Posted on: September 10, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 4:57 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
WEST VIRGINIA WON. After trailing 12-10 at halftime, West Virginia rolled off 45 unanswered points in the route of Norfolk State. Quarterback Geno Smith led the way for the offensive onslaught, throwing for 372 yards and four touchdowns. Even backup Paul Millard got a taste of the pass happy scheme, completing 5 of 6 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown in the final scoring drive of the game.
WHY WEST VIRGINIA WON: Norfolk State was penalized 19 times for 169 yards.
Yes, that's NINETEEN times for 169 yards - nearly double the total rushing yards for the Spartans. The Mountaineer defense held Norfolk State to 2-for-15 on third downs and the offense was only able to pickup 285 adds of total offense. The execution errors in the second half, along with allowing Smith to have his way with the secondary, put the game out of reach fast.
WHEN WEST VIRGINIA WON: It only took 13 total plays and under five minutes for the Mountaineers to reclaim the lead and begin piling on the punishment. Norfolk State picked up just 16 yards in that span, the Mountaineers collected 146 and 14 points.
WHAT WEST VIRGINIA WON: West Virginia was unable to get their running game going in the first half. Norfolk State comfortably left four men in the box and dared the Mountaineers to run the ball. Once the passing game got going in the second half Vernard Roberts was able to take advantage of increased opportunities, but the first half will give the Mountaineers plenty to work on before facing Maryland next weekend in College Park.
WHAT NORFOLK STATE LOST With a 12-10 halftime lead, Norfolk State had the attention of the nation as one of several possible upsets in the early slate of games. Allowing West Virginia's defense to roll off three straight unanswered touchdowns in ten minutes disinterested the masses and erased any memory of that close first half.
THAT WAS CRAZY. West Virginia's offensive production against the Spartans marked the highest point total since the Mountaineers beat Connecticut 66-21 in 2007. West Virginia totaled 517 yards rushing on the Huskies, led by Pat White, Noel Devine and Steve Slaton in that game. That was Rich Rodriguez's last year at West Virginia, and the team eventually defeated Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. The Mountaineers have a long way to go before being able to be compared to that 2007 team, but the second half on Saturday was a start.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:12 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Predictably, the preseason polls did not have much of a Big East presence. The preseason Associated Press poll only opened the door for West Virginia to sneak in at No. 24. But on Saturday South Florida made quite the statement to the voters, pulling off the upset win over Notre Dame in South Bend. Now the conference gets to revel in two teams represented in the polls, with one more collecting votes.
19. West Virginia - Dana Holgorsen's debut in Morgantown was far from normal as the Mountaineers collected their first victory in a game called for lightning. The new offensive scheme under the direction of quarterback Geno Smith sputtered at first, but by the time the game was called the offense had scored five times on eight offensive drives - something that Holgorsen singled out on Monday as "pretty good." Next the Mountaineers will host Norfolk State before traveling to College Park and face Maryland in Byrd Stadium.
22. South Florida - Skip Holtz said before the season that his team had some momentum coming off the Bulls' dramatic late season victories over Miami and Clemson in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. That momentum off those two close wins carried over to South Bend on Saturday with the 23-20 victory over the then-ranked Irish. The Bulls' defense was opportunistic, and BJ Daniels was able to orchestrate enough scoring drives (granted, field goals) in the first half to put the game out of reach by the time the Irish made the quarterback switch. The Bulls now have three winnable games ahead with the possibilities of traveling to Pittsburgh 4-0. After that begins the brutal road journey through the Big East that includes four away games in five weeks.
Other Receiving Votes 38. Pittsburgh - The Panthers' "high-octane" offense took a while to get going against Buffalo, and it is clear the Panthers are sell getting used to operating at Todd Graham's preferred speed in a game situation. Luckily Pitt welcomes Maine to town on Saturday for one more test-run before taking Graham's "high-octane" show on the road to face the Hawkeyes in Iowa on Sept. 17.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 10:17 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
WEST VIRGINIA WON. It was an odd and awkward victory, but the Mountaineers overcame three different weather delays to finally collect the victory over the in-state rival Marshall 34-13. The game was finally called with 14:36 left in the fourth quarter after more than three hours of delays brought both teams in and out of the locker room several times. Geno Smith stole the show in head coach Dana Holgorsen's debut, completing 26 of 35 passes for 249 yards and 2 touchdowns in just over 3 quarters of action.
