2011 Spring Preview
- No. 15
The Preseason Polls Will Be ... ?
2011 Spring Preview
Welcome to April. We're still about five months away
from when the Coaches (the one that matters) and the
AP (the one that doesn't) come out with their
initial rankings. How are they going to look? While
plenty of big things might happen, here's the best
guess of what they might be, keeping in mind 1) the
perception of the teams at the end of 2010, 2) the
returning talent, and 3) the brand name and how the
voters usually rank to the top programs. One other
thing to remember here, these are NOT the
CFN rankings. This is what we THINK they're
going to be and not a ranking of the best teams
going into the year.
With so much returning experience and with the maturity of the Landry Jones-to-Ryan Broyles combination, the Sooners will almost certainly be on top of the charts when the first polls come out.
There might be plenty of holes to fill on defense, but the offense should be stronger, better, and if it’s possible, even faster with the return of RB LaMichael James and QB Darron Thomas. The Ducks will get several first place votes.
The defense was a question mark last year, and it turned into a killer. The offense will be the concern coming into this season, but the pollsters aren’t going to be too worried. The talent level is peerless.
There will be question marks about the quarterback situation, but the offense can’t be any worse. The defense will be typically great, and after the thumping the team applied to Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, the preseason respect will be there.
5. Ohio State
Call this the default pick. Ohio State will be one of the five best teams in the country. It might just take a little while to get there.
6. South Carolina
With the fantastic trio of QB Stephen Garcia (and he will be all good by the start of the season), RB Marcus Lattimore, and WR Alshon Jeffery, the Gamecocks could be a preseason top five selection.
7. Oklahoma State
Can the offense still rock without offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. The preseason voters will almost certainly say yes. Even if this might be a bit high, the Cowboys should be in the top ten.
The Cardinal will be the most interesting preseason team to figure out. Yeah, Andrew Luck is back, but will the swagger still be there without Jim Harbaugh? On Luck alone, Stanford might flirt with a top five spot.
9. Texas A&M
There’s so much experience and so much talent returning from one of 2010’s hottest second half teams that this might be a bit low. The problem for the voters could be the way last season ended, but there hasn’t been this much excitement around College Station in over a decade.
On straight talent, the Gators should be in the top five. They’ll sneak into the preseason top ten and will likely be a wait-and-see team after a few games to show how the new coaching staff is doing. There are too many changes being made to be up too much higher than this.
There’s a chance the respect will be there for the Horned Frogs to put them in at least five spots higher than this, but the loss of QB Andy Dalton, and with so much turnover, they’ll probably start out the season a bit lower than expected.
12. Boise State
The feeling will probably be that the Broncos will take a wee step back with a step up in conferences and with the loss of Titus Young and Austin Pettis. With an opening day showdown in Atlanta against Georgia, they’ll get a chance to show right away that things are business as usual.
The move to the Big Ten will put the Huskers in the spotlight all season long, and the preseason belief will be that the offense will be more explosive while the defense will be the typical Bo Pelini defense. Don’t be shocked if they’re in the preseason top ten.
The Hogs will almost certainly be one of the ten best teams in America, but the loss of Ryan Mallett should keep them out of the preseason top ten. Even so, this is a better squad than the one that went to the Sugar Bowl last season.
The Badgers need the quarterback situation to be settled, and the defense has to find a replacement for J.J. Watt, but you know exactly what they’re going to do. The running game is coming; can anyone stop it?
16. Notre Dame
The Irish were terrific on the field late last year despite all the off-the-field adversity, along with the losses to Navy and Tulsa. Now, Brian Kelly might have the best Notre Dame team in years, and it could be more solid than the BCS-bowl squads under Ty Willingham and Charlie Weis.
17. Florida State
The Seminoles are loaded and should be the class of the ACC. They should be one of the quick high-risers if they can beat (likely) No. 1 Oklahoma early on, and they could start the year in the top 15.
Texas will be better than 18th in the nation, and it’ll probably be ranked in the preseason top 15, but there will be many who’ll be leery that things will go from so mediocre to special in a snap. There are way, way too many question marks, and the preseason ranking could be on brand name.
Call this a courtesy ranking. The talent level is still terrific after a few great recruiting classes – keep your comments to yourself – but there’s no Cam Newton and no Nick Fairley. The defending national champs aren’t going to be out of the preseason top 20.
20. Mississippi State
This could be one of the hot teams of the offseason with so much talent returning to an offense that steamrolled over Michigan and was so dangerous in SEC play. This is the year the hard work under Dan Mullen should pay off.
21. Michigan State
When we last saw the Spartans they were busy being pantsed by Alabama in one of the ugliest big bowl matchups in years. They might have been outclassed, but they’re still plenty good and they should be in the Big Ten title hunt all season long.
Everyone will be talking about how the loss of Blaine Gabbert will affect the offense, but there’s so much talent returning across the board, and James Franklin should be an ultra-effective starter under center, that this might be too low.
23. West Virginia
Can the coaching situation be a positive? If Dana Holgorsen can do for the Mountaineer offense what he did at Oklahoma State, WVU could be a deep sleeper for a BCS Championship berth.
The assumption will be that the Dawgs will be steadier and stronger now that QB Aaron Murray has a year under his belt. However, the team needs to find some firepower after losing A.J. Green.
25. Virginia Tech
The defending ACC champs might have several huge holes to fill, and they might undergo a bit of a change without Tyrod Taylor under center, but they’re not going to start the season out of the preseason top 25.
Others Receiving Votes ... (?)
Any of these teams could end up being in
the preseason top 25, and all will receive enough
votes to round out the top 50.
34. Penn State
35. Georgia Tech
36. North Carolina
37. South Florida
38. Arizona State
40. Texas Tech
43. Air Force
44. Oregon State
47. Boston College
48. NC State
50. Kansas State
2011 Spring Preview
Non-Conference Games (No. 1-10)
Non-Conference Games (No. 11-20)
Non-Conference Games (No. 21-30)
Non-Conference Games (No. 31-40)
Non-Conference Games (No. 41-50)
- Is a smaller Big 12 better?
- Who doesn't want to be Independent?
- Should the SEC champ play in the BCS Champ?
No. 16 Top 50
Conference Games (No. 1-10)
Conference Games (No. 11-20)
Conference Games (No. 21-30)
Top 50 Conference Games (No. 31-40)
Conference Games (No. 41-50)
Schedules and Too-Early Spring Picks