SBN is doing a late-spring blogpoll ballot. Here's my draft. Let me know if you have any thoughts and concerns, and I'll consider incorporating them into my submission tomorrow morning. I should note that I'm voting on a power ranking system; I'm trying not to think too much about things like, "well, FSU is bound to win 11 games in ACC, so they should be top 5."
Some of these I've read today from around SBN have Alabama in the top spot. I don't see that. True, Alabama had a great team last year, but they lost a lot--about half of the first round of the NFL Draft, to be precise. Much as we saw with the Tide in 2010, it's difficult to bounce back from that kind of attrition and maintain true dominance. That doesn't mean they won't be really good, though, which is why I have them third.
LSU and Southern Cal were tough to pick from. On the one hand, LSU is the deepest teams in the nation in terms of elite returning talent, even if they also lost a couple of key pieces. QB play will be improved, finally. Then again, Les Miles is their coach, and while he mostly showed himself in a good light last year, it's hard not to wonder if a more stable coach would have had his team more ready for the biggest game of the year. I still, though, think this is a more talented team than Southern Cal, although I could see the argument for the Trojans, who I think will be excellent next year. Of course, on has to take a "believe it when I see it" approach with Lane Kiffin winning a national title.
Oregon and Oklahoma are good, but I see a pretty sizeable drop-off after Alabama.
This group is a bit of a grab-bag of teams that could finish in the top five if things really go their way (particularly with Florida St. and WVU having easy schedules), but that could just or perhaps more easily finish outside the top ten. In any event, I like this Florida St. team to break through in the ACC this year, Michigan in the B10, and both stack up well against other teams of comparable rank. South Carolina is my pick in the SEC East, but I don't think they're in the same class as LSU or Alabama. WVU is certainly an intriguing team after the Orange Bowl; they've got tons of offensive talent coming back. TCU is usually solid and has some good pieces returning.
Keep reading after the jump.
I think Georgia will be very good this year (tons of talent), but the program has been dysfunctional and hasn't really won a nationally meaningful game in a very long time, so the jury is still out on them. Michigan St. still has some good pieces, but they lose Kirk Cousins. Washington looks to be the best pick to make noise in the Pac-12 outside of SoCal and Oregon. Virginia Tech is usually good for a solid run in the ACC, but usually no more than that. Wisconsin--well, they have Montee Ball and will probably be able to run the heck out of the ball.
Clemson is a very talented team at the skills positions, but there are some holes at key spots that may hold them back, and Dabo is their coach. KSU--definitely an intriguing team, but I feel that they need to prove that last year wasn't a fluke, as they were a very fortunate team. Boise St. loses quite a few pieces from last year's team. I would have had Arkansas in the top ten, but I feel they're going to have a lot of trouble surviving this year without Petrino (one of the game's best offensive minds), although I do think they'll still be a solid, top-25 team. Texas--it's hard to see them struggling the way they have for another year.
There are about 30 other teams one could put here, but these are mine. Florida--I think you're going to see that all this talk about Missouri and Vandy is premature, and if anyone challenges USC or Georgia in the SEC East, it will be a more familiar face. If not for what will likely again be a crappy offense, I'd have them even higher; they're loaded on defense. Utah seems like it should be ready to make a leap in the Pac-12. Nebraska is good for some wins in the B10, but not enough talent there to make a title run. Louisville has a lot back and should be competitive in the Big East. Notre Dame--well, even the SEC fan in me tends to believe they'll get marginally better eventually.