Preseason Blogpoll Ballot

Submitted by Brian on August 28th, 2011 at 5:15 PM

Tim's departure and SBN's takeover of the poll's maintenance means I can re-join the voting public without putting myself in the strange position of criticizing my own ballot.

So here it is. I won't go through the relatively chalk portions of the ballot but will explain large deviations between it and the AP poll:


Stanford was an ass-kicking machine last year that returns the best quarterback in the country, two potential first round picks on the offensive line, another at tight end, and most of the starters from a top 20 defense. Even if their talent level isn't quite up to par with the usual profile of a national championship contender, having Luck more than makes up for that. Most of the top ten have questions at the most important spot on the field.


I'm voting after their starting quarterback may or may not have kicked a marine in the head but probably might have did. Even if he didn't, Jordan Jefferson is terrible and always has been and LSU skated by last year on insane occurrences en route to the #86 yardage offense.

This is when it all caves in for the Mad Hatter.


Potatoes are overrated and I loathe putting teams that no one will know anything about so high up.


Blame Smart Football and EDSBS for my belief that Skulletor is the real deal and can install his system lickety-split at West Virginia. Thus I'm higher on WVU than the AP and slightly down on Oklahoma State.


The Big Ten's best teams benefit from the above three items and pass Texas A&M based on my belief that LSU wasn't really that good last year. LSU had a shiny record, though, and A&M beat them up, and therefore A&M is this year's designated Team Everyone Overrates Because Of A Bowl Game. Ole Miss says hi.


I do have Georgia extremely high. Aaron Murray was secretly great last year; Isaiah Crowell can be an instant impact RB, and the defense returns seven starters as it enters year two under a new coordinator. Bounce coming.


Nathan Scheelhaase exploded towards the end of last year, going from a no-pass all-run guy to Denard Robinson junior. I think they'll get into that 8-4 range that teams at the end of the poll tend to.


They've moved the deadlines to Monday this year but if you tell me the insane things here I'll change them if I'm convinced.

UPDATE: People have told me I'm insane. Scheelhaase did not finish last year blazing except against terrible defenses and they've lost big chunks of their talent, so they're out. Not having South Carolina was an oversight, so they draw in. I've moved ND down a little and WVU up, as well.

Final result:

As always, this will be in flames by week three.


turbo cool

August 28th, 2011 at 5:30 PM ^

Overall, your poll looks good. However, I think Stanford at #1 is indeed insane. I'd put them any where in the latter half of the Top 10. Though Luck is very, very good, I think a lot of people are understating the impact that Harbaugh had at Stanford. I expect them to pick up losses vs USC, Oregon, and maybe even ND.


August 28th, 2011 at 5:46 PM ^

 It seems Harbuagh did some of this and some of that and  little of everything else. Harbaugh was unpredictable, using any and all formations. I don't know who's Stanford's coach is (didn't search and aren't going to), but if it's not Harbaugh's OC, I think they're in for a step backward, regardless of Luck, unless, you know, luck.



August 28th, 2011 at 8:13 PM ^

I think this point is really being overlooked. Stanford's defense was downright turrrible until Fangio got there, and the defensive turnaround is what took them from good in '09 to elite in 2010.

I expect the defense and thus the team to take a significant step backward. Can't see any way to justify them at No. 1 given the losses on the coaching staff.


August 28th, 2011 at 5:33 PM ^

I agree 100% on WVU, especially considering that they still retain the best DC in the conference, and are in a conference where all of the top teams had a TON of coaching turnover. 


August 28th, 2011 at 6:52 PM ^

No, you are both correct. Leaving South Carolina out of this poll is insane. USC (NTUSC) will finish the regualr season at least 8-4. UGA and USC (NTUSC) will be the top contenders for the SEC East division crown.

I also think Brian has Arkansas ranked too low. They will also finish at least 8-4 (and very likely 9-3). An 8-4 SEC team will be ranked in the teens.

I agree that Illinois might surprise people this season, but I still would not include them in the poll as I think 8-4 is their ceiling. Also...Ron Zook.

San Diego State?!? No. Brian, if you are going to put a third MWC team in the poll it should be Air Force.


