6/22 Roundtable - The No. 5 Team Is ...
LSU RB Charles Scott
LSU RB Charles Scott
Posted Jun 22, 2009

If Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and USC are the top four teams going into the season, who's No. 5? It's the Monday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

June 22

The No. 5 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 19 The most underrated team will be ... ?
June 18 The most overrated team will be ... ?
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: After Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and USC, who's No. 5?

Everyone is in love with Ole Miss, and rightly so because of the schedule, the defensive line, and an emerging superstar quarterback in Jevan Snead. But if we're figuring out who the fifth best team is going into the season, I'll probably take another team from the SEC West: LSU.

Years of great recruiting classes have stocked the shelves in Baton Rouge, and while an eight-win season with a mediocre offense isn't going to cut it, but the lines are going to be fantastic, Jordan Jefferson is a good-looking quarterback who'll add even more of a rushing element to the mix, and the receivers are among the best in America. The defense gets coordinator John Chavis from Tennessee, and while it won't be back to national title form, it should be more active and more consistent.

My other choices for the potential No. 5 slot going into the season.

- Oklahoma State. The offense will be unstoppable, while the defense will be athletic and more consistent. Teams will have to put up 40 points-plus to stay with the Cowboys.

- Oregon. It's all about the running game. Jeremiah Masoli has to keep up the production and the momentum from the end of last year.

- Virginia Tech. I think the Hokies will lose the season opener to Alabama, but this should be Frank Beamer's best team in years.

- Ole Miss. I'm not completely on the bandwagon, but that defensive line is so good and the offense has so much potential that the Rebels deserve a long look at the fifth slot.

- Georgia. This is my sleeper-not-really-a-sleeper to watch out for. The Dawgs have an improved O line and the holes on both sides of the ball has been patched.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: After Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and USC, who's No. 5?

Duke. Oops, I got caught channeling Steve Spurrier there for a moment when if comes to preseason rankings.

 What I love about this question is that there’s an obvious line of demarcation after those first four powerhouses. Yeah, you can find flaws in each of these programs, even the Gators, but no one has more talent or fewer glaring weaknesses. I have no doubts these are the four most complete teams heading into the season.

I’m going to take a process of elimination approach to this topic. First off, Boise State will be fantastic out of the WAC, and the best of the non-BCS’ers, but I’m not ready to put them at No. 5, so that eliminates all but the six main conferences.

The Big East doesn’t have a contender, and out of the ACC, I’m just not sold that Virginia Tech is a bona fide national championship contender. That quest could end on the opening weekend. Now we’re down to four conferences. You can forget the Pac-10, which can only serve up Cal and Oregon as the next best thing to USC. Ditto the Big 12, which boasts Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys aren’t the league’s third top 5 program. All that’s left standing is the Big Ten and the SEC. More specifically, Ohio State, Penn State, and Alabama.

The Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions are a toss-up. Both have issues related to graduations. It won’t matter, though, because my vote for No. 5 goes to Alabama. While it’s not a layup, I do think it’s hard to argue with the second best program from the nation’s premier conference. Sure, the offense has plenty of work to do, but the defense, special teams, and coaching are fantastic, which will carry the team until the big showdown at Ole Miss on Oct. 10. A prolific offense won’t be needed to survive in the early going, so it’ll have time to develop under new QB Greg McElroy and new feature back Mark Ingram

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: After Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and USC, who's No. 5?

Well, preseason polls are for the birds, but if one has to make a preseason judgment, Ohio State appears to be a good fit at No. 5. As long as their older, wiser quarterback—Mr. Pryor—doesn’t run out of bounds two yards short of the first down marker in open space, USC linebackers will have a tough time getting the Buckeyes off the field on Sept. 12 in Columbus.

Am I getting way ahead of myself (and the season) by saying such things? Sure. Then again, that’s what preseason polls force college football observers to do, and that’s why they poison the well for a sport that can’t manage to get out of its own way on far too many occasions.

Jon Miller, Publisher, HawkeyeNation.com

Q: After Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and USC, who's No. 5?

Virginia Tech is in a position to have a great, great season and be on the outside rail for a run at a national championship.  They play in the right conference, and while they have some challenging non-conference games, I think they might be able to afford and early loss, as long as its just one loss and as long as they don't get blown out, and still be in the mix at the end of the year.  

While I agree that the first four teams are going to occupy the first four slots in the polls, I tend to prefer to rank teams before the start of the year based on where I think they will wind up at the end of the regular season, and I don't forsee USC being in that mix.  The other three?  Yes, I think they will be there...And I think Virginia Tech will be in that group, too.

Hunter Ansley, Publisher, DraftZoo.com

Q: After Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and USC, who's No. 5?

A: This makes me seem like a bit of a hypocrite, but I’m going with Alabama.  I mean preseason polls are more worthless than Spencer Pratt, but both exist and I’ll choose to tolerate the polls.

On paper, Alabama looks like the safest bet for the fifth spot in the top five.  They’ve got nine starters back on a defense that really turned some heads last season.  Losing Rashad Johnson will affect the defense more than some Bama fans want to admit, but the run D will be insane.  Terrence Cody is built like an aircraft carrier and could be the most dominant defender in the nation.

Then there’s the offensive line.  Although they lost some incredible players, the talent is deep.  Wide receiver Julio Jones is going to be a year better, which is hard to believe after his stellar freshman season.  And the running game is always a strength when Nick Saban is wearing the headset.

Of course, trying to predict what will happen in 2009 is pure speculation at this point, and the only thing these polls can base their opinions is 2008.  And judging by that standard, Alabama is clearly worthy of a lofty ranking.  They marched through the regular season unscathed in the toughest conference in the country.  And although they did lose their last two games, one was to the eventual national champion while another came at the hands of the nation’s only undefeated team in a game in which their best player was suspended.  Not a bad resume’ heading into the fall.