. Ole Miss is 22nd in our five-year recruiting rankings, and while that clearly does not guarantee success, it does mean that the players filling in for departed Jevan Snead and Dexter McCluster are potentially strong, and that the team likely has solid depth all around.

Two Red Flags

1. New faces on offense. Though recruiting provides encouragement, there is no guarantee that the offense won't hold the Rebels back. Only four starters return, and while players like running back Brandon Bolden and receiver Markeith Summers could be very good, you never know how players will respond to the pressure of a marquee role.

2. Standard Downs were a problem. Even with Snead and the dangerous McCluster, the Rebels were shaky at best on standard downs last year, ranking 45th in Standard Downs S&P+. If you can't avoid passing downs while breaking in a new quarterback, you are doomed.

No. 24 North Carolina Tar Heels

2009 Record (Conference): 8-5 (4-4 ACC)
2009 Ranks: 24th F/+ | 15th FEI | 37th S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 70th F/+ | 55th FEI | 97th S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 9th F/+ | 7th FEI | 11th
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 47th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 13th
Top 25 Opponents: 4 (2 home, 1 away, 1 neutral)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. This defense could be amazing. In defensive tackle Marvin Austin, end Robert Quinn, and linebackers Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter, the Tar Heels have four potential All-Americans in their front seven. Nebraska taught us last year that a great defensive line might be the single best asset you can have, and UNC's might be the best line in the country this year.

2. Follow the bouncing ball. The Tar Heels recovered just 41 percent of the 32 fumbles that occurred in their games last season. Recoveries tend to flip back and forth from season to season, and if they recover 50 to 60 percent this season, that alone could make for a positive adjustment of 5-6 turnovers. A great defense and a positive turnover margin? Yes, please.

Two Red Flags

1. Can they avoid passing downs? As shaky as Ole Miss was on standard downs, the Heels were infinitely worse. They ranked a pathetic 103rd in Standard Downs S&P+. Even if your defense is littered with future all-pros, you just aren't going to win a ton of games with an offense that holds you back that much. The play calling needs to improve, as do running backs Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston.

2. The wrong kind of experience? The Heels return 10 starters on offense, but they're not as experienced as they need to be. They will still be starting at least two sophomores on the offensive line, and it is possible that blue-chip freshman lineman James Hurst could end up starting as well. That could mean great things for 2011 and beyond, but not necessarily for 2010. On the flipside, quarterback T.J. Yates and both Draughn and Houston are seniors -- a little new blood there might not be a bad thing.

No. 23 South Carolina Gamecocks

2009 Record (Conference): 7-6 (3-5 SEC)
2009 Ranks: 31st F/+ | 44th FEI | 21st S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 71st F/+ | 81st FEI | 49th S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 14th F/+ | 12th FEI | 15th S&P+
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 43rd
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 14th
Top 25 Opponents: 6 (4 home, 2 away)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. A potentially great defense. The first three teams on our countdown are remarkably similar. They are teams with questionable offenses and stout defenses. The Gamecocks leveraged teams into passing downs, then unloaded in 2009. With end Cliff Matthews and potential lockdown cornerbacks in Stephon Gilmore and Chris Culliver, it will be extremely difficult to pass on South Carolina. An offense that plays against them better be efficient on standard downs.

2. Recruiting pays off. South Carolina ranks 15th in five-year recruiting, and the 2010 squad looks like a nice mix of seasoned veterans (Matthews, linebacker Shaq Wilson, and three senior starters on the offensive line) and blue-chip youngsters (freshman running back Marcus Lattimore, sophomore receiver Alshon Jeffery).

Two Red Flags

1. Point differential ... Yikes. Considering most teams get at least one or two cupcake games in non-conference play, a team that finishes with a winning record will usually have outscored their opponents by a decent amount. The Gamecocks lost four games by 13 points or more in 2009 and only outscored opponents by three points on the season. (As a reference, 7-6 Kentucky had a +44 point differential.) Good teams blow out bad teams and don't get blown out themselves. That was not the case for the Gamecocks last year.

2. Recent history has not been kind. We often say at Football Outsiders that, when it comes to college football, the best predictor for future success is past success ... and South Carolina has not exactly thrived recently on offense. The Gamecocks ranked 35th in Passing S&P+, suggesting the problem was not so much quarterback Stephen Garcia as it was play calling and an iffy running game. That will need to change.

No. 22 Pittsburgh Panthers

2009 Record (Conference): 10-3 (5-2 Big East)
2009 Ranks: 19th F/+ | 11th FEI | 24th S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 16th F/+ | 17th FEI | 20th S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 28th F/+ | 26th FEI | 35th S&P+
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 27th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 24th
Top 25 Opponents: 1 (home)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. The right players return. Pittsburgh fewer than a dozen starters, but most of their marquee players are among that group. Star running back Dion Lewis is a sophomore, and receiver Jon Baldwin returns as well. The defense has a pair of star ends (Greg Romeus, Jabaal Sheard) and safeties (Dom DeCicco, Jarred Holley), and they return their best linebacker (Max Gruder) to boot.

2. Run, run, run. While a team's passing game can fluctuate from year to year, depending on who returns and how well a team stays out of passing downs, the running game tends to be a bit more stable. That's a plus for the Panthers, who got 1,799 rushing yards (5.5 per carry) from Dion Lewis last season. Only two starters return on the offensive line, but they will likely start four upper-classmen, which helps. This should once again be a good running attack, and that will take pressure off of whoever wins the battle to replace quarterback Bill Stull.

