Earlier this summer, a new football side called OnsideKick.com was launched. On it, they cover the sport of football- both at the collegiate and professional levels- about as well as anyone can. OnsideKick has breaking news, injury reports, fantasy stuff, and plenty of original content. Two of my good friends in this business, Barrett Sallee and Michael Felder are both contributors.
As the summer rolled into fall, Onside Kick decided they would put together a weekly college football Top 25 poll, and after scouring the internet for some of the sport’s better writers, for some reason, they decided to askme to join and become a voter. Why, I’m still not entirely sure. Either way, I gladly accepted, joining an impressive group of voters, including the two guys I mentioned above, and a bunch of others from the world of journalism, blogging, radio and beyond. Quite frankly, I’m flattered to be included with this group.
And now, with the first weekend of college football’s season in the books, I’ve gone ahead and submitted my first Top 25 ballot to Onside Kick. Every week from now until bowl season, I’ll post my picks in this space, as well as a sentence or two on why the selection was made. Most weeks these picks will be made Monday, but because of the long weekend, this week, it was obviously pushed back a day.
Before revealing my selections, I should probably start by saying that this particular vote was probably the toughest that I’ll have all season. Simply put, we really don’t know a ton about these teams or their competition, so it’s hard to figure out how impressive what happened this past weekend was. For example, was Florida State beating UL-Monroe more impressive than Georgia playing Boise State close? Is Oregon losing to LSU better than Stanford stomping out San Jose State? I don’t know, but clearly voting this early in the season isn’t easy.
Anyway, what I tried to do in this vote is to take everything I knew about a team coming into the season, plus what I saw Saturday and put it into some type of context. As the season goes on, I’ll obviously use my preseason opinions less, and on the field results more, but until then, I’ve tried to use a combination of both. I also found myself rewarding teams like Georgia, TCU and Oregon for playing tougher opening games (all either on the road, or neutral fields), more so than schools like Missouri and Penn State for beating up on weaker competition.
Regardless, my Top 25 is listed below, along with a sentence or two on why I ranked every team in the order I did.
The poll will remain an evolving process throughout the season, but as always, I encourage, and am excited to hear feedback from you. Tell me why I’m right, wrong or just plain an idiot!
Here’s my Top 25, following Week 1:
1. Oklahoma Sooners (1-0, 0-0)
I had the Sooners preseason No. 1, and considering they racked up nearly 700 yards of total offense in their opener, I see no reason not to keep them there.
2. LSU Tigers (1-0, 0-0)
LSU clearly had the best win of the first weekend of the college football season, and have earned the second spot in this poll. I’m done doubting Les Miles.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide (1-0, 0-0)
The Tide’s defense was as good as advertised, but their quarterback race was as muddled as advertised too. A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims combined for four picks, which leads to this question: Is it too early for me to change my pick on Alabama as a BCS title contender?
4. Boise State Broncos (1-0, 0-0)
Simply put, Boise State was the biggest aberration of Week 1 for me. It wasn’t just that they won, but how they did against Georgia. Boise was the more physical, aggressive and overall dominant team. But with their remaining schedule, the question of course now becomes, can they get any higher than this?
5. Wisconsin Badgers (1-0, 0-0)
It was only UNLV. I get it. But the fact that Wisconsin looked that good with a brand new quarterback and rebuilt offensive line made me a believer in the Badgers. They’re far and away the favorites in the Big Ten right now.
6. Florida State Seminoles (1-0, 0-0)
A 34-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe isn’t totally impressive until you look at the box score, and realize that the Seminoles gave up less than 200 yards of total offense.
Plus I picked the Seminoles as my BCS National Champs. They probably could’ve lost this game and I still would’ve snuck them in the Top 25!
(And yes, I'm kidding)
7. Virginia Tech Hokies (1-0, 0-0)
Sure the Hokies “only,” beat Appalachian State. But given that they were up 52-0 early in the third quarter and pulled their starters, I feel like they probably could’ve put up 90 points if Frank Beamer felt like it.
8. Arkansas Razorbacks (1-0, 0-0)
As expected, Arkansas offense wasn’t quite as explosive now that Ryan Mallett is in New England and Knile Davis is in a walking boot. But considering that the defense gave up just 163 yards of total offense, I can’t put the Hogs any lower than this.
9. Oregon Ducks (0-1, 0-0)
For obvious reasons, Oregon was the hardest team to rank this week. Were they that bad Saturday night? Was LSU that good? Or were both somewhere in between?
