6/18 Roundtable - The Most Overrated Teams
Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy
Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy
Posted Jun 18, 2009

Who are the most overrated teams going into the season? It's the Thursday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

June 18

The Most Overrated Team Will Be ... ?

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Past Roundtables
June 17 The sleeper national title teams
June 16 Do 40 Times Really Matter?
June 15 Does college football need a Rooney Rule?
June 12 Should Alabama vacate wins?
June 11 Should college football players be paid?
June 10 Is the recruiting hype too much?
June 9 If you were starting an NFL team ...
June 8 Where would you take over as head coach?
June 5 Who does the least with the most?
June 4 Who does the most with the least?
June 3 The star players of September
June 2 The star teams of September
June 1 The coach you'd want for one game
May 28 Should the Big Ten expand, and if so, then what team should be added?
May 27 Should the Pac 10 expand? If so, then what two teams should be added?
May 26 Chizik, Kiffin or Mullen?
May 25 Heisman race sleepers 
May 22 2009's most interesting teams

May 21 Is Tebow the best QB ever?
May 20 When should preseason polls come out?
May 19 Does 2008 Utah have a beef?
May 18 No BCS, No Weis?

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at twitter.com/CFN_Fiu and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: The most overrated team will be ... ?

Ole Miss. The love has been off the charts following a surprise season. Everyone will have the Rebels somewhere in the top ten, and the Sporting News has them No. 5 overall, but I'm not buying in quite yet.

When gushing about Ole Miss, everyone seems to point out the relatively favorable schedule. First of all, ranking teams in the preseason should be about how good the teams are and not where they'll end up (this is the fundamental flaw in how many do rankings, but that's for another time). Second, the schedule is going to be tougher than it looks.

Don't assume wins at South Carolina and Vanderbilt to start the SEC season. The Commodores are going to be almost as strong as last year, and certainly better on offense, while the Gamecocks will be strong among the starting 22. Just because Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU have to come to Oxford, that won't guarantee wins.

The defensive back seven will be decent, but not elite. It'll get helped immensely by the pass rush, while the offensive line isn't going to be consistent enough to hold up week in and week out against the top SEC defensive fronts. And then there's the pressure factor.

It's one thing to have no real expectations and to come out of the blue in a down year for the SEC, but it's another to have the bull's-eye on your back. Everyone in the SEC West will be better, and Tennessee and South Carolina, also on the schedule, will have improved. Of course, everyone points to the win over Florida as evidence of how good the team was, and will be, but 1) about six things had to happen, from just missed post patterns to a fourth down stop to a missed kick to a blown coverage, to beat the Gators. No excuses, Ole Miss made plays when the Gators didn't, but that was a strange sort of perfect storm upset. 2) Ole Miss lost the two games following the win in Gainesville.

Don't get me wrong, this is a very, very good team, but it's not among the five best in America, and for those who try to project, this won't turn out to be one of the five best in the country.

Four of my other top five overrated teams ...

2. Virginia Tech - Unless there's some semblance of a passing game unearthed over the next two months, the Hokies are going to get swarmed over by the Alabama run defense in the season-opener. The O line isn't good enough for the team to be in the top ten.

3.  Boise State - I always get yelled at whenever I dare to suggest that playing in the WAC is the main reason for the great record over the years, but this isn't a top 15 based on talent with lines that aren't top 20-worthy and a suspect receiving corps. Would you take Boise State over Georgia, who's ranked lower in almost every preseason poll, on a neutral field in the season opener? Of course you wouldn't.

Ohio State - If you're going by what the record will be, OSU is a top ten team. It'll finish up 10-2, 9-3 at worst. If you're going by how good the team is going into the season, it belongs around 15-to-20.

5. Texas - It's all relative. Everyone feels bad about what happened to the Longhorns last year so they're the automatic No. 2 pick over Oklahoma. I have a gut feeling that the Sooners, rebuilt O line and all, are better, and I have another gut feeling (or maybe it's the burrito I ate) that there will be at least two losses (OU and Oklahoma State). Again, it's all relative. Of course this is a top five team.

Richard Cirminiello/span>, CFN

Q: The most overrated team will be ... ?

Oregon. I sort of hate to finger them because the Ducks are one of college football’s guilty pleasures, a high-octane, wide-open offense decked out in 22nd century uniforms. They’re fun. They’re just not going to live up to last year’s finish or this year’s preseason ranking.

When it comes to the Ducks, too many people are getting confused by the shiny objects, like QB Jeremiah Masoli and RB LaGarrette Blount. Yes, the Ducks will score points, but you can’t pencil in double-digit wins on that alone. Digging deeper reveals that long-time head coach Mike Bellotti is no longer on the sidelines, the offensive line is undergoing an extreme makeover, and the defensive line has a bunch of holes. Chip Kelly has proven to be a genius as an offensive coordinator, but being the head coach brings a whole new set of challenges and pressures. Is he ready? No one really knows.

While Oregon will still be fun, it’s not going to win as many games as most are anticipating. In fact, with a schedule that begins with Boise State, Purdue, Utah, and California, the Ducks might very well be out of the Top 25 before the end of September.