Two Red Flags

1. Poor leverage. Despite their star power, the Panthers defense ranked only 46th in Standard Downs S&P+, meaning they weren't able to leverage teams into awkward situations. Star ends can't thrive if they can't pin their ears back and attack the passer much. With two new starters at defensive tackle and a new middle linebacker, they could be vulnerable again in this regard.

2. New to success. While the Panthers have been good running the ball for a while now, thanks to both Lewis and his predecessor LeSean McCoy, they still haven't been successful as a team in a while. It takes a while to prove that you can survive a lot of turnover in personnel and still thrive, and Pitt is not there yet.

No. 21 Nebraska Cornhuskers

2009 Record (Conference): 10-4 (6-2 Big 12)
2009 Ranks: 17th F/+ | 20th FEI | 18th S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 85th F/+ | 79th FEI | 87th S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 4th F/+ | 8th FEI | 5th S&P+
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 46th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 11th
Top 25 Opponents: 1 (home)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. Um, did you see their defense last year? The Huskers were so good on defense last year that they almost won the Big 12 despite a putrid offense. Their defensive line was so dominant that they were able to spend most of their time in a nickel package, knowing that the line could stop the run all by itself. They return six starters and two All-American candidates in tackle Jared Crick and cornerback Prince Amukamara.

2. They're more experienced. The offensive line returns 75 career starts, and all of the skill position players will be juniors and seniors. Meanwhile, the secondary and defensive line both posses strong experience as well. They have to replace Ndamukong Suh, linebacker Phil Dillard, and safeties Larry Asante and Matt O'Hanlon, but there are few positions in which they are starting inexperienced players.

Two Red Flags

1. The offense was just terrible. The Huskers are being spoken of as a potential dark horse national title contender. With their weak schedule and another strong defense, maybe they can make a run. But title contenders aren't incompetent on offense, and few major conference teams were less competent on that side of the ball than Nebraska last season. The supposedly stalwart running game ranked 93rd in Rushing S&P+. As with North Carolina, this might be a case where a ton of returning experience isn't necessarily a good thing.

2. Again, the offense was just terrible. Let's speak a little more about the rushing game, the supposed strength of this poor unit. Only nine of 65 BCS conference teams had a Rushing S&P+ worse than Nebraska's -- Duke, Washington State, Arizona State, UCLA, Boston College, Northwestern, Maryland, Colorado, and Minnesota. It's easy to see how people might think this was a strength: Roy Helu, Jr., came up big against great defenses (169 yards against Virginia Tech, 138 against Oklahoma), and Rex Burkhead had a great Holiday Bowl (92 yards). But the entire season matters, and for the whole of 2009, the Huskers' running game was brutal. It simply must improve if Nebraska is truly going to contend.

No. 20 Tennessee Volunteers

2009 Record (Conference): 7-6 (4-4 SEC)
2009 Ranks: 23rd F/+ | 37th FEI | 14th S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 22nd F/+ | 32nd FEI | 14th S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 25th F/+ | 25th FEI | 27th S&P+
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 24th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 22nd
Top 25 Opponents: 7 (4 home, 3 away)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. The talent is there. Tennessee ranks 14th in five-year recruiting, and there are plenty of recent blue-chippers dotting the roster, whether or not former five-star running back Bryce Brown plays for the Vols this season. Units like quarterback, wide receiver, defensive line and secondary are in good hands, at least from a "recruiting talent" perspective.

2. Success breeds success. Even with their mini-collapse in 2008, Tennessee's long-term metrics are still stout. They rank 20th in Program F/+, and they took demonstrable steps forward last season. If new head coach Derek Dooley can push the right buttons, this could still be a successful team, even if the murderous schedule defines "success" simply as bowl eligibility.

Two Red Flags

1. The offensive line. Ask former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford what happens when you are breaking in an almost entirely new starting offensive line. Solid skill position talent doesn't matter if your offensive line is a sieve. It cannot be overstated just how worrisome the green O-line is.

2. Turnover on the field and the sidelines. Tennessee ranked ninth in the country on Standard Downs S&P+ last season despite an only decent running game, suggesting that, among other things, the play calling was quite good. Can a new offensive staff do as well, especially with the aforementioned green line? And if the defense ranked 25th in F/+ with safety Eric Berry and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, both of whom have since departed Knoxville, can they really expect to succeed at a similar level? And ... have you seen this schedule? This is an aggressive projection for Tennessee, based as much on long-term success as anything else. It might end up being a little too aggressive.

No. 19 Georgia Bulldogs

2009 Record (Conference): 8-5 (4-4 SEC)
2009 Ranks: 34th F/+ | 30th FEI | 41st S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 27th F/+ | 21st FEI | 29th S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 34th F/+ | 27th FEI | 50th S&P+
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 20th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 26th
Top 25 Opponents: 4 (2 home, 1 away, 1 neutral)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. Big-time talent. Georgia's five-year recruiting rank is sixth in the country, and their Program F/+ is 13th. This is a successful program, one that has a strong chance to bounce back from last season's 8-5 performance. Both the offense and defense regressed last season, but history and talent are on their side.

2. Turnovers will turn around. Solid teams rarely have a turnover differential as horrid as Georgia's last year (-16). They recovered just 37 percent of the 38 fumbles that took place in their games. They were -3 in turnover margin during a 14-point loss to Oklahoma State last season, and they were -4 in a seven-point loss to Kentucky. Even a turnover differential of just zero could have meant victory in those games. Do you think we'd be talking about the warmth of Mark Richt's seat if they'd have gone 10-3 instead of 8-5?