August 28th, 2011 at 9:08 PM ^

USC has a lot of talent on the roster. Alshon Jeffery, Marcus Lattimore, Jadevon Clowney, Stephon Gilmore and to name a few are studs.  The only thing that is holding them back is the QB.  If Garcia plays well, USC is hard to beat, if not, USC is very beatable.


Arkansas lost Ryan Mallett, DJ Williams, and now their star RB, Knile Davis.  Hard to see them finishing 8-4 this season.


August 28th, 2011 at 11:16 PM ^

Arkansas will be just fine with Tyler Wilson at QB, D.J. Williams was 5th on Arkansas' receiving yards list while the 4 guys who finished ahead of him are ALL back in 2011 and Ronnie Wingo Jr. will be an adequate replacement (avg. 6.2 ypc in 2010) for Davis especially considering how little the Hogs rely on their running game under Petrino.

As always the schedule is the crucial factor in determining how well a team will finish. Arkansas has 8 very likely wins on their schedule in 2011: Missouri State, New Mexico, Troy, Auburn, @Ole Miss, @Vandy, Tennessee and Miss State. They also play USC (NTUSC) in Fayetteville and TAMU in Arlington. I think they have a decent shot at winning at least one of those games. The only "lock" losses for them appear to be games @ Bama and @ LSU.

Finally, Phil Steele, while not the end all be all that he purports himself to be, states in his preview magazine that 8 of his 9 sets of power rankings call for Arkansas to win double digit games in 2011. When his power rankings are that much in agreement, they usually work out to be correct. He even states the following (quote from his mag): "This team [Arkansas] is 2 upsets away from playing for the National Title this year."


August 28th, 2011 at 7:30 PM ^

I think that this will be Spurrier's best team at USC. A senior Garcia with great weapons all the way around will be hard to stop. Ellis Johnson always seems to have stout defenses and now it seems they finally have the offensive to match. The local sports media in Knoxville also noted that during SEC media days Spurrier had returned to a level of smugness not seen since he was at UF.

I think USC is the clear winner in the east with UGA being a bit better than UT and UF. Florida is the hardest team to pick for me this year. They always have good talent but with new coach/system and a questionable, at best, quarterback they have the potential to be pretty good or quite bad- my guess is average (8-4).

EDIT- Illinois ranked higher than Arkansas? Really?

Hardware Sushi

August 28th, 2011 at 5:48 PM ^

Good call on Aaron Murray at Georgia. Very underrated and was just learning. I think he is the top QB in the SEC by the end of the season.

I think it's great to throw our future opponent in at 25, but I don't think they have quite the explosive offense with 2 NFL wideouts gone. Should be interesting to see if their QB and Hillman have as much success without those threats downfield.

[EDIT: question redacted because it's dumb.]


August 28th, 2011 at 5:41 PM ^

consistently being their defense. Regardless of whether Jordan Jefferson or Jarrett Lee (2 years ago? tossed more INTs for TDs than TDs to his own team) was the starting QB I think they were going to be fighting an uphill battle. That being said I think they still might knock off Oregon since the game is in Dallas. I see Oregon as being one of the overrated teams bc they lost so many starters in the defensive front 7 and a couple of offensive lineman - doesn't help that theyre a team that gets off slow and doesnt start to click until theyve played a few games together. Outside of that I think its too difficult to make predictions for a preseason ballot and we'll know a lot more after this coming weekend.


August 28th, 2011 at 6:08 PM ^

he thinks 5 is more likely than 10. 

I think this is somewhat pessimistic as we actually have two coordinators who have had significant success elsewhere and we have a head coach who understands and agrees with both his coordinators. We return a significant amount of talent on the offensive side and we have a defensive coordinator who is possibly one of the best. Period. Granted, the DC may not have the talent to work with he is used to, but there is reasonable talent available.

However, he could also just be tired of having high expectations only to have them brutalized. I have to say that I feel less anticipation towards this season than I did to last and I have to believe the continuous beatings of my hopes and dreams from last year has something to do with this. Should clarify, less anticipation, but no less hope.




