Preseason Top 25 college football rankings are out at some sites and here are some teams that appear to be overvalued early.
Although the official polls have yet to release their 2012 college football rankings with the season now a bit more than two months away, the popular site SB Nation has released its preseason Top 25, and we have quite a few disagreements with their rankings.
So before making your college football picks for this season, make sure to first check out the three teams SB Nation has ranked in the top 25 that we feel will not be there at year’s end. Then in the interest of fairness, we also give you a couple of team that did not make their top 25 that we feel will climb into the rankings during the season and end the year there.
Finally, we will give you three teams that probably will finish in the top 25 but that SB Nation has ranked too high, as we feel good money can be made by fading these teams that are overvalued in our eyes.
We have included the future odds to win the BCS Championship from 5 Dimes for each team, although looking for odds not to win the championship would be the prudent move on these if the price is not astronomical.
Will Not Finish in Top 25
Texas (+3500): The Longhorns are ranked 19th, but we see no better than an 8-4 record for them in 2012 so they should drop out of the rankings fairly quickly. Yes, the Texas defense should be great, but there will be games where the offense simply won’t generate enough points to win regardless of how few points the defense gives up. The Horns got weak quarterback play from David Ash and Case McCoy last year as both were interception machines that were slow to react to defenses and made poor reads. Those same two top the depth chart this season with Ash currently penciled in as the starter. The Horns do have a terrific running back in sophomore Malcolm Brown, but because of the erratic quarterback play, defenses can stuff the box to stop the run with no respect for the passing game, making the job of Brown and the other running backs that much more difficult.
Kansas State (+15000): The Wildcats are ranked 12th in preseason, but this may have been the single most over-achieving team in the nation last year that was aided by an incredible +12 turnover margin and eight wins by a touchdown or less. That kind of luck simply cannot continue and the team also lost five starters from a defense that created 27 turnovers. Quarterback Collin Klein actually led the Big 12 in carries last year, and we do not think his body can take the wear and tear if he repeats that feat. The Wildcats won’t be able to sneak up on teams this year either, as they earned a lot or respect last season, but the thing is, Kansas State was not as good as its record and we expect the Cats to fall flat this year with opponents taking them more seriously. The addition of TCU and West Virginia to the conference certainly does not help K-State’s cause.
Ohio State (ineligible): Ohio State is most likely in a rebuilding year in its first season under Coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes are ineligible for post-season play as one of the sanctions handed down for the indiscretions under former coach Jim Tressel, but that did not prevent a 21st preseason ranking. We just don’t see it as this is another team with quarterback issues. Braxton Miller returns, but we are skeptical that he can improve much after Ohio State finished 115th in the nation last year with just 127 passing yards per game. Yes, this is an experienced team that returns 19 starters (9 on offense, 10 on defense), but this team has an almost identical profile as Texas as the defense is great and should always keep the Buckeyes in games but the weak quarterback play should ruin the good work of the defense on several occasions. Now we get that Meyer is a great coach and a masterful recruiter, but vast improvement will probably have to wait until 2013. Besides, let’s not forget that being ineligible for a bowl game is not exactly the greatest of motivational tools.
Will Finish in Top 25
Florida (+6200): Of the teams not in the preseason top 25, we feel that the Gators are the most likely team to end up there before all is said in done. This was a team in transition on both sides of the ball last year that only figures to improve in its second season under Coach Will Muschamp, especially with Florida having the third rated recruiting class in the country. That adds nice depth to a team returning 18 starters (8 on offense, 10 on defense), giving Florida the pleasant problem of having too many good options for too few positions. There is no shortage of receiving options for developing sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett, as there is loads of speed on the outside with Andre Debose, Quinton Dunbar and Frankie Hammond heading the receiving corps and the Gators have not one but two of the highest rated tight end recruits in the nation in Jordan Reed and A.C. Leonard. On the other side of the ball, Florida finished eighth in the country in total defense last year despite starting a bunch of underclassmen, which bodes well for this year.
Louisville (+30000): This one may be more of a stretch, but remember that the rankings consider team records first and foremost and with West Virginia no longer in the Big East and with the conference champion/leader almost always in the top 25 rankings almost by default, the Cardinals are the most likely candidates to win the conference by feasting on a bunch of weak teams. Coach Charlie Strong has done an excellent job of building a very good defense practically from scratch, thanks to some great recruits from the southeast, where Strong was formerly a defensive coach in Florida under Urban Meyer. The offense improved as the season went on last year and it should continue to get better under the guidance of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, now a sophomore.
Ranked Too High in Preseason
USC (+500): SB Nation has USC ranked number one in the preseason, a popular sentiment among quite a few experts. Many people thought that USC was the best team in the country at the end of last season, when the Trojans were ineligible for post-season play. Now don’t get us wrong, USC will certainly be formidable, but number one? First, we are not fans of Coach Lane Kiffin and secondly, it is not even a given that the Trojans will win the Pac-12 over a loaded Oregon team that is also one of the best in the nation. Sure they get Oregon at home, but they did last year also and still lost to the Ducks, and a road date vs. rebuilding Stanford is not as easy as some may think as the Cardinal have a terrific recruiting class. One loss this year should be all it takes from preventing the Trojans from being number one, and we do expect them to lose one of those two games.
Oklahoma (+1300): The Sooners are ranked sixth and their all-time passing leader Landry Jones elected to return for his senior season at quarterback, but this team was a disappointment last season when it had national title aspirations going in due to a worse than expected defense, and we see a carbon copy for this year. We feel that Coach Bob Stoops has already peaked during his time at Norman as his teams have underperformed for several years now, and it seems that every year that have at least on bad unexpected loss such as losing at home to Texas Tech last season. Now we are not saying that Oklahoma is not a good team, but we see the Sooners finishing a lot closer to number 10 by year’s end than their current fifth spot.
Arkansas (+2800): The Razorbacks are ranked sixth and this is a team that only lost two games last year after all with the two losses coming to the BCS Championship Game participants Alabama and LSU. Unfortunately, this is a team that again is a distant third best behind those two teams in the best division in the country, the SEC West, and then there is the whole coaching fiasco following the Bobby Petrino mess. Arkansas hired John L. Smith to coach for this season only (as of now) and they brought in a whole new coaching staff. Apparently the top brass was not all that concerned about distancing itself from Petrino, as Smith coached with him here at Arkansas as well as at Michigan State, Louisville and Utah State.