WHY WEST VIRGINIA WON: The Mountaineers defense, for the most part, frustrated the Thundering Herd and continued to put freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato in third and long situations. West Virginia's defense only allowed Marshall to convert on 3 of 11 third downs, repeatedly setting themselves up with opportunistic field position for Geno Smith.
WHEN WEST VIRGINIA WON: Tavon Austin's 100-yard kickoff return late in the third quarter erased all of the momentum gained by Marshall after forcing a turnover on downs. The Thundering Herd used the field position to get a field goal and cut the Mountaineer lead to 20-13 with 5:14 left in the third period. Austin's return touchdown occurred just before the first weather delay, and Marshall never was able to get momentum back.
WHAT WEST VIRGINIA WON: This game provided very little insight into West Virginia's new look on offense, and did little to establish dominance over their in-state rivals. Smith looks sharp, but the Mountaineer rushing attack struggled to find a rhythm and looked inefficient at best. The Mounaineers got a mark in the win column, and a list of areas to improve, but other than Geno Smith's performance there was little that stood out on Sunday.
WHAT MARSHALL LOST: The opportunity to knock off their rivals. The Thundering Herd struck first when Andre Booker returned a West Virginia punt 87 yards for a touchdown. That 7-0 lead would be Marshall's best moment on Sunday, as the defense gave Geno Smith too much time to operate and the Mountaineers jumped out to a 20-10 lead before halftime. There is something to be said for freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato, who completed 15 of 21 passes for 115 yards. The Miami native showed potential in limited action and could be a nice building block for the future.
THAT WAS CRAZY: Other than the three different weather delays and early finish? Trying to take build some momentum after scoring just before halftime, Marshall opted to attempt an onsides kick to start the second half. They failed, but it at least showed the Thundering Herd had no plans of quitting their attack on the Mountaineers.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 6:03 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2011 7:29 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
For the fifth time in this opening weekend of college football, a game has been suspended due to inclement weather. With 4:59 remaining in the third quarter, game officials stopped West Virginia and Marshall after lightning was spotted less than six miles from the stadium.
The fans were instructed to leave the stadium and seek temporary shelter, while the teams returned to their locker room. According to regulations, 30 minutes must pass with no lightning spotted in a six-mile radius of the stadium. Once the teams have been cleared to resume play, there will reportedly be a 5-minute warm up period before re-starting the action.
The lightning report came directly after West Virginia dealt their own strike thanks to a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown from speedy wideout Tavon Austin. The Thundering Herd had just turned a 4th down stop into a field goal, cutting the Mountaineers lead to 20-13, before Austin answered with his highlight reel return.
Quarterback Geno Smith has been the most impressive aspect of West Virginia's highly-touted offense. The junior has competed 22 of 30 passes for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He as spread the ball around to eight different receivers, often being forced to create an opportunity by extending the play with his feet. Marshall has stuffed the Mountaineers running game, holding all rushers to 30 yards on a combined 20 attempts.
Posted on: August 18, 2011 6:33 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2011 8:58 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
The Big East gets criticized often on the national level for being the one of the weaker BCS conferences, but with new coaches and high-octane offenses 2011 could be a bounce back year for the league. I join Adam Aizer to sort through the many story lines in the Big East and try to make sense of a league that has had 5 different teams win a share of the conference championship since 2005.
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Tags: Adam Aizer, Big East, Big East Podcast, Big East Preview, Big East Preview Podcast, Brandon Irvin, Butch Jones, Charlie Strong, Chip Patterson, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Dana Holgorsen, Doug Marrone, Geno Smith, Greg Schiano, Kendall Reyes, Louisville, Paul Pasqualoni, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Sio Moore, Skip Holtz, South Florida, Syracuse, Tavon Austin, Todd Graham, USF, West Virginia
Posted on: August 17, 2011 2:30 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 2:42 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
As part of CBSSports.com's season preview, we offer this blogger's selections for the Preseason All-Big East Team.
