Here is a quick description of how I'll vote. I'm going to vote for the who I feel are the best 25 teams in the nation each week...
Sounds simple. I wish the actual voters did that as well instead of rewarding teams for starting higher than other teams. This means that just because a team starts high they won't have an advantage over another team who starts lower.
This is important for my poll, because I am starting LSU number one. I believe in voting the previous champion number one to start the year since the preseason poll isn't based on any on field results. However they won't be rewarded just for starting high, so if they prove to not be a great team they will be ranked accordingly down the road regardless of wins and losses.
So without further ado, my first top 25.
*NOTE: In my official ballot UF was ahead of Missouri but since the news of a major injury for UF I swapped them. Also, italicized teams are my predicted conference winners. All conference winners, BCS picks and national title game participants are listed after the poll.
- Louisiana State - Lost a lot, but this team should reload, not rebuild. I doubt they win the SEC but a BCS at large berth is in play.
- Southern California - A lot of people are sick of USC starting high every year. Well until they stop producing great players, winning conference championships and BCS bowls they will remain ill. USC is returning a great defense and is loaded at the skill positions. Replacing Booty is an area of concern, but since the new starter will be a QB who was the most touted in his respective class (Sanchez or Mustain) and the PAC-10 lacking a serious contender USC should roll right a long.
- Georgia - This team is stocked everywhere and they are young. I do question UGA's offense as far as style goes as I think it doesn't make best use of its immense talent, but the pieces are there for a championship run. I believe the SEC comes down to UGA and UF with Auburn proving the 'darkhorse' and Tennessee (or maybe South Carolina) being a possible spolier.
- Oklahoma - Maybe I am too harsh on Oklahoma for their huge bowl losses, but I am not too high on them. However when I look objectively at this team they have a terrific defense, an extremely efficient offense with a Heisman candidate at QB (despite his cocaine dealing problems ;) and some of the best coaches in the nation. I don't think they will win the title, but subjectively I think this is one of the best teams in the nation.
- Missouri - This is a team I didn't originally think I'd rank all that high, but on offense they will still be a juggernaut and their defense should improve, while their schedule seems easier than last years. This team will not slip much if at all from last season.
- Florida - This should be the best offense in the nation. With a Heisman winner at QB, one of the best all purpose players in the nation in Percy Harvin, the fastest wide receivers/scat backs in the nation, a future pro tight end, an extremely soild o-line and some of most innovative play calling in the country this offense should be better and more balanced than last year which is scary considering how dangerous it was. The defense is the big question mark. I for one think the pass rush improves immensely and this team wins the SEC and gets a legit shot at the NCG game, but it all hinges on how much the youngsters improve on the d-line. If they haven't this could be a very disappointing year.
- Ohio State - I'm not as high on OSU as some. I don't think they're a bad team by any stretch. I just don't think they are the best team. There defense is solid and their offense should improve, but I don't know if they have what it takes to win it all. Most expect another Big10 title, but the USC game should determine if they have national title aspirations.
- West Virginia - This is a team that I expected to sink after Rich Rodriguez left a la Louisville when Bobby Petrino ditched them. I like the coaching here better though and I really think the players are going to have a huge chip on their shoulders to show they can succeed without the man who spurned them. With Pat White and Noel Devine the offense will be lethally fast and agile. The defense should continue to be strong as well. If things fall the right way I think WVU could make the title game and unlike years past I would have no problem with it.
- Texas - This team should be back from a subpar season for UT standards. I can see them not making the Big12 Championship game due to a loss to Oklahoma, but stealing a BCS big from Missouri like Kansas did last year. The offense is in good hands with Colt McCoy having another year under his belt. I don't think replacing Jamaal Charles will be extremely difficult but the key is how much the defense improves after getting shredded through the air last year. I think the coaching changes shape this defense up and Texas finishes in the top 10.
- Kansas - This was the 2nd toughest team to rank for me. I considered low 20's and settled at number 10. They are definitely capable of stepping way back from last season with a tougher schedule, but from an actual talent perspective I think this team is top 10 worthy. Reesing is a darkhorse Heisman candidate and the defense should remain sturdy although it loses some key players. I don't see another BCS bowl for this team, but I don't think it falls off the face of the earth.
- Auburn - This team lost a lot of big time players with Quentin Groves being the biggest. However the west will be wide open this season and the new offense should help Auburn score more points which I think will be enough to get them the bid in the West. Tuberville has proven to be a great coach and I think he will keep Auburn near the top as usual.
- Illinois - Will take a step back, but Zook has brought in some athletes and with another year Juice Williams and Arrelious Behn should put up some points. No BCS bowl, but I think they should remain a top 25 team although I don't see them finishing this high.
- Clemson - A trendy pick for having a great season. I don't buy it. They have the talent and they're backfield is studly, but this team always seems to lose the games it shouldn't. Maybe this is the year Tommy Bowden takes Clemson all the way, but I want to see it first.
