Previously: #s 21-25, 16-20, 11-15, and 6-10.
I've rolled the LSU/Alabama/Ole Miss SEC-West-champion conundrum over and over and over in my head, and which one I think is going to end up in the Georgia Dome basically depends on what time of day it is. I wrote this at 10:30 in the morning on a Sunday, so that means LSU. I realize that LSU has just as much of a disaster to atone for on defense as Georgia does, if not more, but I think this is one of those situations where they've got tons of raw talent, they just need someone (i.e. John Chavis) who has the first clue what to do with it. Kind of like Ole Miss last year. Hmmm, maybe that means Ole Miss . . . no, I'm not going through another round of this. They're only playing for the right to lose the SEC title to Florida, so in the end none of this matters anyway.
4. Southern California
The Trojans are starting a true freshman at quarterback. Their defense got pillaged by the NFL, and they bring back only three starters. I would love to be the guy who goes out on a crazy limb and picks someone other than USC to win the Pac-10 title for the first time since what feels like the Great Depression, because if I turned out to be right then I'd be hailed as the greatest CFB prognosticator ever, but we've all looked at the rest of the Pac-10 and we know that's not going to happen. I think 2009 for the Trojans is going to look a lot like 2006 -- mediocre offense, they lose a couple Pac-10 games to teams they really have no business losing to, but in the end they're right back in the Rose Bowl kicking the crap out of whoever wound up at the top of the equally mediocre Big 10.
The conventional wisdom, which in this case I happen to agree with, seems to be that the national-title game will be Florida vs. whoever wins the Oklahoma-Texas game. Allow me to start the campaign for Texas right now, because dammit, I don't want to sit there and have all the suspense taken out of my national-title-game viewing by Bob Stoops showing up to crap yet another BCS bed in a rematch of last year's game. You know I'm right, people. Fortunately, the Sooners have to replace four of five offensive-line starters, so there's a reasonable chance we won't have to spend too much time worrying about this.
Last year the Longhorns carpet-bombed Oklahoma and came within a game (or a play, or a poll voter's ballot, or whatever) of a shot at the national title even with no running game to speak of whatsoever and only four returning starters on defense. I realize that when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me, but I think it's reasonable to assume that Texas will be at least a little bit better than they were last year, and that should be a scary thought not only for Oklahoma but for the rest of the Big XII and anyone else who has any ambitions toward making the national-title game. Florida included.
When I did my half-assed research into Texas's 2008 season and how much talent they bring back for '09, I started giving serious thought to put them in the #1 spot. And any other year they would be totally deserving, but then I double-checked who all Florida was bringing back this year. Sorry, 'Horns, but any team that won the previous year's national championship and brings back all 11 starters on defense plus a Heisman-winning QB gets to continue wearing the #1 big-boy pants until someone shows up to forcibly remove them. Besides, if I didn't vote the Gators #1, Urban Meyer would refuse to forget about it and would proceed to make it "a big deal." I don't actually know what that means -- maybe he'd wait until I was eating an undercooked meal at a restaurant or engaged in particularly unsatisfying sex with an ugly chick, and then call two time-outs toward the very end just to draw out my unhappiness for as long as he possibly could -- but either way, it's not something I want to subject myself to. So here you are, Gators. Preseason number-one ranking. Hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed ours last year.
Th-th-th-that's all, folks. Weekly updates, of course, to follow as the season progresses.