Two Red Flags

1. The running game. Georgia ranked just 75th in Rushing S&P+ last season, meaning that even though quarterback Joe Cox succeeded at a level somewhat higher than expected, he was consistently put in second-and-long and third-and-long situations. With former blue-chippers Washaun Ealey, Caleb King, and now Dontavius Jackson in the backfield, running behind a line with five returning starters, there will be no excuse for continued mediocrity.

2. What was wrong with the defense last year? Georgia's defense was oft-criticized a year ago, though at least a bit of their overall defensive failure was due to the caliber of offenses they faced. However, "Yeah, but we faced good offenses" is not much of an excuse. Georgia will face just as many good offenses this time around. The Bulldogs' pass defense is a concern, with three new starters gracing a secondary that wasn't very good last year (68th in Passing S&P+). Plus, it will be interesting to see how quickly the defense takes to new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme.

No. 18 Arkansas Razorbacks

2009 Record (Conference): 8-5 (3-5 SEC)
2009 Ranks: 20th F/+ | 26th FEI | 16th S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 11th F/+ | 16th FEI | 3rd S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 42nd F/+ | 43rd FEI | 43rd S&P+
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 9th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 31st
Top 25 Opponents: 5 (3 home, 2 away)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. A great offense is now experienced. Ten starters return from an offense that ranked first in Passing S&P+ and 11th in overall F/+ last season. The only new starter (guard Grant Cook) has starting experience as well. Needless to say, expectations are very high for this unit and monstrous junior quarterback Ryan Mallett.

2. Great offensive coaching. Success in 2009 is one thing, but sustained success, both from the Arkansas offense as a whole and from Bobby Petrino and his coaching staff, is another. Although the running game needs to improve a bit, last year's play calling was outstanding (they were sixth in Standard Downs S&P+). Even though Bobby's brother Paul left to be the offensive coordinator at Illinois (getting in line for a head coaching job in Champaign?), there is little reason to believe the coaching and execution will be any less impeccable in 2010.

Two Red Flags

1. How's the talent? Mallett, a Michigan transfer, was a five-star signee a few years ago, but Arkansas' five-year recruiting rank is just 32nd. There was little blue-chip talent on a defense that finished just 42nd in F/+ last season, and it doesn't appear that there will be much of a talent transfusion this time around. Mallett and good play calling will likely keep the offense clicking, but there is not much to indicate that the defense will be any better than it was last year, when the Razorbacks gave up fewer than 20 points just four times.

2. Turnovers will turn around. Arkansas recovered 67 percent of the 43 fumbles that took place in their games last year, which was the main cause for their +15 turnover margin. Needless to say, it will be difficult to maintain either of those numbers for another season. For a team that needed a few breaks just to get to 8-5, they likely can't count on turnovers to go their way this time around.

No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers

2009 Record (Conference): 10-3 (5-3 Big Ten)
2009 Ranks: 18th F/+ | 22nd FEI | 15th S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 17th F/+ | 20th FEI | 18th S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 23rd F/+ | 20th FEI | 23rd S&P+
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 17th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 25th
Top 25 Opponents: 2 (1 home, 1 away)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. A balanced offense returns almost everything. Wisconsin ranked in the Top 20 in both Rushing S&P+ (17th) and, surprisingly, Passing S&P+ (10th), and they only have to replace a starting tight end. They feature one of the most experienced offensive lines in the country, good running backs, and senior quarterback Scott Tolzien is both efficient and underrated. This is going to be a very good offense.

2. Standard downs are the Badgers' friend. On both offense and defense, Wisconsin ranked in the Top 20 in Standard Downs S&P+. The Badgers defense ranked first in the country in Rushing S&P+. They must replace their best linebacker (Jaevery McFadden) and lineman (O'Brien Schofield), but linebacker Culmer St. Jean and a strong, experienced secondary might prevent the Badgers from slipping too far in this regard.

Two Red Flags

1. Defensive success not yet sustained. The Badgers defense took a major step forward in 2009, but in terms of F/+, they were quite poor in both 2007 (70th in Close S&P+) and 2008 (108th). The losses of Schofield and McFadden could hurt quite a bit if the Badgers don't have the personnel or coaching to keep up the good work in their absence.

2. No big-time recruiters. For a while now, Wisconsin has succeeded by recruiting to fit their style. In putting together a huge offensive line and big running backs like John Clay and Montee Ball, they are still doing so. But solid recruiting gives you larger margin for error, and Wisconsin ranks just 46th in five-year recruiting. There is little guarantee that the players replacing Schofield, McFadden, etc., are going to have as high a ceiling.

No. 16 Texas Tech Red Raiders

2009 Record (Conference): 9-4 (5-3 Big 12)
2009 Ranks: 22nd F/+ | 18th FEI | 23rd S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 14th F/+ | 10th FEI | 22nd S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 30th F/+ | 31st FEI | 32nd S&P+
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 13th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 27th
Top 25 Opponents: 2 (1 home, 1 away)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. Sustained offensive success lives in Lubbock. Tommy Tuberville inherits a lineup that has, to say the least, been rather good on offense in recent years. How much he'll tinker with the formula, we have yet to find out, but the components are there for further success. Quarterbacks Steven Sheffield and Taylor Potts both have starting experience, the receiving corps is deep and seasoned, and running back Baron Batch could be outstanding in a more runner-friendly system. The offensive line is a question mark, though, with fewer than 30 career starts.

2. Experience abounds. In offensive skill positions and throughout the defense, the Red Raiders' lineup is loaded with upperclassmen. That could assist with the transition from Mike Leach's system to Tuberville's.