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: The most overrated team will be ... ?

The Trojans will go 11-2, but that probably won't get them the top 5 ranking they've been assigned in most quarters. It will also fail to get the Men of Troy another Pac-10 title, which Oregon will snag.
Don't get all riled up, Angelinos. This is the law of averages entering the arena. Sometime, the uninterrupted string of trophies is going to come to an end. This looks like the year, and it shouldn't be hard to understand why.
1) No Mark Sanchez (or quarterback continuity) means no two-year run under center. Matt Leinart was around for three years, John David Booty two. Had Sanchez returned, USC would have been ready to rock once more. Now, that's in question.
2) Linebackers. Who's gonna replace the likes of Maualuga, Cushing, and Co.?
3) Kickers. Gone. They weren't unreal, but they were solid. What if the new booters go bust in biggies?
4) The schedule: At Oregon. At Cal. At Arizona State. Not what you want in a season when the Trojans will be replacing so many bodies, and a new quarterback will have to handle raucous road environments for the first time as a USC starter.
11-2 would be a solid season for this club. It really would. It simply seems that the preseason rankings suggest a 12-1 finish instead

Jon Miller, Publisher, HawkeyeNation.com

Q: The most overrated team will be ... ?

:I think you also have a few definitions of overrated. If a team starts the year in the Top 10 and finishes 22-25ish, I think that team is more overrated than a team that start's out in the teen's and doesn't make it into the final BCS standings. Others might feel differently, but that's where I am going. I love Phil Steele's magazine. It's my favorite every year. I agreed with him last year when he didn't have Illinois in his Top 50, and he backed off the Kansas love. Phil and I both missed on Wisconsin being overrated, but a friend and colleague told me last August that he felt Wisconsin would be lucky to be in a bowl game, and they were.

This year, Steele has Penn State ranked as the No. 5 team in the nation. I just don't see them finishing inside the Top Five and I think they will be fortunate to finish inside the Top 15. They have one of the weakest non-conference schedules of any team in any BCS conference, something I pointed out months ago before ESPN started writing about that fact, and something that caused Penn State fans to email me all sorts of nasty comments, suggesting that since I cover Iowa, I am biased. Color the worldwide leader in black and gold then, right? If a team other than USC, Ohio State, Florida or Texas was losing three first team all conference offensive linemen, their top four pass catchers, two NFL defensive ends and all four members of their secondary, plus productive kicking specialists, they would be lucky to be ranked 25th, much less fifth. Penn State is not those four programs, circa 2009. They have a great and rich tradition, but somehow their fans forgot the first five years of this decade, which is the majority of the decade, and their 26-33 record between 2000-2004. Northwestern had more wins during that time. So did Syracuse, Iowa State, Minnesota, Arkansas, Virginia and several other programs that can't hold a candle to Penn State's history since Joe Pa took over. Since then, they have been very good, but they were also getting really good recruiting classes during that five year stretch of poor results. I am not yet convinced they are back to reloading, even in a Big Ten that is not all that great.

In addition to their four out of conference wins they will post, they play Indiana and Purdue, so there is six wins right there. Perhaps I am being nuts here, because winning nine or ten games doesn't seem like a herculean feat, so perhaps they will finish the year ranked inside the Top 15. But they will be posers, a point that will be proven in the bowl game. Also, anyone that picks Missouri in their preseason Top 25 is in for a letdown; they probably struggle to make it to a bowl game .

Hunter Ansley, Publisher, DraftZoo.com

Q: The most overrated team will be ... ?

A: I don’t receive enough hate mail as it is, so why not remedy that right quick?

The answer is Alabama.  Look, I’ve learned never to count Nick Saban out, and it’s not like he doesn’t have loads of talent ready to step in and return the Tide to glory, but I’m starting to wonder why everyone last year thought that this team was a year away.  I don’t think Alabama will be bad by any stretch of the imagination, but I have my doubts about the deservedness of their possible top five preseason ranking.

Remember last year?  All those close wins.  17-14 at home against Kentucky.  24-20 at home against Ole Miss.  A 20-6 win over Tulane in Bryant-Denny.   Even the overtime victory at LSU lost some luster as the season went on.  Well, a lot of the guys responsible for those victories are gone.  You can say that Andre Smith’s absence was the reason that Utah loss, and I’ll agree.  But he’ll be absent for every game this year.  So will center Antoine Caldwell.  That’s going to hurt the offense more than most people think.  And even if John Parker Wilson didn’t win many games on his own, he definitely didn’t lose many either.  Greg McElroy may grow into a great quarterback, but you can’t discount the fact that most first-year SEC passers struggle.   

Which brings me to the Alabama defense.  Sure, getting nine starters back is a huge deal, and the defense will again be scary.  But one of the two graduates was free safety Rashad Johnson, who Saban called him one of the most intelligent players he’s ever coached.  That’s hard to replace in any scheme, but losing the free safety is an especially big blow to a Saban squad.  It certainly hurt his defenses at LSU. 

Don’t get me wrong, Alabama isn’t going to lose five games, but this could still be a disappointing team.