- Wisconsin - My pick for the Big10 champion. There are no surprises with this team. They will run through you and play great D. I see them being able to do it well enough with P.J. Hill, a great o-line, and the best TE in the nation to beat OSU at home and making it to Pasadena despite questions with the passing game.
- Virginia Tech - This was my 3rd hardest team to rank. A lot of questions with this team, but this is not the team to count out as they seem to always exceed expectations. Beamer will have the defense and special teams as ready as ever. Tons of questions on offense, but I'm pretty high on Tyrod Taylor. Should contend for the ACC.
- South Florida - A team poised for a big drop considering how they finished last season, but I think they use the disappointment of last season as a spring board. This is a team on the rise. The defense is FAST and will be very good when facing teams like WVU even though they need to replace some great players in the secondary. Matt Groethe should bounce back from a season in which he didn't live up to expectations. Will challenge for the Big East but I see West Virginia beating them this year.
- Texas Tech - This was my hardest team to rank. I had them as high as 11 and as low as 25. The offense is a given and Michael Crabtree and Harrell should light up the scoreboard but as always, the defense is in question and they play in a tough division. Will they finally get over the hump and beat Texas and/or Oklahoma? I don't think they do, and with questions for a defense that wasn't great to being with, I don't see them living up to the big predictions I've seen from a lot of voters.
- Tennessee - Tennessee is almost the forgotten team in the SEC. Neither Florida or Georgia won the East last year. UT did and they almost won the SEC. This team should be even better than last years team. However breaking in a new QB will be rough in the early going and I think the East is too tough for UT to do much better than a top 20 season a lower tier New Years day bowl.
- Brigham Young - The offense is fun to watch. This could be a BCS buster. I don't think a one loss season will do it. This team needs to go undefeated to break into the BCS and although I think they're good enough to do it, I don't think they will.
- Arizona State - This might seem like a disappointing year compared to last season, but that's not fair to the great job Dennis Erickson is doing. I think he is ahead of schedule and that ASU was overrated somewhat last year, so them being a top 20 team again is a testament to how good a coach Dennis Erickson is despite being the Larry Brown of college football. ASU's defense should keep them from winning the Pac10 though.
- Fresno State - I like this team. I think they unseat Boise State as WAC champs. A ridiculous opening 4 games (3 BCS teams and 3 road games) should prevent them from being major BCS players, but they will stay in my rankings all season if they split those games and win out. Tom Brandstater is the real deal at QB and this team will be New Years Day Bowl worthy although I don't think they will get one.
- Cincinnati - I thought this was a one year wonder team, but this was an explosive offense and should stay that way with a new QB who is pretty experienced. The defense caused a lot of turnovers and with their style I see it happening again. This is another team I think is on the rise.
- Florida State - Too much skill on offense along with a stubborn defense to keep this team out of the top 25. They need above average QB play to challenge for the ACC. I think they will and they are my darkhorse pick for the ACC.
- Penn State - This team has too tough a schedule to seriously challenge for the Big10, but it has great depth on defense, o-line, WR, and TE. Questions at QB keeps this team from being any higher right now considering how good it looks at a lot of positions. Could go much higher if the QB situation gets solved.
- North Carolina - This will be a surprise team. Butch Davis has brought in some serious talent which isn't easy at Chapel Hill. They should be a year away from contending, but they lost so many close games last year and if they win half of those games this year they will be a top 25 team. I'm banking on that.
- Wake Forest - Lost too much from last season to earn a preseason ranking. Grobe won't let them fall to far though.
- South Carolina - Spurrier needs a big season. It will be tough in the loaded East but with a great defense this team could surprise some people.
- Rutgers - Greg Schiano has done a remarkable job at Rutgers. They could challenge for the Big East but losing Ray Rice hurts. Will hover around the top 25 all season.
- Boston College - Didn't think BC would amount to anything this year at first but when I looked at their defense I was surprised. They are returning a ton of talent and might have the best defense in the ACC. Won't be near the top of the rankings like last year but should be ranked at some point in the year.
- Oregon - Another team I disregarded at first. I think losing Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart will be too much to overcome, but Justin Roper looked good in the Sun Bowl and the defense will be a little better. Won't repeat last year but should one of the better teams in the Pac10.
- Atlantic Coast Conference - Florida State
- Big 12 Conference - Oklahoma
- Big East Conference - West Virginia
- Big Ten Conference - Wisconsin
- Conference USA - East Carolina
- Mid American Conference - Central Michigan
- Mountain West Conference - Brigham Young
- Pacific 10 Conference - Southern California
- Southeastern Conference - Florida
- Sun Belt Conference - Florida Atlantic
- Western Athletic Conference - Fresno State
- Florida State
- West Virgina
- Southern California
- Ohio State (at large)
- Georgia (at large)
- Texas (at large)
- Clemson (at large)
- Southern California vs. Florida