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BlogPoll Offseason Roundtable 2.3

Rule number one in magazine publishing:
Never put Syracuse on the cover of your season preview edition.
Eds. Note: For those that are unaware, the BlogPoll Roundtable is a somewhat regular discussion of issues concerning college football. Those participating are members of MGoBlog's BlogPoll, a collection of college football bloggers spanning the nation, populized (albeit begrudingly) by mostly Big Ten and Georgia writers.

Bruce Ciskie, the voice of University of Minnesota-Duluth hockey, moderates this edition of the BlogPoll Roundtable. Driven by the recent publication and distribution of Phil Steele's 2006 College Football Preview, Ciskie poses a series of questions focusing on the questionable nature of pre-summer rankings and prognostications.

Which preseason college football magazine is your favorite?
There are a lot of great preview magazines available to the college football psychopath. In no particular order, I enjoy reading: Phile Steele's College Football Preview, Athlon Sports Annual (both the Eastern and National compilations), Blue Ribbon Yearbook, and the Sporting News. While each has its own distinctive flair, the magazine that really lights a fire in my belly is Blue Ribbon Yearbook.

With almost 400 pages of college football deliciousness, Blue Ribbon Yearbook is an essential feature in an college football fan's library. Maybe the best way to describe the awesomeness of Blue Ribbon Yearbook is to crib a testimonial from the publisher's website:
"Quite simply the finest research instrument in college football today. I do not know what I’d do without it."
-- Bill Curry, ESPN color analyst
The one drawback to Blue Ribbon Yearbook is that the pricetag is fairly heafty at around $22.00 a pop. However, along with your particular team's annual media guide, Blue Ribbon Yearbook will pay dividends to your college football knowledge on a week-to-week basis.

I should also note here that probably the most underrated college football preview tool is local newspapers. While magazines are fun and cover a wide swath of college football nation, local newspapers still provide the up-to-date information necessary for critical analysis and instruction. So, don't let Phil Steele's predictions distract you; stay abreast of happenings occurring in your local rag.

What team is being supremely overrated in the preseason rankings?

While the schedule may be conducive to a winning record, I have a hard time understanding how an 8-4 club in 2005 is suddenly going to run roughshod over the Big XII and emerge unscathed as potential National Champions.

College Football News, which is itself an overrated almalgamation of journalistic strife, may have posed the question and corresponding response best in its recent preview of the Sooners:

So is this a national title caliber team? Yes, but there are still too many question marks on the offensive line and with Bomar to get excited about the Sooners' chances at a run to a third title game in four seasons. 2007 is when the team should be truly ready to explode and become a juggernaut again.

* * * *

If OU can combine any positive carry-over from the post-season and get all the good young talents to jell, the future, and the recent past, could be now.

As things stand now, that does not sound like the makeup of a sure-fire national contender. As such, placing Oklahoma toward or at the top of a pre-season poll seems incredibly dicey.

Unless, of course, that poll is about the ability of Rhett Bomar to frustrate 80,000 Sooner fans on a week-to-week basis.

Turn the tables. Who is underrated?
West Virginia.

Athlon Sports says it best:
Fresh off an 11–1 campaign and a rousing Sugar Bowl win over Southeastern Conference champion Georgia, the Mountaineers are riding the crest of a wave that could carry them through a virtually made-to-order schedule clean into January. A midseason trip to Louisville is the most imposing challenge. But it’s more than just the schedule — sophomore sensations Pat White and Steve Slaton return at quarterback and running back, respectively, and they again will be operating behind a line spearheaded by first-team All-Big East center Dan Mozes.
This isn't to say that the Mountaineers haven't been getting their due because they have. Ranked in the top ten in virtually every preseason publication, Morgantown has certainly gotten its fair share of high expectations. However, as I am hopelessly attached to the notion that West Virginia will hoist the crystal at the end of the season, the Mountaineers are my choice for most undervalued team this offseason.

Which conference will be the best in 2006?
The answer to this question needs to be posed in two parts. First, in terms of enjoyability on a week-to-week basis, the Atlantic Coast Conference is the obvious selection. Finishing amongst the nation's leaders in the Parity Index in both 2005 and 2004, the ACC is arguably the most competitively balanced conference in the country. Thus, in terms of "best bet for a great college football game," the ACC will be the best in 2006.

Second, in terms of putting together a host of national title contenders, I think the power resides down in the Souteastern Conference. Boasting legitimate threats in Florida, Lousiana State, and Auburn, the SEC is stockpiled with powerful clubs. In my eyes, the SEC is the conference to fear this year.

Which "non-BCS" conference will be the best in 2006?
If anybody writes "Big East" as an answer to this question, I will break the internets.

With that aside, I think either the Mountain West Conference or the Western Athletic Conference will vie for this virtual title. The MWC maintains a couple of interesting teams in Texas Christian, Utah, and Brigham Young. Those three clubs may have enough juice to stay within the nation's top 40 if everything breaks right for them.

The WAC also has a handful of burgeoning clubs in Boise State and Fresno State. Everybody saw what Bulldogs did to Southern California last year. There's no reason to believe that this conference can't put together some dangerous teams again this year.

Which non-BCS conference team will have the best season?
Texas Christian.

Let's get your first read on this one...who will win the H*i*m*n? Oh, by the way, players whose last names begin with the letter "Q" are ineligible.
As if there was any question to my answer, but I'm going with Brendan Carney.

If you have no idea who Brendan Carney is, I highly suggest clicking the link above. It will change your life. I promise.