Two Red Flags

1. Time for a change. While this could be a relatively smooth transition if a new line opens up holes for Batch and the defense takes to new coaching, it's far from certain. Tuberville was known for a running game and an attacking front seven on defense. Leach was known for passing, and among the front seven, only linebacker Bront Bird and tackle Colby Whitlock have any meaningful experience. There is a total void at defensive end.

2. Recruiting only average. Tuberville recruited at a rather high level at Auburn -- How well can he succeed with a team that ranks only 37th in five-year recruiting? And how quickly can he both upgrade the talent and bring in his own style of players? The F/+ projections rank Tech a lot higher than most do, but there is no "potentially drastic system change" factor in the projections (yet). Can Tuberville's Red Raiders avoid at least a temporary step backwards?

No. 15 Iowa Hawkeyes

2009 Record (Conference): 11-2 (6-2 Big Ten)
2009 Ranks: 12th F/+ | 7th FEI | 19th S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 62nd F/+ | 51st FEI | 77th S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 3rd F/+ | 2nd FEI | 6th S&P+
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 40th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 6th
Top 25 Opponents: 3 (all home)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. Great, experienced defense. Nothing against quarterback Ricky "Love it or leave it" Stanzi, but there was one reason why Iowa was undefeated well into November last season -- and it wasn't a sparkling offense. Led by linebacker Pat Angerer, a mean line, and a pair of big-time safeties, Iowa had one of the best defenses in the country. Everyone but Angerer and fellow linebacker A.J. Edds returns for 2010. Ends Adrian Clayborn and Broderick Binns are just dynamite.

2. Again, it's about the bouncing balls. Iowa recovered only 39 percent of the 31 fumbles that took place in their games last season. Despite a swarming defense, they only managed a +2 turnover differential, and fumbles were the main reason why. They were 11-2 despite a lack of luck in recovering fumbles, and their turnover differential was -6 in their two losses. A little more luck, and look out.

Two Red Flags

1. A power offense was missing the power ... Injuries and inexperience contributed to a lackluster running game for the Hawkeyes (83rd in Rushing S&P+). That needs to improve in 2010, and with three sophomore running backs -- Adam Robinson, Brandon Wegher, and Jewel Hampton -- leading the way, it certainly could.

2. ... and now it's missing the experience. Stanzi and receiving targets Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Marvin McNutt are quite experienced. Everybody else? Not so much. The aforementioned sophomore rushers will be attempting to navigate through an offensive line that goes from one of the most experienced in the country in 2009 to one of the least. The Hawkeyes were 4-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less last season, and they will now have to navigate through tight games with a line still getting its bearings.

No. 14 Boise State Broncos

2009 Record (Conference): 14-0 (8-0 WAC)
2009 Ranks: 9th F/+ | 16th FEI | 8th S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 34rd F/+ | 48th FEI | 24th S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 11th F/+ | 17th FEI | 8th S&P+
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 28th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 16th
Top 25 Opponents: 1 (neutral)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. You can't get more experienced than this. The Broncos went 26-1 in the last two seasons with a remarkably young team. They enter the 2010 season only having to replace two starters from the team that went 14-0 and finished fourth in the AP Poll. This team has been there, done that, and if they can get past Virginia Tech in the season opener, they have an outstanding chance to get to the national title game. (Again, these rankings are based on overall quality, not projected finish.)

2. Barely challenged. Hawaii proved in 2007 that you can go undefeated while still only looking marginally impressive. Against a weak schedule, the Rainbow Warriors won five games by single digits, and their rankings suffered because of it. Not a problem for Boise in 2009. Only one of the Broncos' 13 regular season wins came by single digits. Dominating weak foes is almost as telling as beating good ones, and Boise State was almost untouchable in 2009.

Two Red Flags

1. Recruiting rankings aren't their thing. Boise State faces Virginia Tech on Sept. 6, in potentially the only game where recruiting and athleticism might matter. During the last five years, Virginia Tech's recruiting rank is 20th; Boise's is 73rd. The Broncos have pulled shockers before, but there is at least a small chance that they are outclassed athletically against the Hokies. Then again ... you could have said the same about last year's Oregon-BSU game ...

2. Standard downs defense. The Broncos were fantastic in terms of attacking offenses on passing downs, ranking seventh in Passing Downs S&P+. But they ranked only 32nd on standard downs. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech's offense ranked third in Standard Downs S&P+. It is hard not to treat Boise State's 2010 schedule as a one-game season, but it is clear that the Hokies represent the biggest impediment between Boise State and a potential spot in the national title game -- and Boise doesn't match up wonderfully.

No. 13 Miami Hurricanes

2009 Record (Conference): 9-4 (5-3 ACC)
2009 Ranks: 11th F/+ | 10th FEI | 12th S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 15th F/+ | 18th FEI | 12th S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 20th F/+ | 18th FEI | 24th S&P+
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 18th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 20th
Top 25 Opponents: 5 (2 home, 3 away)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. Standard downs and play-calling. Few offenses avoided awkward situations better than Miami, who ranked fourth in Standard Downs S&P+ last season. They continuously kept defenses off-balance with both the run and the pass, and they averaged 400 yards per game despite facing a gamut of strong defenses (Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, etc.). Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple pressed all the right buttons last year, and with quarterback Jacory Harris and almost his entire receiving corps returning, odds are good he'll do the same in 2010.

2. The right players return. Miami returns only six offensive starters a figure that is neither great nor terrible. But only two of the five departing starters were drafted, one of whom (tight end Jimmy Graham) is a bit of a project. Even if running back Graig Cooper is not ready for action after tearing his ACL in the Champs Sports Bowl, the Hurricanes still have plenty of star power in Harris, receivers Leonard Hankerson and Travis Benjamin, and linemen Orlando Franklin and Joel Figueroa. And that says nothing of a defense featuring ends Allen Bailey and Marcus Robinson and star cornerback Brandon Harris. Miami ranks 13th in five-year recruiting and possess a ton of proven talent and sky-high potential.

