As you know, I'm a voter for the SBN Blogpoll. We're doing a preseason poll. I'm not a huge fan of preseason polls. Many teams are hard to figure out prior to the first game, and it's an injustice to fairness to allow the preseason poll to bias later polls against the inevitable good team that emerges from outside of the preseason top 10. Still, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. So, without further ado, below you'll find my draft ballot. Please let me know if you disagree with any of my picks, and I'll take your comments into consideration when I make my final ballot. I should note that my knowledge of teams from outside of the Southeast usually doesn't really come together until a few weeks after the beginning of the season, so some of this should be taken with a grain of salt.
I see LSU and Southern Cal as being decidedly better than the rest of the pack, and even without Mathieu, I think depth gives LSU an edge over the Trojans. Oregon should have another great offense this year, but they look to be a bit behind one and two. Alabama loses a lot on defense and I see them having a (by their standards, which means not winning the national title) down year, kind of like 2010. Oklahoma has a bunch of really nice pieces in place, but I refuse to put them higher than this given their track record of "close but no cigar."
Yes, I'm a believer in FSU being back this year. God help me. You guys know I think Carolina will be good this year. West Virginia has tons of offensive talent and should be ready to take a big step forward as this becomes more and more Holgerson's team. I think Georgia, as you know, is comparable to USC. Wisconsin is as good as any pick in the Big 10. I'm not buying the Michigan hype quite yet (although I do think they'll be back soon) and trust Bielema to navigate his team to more B10 success post-Russell Wilson.
Like I said, I think Michigan is getting better, but there's still some ground to cover there. I expect Petrino's ouster to hurt the Hogs this year. Michigan St. should be good, although I think eventually you'll see them fall decidedly behind Hoke's program. VT should have a better defense this year and has a potentially monster player in QB Logan Thomas. Nebraska returns some nice pieces from a decent team last year.
16. Clemson Tigers
17. Ohio St. Buckeyes
18. Oklahoma St. Cowboys
19. TCU Horned Frogs
20. Florida Gators
21. Stanford Cardinal
22. Texas Longhorns
23. Boise St. Broncos
24. Auburn Tigers
25. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Not a lot to say here, as these are mostly teams that are really hard to predict. Clemson has question but has enough pieces to challenge for a decent ranking. Ohio St. should be better this year now that it has a legitimate coaching staff in place. Texas and Florida should be better, too, although I see less reason to give them the benefit of the doubt as traditional powers on the rebound than I do Ohio St., considering that OSU's woes were partially due to coaching instability, and that they made a huge hire. The other teams I've picked here are just me throwing stuff at the wall, which proves that we're dealing with a flawed concept in the preseason poll.