The Top 25 Is FINALLY HERE!!
Please you over the top, enthusiastic college football fan. DO NOT act like you didn’t get excited that the first USA Today Top 25 came out Thursday. Ok… maybe it was just me, but still…
Seriously, whatever some may think, polls have always been a staple with college football. They make things fun throughout the season, and of course mean a lot when we get toward the latter part of the year with titles on the line. So let’s Look at the list, and yours truly will try to give a few words on each team in the poll:
1. Alabama- Can they Three-peat? That will be the talk all during fall camp. Alot has to do with that one game on September 14th, against the team at number 6.
2. Ohio State- They were the only undefeated last season, now with the pressure of having a chance to play for it all, can Urban Meyer lead the Buckeyes to Pasadena? They need Carlos Hyde, and the D to help out Braxton Miller.
3. Stanford- David Shaw has taken over nicely for Jim Harbaugh and in my opinion, elevated the program even more. Can they take the next step of being a BCS title contender?
4. Oregon- They dodged NCAA sanctions, and now the Ducks are poised to finally get back to the title game. They will be as explosive as anyone in the country on offense with DeAnthony Thomas, Marcus Mariota, and a much improved D ran by Nick Aliotti.
5. Georgia- The Best offense in Mark Richt’s tenure at Georgia. Can they reload on D, without Alec Ogletree, Bacari Rambo, and Jarvis Jones, among others. They get tested right out the gate in Death Calley against Clemson.
6. Texas A&M- I hope we can talk about the best quarterback in the SEC (yes Tide fans, I said BEST) and football instead of Manziel and his college hi jinks (that I, and you should care less about..more on him later). Are they a National Title team? We will know when they host the team ranked #1 September 14th.
7. South Carolina- Steve Spurrier’s best team in Columbia. Dylan Thompson may be the for sure answer at QB, but Connor Shaw hasn’t done anything to keep himself out of the lineup. Number 7 on D will be in Beast Mode all year, along with his uber talented teammates on that side of the ball.
8. Clemson- Does Clemson and offensive Coordinator Chad Morris have the best offense in the country? Hard to argue with Tahj Boyd, Sammie Watkins and company. Can the Defense take another step under Brent Venables?
9. Louisville- They have a soft schedule, BUT I can hold that against Charlie Strong and his program. Why? They had Texas A&M scheduled, and the Aggies..OPTED OUT. Not the Cards fault that they tried to boost the resume and they couldn’t get anyone to play them. Manziel may be the best QB in the SEC, Teddy Bridgewater is the best QB in the COUNTRY.
10. Florida- Will Muschamp must retool that dominant D, but he’s trying to build his program the way Saban does it in Tuscaloosa. The D should be fine, Can Jeff Driskel continue his progression as a vertical threat at QB?
11. Notre Dame- Yep.. the last time we saw the Irish, they were bludgeoned to death by Alabama in Miami. Everett Golson is out after being expelled from school (Should be back in ’14), in his place Tommy Rees, who MUST take care of the football. Notre Dame’s D will be dominant again, Rees will be the difference in a 10-2 year or another trip to a BCS National Title appearance.
12. Florida State- There are rumblings in Tallahassee that Charlie Ward 2.0 will lead the Noles to a BCS bowl game and possibly much more. Jameis Winston hasn’t thrown a meaningful pass in his career on the gridiron, but has shown Jimbo Fisher and his teammates that he’s poised to make the quarterback position deadly. If he’s Ward 2.0, the Noles could be on their way to starting a championship dynasty Bobby Bowden could be proud of.
13. LSU- shhh… no one is talking about the Mad Hatter and his Bayou Bengals. Les Miles may like it that way. Jeremy Hill is needed to take the running game to a different level (hopefully he can get past legal issues). Zach Metennberger has some weapons to throw to in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. Even losing 11 underclassmen wont keep the Tigers from playing in some high stakes games late in the season.
14. Oklahoma State- T Boone Pickens keeps forking over the money, Mike Gundy keeps building the Cowboys into a consistent winner. The Cowboys should win the Big 12, if they do that, they could be in the hunt for a surprise trip to Pasadena. If that’s the case, T Boone may pay for the entire state to go.
15. Texas- A make or break year for Mack Brown? I think that if the Longhorns struggle, Brown will retire. It could all go bad with a early visit from the Ole Miss Rebels. Or, we could have a possible rematch of the 2009 BCS Tile game… It’s either peak or valley for Brown on the 40 acres in 2013. Nothing in between in my opinion.
16. Oklahoma- Bob Stoops will hope that Blake Bell is the answer at QB. If he’s not, the Sooners could not even make a New Year’s Day game. a lot of question marks with this group.
17. Michigan- Brady Hoke is slowly building something special in Ann Arbor (as his verbal commitments in ’14 and ’15 show). Most of his players are being acclimated to his system and we could see more of his pro set principles this season. Watch for super freshman Derrick Green at RB.
18. Nebraska- It was a disaster in that Big 10 title game a year ago against Wisconsin. Bo Pelini has Taylor Martinez at QB (who has been in Lincoln since Tom Osborne was on the sidelines it seems), and his best offense since during his tenure. Martinez must become a more efficient passer, to score points and help bring along a young defense.