Two Red Flags

1. No long-term success just yet. After a three-year record of 19-19 from 2006-08, Miami stepped forward last year with a nice 9-4 campaign. Obviously recruiting is going well, and Harris and company sure seem ready for another nice season. But one year of success does not a solid foundation make, and Miami will need to prove themselves again this year.

2. Are turnovers their friend? Harris was explosive but mistake-prone in 2009, throwing 17 interceptions and tamping down the impressiveness of his 3,352 passing yards and 24 touchdowns. If Miami hadn't recovered 58 percent of the 36 fumbles taking place in their games, their turnover margin could have held them back significantly. Fumble recoveries will likely even out this year, meaning Harris will need to get those interceptions under control.

No. 12 Clemson Tigers

2009 Record (Conference): 9-5 (6-2 ACC)
2009 Ranks: 15th F/+ | 13th FEI | 20th S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 33rd F/+ | 31st FEI | 48th S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 16th F/+ | 19th FEI | 14th S&P+
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 29th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 12th
Top 25 Opponents: 3 (2 home, 1 away)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. Long-term defensive success. Clemson has to replace five defensive starters, including linebacker Kavell Conner and end Ricky Sapp. But they have proven in recent history that they can replace strong talent and remain steady on that side of the ball. Despite a surge in national offensive success, Clemson has not allowed more than 21 points per game since 2002. They have ranked at least 24th in Defensive S&P+ in each of the last three seasons. They ranked 19th or better in all major defensive S&P+ categories (rushing, passing, standard downs, passing downs), and they will likely do so again this year. All four defensive linemen are all-conference candidates (even in a defense-heavy ACC), as are safeties DeAndre McDaniel and Rashard Hall.

2. Again, it's all about the bouncing balls. Clemson managed a +6 turnover differential last season despite recovering just 41 percent of all fumbles last year. Even recovering just 50 percent would have meant up to another +5 in turnover differential. They were -5 in their five losses last season, and even a slight turnaround could lead to another ACC championship appearance.

Two Red Flags

1. Standard downs were not their friend. Despite C.J. Spiller's effectiveness, Clemson still ranked only 32nd in Rushing S&P+ last season and 35th in Passing Downs S&P+. With a freshman quarterback in Kyle Parker, that led to issues -- predictably, they ranked just 55th in Passing Downs S&P+. Now, Spiller is gone, and Parker's status is uncertain after he got picked in the first round of the MLB Draft this month. Four returning starters on the offensive line will help, but the play calling and execution will need to improve dramatically without Spiller around to bail them out.

2. Okay, more about the offense. This was an average offense with Spiller, Parker, and receivers Jacoby Ford and Michael Palmer. Now, all are gone, and they will be looking to sophomore running back Andre Ellington (491 rushing yards, 7.2 per carry) and Jamie Harper (418 yards, 5.2 per carry) to carry the load. They could also be starting a couple of freshmen at receiver. The defense will keep them in games, but if they are to live up to this aggressive projection, the offense needs to figure some things out rather quickly -- a September 18 trip to Auburn looms, followed by big conference games against Miami and North Carolina.

No. 11 USC Trojans

2009 Record (Conference): 9-4 (5-4 Pac-10)
2009 Ranks: 29th F/+ | 23rd FEI | 35th S&P+
2009 Offensive Ranks: 25th F/+ | 19th FEI | 28th S&P+
2009 Defensive Ranks: 32nd F/+ | 30th FEI | 42nd S&P+
Proj. 2010 Offensive F/+ Rank: 15th
Proj. 2010 Defensive F/+ Rank: 18th
Top 25 Opponents: 1 (home)

Two Signs for Optimism

1. Talent, talent, talent. Let's be honest: It is a fool's errand to even pretend to know what USC might be capable of this season until we know for sure who will or won't be transferring due to the harsh sanctions leveled by the NCAA. That said, if any team is capable of absorbing the blow of unplanned transfers, it is the Trojans, who rank second in five-year recruiting. They have former five-star recruits at almost every position, and Lane Kiffin and his staff proved that they can figure things out pretty quickly and build a favorable offense last year at Tennessee.

2. Recent history is their friend. It is almost a cop-out to say USC will be good because of recruiting and recent history, but that doesn't make it untrue. In a down year, starting a true freshman at quarterback, USC still ranked 25th in Offensive F/+. If the offensive line comes together, the offense has proven enough long-term to assume the best. Meanwhile, an experienced front seven should lead to an improvement on last year's 32nd-place Defensive F/+ finish, especially factoring in the Monte Kiffin Effect. The Trojans' performance over the last decade suggests that last year was an outlier.

Two Red Flags

1. So much talent out the door. Never mind the players who might leave in the next month or two, the players who are definitely gone were pretty talented themselves. Only Florida, Alabama, Texas, Penn State and South Florida lost more defensive talent to the draft (in terms of draft points discussed here), and the defense wasn't great to begin with. They ranked 62nd in Rushing S&P+ last year and must replace two starters on the defensive line. Yes, recent history is their friend, and yes, recruiting has been great, but you still never know for sure that it will work out well with a new batch of players.

2. Look out for the offensive line. Quarterback Matt Barkley predictably had an up-and-down freshman season. As we will soon learn in the Football Outsiders Almanac, quarterbacks tend to make their biggest improvement between their freshman and sophomore seasons. But his growth will be tempered if he is running for his life. Center Kris O'Dowd is as good as they come, and the left side of the line should be alright with Tyron Smith and Butch Lewis. But the right side of the line will be significantly inexperienced -- star freshman Seantrel Henderson could be expected to start from day one. As with North Carolina, this could mean great things for the future, but for 2010, it could cause issues.