Zach Collaros, Sr., Cincinnati - Even with a questionable knee and even more questionable offensive line, Colarros led the Big East in in passing yards (2,902 yards) last season. The talented quarterback who first broke out as a backup to Tony Pike enters the season looking to bounce back from last year's dismal 4-8 record. The senior signal-caller is armed with a stable of skill position players (you will find many of them below on this team) and looking to return the Bearcats to the postseason after missing a bowl for the first time since 2005. He was a unanimous All-Big East first team selection a year ago and still remains atop this list until someone shows him up.
Also watch for: One person with plenty of potential to show him up is West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Smith has been a popular choice by some outlets for all-conference teams because of his unique skill set and how well it matches Dana Holgorsen's offensive system. Smith, who threw for 24 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions in 2010, will be the point guard of the Mountaineer attack - making quick decisions to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers. Pittsburgh's Tino Sunseri should also benefit from moving back into the shotgun with Todd Graham, and BJ Daniels is one to watch down at South Florida.
Ray Graham, Jr., Pittsburgh - Under Todd Graham's watch, Tulsa had one of the most prolific offenses in football. The Golden Hurricanes ran 1006 offensive plays in 2010, ranking them seventh nationally. More than half of those (537) were rushing plays, which means you can expect Graham will get his fair share of touches. The high-octane system Pittsburgh plans to run is based on speed rather than a pass-first spread. Graham is just the type of strong and shifty back that fits this offense perfectly.
Isaiah Pead, Sr., Cincinnati - Pead rushed for 1,029 yards and six touchdowns in 2010, and is the conference's top returning rusher. Even though the Bearcats have some questions to answer on the offensive line, there are enough weapons on the field for Pead to get some space to operate. After being a part of back-to-back conference title teams, Pead will want to finish his career by bouncing back from 2010's 4-win season.
Also watch for: Louisville running back Victor Anderson broke out as a freshman in 2008 before being slowed by injuries the past two seasons. If he can repeat the types of performances that won him Big East Rookie of the Year, it would be a huge boost to a Cardinals team with questions on offense. Connecticut running back D.J. Shoemate is another one to watch, as he will try to step out from Jordan Todman's long shadow in Storrs.
Tavon Austin, Jr., West Virginia - Austin's move to wide receiver is one that will benefit the talented playmaker in Dana Holgorsen's offensive scheme. He is a weapon that West Virginia plans to use in multiple ways, and will not be lacking in touches or targets in 2011. Spreading the field will give Austin several chances to take advantage of one-on-one coverage, and I imagine he will take advantage.
DJ Woods, Sr., Cincinnati - Woods won't be able to take advantage of lining up opposite 1,000 yard receiver Armon Binns anymore, but if JUCO transfer Kenbrell Thompkins pans out he will certainly get plenty of opportunities to at least match 2010's numbers (57 catches for 898 yards and 8 touchdowns).
Also watch for:Syracuse returns Van Chew, Marcus Sales, and Alec Lemon, but they all need to show more consistency before laying claim to all-conference honors. Rutgers wideout Mohamed Sanu has also gotten a lot of attention, and could be a threat if Chas Dodd is given enough time to throw.
C Moe Petrus, Sr., Connecticut - Petrus helped pave the way for All-Big East running back Jordan Todman a year ago, and now his role is more important than ever. With a new running back and new quarterback, the senior lineman much anchor the unit to give the Huskies a chance at recapturing the momentum that led to a Fiesta Bowl bid in 2010.
OG Justin Pugh, Jr., Syracuse - Pugh started all 13 games for the Orange last season, and is one of four returning starters along the offensive line. A second team All-Big East selection, Pugh is expected to repeat his strong performance protecting Ryan Nassib.