10 Responses to “BlogPoll Offseason Roundtable 2.3”

  1. # Anonymous Half Bag

    Okay as far as OU being overrated, I could buy it if the landscape wasn't so crazy right now. If we are going on last year how about Notre Dame, beating an entire two teams with a winning record. Or maybe Ohio State, their world beater offense couldn't show up against any defense ranked in the top 35, and that is not even mentioning losing virtually the entire defense. Just a couple of things to chew on, I am obviously an OU fan, and i wouldn't have them at #1, but i also can see how a person would. The 13th ranked defense should be a lot better with two corners that can cover and actually understand where to be on the field. I am not planning on the offense having to be 2003's, but with the O-line improvement and a healthy AD don't you think the offense might be just good enough?  

  2. # Anonymous Matt

    Half Bag -

    I don't totally disagree with you on many of the points you pose. Oklahoma's defense should be amongst the nation's elite, if not within the top two or three. I love what Rufus Alexander does on a week-to-week and will surely get a lot of opportunity to make a ridiculous number of stops with an underrated interior defensive line.

    Moreover, the fact that Oklahoma returns burgeoning stars in the defensive backfield (I especially like the potential of D.J. Wolfe) will allow the defense to wreak havoc all season.

    However, and this is probably where I think your argument fails, there are lots of questions on the offensive side of the football that I think detract from Oklahoma's placement as pre-season number one in a host of magazine polls. The question marks surrounding the inconsistency at offensive line and quarterback are just too much for me to look past. There is potential at both positions, but given last year's output at both positions, I cannot reasonably forecast that the growth and maturity necessary to catapult the Sooners to the top of the charts is going to occur.

    In short, at this juncture of the offseason, I expect Oklahoma to have to struggle to find its way offensively, much the same way they did at the onset of 2005. While the close of 2005 saw much offensive improvement (which had a correlative effect in the win-loss column), its too hard to overlook the fact that the Sooners are breaking in a new offensive line coach, potentially asking four sophomores to start at the most difficult position on the football field, and relying on a host of talented, yet green receivers to find consistentcy in catching ball from an at-times freakishly erratic Rhett Bomar.

    This isn't to say that Oklahoma isn't amongst the nation's ten best teams. They are and if they fail to finish with nine or 10 wins (especially if Adrian Peterson can find a way to run through and around his own offensive line), disappointment in Norman is certainly reasonable. However, to put Oklahoma at the top right now smacks of assumptions driving reality.

    As for the unsettled landscape of college football serving as a vehicle for Oklahoma taking home the top spot, I think that is a bit of a red herring. Many teams return this year that have shown a level of consistency (Florida, West Virginia, etc.) that are not affected terrifically by their pre-season question marks.

    That, in essence, is why I think OU is "overrated" right now. Not because there is a lack of potential.  

  3. # Anonymous mac daddy

    You are obviously a jackass! Enough said!  

  4. # Anonymous Matt

    Yeah, I know. I'm a turd.

    In other breaking news, the world spins on its axis.  

  5. # Anonymous th3 kid  

  6. # Anonymous Glenn

    I am a diehard Sooner fan and I also would not have put OU at number one. I do however believe in Bomar's ability. This is a guy that had to fight for playing time all the way up to the start of last season and in fact didnt get the job right away. Now he is the man and getting all the snaps, his confidence level has to be enormously higher and he has had a year to season. This kid was a monster player in high school, rated number one in most draft ratings. I think that if he stays healthy (he loves to run) that he will really suprise people this year and with a healthy AD, combined with a weak schedule ( had one of the toughest last year so we deserve it) Oklahoma has a shot, even if it is an outside one. My preseason rank for my beloved Sooners - #5.  

  7. # Anonymous Dean

    I agree. OU's showing in big bowl games proves they're overrated just about every year. This bomar kid reminds me of chris rix..Runs too much, not an accurate passer..and so on..

    An of the SEC powerhouses would demolish ou, they play in a very weak conference with their only competition being texas. All one has to do is look at the pathetic conference title games year in and year out for the big 12..ridiculous..I would have ou somewhere from 12-20, definitley not a no 1...they haven't proven squat..  

  8. # Anonymous iamasoonerfan

    Hey Dean,

    Seems to me your powerful sec teams never fare too well when the venture into the Big 12. Seems to me that oklahoma beat alabama, two years running in 2004 &2005. Tell your boys in the sec to schedule ou. We play a strong non-conference schedule, not the school for the blind that many sec teams play. Washington and Oregon this year and Miami next, then a home and home with FSU.  

  9. # Blogger half bag

    Okay Dean, do you mean OU's showing in the Orange bowl vs USC or the Orange bowl vs FSU, or the Rose bowl? It gets real hard to win all of your games when they are at that hi of a level. Yes they lost to LSU, but it was far from a blowout, and a virtual home game for the Tigers. OU has done fine off of SEC teams both recently and historically. Look at SOS lately and see if you have anything to complain about OU not playing anyone. I have a lot of respect for the SEC, but don't begin to think the big xii is a joke. The North is down, but that can't last forever.

    As for Bomar, I know he has issues and is rough around the edges, but Rix? Come on, he has proven he CAN throw accurately, the question is his decision making for the most part. I'm not saying he is John Elway, but give the guy a chance. Look at what he had to overcome last year and notice he continually got better. He was MVP in a bowl game they beat #6. Did Rix ever beat anyone ranked that high?  

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