I waited a couple days to announce this, just in case Brian over at MGoBlog realized his horrible mistake and rescinded the invitation: I’m now one of the voters representing Michigan in the CBSSports.com Blogpoll. If you don’t know what the Blogpoll is, here’s a quick primer: It’s run by Brian Cook, is now hosted by CBSSports, and is comprised of 107 bloggers representing all the BCS conferences and several mid-major teams. I am now among those 107, which means I need to run to the nearest Borders and pick up every preview magazine on earth and start studying. My preseason ballot will be up by August 24th, giving me a few weeks to cram as much college football information as humanly possible into my brain in the hopes of not looking completely idiotic when I post up my poll. Today, I’m going to throw out a rough top five, while making no guarantees that my top five will remain the same come late August.
- FLORIDA — We all know about Tim Tebow (actually, we all know far too much about Tim Tebow). But let’s talk about the defense for a second: The Gators finished fourth in the country in scoring defense last season, and return ALL 25 PLAYERS listed on their depth chart before the BCS title game from 2008. Losing Percy Harvin will obviously hurt a little, but with speedsters like Jeff Demps, Brandon James, and Chris Rainey, as well as All-SEC tight end Aaron Hernandez, Florida isn’t exactly hurting for playmakers. This team shouldn’t lose a game if they play at all up to their potential.
- TEXAS — It’s tough not to like Texas in the Big 12. Colt McCoy should contend for the Heisman again, All-American wideout Jordan Shipley also is back, and four of their five offensive linemen return. Seven players are back from a strong defense, including the entire linebacking corps, although Sergio Kindle will move up to defensive end after recording ten sacks last season. The key to Texas’ success will be the emergence of a threat at running back. Vondrell McGee and Fozzy Whittaker need to step up, as Colt McCoy can’t lead the team in rushing again and hope to win a national title.
- USC — Yes, the Trojans lose a lot on defense, but anybody who follows recruiting knows that they’ll be able to plug in several four-star recruits and stay dominant. Having Taylor Mays at safety certainly helps. They only lose two offensive starters, QB Mark Sanchez and WR Patrick Turner. Although they will be breaking in a new quarterback (either sophomore Aaron Corp or freshman Matt Barkley), the number of offensive weapons USC has is absurd. If they can break the habit of losing to mediocre/bad PAC-10 teams, they’ll be right there in the national title picture.
- ALABAMA — If defense wins championships, Alabama has a strong argument for the top spot. They return nine starters from a 2008 squad that finished the 2008 regular season either first or second in scoring defense, total defense, and rushing defense, including All-American space-eater Terrence Cody and All-SEC players LB Rolando McClain and CB Javier Arenas. The question is if they can score enough points to win, as they have to replace seven offensive starters, including QB John Parker Wilson and RB Glen Coffee. However, RB Mark Ingram rushed for 728 yards as a true freshman, and has the potential to be an All-American back.
- OKLAHOMA — Yes, the offense returns a lot of skill, with Heisman winner Sam Bradford, running backs Demarco Murray and Chris Brown, and All-American tight end Jermaine Gresham. However, they have to replace four starters on the offensive line, and their defense needs to step up in a big way after finishing 58th in scoring defense in 2008 (yes, part of that is because of their pace, but it still isn’t championship-caliber). The big names make it tempting to put the Sooners as high as second in the country, but I have to see the O-line and defense before I’m willing to deem them title contenders.