Sunday, August 5, 2012

Who Should Be #1 in College Football this Preseason?

The USA Today Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll was released last week, with LSU #1.  Phil Steele has Florida State #1 in Phil Steele's 2012 College Football Preview, while Athlon Sports Top has USC #1.  Ever since the end of the 2011 season, when Alabama beat LSU in the BCS title game, the early Top 25 polls/ratings for 2012 have been available.

Who should be #1?  The team that is best right now or the team that is projected to win the BCS title in 2012? 

Should any conference team other than from the SEC be given a #1 ranking, based on the past six years?  No non-SEC has won the BCS title, since the 2005 season, when Texas beat USC in the Rose Bowl.  Since the BCS title game became its own final game, only the SEC have won.
  • 2011 season - Alabama
  • 2010 season - Auburn
  • 2009 season - Alabama
  • 2008 season - Florida
  • 2007 season - LSU
  • 2006 season - Florida

Should it be last year's winner, until someone knocks them off?  At the beginning of the 2011 season, no one would place Auburn #1.  Heck, they were a reach for making them a Top 25 program, heading into the preseason season following their first BCS title, due to the loss of QB Cam Newton to the NFL.

Is Alabama worthy of #1?  Well, Alabama has won two of the last three titles in FBS College Footbal1, so if any program is worthy of #1, it may be Bama?  Head coach Nick Saban has three BCS titles, including the 2003 season, when he coached at LSU.

The LSU Tigers have two previous BCS titles, one under current coach Les Miles and the one under former coach Saban.  The Tigers finished #2 last year, losing 0-21 to Alabama, after beating the Crimson Tide 9-6 in OT on the road in the regular season.  Both teams will face each other on November 3Rd in Baton Rouge in what will be an important SEC West showdown again.  Popular pick, since they are a SEC team, but after last year's performance... earn it!

The Florida State Seminoles haven't won the BCS title, since the 1999 season, when they won the 2000 Sugar Bowl 46-29 over Virginia Tech.  Now, both schools are in the ACC and the ACC hasn't been relevant in the BCS title hunt for some time.  Florida State may have a very favorable schedule, but are they really worthy of a #1 ranking at this time?  Third year head coach Jimbo Fisher was LSU's offensive coordinator during the 2007 season, so he has been a part of a BCS title team, but not on his own.

USC was a dominate program in the early part of the last decade under head coach Pete Carroll.  The Trojans won the 2004 season, with a 55-19 blowout in the Orange Bowl over Oklahoma.  Carroll bolted back to the NFL in 2010, while the Trojans have enjoyed NCAA sanctions the past two seasons under new head coach Lane Kiffin.  Will USC find the right mojo in 2012, coming off NCAA probation?  Kiffin was a part of the Trojans success, under Carroll, as an assistant.  However, coming off NCAA probation and the recent success of both Oregon and Stanford in the Pac 12... earn it is applicable for the Trojans, dispite the 10-2 record last year, with losses at Arizona State and in 3OT vs. Stanford.

The Oklahoma Sooners are always worthy of some talk under head coach Bob Stoops, now in his 14Th season in Norman.  But, the Sooners haven't won the BCS title, since the 2000 season, a 13-2 win over the defending BCS champs, Florida State in the Orange Bowl.  The Sooners have played for the title game multiple times, but clearly 2000 was Stoops' year.

The Texas Longhorns are the last program outside the SEC to win a BCS title, when they defeated USC 41-38 in the Rose Bowl during the 2005 season.  However, the past two seasons, the Longhorns have not finished in the Top 25, after finishing #2 during the 2009 season in a 21-37 loss to Alabama.

So, who should be #1 in College Football this Preseason?  The right choice appears to be the defending champion: the Alabama Crimson Tide.  Yes, they have lost talent, as have others.  But they are a clear cut Top 5 program, who open the 2012 season in Arlington, Texas vs. the Michigan Wolverines, who are coming off a Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas.

LSU opens with North Texas at home in 2012.  After home games in September vs. Washington and Idaho, a September 22Nd road trip to open the SEC at Auburn should determine, whether LSU is a solid contender or not.  The QB position for the Tigers held them back in 2011.  Has anything changed in 2012?  The Tigers are hoping a JUCO transfer pays dividends, like Auburn in 2010?  Also, Penn State QB junior Rob Bolden has transferred to Baton Rouge, as well.  The QB position holds a lot of the keys to LSU's success in 2012.

USC opens 2012 hosting Hawaii in Los Angeles, then hits the road out East, for a non-conference game vs. Syracuse in East Rutherford, NJ.  Then the real season begins, as the Trojans open Pac 12 play at Stanford on September 15Th.  The Trojans are very much in the hunt in 2012, but will they get it done?  Senior QB Matt Barkley returned for his final season for a better bowl/final game win than the 2009 Emerald Bowl, during his freshman season?

Florida State finished #23 in both major polls last year.  They open with two back to back FCS programs in 2012: vs. Murray State and vs. Savannah State.  Next!  The Seminoles haven't earned anything yet!

The Big 12 welcomes TCU and West Virginia as members, as Missouri and Texas A&M join the SEC.  Oklahoma State was the top dog in 2011.  Can Oklahoma and Texas get back to battling for 1-2 again?  Or, will

The Big Ten takes a huge hit with two programs with NCAA sanctions for 2012.  Ohio State is on probation for one year and they may be the Big Ten's best program, but they will not be able to play in the Big Ten title game or go to a bowl game?  Penn State is now on a five year probation, with four seasons without bowl participation. Tough penalties from the NCAA, as PSU joins IU and MSU, as programs hit with heavy sanctions from the Big Ten.

Opportunity knocks for Wisconsin, who are 0-2 in the Rose Bowl under coach Bret Bielema the past two seasons.  The Badgers kick off the 2012 season with a FCS top 25 program, the UNI Panthers, but only compete with Illinois, Indiana and Purdue for the Leaders division title in 2012.  The Legends division race should be interesting, with Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern all eligible for the title game.

Is Oregon the other team to watch in the Pac 12, as the season moves forward?  The defending Rose Bowl champ is now two years removed from the BCS title game during the 2010 season, which resulted in a 19-22 loss to Auburn?  The Ducks return 61 letter winners for fourth year coach Chip Kelly.  A light non-conference schedule of Arkansas State, Fresno State and FCS, Tennessee Tech, then a Pac 12 opener at home with Arizona kicks off the Ducks 2012 campaign.

A good look at some of the Top Teams in College Football heading into 2012Our #1 is Alabama, since the defending champions don't lack much more than what other programs do at this time?  Sure, it is business as usual in Tuscaloosa, as Crimson Tide reload from losses to the NFL...

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