Bonus Red Flag for USC

3. What are they playing for? The NCAA's sanctions against the Trojans were more harsh than anybody expected, including a two-year postseason ban. USC is used to playing for national title bids and Rose Bowl berths. Can they maintain focus with both of those goals off the table? USC is as talented as anybody, but will they play like a team, or will they all be simply attempting to improve their draft stock and get out of town? You never know how a team will respond to something like this. This obviously wasn't taken into account in the projections, but it is clearly a concern until they prove it is not.

Tuesday: We count down the top 10.

Posted by: Bill Connelly on 21 Jun 2010

33 comments, Last at 27 Jun 2010, 5:09pm by cfn_ms

Comments

1
by MP (not verified) :: Mon, 06/21/2010 - 4:31pm

Quick fix: Georgia's new DC is Tood Grantham. Willie Martinez was the DC that was fired.

2
by Bill Connelly :: Mon, 06/21/2010 - 4:53pm

Fixed. Thanks. I heard Martinez's name (in vain) too many times last year...it's still circulating around in my head.

3
by Derek (Brooklyn) (not verified) :: Mon, 06/21/2010 - 7:42pm

"Led by linebacker Pat Angerer, a mean line, and a pair of big-time safeties, Iowa had one of the best defenses in the country. Everyone but Angerer and fellow linebacker A.J. Edds returns for 2010."

The Hawkeyes also lost Amari Spievey to the draft (picked 66th by the Detroit Lions). He was the team's best cover corner, both last season and in recent memory.

21
by schroederlaw :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 1:08pm

Iowa has more experience returning on offense than you let on, too. They are breaking in 3 offensive lineman with minimal experience but everyone else on offense has plenty of experience. Outside of those linemen, their next offensive concern is their second tight end. The Iowa offense should be much improved over last year, and their special teams and defense should be just as good, with a chance to be much better.

Iowa's chances of a special season really depends on the 3 new O-linemen. Fortunately for them, they (probably) don't play a killer defense this year until the Ohio State game in November.

4
by DuckFan8 (not verified) :: Mon, 06/21/2010 - 10:59pm

These rankings are an utter joke. Can you seriously say that Tennessee, Ole Miss, Georgia, and Texas Tech are top 25 teams? Boise is seriously underrated in this poll. You can use those statistics all you want, but when you use common sense, these rankings are crap, IMO.

6
by andrew :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 12:02am

Please use the standard form from znittanylionsfan.

10
by Bobman :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 3:22am

Good one.

24
by lionsbob :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 3:40pm

Ole Miss will likely win 8 to 9 games this year, they have one of the best front seven's in the SEC, their hardest non-conference game is Fresno State, they don't play likely the top 3 teams in the SEC East (Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina). I don't like Ole Miss, but I think their schedule is going to make them better than what they are (and looking it over, I see that schedule is not a factor for these rankings)...

5
by Boomer Sooner (not verified) :: Mon, 06/21/2010 - 11:39pm

Duckfan, Tech is one of my top 5 most hated teams, but even I know they deserve this ranking. I was in Lubbock for the OU game last year and never have I seen my beloved Sooners get pillaged so badly. Tech scores and they don't stop. I don't think their D is anything to write home about, but apparently Tuberville and the new guy from Bama are trying to revamp the defense which could be good or bad. As the Tech trolls as told me on soonerfans, they are returning pretty much their entire starting offense minus a few lineman. Unless the new play caller ends up being horrible, Tech is bound to be at least 3rd and maybe even challenge UT for 2nd in the Big 12. However, I don't expect them to win in Norman this year :-)

12
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 6:51am

I guess it depends how much of Tech's offensive success you ascribe to Mike Leach. In my opinion, the answer is probably "a hell of a lot". Leach, for my money, is hands down the best co-ordinator in college football and maybe the best head coach. However crazy he may be, it staggers me that big programme ADs weren't all over him the second he was fired, and if I was an NFL team with lousy offensive talent I would seriously consider giving him the OC job to see what happened. Count me firmly in the "Tech's offense falls off a cliff this year" camp. Certainly, as the authors make clear in the write-up, statistically projecting their likely true strength at this point is a mug's game

14
by RaiderNhouston (not verified) :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 10:10am

Mr Shush and others expecting a drop off in Tech's offense:

You do realize Tubs brought in Neil Brown to run the offense right? The same Neil Brown who coached at Troy, the same Troy who had the #3 offense last year running a VERY similar system that Tech did. The same Neil Brown who PLAYED FOR LEACH.

The offense will not change. For some reason people outside of Tech can not seem to grasp that.

18
by DoubleB4 (not verified) :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 12:27pm

The last time Tuberville hired a "spread" guy in Tony Franklin as his OC (also from Troy by the way), he didn't fully commit to it and fired Franklin halfway through his first season.

Tuberville's offenses have always relied on running the football and using 2 backs. Maybe the experience at Auburn has changed him, but the "wait and see" approach seems a lot more wiser than just assuming the offense isn't going to miss a beat.

20
by lionsbob :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 12:54pm

I would assume that Tuberville learned from that mistake as he got fired from Auburn that off-season as well. It sounds like he is fully committed to Neal Brown and the spread (and the infamous BBQ gang didn't follow him to Texas Tech).

