This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
team x is thing y
1. In his "visiting lecturers" series posted on Every Day Should Be Saturday over the past few months, Orson Swindle asked each participant to explain which country, during which historical period, their team most resembles. Let's bring everything up to the present day and ponder: Which current sovereign nation is your team? Or to look at it another way, how does your team fit into the "world" of college football?
Like Georgia, Michigan has flung off the shackles of a backwards, stagnant system and now looks to modernize with the help of a controversial leader. However, there are problems, mostly in the form of red-clad douchebags who are either in tanks or just plain tank-sized.
Throw in some whiny breakaway republics trying to defect to the red-clad douchebags and a war that looks like it’s going to go very poorly over the next few months and voila.
2. Every preseason roundup has to have some discussion of who's overrated, but let's go beyond that. Which team do you think is poised to crap the bed in the biggest way this season relative to high expectations, and which game do you think will begin their slide into ignominy?
Even though I overrated them, the answer here is obviously Clemson, because it’s always Clemson. 50-50 they roll into Wake at midseason 5-0 and implode spectacularly.
The other answer is West Virginia, now under the direction of Super Friendly Smiling Special Teams Coach “Stew,” who reminds everyone of super nice player coaches and utter failure Bobby Williams, similarly promoted from position coach to head coach after an emotional bowl win despite the fact he was tabbed the interim coach specifically because there was no chance anyone would even think about hiring him in a spasm of sentiment and hope.
Also, many people are focusing exclusively on White and Devine and ignore West Virginia’s secretly excellent defense—7th in yardage last year. Unfortunately for WVU, they lose seven starters off that defense. Also also, the nonconference schedule steps up considerably with games against Colorado and Auburn. Also also also, Mike Barwis doesn’t live here anymore.
In the context of this question, the prediction is that the Auburn game starts a slide which sees WVU drop from A-list national title contender to Gator bowl participant.
3. On the flip side of that coin, which team do you think is going to burst out of nowhere to become 2008's biggest overachiever -- this year's version of Kansas '07, as it were -- and what's going to be the big upset that makes us all finally sit up and take notice of them?
Always look for a team with an awful schedule for this question. Also look for a team on the upswing in talent level… so… Pitt? Wannstedt has recruited very well and finally has a star in LeSean McCoy. The noncon is actually pretty decent, with two tomato cans, Navy, Iowa, and Notre Dame, but all of those are winnable. Then it’s the Big East.
4. Here's an "I'll hang up and listen" question. I put Ohio State and Oklahoma #1 and #2, respectively, despite their recent high-profile BCS face-plants. Where did you rank those two teams, and did those BCS issues have anything to do with it?
Ohio State was #1 on my ballot, so obviously the face plants didn’t dissuade me. People forget that last year Ohio State was supposed to be rebuilding. Okay, they lost to a veteran, talent-laden LSU team. BFD. They return virtually their entire two deep.
I ranked Oklahoma high up, too, because it’s just one game, and that against the geniuses now running Michigan’s offense schwing.
5. Last season was a statistical outlier in countless ways, not the least of which was the fact that we ended up with a two-loss team as national champion. Do you think anyone plays a strong enough schedule to get MNC consideration as a two-loss team this year? Conversely, do you see anybody managing to sail into the national-championship game undefeated?
Maybe Georgia, since their schedule has been hyped up so much in the preseason and they’ve got an actual nonconference road game against an opponent that has some cachet (Arizona State), but they’d have to smoke ASU like LSU smoked Virginia Tech, and then pray. LSU wasn’t picked over any reasonable one-loss teams despite the schedule and the OT losses.
If Ohio State beats USC they’ve got an excellent shot of going undefeated.