OG Chaz Hine, Sr., South Florida - With only two returning starters on the offensive line, Hine's experience (25 starts) makes him an the most valuable piece of the Bulls offensive line.
OT Don Barclay, Sr., West Virginia - With 27 career starts, the 305-pound left tackle has been a leader along the offensive line in the transition under Dana Holgorsen. Holgorsen has been concerned with the depth along the offensive line, but repeatedly compliments Barclay's bounce back from spring injuries.
OT Lucas Nix, Sr., Pittsburgh - While new head coach Todd Graham continues to hold competition along the Panthers' offensive line, it seems that one of the only positions set in stone is Nix at right tackle.
Also watch for: Connecticut's All-Big East first team tackle Mike Ryan could easily have a spot on this list, as could West Virginia center Joe Madsen.
Ryan Griffin, Jr., Connecticut - The Huskies did not throw the ball much in 2010, but Griffin was the third leading receiver with 31 receptions for 245 yards and a touchdown. Tight end is not a particularly strong position in this conference with all the odd schemes, but whichever unproven quarterback is under center for Connecticut will likely rely on Griffin to get out of tight spots.
Also watch for:Syracuse tight end Nick Provo has been getting some praise heading into the season, and I'm interested to see how Pittsburgh H-back Hubie Graham gets used in the new Panthers offense..
DE Bruce Irvin, Sr., West Virginia - Irvin was a monster pass rusher in 2010, finishing second in the nation with 14.0 sacks on the season - in a reserve role. Now the talented end is in the starting lineup and should create havoc for offensive lines, particularly playing opposite Julian Miller.
DE Brandon Lindsey, Sr., Pittsburgh - Lindsey has also proven himself as a dangerous threat getting into offensive backfields. After picking up 10 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss a season ago, defensive coordinator Keith Patterson says they will use Lindsey in some 3-4 looks as a "Panther linebacker." The flexibility of the down linebacker will allow the senior to get loose and try to use his instincts to make big stops.
DT Chas Alecxhi, Sr., Pittsburgh - Replacing Big East Defensive Player of the Year Jabaal Sheard is no easy task, but his 2010 teammate Alecxhi is ready to try and become the fourth straight Panther to be named to the same honor.
DT Kendall Reyes, Sr., Connecticut - Reyes is the anchor in the middle for one of the better defensive lines in the conference. He was an All-Big East first team selection a year ago, totaling 7.5 tackles for loss charging up the middle.
Also watch for:Reyes' Connecticut teammate Jesse Joseph and West Virginia's Julian Miller could easily pull in these same honors. Cincinnati's Derek Wolfe is one below the radar name to keep an eye on.
Sio Moore, Jr., Connecticut - Moore got his first chance in the starting lineup in 2010 and made the most of it, finishing fifth in the Big East with 110 tackles. He is the only returning starter of the group, but should get plenty of playmaking opportunities behind a solid defensive line.
JK Schaeffer, Sr., Cincinnati - After finishing his second straight season with at least 100 tackles, Schaeffer was named to the All-Big East second team in 2010. Unfortunately the personal success was overlooked by a Bearcats defense that ranked near the bottom of the conference in many categories. Schaeffer has been outspoken in regards to the unit's improvement, and will likely be making a statement for the team on the field.
DeDe Lattimore, Soph., South Florida - Lattimore finished second on the team in tackles as a freshman, earning him some attention on the national level. The Bulls have some holes to fill on the defensive line, but Lattimore and fellow linebacker Sam Barrington have Skip Holtz feeling good about the back seven.
Also watch for: Syracuse linebacker Marquis Spruill has a tall order moving to middle linebacker and replacing Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue. If he is able to lead the new unit to a successful season, he will certainly be deserving of some postseason honors.
CB Keith Tandy, Sr., West Virginia - In addition to being an All-Big East first team selection in 2010, Tandy led the conference in interceptions and recorded 11 pass break ups. With many starters missing from last year's dominating defense, Tandy will be one of the few "sure things" at the start of the season.
CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Jr., Connecticut - In addition to being a great playmaker and the team's third third leading returning tackler, Wreh-Wilson will benefit from playing alongside three other returning starters in the secondary. With few blatant weaknesses, it will be hard to avoid the cornerback and he'll get plenty of chances to have an impact on the field.
S Hakeem Smith, Soph., Louisville - Louisville is faced with the challenge of replacing two talented cornerbacks in the secondary. Luckily, there is a proven underclassman ready to step up in Smith. He was the 2010 Big East Defensive Rookie of the Year and finished 10th in the conference in tackles. He ball-hawking safety will be a key component in maintaining a defense that ranked among the best in the nation a year ago.
S Jarred Holley, Jr., Pittsburgh - Holley finished one pick behind Tandy in the Big East last year, and was named to the All-Big East second team. With the Panthers' front seven applying pressure on the quarterback, it will be Holley's job to make them pay after mental mistakes.
Also watch for: Syracuse safety Phillip Thomas will be a crucial part of the Orange's back seven once he recovers from a broken jaw and South Florida cornerback Quinton Washington is the third leading tackler on the Bulls' defense.
K Ross Krautman, Soph., Syracuse
P Cole Wagner, Soph., Connecticut
KR/PR Lindsey Lamar, Jr., South Florida
Also watch for: Connecticut's Dave Teggart and South Florida's Maikon Bonani both had impressive seasons in 2010 and should be just as consistent this year. But no one in the conference compared to Krautman's 18 for 19 (94.7%, a Big East single-season record) performance, including a 48 yard field goal in a 13-10 win at Rutgers.
As always, let us know what you the think about the selections in the comment section below. Also be sure to click on over to the Conference Preview for more coverage on the Big East
Tags: Alec Lemon, All-Big East Team, Big East, BJ Daniels, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Brandon Lindsey, Bruce Irvin, Chas Alecxhi, Chaz Hine, Chip Patterson, Cincinnati, Cole Wagner, Connecticut, D.J. Shoemate, Dave Teggart, DeDe Lattimore, Derek Wolfe, DJ Woods, Don Barclay, Geno Smith, Hakeem Smith, Hubie Graham, Isaiah Pead, Jarred Holley, Jesse Joseph, JK Schaeffer, Joe Madsen, Julian Miller, Justin Pugh, Keith Tandy, Kendall Reyes, Lindsey Lamar, Louisville, Lucas Nix, Maikon Bonani, Marcus Sales, Marquis Spruill, Mike Ryan, Moe Petrus, Mohamed Sanu, Nick Provo, Phillip Thomas, Pittsburgh, Preseason All-Big East Team, Quinton Washington, Ray Graham, Ross Krautman, Rutgers, Ryan Griffin, Sio Moore, South Florida, Syracuse, Tavon Austin, Tino Sunseri, Todd Graham, Van Chew, Victor Anderson, West Virginia, Zach Collaros
Posted on: August 10, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: August 10, 2011 11:43 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
West Virginia was the media's pick to win the Big East, largely because of the talent level of returning starters and excitement to see them under first-year head coach Dana Holgorsen. But if the Mountaineers find themselves bitten by the injury bug, things are awfully questionable as you scan down the depth chart.
West Virginia currently has just 78 scholarship players on the roster, and many of the names in the current depth chart are walk-ons. There are certain positions, most notably quarterback, where anything after second-string is a complete guess. Holgorsen is so concerned with with the depth, he's taken extra efforts to reach out for more walk-ons. According to the Charleston Gazette, a mass email has gone out to the student body looking for volunteers to come and play third and fourth string quarterback during the Mountaineers camp. The combination of Holgorsen's pass-happy system and lack of quarterbacks is beginning to create concern that the two on the roster will be overworked.
For now, assistant coaches have stepped in as third and fourth string quarterbacks to give starter Geno Smith and true freshman Paul Millard some rest. Even Holgorsen himself stepped under center to take some snaps in Saturday's practice. As for the rest of the positions, West Virginia has been "aggressively marketing" the team's walk-on tryout Aug. 22.