31
by cfn_ms :: Sun, 06/27/2010 - 5:02pm

to the spread, until and unless it struggles. The question is, does he then panic and pull the trigger then? It's conceivable that he does. If Mike Leach and the old staff was in place, they'd be a no-brainer top 25 team, but with a new group in place... I don't know. Probably, but not a shoo-in.

7
by andrew :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 12:05am

Does schedule play a role in rankings?

e.g., if you could look at team A and reasonably conclude they were the 7th best team in the country, but have a schedule in which they play the #2, #4 and #6 teams on the road. If all goes to form and they lose those games... then they will end up ranked much worse than 7th at the end of the season, projecting out. But that doesn't change how good they are. But would you rank on how you expect them to be ranked, or how good they are (e.g, if you swapped out their schedule with a creampuff schedule that would leave them undefeated, would you put them in the top five?)

8
by Scott C :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 1:17am

The article says that this is not a prediction of the top 25 rankings (not going to predict human rankings), but a prediction of the relative strength of the teams.

So yeah, this might spit out that the #7th strongest team is TeamX, but if that team plays #2, #3, and #6 and they lose 2 of 3 they likely will be in the mid teens or below in the AP/ESPN/BCS rankings, and if they lose all 3 they might miss the top 25 in those rankings but still be considered the 7th strongest team by F+.

9
by Scott C :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 1:18am

Or I can say it the short way: This is projected F+, not projected BCS rankings.

11
by Bobman :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 3:25am

Seems a little light on Pac-10/11/12 teams, but I am biased and was really hoping to see the Huskies sneak in at 25. Bark for Sark. We'll see how far Locker takes them, if he remains healthy. 3,000 pass yards, 500 rush yards, and bench pressing a pickup are all well within reach and they have to count for something, right?

13
by killabe7 :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 10:00am

In the past the college football rankings in Pro Football Propsectus/Football Outsiders Almanac had projected win/loss records. Will the new site/publication also take a stab at projecting records?

15
by Bill Connelly :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 10:10am

Yes. We have made an exciting addition as well: win probability tables. You get the projected mean wins for each team, plus the odds of finishing with any given record.

16
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 10:39am

I guess this means UConn will be ranked top 10 by this poll. Surely they wouldn't be left out of the top 40.

17
by slipknottin :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 11:28am

Im curious to see just how good thay UNC defense is going to be. They have probably 6 or 7 guys who could end up as first round draft picks on that defense. I dont think ive ever seen anything like that.

19
by Marcus (not verified) :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 12:49pm

I've seen it twice: Miami in the early 2000s (a team Butch Davis built) and USC a couple of years ago. Miami had the best team I've ever seen and USC won the PAC-10 for the millionth year in a row. Of course both teams had an offense (in Miami's case, a ridiculous offense).
I've got no love for UNC, but I think people are underestimating how dominant that defense could be. If they can get anything out of that offense they could be a national title contender. Unfortunately, they have TJ Yates at QB, Butch pulling the strings, and games against a bunch of good defenses (LSU, VaTech, Clemson, @Miami).
I'm thinking 9 or 10 wins with at least one horrible loss that is completely the fault of the offense.

22
by Displaced Cane :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 3:02pm

Miami plays 5 of FO top 25, plus bubble teams Ga. Tech and FSU. Hardest schedule in the top 25?

23
by lionsbob :: Tue, 06/22/2010 - 3:39pm

Alabama plays 7 of the top 25, which includes 3 of the top ten, and one near-miss (Auburn).

25
by EasyPeasy (not verified) :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 8:04am

This is about the most absurd (and worthless) pre-season rankings I have EVER seen. How can you possibly take these rankings when they have Boise State, which finished last season ranked # 4 in the country and has all but two starters returning, ranked all the way down at # 14. Especially considering the fact that Boise State is ranked THIRD in the composite of a number of other preseason rankings:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=0AkEZU9CXw599dGxOOGo3d0RDQWljQTNR...

Whatever "system" that these guys are utilizing to come up with these asinine rankings...........IT IS BROKEN.

27
by Jeff Fogle :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 8:10pm

For the sake of argument, let's stick Boise State in the SEC. It's now a 13-team conference.

*Play out in your head a full 12-game schedule, everyone plays everyone once
*All games on neutral fields
*Assume even travel for everyone (meaning Boise is a suburb of Atlanta for the sake of this mental exercise)
*Note where the 13 teams have ranked in recruiting the past five years
*Note how many athletes from these 13 teams are currently on NFL rosters
*Note the general depth of athletic skill sets that Southeast high schools have compared to Idaho high schools (unfortunately for this exercise, Boise State is based in Atlanta for travel, but in Idaho for recruiting, lol)

Which teams are best suited to thrive consistently? Which teams are best suited to deal with attrition from injuries, a major issue in a 12-game round robin amidst a very physical conference? Which teams have the depth to deal with hot September temperatures on the front end, and attrition on the back end?

Now, rank your projected standings after the 12-games have been played. The "consensus" would have Boise State finishing second to Alabama, ahead of Florida, Georgia, LSU and everyone else. BC's rankings would have them lower, but still at a place that's debatable in terms of where teams "really" rank when you factor in EVERYTHING that should be factored in when evaluating team quality.

Getting up for a couple of big games a year, then obliterating a crap schedule, doesn't mean you're better than almost everyone in the SEC. The nature of the scattered college landscape is that one of the few ways to see this is by looking at the number of guys capable of playing at the next level, or by looking at the rare times when a mid major matches up against a top ten BCS team who has PRIORITIZED the meeting as an important game. I'm hoping we'll get a good read from Boise State/Virginia Tech about the issue. Though, the best read would come from Boise having to play three games in four weeks against Virginia Tech, then three games in four weeks against Arkansas or Auburn, then three games in four weeks against somebody like Georgia and Tennessee.