August 28th, 2011 at 5:47 PM ^

to think that OSU, MSU and Illinois are all better than we are or that they will do better than us.  I also think we are better than ND and that by the time 2 more weeks have elapsed, we will have proved it.  In fact, I believe we will beat all four of those teams.


August 28th, 2011 at 6:03 PM ^

What makes you think Notre Dame will suddenly be awesome?  And what makes you think Michigan isn't going to improve at an equal or greater rate (remember that we did beat them on the road last year) considering how many young guys played significant roles last year?

Don't forget that the difference between ND in Weis' final season and ND last year is basically just the fact that Ronald Johnson dropped a pass.


August 28th, 2011 at 6:24 PM ^

We have one elite player, a few very good ones (Martin, Molk, Lewan), a few above average big 10 starters (Roundtree, Roh, Omameh, Van Bergen, Hemingway when healthy), and a number of guys who ideally wouldn't be starting.  Why won't we improve as much as ND?  Because our ceiling is lower.  


August 28th, 2011 at 8:29 PM ^

that Michigan was a really good team last year.

We lost every game against an opponent with a complete team where players on both sides of the ball had a pulse. For the most part, we didn't just lose, we got curb stomped.


As far as improvemen, I guess I should have specified as well that we are not just changing coaching staff, but offensive and defensive philosophy as well. I believe the defense will be significantly better just because they all know the same defensive type, obviously not the case last year.



August 28th, 2011 at 6:29 PM ^

I think the rate of improvement as a team will be even greater than it would have been without the coaching change.  Sure, we might take a small step back in offense but our improvement in defense will be much greater than what would have happened without Hoke and Mattison. Notre Dame was a better team last year IMO even with a coaching change than they were the year before with a coach who was in his 5th year at ND.  


August 28th, 2011 at 6:12 PM ^

Weis was an atrocious coach, but he could recruit like a beast, and a lot of that talent is upperclassmen.  

I think they're better than us because their talent on offense (Crist, Wood, Floyd, TJ Jones, Robinson) and defense (Johnson, T'eo, Gray, Smith) is better than ours.  We'll have the best guy on the field, but they'll have most of the top 10.  Unless Denard goes HAM, I think it's a pretty tough game to win.   



August 28th, 2011 at 7:10 PM ^

He had 13 tackles that day too.  And just as many TFL (1).  And he picked off a pass. 

Te'o's team gave up 288 yards on the ground that day, good for 7 ypc and 3 TD.  He made 13 tackles against Navy as well, a Navy team that put up 367 yards on the ground and 4 TD.  Most of that yardage came from the fullback running right through the center of the ND defense.  Tulsa ran for 203 yards and 5.2 ypc against them.

Te'o is a great athlete who makes some plays and looks great in a uniform, but excuse me if I'm not convinced he's going to single handedly derail our offense.


August 28th, 2011 at 6:42 PM ^

It seems like a lot of people on this board are preparing themselves for a loss to ND. 

I think ND will be an improved team.

But I think we will too.

And while I think its entirely possible that we could lose to ND, I just don't see us as a massive underdog in that game.


Plus, this year's game is AT HOME and AT NIGHT and will feature a Big House crowd that will be the LOUDEST IN THE HISTORY OF MICHIGAN FOOTBALL!

I'm sorry for all the caps, but I just think we should be a little more confident in our team than some of us are. Meanwhile, ND fans are spouting off like its the 1940s.


August 28th, 2011 at 6:05 PM ^

zero objective evidence that we are better than OSU or MSU. You can point to a win over ND last year, but otherwise it would also be very hard to argue us being better than them. Not saying things won't be different at the end of the year or that I think we're going to lose all these games. I just don't see how you could objectively rate us higher than any of those teams other than Illinois.


August 28th, 2011 at 6:49 PM ^

I'll also add that it's pretty questionable that we lose to ND last year if our defense wasn't historically bad.

My point here being that the IF game really doesn't make a lot of sense.

We beat them in 2010. We beat them in 2009.

If they were miles better than us, than one injury (or one bad call according to ND fans in 2009) wouldn't have allowed us to win both those games.

The gap between us and ND is not that big. Sorry.