Posted on: May 12, 2011 4:11 pm
By Eye on College Football Bloggers
Each week, the Eye on CFB team convenes Voltron- style to answer a pressing question regarding the wild, wide world of college football. This week's topic:
We've already talked about No. 1, but the end of spring has also meant a revision of the rest of the preseason top 25, like our colleague Dennis Dodd's. What teams do you feel like might deserve a better ranking at this stage (or one at all)? What teams do you feel like might be ranked too highly?
Jerry Hinnen: There always seems to be one team from the SEC that comes from outside the preseason polls and surprises--think Mississippi State last year, Ole Miss in 2008, etc. But Dennis's 25 already includes every SEC team but Ole Miss, Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and I'm not sold on any of those teams as poll material. (There's a case to be made for the Vols, but only if Tyler Bray takes a major step forward, and his 5-for-30 spring game suggests that step may not be imminent.)
So I'll look elsewhere for a sleeper and mention how much I like San Diego State. The Aztecs have absorbed some heavy losses in their pair of NFL-bound wideouts and, of course, the head coach-offensive coordinator pairing of Brady Hoke and Al Borges. But Ronnie Hillman is an All-American running back waiting to happen, and senior Ryan Lindley is easily the best MWC quarterback this side of Kellen Moore. Together, they're one of the nation's best RB-QB combos, and new OC Andy Ludwig (the man behind Utah's undefeated 2008 attack) should know how to get the most out of them.
Defensively, the Aztecs should be much more comfortable in the second year of Rocky Long's unorthodox 3-3-5 scheme, and the schedule also offers the opportunity for two huge statement wins since TCU and Boise State travel to San Diego. Put it all together, and I don't think the departures of Hoke and Borges will be nearly enough to stop the program's momentum towards the polls.
Bryan Fischer: One team I think is a bit under the radar is Georgia. The Dawgs get the other division favorite, South Carolina, early in the schedule--that could be key if the Gamecocks are breaking in Connor Shaw, who has all of 33 passes to his name. I'm concerned about Georgia's running game but they have a good quarterback and the defense should be markedly improved in year two under Todd Grantham.
West Virginia is another team that can really make a move. They lose a lot from last year on defense but should be solid nevertheless. They might have one of the best offenses in the country with Geno Smith running the show and get their big non-conference game against LSU at home.
Chip Patterson: I agree with Bryan that West Virginia is a team that could cause some problems this fall. Dana Holgorsen might have done the coaching job of the year in 2010 with Oklahoma State's offense; the Cowboys did not return a single offensive lineman and his scheme resulted in the third-most productive offense in the nation anyway. Now he gets a stable full of athletes that, in many people's opinions, have been underperforming under Bill Stewart. Smith is the type of quarterback who can be a threat in Holgorsen's spread, especially once he gets familiar with the reads and changing plays at the line of scrimmage. The toughest challenge on the Mountaineers' slate is an early-season battle with LSU in Morgantown (as Bryan mentioned). I think that game is winnable, and could give them confidence headed into the back-loaded conference schedule.
Virginia Tech, though, is a huge question mark in my opinion. While I'm not sure whether they will end up higher or lower than 17, there's as much of a chance of them finishing the season unranked as getting to 10 wins. Their schedule does set up extremely well, with Clemson, Miami and North Carolina coming to Blacksburg and Florida State, Maryland and N.C. State avoided completely. But Logan Thomas needs to prove himself in a game situation, and running back David Wilson will have to work without Darren Evans or Ryan Williams to compliment him. Even if the Hokies finish the season strong, the eye test does not have them as "Top 20 good" just yet.
Adam Jacobi: After the first, oh, eight teams, I've got some major concerns about nearly every team on the list. Spring is the season for questions, of course, but it's like, "Michigan State at 11? Really? Wisconsin at 12? Really? Arkansas at 13? Really?" But you look at that list, and yeah, that's about right.
