We're going to try something a little bit new today here on the site. As football season draws near, and as we begin to think about team evaluations more closely, we thought this might be a fun time to start trying to sort out a Burnt Orange Nation consensus Top 10 teams. Here's how it'll work:
Below you'll find a first stab at the Top 10, with a rationale for our selection. Think of it as a starting point for discussion. In the comment section, we urge you to offer your own Top 10, discuss why you think each team deserves to be there, and so on.
One of the things we love about the Blog Poll concept is one of its founding principles - voters are urged to discuss their rankings, others voters' rankings, and be open to others' ideas about how and where teams should be ranked. We thought: why not take that concept right to BON readers? So today, let's work together to try to sort out some sort of consensus Top 10.
Your comment starter:
1. Texas Homerism? Absolutely. Possible? Definitely. I think a loss or two is more probable, but a University of Texas fan site can't pick against the defending champs before we've seen anyone else play. For now, the champs stay on top.
2. USC A lot of people are expecting a fall from the Trojans. The most common arguments are: new quarterback, new running back, brutal schedule. The Trojans do open with three tough tests - at Arkansas, versus Nebraska, and at Arizona. Not only are all three winnable, though - the Trojans should be favored. If they get through the first three games unscathed, they should get through the conference unbeaten until the final week when they play Cal. At that point, though, will you really want to pick against USC? I'm not ready to knock them down just yet.
3. Ohio State With plenty of offensive talent, the only question will be how quickly the new defense can become a strong force. I'm not sure it'll be ready by week two in Austin, but by mid-season, they'll be strong. After Texas, Ohio State may not lose.
4. Auburn There are several SEC teams that look Top 5 worthy. That means they're all gonna beat up on each other, though. With most of their toughest games at home, Auburn's our hedge pick here. Kenny Irons was underrated last year (outside SEC country). If an SEC team makes the BCS title game, Auburn may have the best shot.
5. Oklahoma I think the concerns we've raised are legit, but... they do return a lot of talent at tailback and receiver; if Bomar can improve to even a B+ quarterback, this team will win games. The schedule even looks favorable, which is why I'm sticking 'em up here.
6. Florida I like the Gators to win the SEC East, but man, what a brutal schedule. The Gators return a vicious defense - better than most realize.
7. West Virginia I don't feel comfortable putting them much higher. This is the kind of thing we need to hash out in the comment section. Should we be ranking our teams by schedule strength? What factors should we value most? I want your thoughts.
8. LSU If I trusted Les Miles, this team could be more interesting. But I don't. The ceiling on this team is high, but I don't know whether I trust Miles enough to rank them that way. Thoughts?
9. Iowa/Michigan I think one of these two teams will have a Top 10 season. Readers? You want Tate and Ferentz or Henne and Carr? Did I just answer my own question?
10. Notre Dame Say it with me: "The best team Notre Dame beat last year was Navy." Okay, Michigan wasn't bad, but really, I'm not sure why the Domers are getting so much preseason love. Well, I do, but I'm not buying it. Am I being pessimistic here? I see 2 losses on the schedule, maybe 3.
Other teams to consider? California, Florida State, Miami, Georgia, Louisville, Others?
Readers: Offer me your top 10, but also, try to answer philosophical questions about rankings. Should we be thinking about strength of schedule yet? Or just ranking the ten 'best' teams (as we see it)? Any and all insights welcomed and encouraged.