Today is the first day of fall practice in the Classic City, which is the surest sign yet that football's a comin'.
Another sure sign? The release of the USA Today coaches poll. You can find the full top 25 here. But the big news is that Mark Richt's Bulldogs check in at #5, and their opening opponent the Clemson Tigers check in at #8, meaning that their opening weekend matchup will indeed be a nationally televised contest between top 10 teams.
As expected, Alabama occupies the top spot, at this point presumably because they're Alabama and coaches just assume they'll reload. They're followed by Ohio State, Oregon, and Stanford, with the Bulldogs rounding out the top 5. 5 SEC teams are included in the top 10, and 6 made it into the poll, the most of any conference. Vanderbilt and Ole Miss were among the schools on the outside nearly receiving enough votes to get in.
So who looks overrated in this group? Who's ranked too low? I for one am a little leary of Stanford at #4, even though I love what David Shaw has done building on Jim Harbaugh's work there. Really other than Oregon there may not be a team favored over them all season, and they get #21 UCLA and the Ducks at home. The Cardinal do travel to USC, but frankly that doesn't look like a scary proposition.Their October 26 road date with Oregon State could get a little dicey. For some reason trips to Corvalis seem to do that.
It's also worth noting that if LSU can move up 3 spots from #13 by the fourth week of the season, the Bulldogs will have opened the year facing the #8, #7, and #10 teams in the nation (and North Texas, of course). Put that in your strength of schedule calculator and smoke it.
Until later . . .