19. Boise State- Remember the Broncos? They have seem to become an afterthought, since Kellen Moore and crew left. With that talent, it’s easy to see it may have taken some time to get back to that elite level. The Broncos may have to hold off a team (Utah St) to win the Mountain West.
20. TCU- Gotta give credit to Gary Patterson. Year in and year out he plays some of the best non conference schedules in the country. This year no different with LSU in Arlington at Jerry World (or Cowboys Stadium, whichever you prefer). His group wins that game, another BCS bowl berth could be in the works.
21. UCLA- Jim Mora has some pieces to work with on offense (Brett Hundley, Shaquille Evans) and on defense (Anthony Barr future 1st round pick in ’14 NFL Draft). He will miss James Franklin at running back, who was super reliable. Can Mora take this group to the next step of vying for the top of the Pac-12 standings?
22. Northwestern- Could we have a Stanford of the Midwest soon? Pat Fitzgerald is showing that you can win with high academic standards in Evanston, Illinois. Could the Wildcats shock the world and pull the upset this season against Ohio St? Do that and the program could be smelling roses for the first time since 1994, when Fitzgerald was in uniform.
23. Wisconsin- This program has big fellas up front, and will always run the football. Brett Bielema is in the SEC, in comes Gary Anderson from Utah State, who like Bielema will ground and pound. Can they develop more of a vertical threat? That will be the difference for the team to have staying power under his watch.
24. USC- #1 last year in the preseason, now at #24.. and that’s being generous. Lane Kiffin’s heat is up to 250 Degrees, but a 7-8 win season with reduced scholarships would make a happy AD in Pat Haden. The Trojans have weapons, and blue chippers all across the roster, just not as many in number as Kiffin would like. If Max Wittek shows promise, man child Marquise Lee continues to destroy opposing corners, and the defense can bend and not break, the groundwork could be laid for an ever better 2014 season.
25. Oregon State- Mike Riley had Corvallis rocking to start the first half of the 2013 with that 6-0 start. The Wheels fell off after, but still Riley managed a 9-4 record to close things out. Some experienced guys return on offense (Sean Mannon, Cody Vaz, Brandon Cooks), and the defense will hope to keep scoring points and forcing turnovers.
So, the college football off season has centered around the Heisman trophy winner. Johnny Manziel has, partied while in college, left the Manning Passing camp in Thibedoux, La early (AJ McCarron was his roommate and apparently couldn’t wake him up), two articles have come out about Manziel and his family, (by Wright Thompson and Andy Staples which are great reads), along with countless other opinions on sports talk radio, about the downward spiral of Manziel.
My take: I don’t care. Whether people want to believe it or not, EVERYTHING that has happened to Manziel (which I’m still trying to figure out that’s broke the law, outside of drinking underage), we have all either known someone in our college/youthful years that have did it, or done them ourselves.
Does Manziel have a different life comparable to other college students in the country, of course. He’s a Heisman trophy quarterback, that electrified the football world last season. I ask this. If he were the third string QB at Joe University, none of this would be an issue. It would be a non news story. He’s been the center of attention during what I call the “silly season” in college football (the time when there is nothing to talk about, because no games are being played and we’re thirsty for any news), for as number of reasons:
1. He beat Alabama, mostly single handily- 99.9% of Alabama fans give him props for what he did on that day last season. the problem like EVERY fan base in the country, is that it’s hard for one to believe this kid came out of nowhere and beat your team. It happen. Can’t change it. Get over it.
2. He Can do a ton of cool things that others can’t- You mean to tell me that if you had the chance to go to a NBA Finals game, hang out with Drake (or your favorite musician), throw out a few opening pitches at Major League baseball games, you wouldn’t? Stop lying to yourself.
3. Like Tebow, He will never win- So what happens if A&M and his team gets blown out against Alabama September 14th? You will hear so many “I told ya so’s” everywhere. But here’s a thought. What happens if the Aggies beat The Tide again? What happens if this team wins the league? Like Tim Tebow, no matter what he does on and off the playing field, people will have something to say. Tebow was everything you wanted in a “model football citizen”, and he was lambasted to this day. And he’s never even had any controversy like Manziel. It’s just this simple. Both have had a ton of success in their football careers, and people just don’t like it. If there’s another reason, I would love to know.
4. What were you doing at 20?- If you are his age, and have all this celebrity coming at you 220 mph, could you handle it? Some could, that doesn’t mean he’s a bad person because of this. His father in the ESPN article earlier this week said that, “Yeah, it could come unraveled. And when it does, it’s gonna be bad. Real bad.” How many parents don’t worry about their kids while in college or in high school when going to parties, hanging out with friends, much less when you are the face of an entire University, and you can go and come as you please? My take, Johnny Manziel will have peaks and valleys in his life, even on the football field, all while trying to find his way as a young man in a world where his every waking move is out in public on display.
5. He deals with Social Media- If we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, Smartphones, would this even be an issue? Yes he was arrested (misdemeanor) for a fake ID. If There were none of the social media outlets that dominate our world today, would this be an issue? What if Twitter and Facebook were around in the 60’s, 70’s 80’s? Johnny Manziel would be a saint compared to the craziness that went on. Heck, ask Riley Cooper if he wished no one had a Smartphone to record video.
I’ll be back next week for another post as we get close to kickoff of the college football season… Have a great weekend!