The one team that stands out to me is Notre Dame, who sort of creeps in under the radar at 19. I don't expect that sterling recruiting class to make much of an impact in Year 1, but there's a lot of talent coming back for Brian Kelly to build on. They have options at quarterback with Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees, the passing game basically only lost tight end Kyle Rudolph (who was injured for the second half of the season anyway), and four of five starting linemen return. The defense, meanwhile, is still led by Manti Te'o and returns its top eight tacklers. There's some retooling to do up the middle of the front seven, but the leadership and experience are there for the D to take a big step forward this year.
Lastly, I really like the Irish's schedule. The only truly worrisome game is the season finale at Stanford; the rest of the games are winnable. That's not to say the Irish are definitely going 11-1 in the regular season -- that's not happening without a ton of luck -- but it's a nice very-best-case scenario.
BF: I think the top 10 is pretty much standard for everyone. Sure, you can change the order and move teams around, but you can't argue with those 10 teams much.
After that, I have an issue with Auburn at 15. I know they're the defending champions, but they lost a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and the Tigers have a very tough schedule where they could take some losses. I'm also not sold on Utah after watching them collapse down the stretch last year, and they've had a ton of guys sit out this spring with injuries. I'd swap them in the rankings with USC -- who has depth issues but also has Matt Barkley and Robert Woods throwing the ball around -- or UCF.
AJ: Here's something I want to know -- what do you do about Ohio State if you're a voter? Do you ding them since the Buckeye Five are suspended for five games? Do you un-ding them when they come back? How many spots does Jim Tressel's situation cost them? What's the protocol here?
Tom Fornelli: I would have them lower on my rankings, personally. Losing some of your best players and your head coach for five games is a big deal, even if those games are against MACifices that shouldn't prove much of a test to the Buckeyes. Either way, those players and Tressel aren't there to start the season, so we should treat Ohio State as if they're not there. And do you see Ohio State being a top-25 team with Joe Bauserman?
JH: Disagree. I don't think there's a "protocol" on how to deal with the Buckeyes' current (unprecedented) situation as it relates to preseason polls; your guess is as good as mine is as good as anyone else's. But I don't think dropping them out of the top 25 all together is fair. Until we hear otherwise from the NCAA, the Buckeye Five and Tressel won't miss any more than the first (mostly winnable) five games. Dropping them entirely -- under the mere assumption Tressel, Pryor, et al are a dead team walking -- seems to put the cart before the horse.
TF: Seriously, though, I need somebody to explain to me why Arizona State is suddenly the cool team to vote for. Do people just really like their new uniforms? Is Vontaze Burfict sitting over their shoulders as they fill out their brackets? This is a team that won six games last year, with those six wins coming against Portland State, Northern Arizona, Washington, Washington State, UCLA and Arizona. Arizona is the only impressive win on that list, and it was a one-point victory in double overtime. This is a team that may have a lot of returning starters this year, but they're returning starters from a team that wasn't exactly a world-beater last season. Also, after losing quarterback Steven Threet to injury, the guy who has to lead that returning-starter-filled offense is still new.
JH: You didn't even mention their plague of torn ACLs this spring. I wish I could disagree -- the Sun Devils have had a ton of bad luck the last couple of seasons -- but they strike me, too, as a prime candidate to disappoint.
Tags: Al Borges, Andy Ludwig, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Bill Stewart, Boise State, Brady Hoke, Brian Kelly, Buckeye Five, Clemson, Connor Shaw, Dana Holgorsen, Darren Evans, David Wilson, Dayne Crist, Eye on CFB Roundtable, Florida State, Geno Smith, Georgia, Jim Tressel, Joe Bauserman, Kellen Moore, Kentucky, Kyle Rudolph, Logan Thomas, Manti Te'o, Maryland, Miami, Michigan State, Mississippi State, N.C. State, NCAA, North Carolina, Northern Arizona, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Portland State, Ronnie Hillman, Ryan Lindley, Ryan Williams, San Diego State, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Steven Threet, TCU, Tennessee, Todd Grantham, Tommy Rees, Tyler Bray, UCF, UCLA, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Vontaze Burfict, Washington, Washington State, Wisconsin