So they're asking us to put together preseason BlogPoll ballots at very points in the offseason this year, and it's time to cast the first one. This probably isn't a great idea when it comes to yours truly, because it's the part of the year where I think crazy things like, "I just might rank Arkansas No. 2 in 2012." This used to be the kind of insanity I could talk myself out of by the time the season rolls around, but there is no such chance this year. So the most bizarre preseason ballot you are likely to see follows:
Team Speed Kills Ballot - Week 17
|3||Alabama Crimson Tide||-2|
|5||Florida St. Seminoles||18|
|8||TCU Horned Frogs||8|
|10||Boise St. Broncos||--|
|12||Kansas St. Wildcats||3|
|13||Virginia Tech Hokies||--|
|14||South Carolina Gamecocks||-5|
|16||West Virginia Mountaineers||1|
|24||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||--|
|Dropouts: Oklahoma St. Cowboys, Michigan St. Spartans, Baylor Bears, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Southern Miss. Golden Eagles, Houston Cougars, Cincinnati Bearcats, Rutgers Scarlet Knights|
SB Nation BlogPoll College Football Top 25 Rankings "
To be clear, because it might not be after that introduction: I'm not joking. At the same time, I am 100 percent confident that the actual preseason ballot I submit will be dramatically different than this one. But I try to intentionally get myself to think outside of the box this far ahead of the season, both so I make sure that I'm not just following the conventional wisdom and to make sure that I get it out of my system before August.
The reasons, as best as I can describe them, follow the jump.
Top 5: Arkansas is obviously the high-beta team here. I like what the Razorbacks are beginning to put together on offense, so much so that I think that Tyler Wilson under center might be enough to offset the loss of the wide receiving corps. Gulp. I guess. Southern Cal will probably crash and burn at some point of the season because Lane Kiffin wants to prove a point playing Washington State and gets a starter injured or something, but until they do... I think Michigan and Florida State grow up a lot in the offseason, and I think Alabama is just a bit off with some of the losses they're taking.
Top 10: Yeah, I put LSU outside of the Top 5. Part of that is because I have very little confidence that the LSU we saw in the national championship game might be the real thing. Let's not forget that LSU also missed South Carolina and Georgia during the regular season this season -- they will face South Carolina in 2012 -- and were losing to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game before rallying. With Darron Thomas going insane and declaring for the NFL Draft, I'm not quite sure what to do with Oregon. TCU might win the Big 12 in its first year in the conference, and Washington is probably ridiculously overrated here but that's where they start. Boise -- meh.
Top 15: Oklahoma and Kansas State have to go somewhere, I guess. I actually ranked Virginia Tech on this ballot, because I think they might actually be the team that everyone thought they were this year despite abundant proof that they weren't. South Carolina/Georgia, Georgia/South Carolina -- whatever. There's abundant reason to overlook either of them, my problem with Georgia being that I'm still not sure they can win against anything except the easiest schedule in the SEC. So maybe I need to put them in the Top 10.
Top 20: I'm not even sure which conference West Virginia is going to be in when the 2012 season starts, and I don't think they do either. But this seems like a fair place for a team with the upside and downside they have against a schedule ... well, a schedule in whatever conference they will be competing in. Texas still doesn't have an offense and Clemson apparently doesn't have a defense. Louisville, because they're rebounding under Charlie Strong and why not? Wisconsin still has Montee Ball.
Top 25: FOR ALL THE DARTBOARDS! Missouri, welcome to the you're-in-the-SEC-so-everyone-will-wildly-overrank-you-in-the-preseason bump. (I was going to put Texas A&M in there, but they dropped off the ballot at the last minute. I'm here all week.) Virginia could be on the way up and Stanford is on the way down, but has Stepfan Taylor. Notre Dame. I have no idea why. And we'll give our Duke place on this ballot to Vanderbilt, which might have a very good team next year. Or probably not.