BC's ranking efforts are working toward dealing with the issue. Thinking that a team with few NFL caliber athletes is better than almost everyone in a conference with a lot of NFL caliber athletes is the thing that doesn't pass the giggle test in my view...

28
by YPSully (not verified) :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 3:21am

Your supposition might have some validity if BSU only recruited ID but you might want to look at their roster to see where their players come from. Also, injuries played a big part in the team last year. They lost their no. 1 reciever, no. 1 fullback, No. 1 running back, no. 4 running back, no. 4 wide receiver, no. 2 inside linebacker, no. 2 O tackle, no. 1 center all for the season and still went 14-0. You also may want to reconsider your NFL arguement, check the PAC 10 NFL #'s and where they place in this poll. BSU does play 2 of 4 top 25 games this year, but you do have a point regarding the rest of the schedule, though that will be changing next year with the Conf. change. As to your prioritization issue, if you're a great team, every game is a priority game.

30
by Jeff Fogle :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 1:12pm

Appreciate your response YPS...

Think the supposition has validity from a million different directions. But, to your points.

*Obviously the state of Idaho is largely bereft of front line high school talent in terms of depth...when you compare it to the Southeast (SEC) or the Southwest (Big 12 South). A function of population and all the other obvious issues. Great kids who try hard...but not in volume (the state of Idaho has about 1.5 million people according to a census estimate I saw on google, less than the city of Houston by itself). Boise emphasizes the Pacific Northwest and California, fighting with the Pac 10 for the best of the region, without an attractive TV package to offer, and no BCS tie-in unless they run the table. Maybe Billy can run the average recruiting rankings for Boise, SEC teams, and Pac 10 teams for us in this thread, though that may be a proprietary part of the book they're selling. Agree with your point about the make-up of the roster. I should have said they were still "based" in Idaho for recruiting, but shouldn't have suggested the team was mostly Idaho kids. Looks like only 20% of the team is from Idaho on the roster listed at espn's website. The recruiting rankings suggest they're not getting super-high quality from the region, but are getting enough to rule the WAC.

*Everybody suffers injuries. Boise State is extremely likely to suffer fewer injuries playing a patsy schedule than an SEC schedule. It's easier for the backups to produce against a patsy schedule than an SEC schedule. It's also easier to deal with attrition if your biggest games are the first of the season and your bowl (after a month layoff). When you have to string together physical challenges in repeated months in the middle of the season, that's a whole different level.

*Not sure what your point is regarding the NFL. Boise doesn't generate much NFL talent, particularly compared to the SEC powers it would be facing in the example, or compared to USC if you're bringing the Pac 10 into the discussion. Please provide whatever data you can for that one. Went to look at the 2010 draft breakdown...in the first four rounds, the SEC had 27 players drafted, the Pac 10 19, and the WAC 4 (one from Boise).

*On the prioritization issue, it's hard to make the case Oklahoma was fired up for Boise in the Fiesta Bowl. They thought of themselves as national championship material that deserved better and prepared with little enthusiasm. Oregon was breaking in a new offensive line in their 2009 season opener, knowing that winning the Pac 10 would get them to a BCS bowl even if they lost to Boise. Hopefully Virginia Tech will see Boise State as a team that can "send a message" against regarding national hopes. Teams will now have a point to prove against Boise given Boise's recent prominence. Hope so anyway. It will give us a better read. Not as good a read as if Boise strung together physical challenges in the middle of a long season...but a BCS conference power with real motivation to spend the summer getting ready for THAT game.

Where would you have Boise in the 13-team SEC schedule exercise?

33
by cfn_ms :: Sun, 06/27/2010 - 5:09pm

Boise has a very weird type of resume, pretty consistently dominating an extremely weak schedule (compared to every other top 25 team). Without having access to their actual model, I would guess that it weights its own schedule strength calculations more heavily than most, which is why Boise rates lower annually (they had them 8th or 9th last year I think).

The other (IMO) reasonable guess is that, rather than weighing schedule strength heavier, it instead calculates a bigger gap between Boise's schedule and other top teams than most systems (i.e. it thinks the WAC is really awful where others call it merely bad).

That doesn't necessarily make it correct, but it is defensible.

26
by wtf in the SEC (not verified) :: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 8:26am

I don't usually say much when I disagree with a sports article, particularly rankings. However, I must ask: Have you been smoking the Hooka pipe? How in the holy hell can you possibly see fit to rank Georgia and Tennessee in the same ballpark. I can only hope at the end of the season this program(TN) isn't at the bottom of the SEC. They lost most of their established talent and have NO returning starters on the O-Line. With one noteworthy recruit in Da'Rick Rodgers who is a superstar, he won't be enough to make them contenders. I think they face a losing season. They have a solid coach who is grounded but he is left a program that has imploded on itself.

Georgia on the other hand has a few questions to answer but is positioned to make a run for the SEC championship.

I don't know who Bill Connelly is but I doubt he's doing his writing from the Southeastern Region and I am amazed if he is getting paid to write this Satire.

Holy Smoke!

29
by Billy (not verified) :: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 8:55am

The guy made a cogent defense of the Boise State rankings.

He is talking about relative program strength which is why TN is top 25.

When USC sends TN two OL and a DT, he will also look like a genius.

32
by cfn_ms :: Sun, 06/27/2010 - 5:05pm

is consistently rated lower by this system than most observers, therefore it shouldn't be surprising that their 2010 preseason peg is lower than most people have them. I think they're underrating the Broncos, but you can at least make a case for where they put them.