College football is a funny thing sometimes. You think you've got everything figured out at first, or at least most of it. You think it might be safe for the culture lovers even. But then someone doesn't show up, you get a new set of stage notes, and before you know it, the polonaise has a wah-wah guitar backing and a saxophone solo. Ideally, it ends with Jim Delany in tears.
In other words, don't take preseason polls too seriously, especially this one. I took it seriously when making it, but if it ends up utter garbage, well, that's fine with me. I'll take surprises over being right almost every time.
I have my two national title game participants in the top two slots; that should make sense. I have projected 11-1 Arkansas third, followed by a somewhat diminished Oregon that will still roll through the diminished Pac-12. I like Wisconsin next because I believe in the positive effect that Russell Wilson on the offense that already has a dynamite running game. The Badgers might be able to outscore anyone in the nation, just like Auburn did last year.
6. South Carolina
7. Virginia Tech
8. Florida State
9. Boise State
This is South Carolina's big year, but this could be too high for them. VT has a dream schedule, and Logan Thomas should be a stud quarterback for them. Their defense slumped last year, but it should come back up this season. I hate to put FSU here, but I feel like I have to. Boise State will be good but will lose at least a game, while the Huskers' defense will likely again carry an iffy offense.
11. Notre Dame
12. Texas A&M
13. West Virginia
15. Oklahoma State
With Notre Dame and FSU up this high, we sure are hitting a lot of villains, aren't we? Texas A&M should be good, but I'm not ready to make the Aggies a top-10 team yet. West Virginia's offense should be outstanding, and I don't think enough people recognize just how good Jeff Casteel's defenses have been of late. It has some losses on D, but the offense will make up for it. Georgia should bounce back nicely and win a lot of games this year. I'm skeptical of Oklahoma State because it's never been a defensive powerhouse, and the quarterback taught the new OC the offense over the off season.
18. Ohio State
19. Mississippi State
It's too late to revise my picks for LSU based on the new arrests, but this team is going to have a tough go of it this season with all the distractions. Stanford won't be the same without Jim Harbaugh, and Andrew Luck is due for some regression. Ohio State has enough talent (and an easy enough early schedule) to weather the suspensions all right. Mississippi State will be good again, but not better than last year. TCU sustained some losses, but Gary Patterson is too good to let them fall too far.
21. Michigan State
Michigan State will be good again, but it's much rougher schedule will keep it down. Plus, it was merely average in Big Ten play on offense anyway. Missouri suddenly and drastically found defense last year; if it carries over and the young offense matures, watch out. The two CUSA kingpins round things out, with defense holding the edge over offense.