In the end, I decided to credit them for challenging themselves out of conference. Plus, based on what I saw, I still think they’d beat…
10. Stanford Cardinal (1-0, 0-0)
Yes, 57 points is impressive. You know what isn’t? The pedestrian 373 yards of total offense the Cardinal put up against a highly inferior San Jose State defense. At this point, I don’t feel like we know much more about the Cardinal than we did a month ago.
11. Texas A&M Aggies (1-0, 0-0)
Had Texas A&M lost last weekend to SMU, it would’ve been one of the most unintentionally funny storylines of the early college football season.
Instead, they proved my worst fear: They’re a darn good football team.
12. Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0, 0-0)
Honestly, I don’t really think the Buckeyes are the 12th best team in the country, but given that they shut out Akron, and did it with a bunch of key players missing, it’s hard to put them any lower.
Also, I’m just plain terrified of Luke Fickell.
13. Oklahoma State Cowboys (1-0, 0-0)
With the 61 points Oklahoma State scored, it’s hard to put them any lower than 13. With the 34 points they allowed, it’s hard to put them any higher.
14. South Carolina (1-0, 0-0)
Steve Spurrier played with fire on Saturday and almost got burned. Of course, those 42 second half points also show just how good South Carolina can be when they’re clicking.
By the way, how funny does Stephen Garcia looked all clean-shaven and proper and stuff?
15. Nebraska Cornhuskers (1-0, 0-0)
Like Stanford, I’m really not sure what I’m supposed to make of a 40-7 win over Chattanooga, especially when Taylor Martinez (116 yards passing, 147 yards rushing) accounted for nearly 70 percent of their offense. Man I wish I had bet the “under,” win total on them this year.
16. Mississippi State (1-0, 0-0)
Putting up 59 points in Memphis was a nice way to open the season, but until Dan Mullen’s crew beats some of the bigger boys in the SEC West, call me cautiously optimistic. The Bulldogs will have their first chance to prove me wrong this Saturday.
17. Baylor Bears (1-0, 0-0)
Go ahead, admit it: You were wondering where I was gonna put Baylor. Well here you have it, I am officially enthralled with this team. And not just with Robert Griffin and Kendall Wright. As I mentioned here, the Bears have athletes all over the field.
18. West Virginia Mountaineers (1-0, 0-0)
I can’t blame West Virginia for looking totally sloppy on Sunday considering the following things: They were running an entirely new offensive system, the weather was lousy, and Dana Holgorsen was likely hung-over. Still, those things (minus the hangover) better get solved soon. The Mountaineers have Maryland and LSU by the end of the month.
19. Florida Gators (1-0, 0-0)
Besides Boise, no team surprised me more than Florida on Saturday. They were sharp, sound and focused, three things that were definitely lacking last year. And given what I saw from South Carolina and Georgia, I see no reason that the Gators can’t backdoor their way to an East title.
Which begs the question: If they do, does that mean I’ve got to cut it out with the John Brantley and Charlie Weis jokes?
20. South Florida Bulls (1-0, 0-0)
Given that Notre Dame had twice as many yards of total offense as South Florida did, and given that the Bulls were handed a fluke touchdown within the first few minutes of the game, I can’t say that I buy them as a Top 25 team… Not even one bit.
Still, a win is a win, especially in South Bend. As of right now, they deserve this ranking.
21. Michigan State Spartans (1-0, 0-0)
I’ve pegged Michigan State as a fraud all off-season, and a 28-6 win over Youngstown State did little to change that opinion.
22. Arizona State Sun Devils (1-0, 0-0)
At this point, Arizona State is down so many guys that I’m pretty sure Dennis Erickson just left me a voicemail asking if I could come play cornerback for him this week. Coach, if you’re reading, let me check my schedule and get back to you, ok?
Either way, we’re going to find out a lot about this team when they play Missouri on Friday night.
23. Northwestern Wildcats (1-0, 0-0)
I’ve spent the last two months touting Northwestern as a sleep this season, so I’ve got to admit that I when I found out the Wildcats would be without Dan Persa Saturday I was nervous. Ok, that’s a lie, I was beyond nervous. I was sweating like Charlie Weis in the Florida heat (Damn it! I’m trying to give up these jokes cold turkey, but it isn’t easy.)
Anyway, credit Northwestern. Not only did they win without their best player, but they did it on the road, against a decent team.
24. Georgia Bulldogs (0-1, 0-0)
Oh Georgia. Oh Mark Richt. Oh my. You guys better get things figured out…like this week.
By the way, I have a Georgia column coming tomorrow, so keep an eye out.
25. TCU Horned Frogs (0-1, 0-0)
I’m keeping TCU in the Top 25, if only because I think that Baylor is way better than anyone realizes.
But if the Horned Frogs lose to Air Force this weekend?
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