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Preseason BlogPoll Roundtable: The Big 12 North, the B.C.S., and Asian Nations

The season is getting close and time is getting short and there are preseason predictions to make and games to preview and outcomes to predict and I am being bombarded with posting ideas when along comes Doug Gillett with his season-opening BlogPoll roundtable so here goes:

1. In his "visiting lecturers" series posted on Every Day Should Be Saturday over the past few months, Orson Swindle asked each participant to explain which country, during which historical period, their team most resembles. Let’s bring everything up to the present day and ponder: Which current sovereign nation is your team? Or to look at it another way, how does your team fit into the "world" of college football?

Given Doug’s truly disturbing affinity for communist iconography, he’s going to love this answer, but Georgia is North Korea, for the following reasons:

  • North Korea has nuclear arms and one of the five largest standing armies in the world. The Bulldogs are loaded with talent and feature a deadly tailback tandem in Knowshon Moreno and Caleb King.

  • North Korea is led by the fanatical Kim Jong-il. Georgia is led by Evil Richt.

  • South Korea, a rival to the south that has outperformed North Korea in recent decades, accused Kim Jong-il of ordering the 1983 bombing in Rangoon that killed four South Korean cabinet members. Florida, a rival to the south that has outperformed Georgia in recent decades, is still whining about last year’s celebration in Jacksonville.

  • In 1994, Kim Jong-il became leader of North Korea. In 1994, Mark Richt became offensive coordinator at Florida State.

  • North Korean schools deify Kim Jong-il in a cult of personality. Mark Richt’s decision to make Mike Bobo offensive coordinator was divinely inspired.

  • Still not convinced? Try this on for size: Kim Jong-il’s birthday is February 16. Mark Richt’s birthday is February 18. Coincidence? I think not.

2. Every preseason roundup has to have some discussion of who's overrated, but let's go beyond that. Which team do you think is poised to crap the bed in the biggest way this season relative to high expectations, and which game do you think will begin their slide into ignominy?

Easy: Kansas.

Last year, K.U. grew fat and happy off of a steady diet of cupcakes. Gosh, I wonder where that idea originated?

The Jayhawks are among the most overrated teams in college football and we will see that fact confirmed in Tampa on September 12. While Derek Dooley’s Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are liable to score some points on K.U., they won’t be able to stop Mark Mangino’s team enough times to get the win, much as they couldn’t quite slow down Hawaii enough last year to earn the victory. Against the Bulls, though, the ‘Hawks will be exposed and they will stumble in a big way down the stretch. Kansas’s last seven games are against a Colorado squad the Jayhawks beat by five points last year, at Oklahoma, against Texas Tech, against a Kansas State club the Jayhawks beat by six points last year, at Nebraska, against Texas, and against Missouri in a neutral-site finale. There’s no way K.U. is getting through those seven games with fewer than three losses.

3. On the flip side of that coin, which team do you think is going to burst out of nowhere to become 2008's biggest overachiever -- this year's version of Kansas '07, as it were -- and what's going to be the big upset that makes us all finally sit up and take notice of them?

It’s hard to call Missouri an overachiever in a season in which everyone expects great things from the Tigers, but anyone who has the defending Big 12 North champs ranked behind conference coevals Oklahoma or Texas isn’t giving Mizzou its due.

The Tigers will open a few eyes by thumping Illinois the weekend after next, but, since I believe a loss at Austin on October 18 will deprive Missouri of the opportunity to play for the B.C.S. championship, I believe the win that gives the Tigers the validation they deserve will come in their Big 12 championship game win over the Sooners.

If it happens that Georgia and Mizzou hook up in Miami, there will be vengeance for the black stripe incident.

Don’t make us break out the red britches all over you, Mizzou. I mean it.

4. Here's an "I'll hang up and listen" question. I put Ohio State and Oklahoma #1 and #2, respectively, despite their recent high-profile BCS face-plants. Where did you rank those two teams, and did those BCS issues have anything to do with it?

I ranked Ohio State third and Oklahoma sixth. In one sense, of course the Buckeyes’ last two national championship game performances affected my vote, because, although I’ll buy them getting into the title tilt, I have yet to be given a reason to believe they’ll win it . . . or even be competitive enough to retain the No. 2 ranking after losing it. All of this could change in Los Angeles on September 13.

In another sense, no, O.S.U.’s championship game woes didn’t influence me, because I resisted the temptation to rank the Bucks fourth or fifth. As for the Sooners, their placement outside the top five was in no way influenced by their struggles in recent B.C.S. bowl games; rather, I dropped O.U. out of the top five because (as alluded to above) I believe Missouri is the class of a stacked Big 12.

5. Last season was a statistical outlier in countless ways, not the least of which was the fact that we ended up with a two-loss team as national champion. Do you think anyone plays a strong enough schedule to get MNC consideration as a two-loss team this year? Conversely, do you see anybody managing to sail into the national-championship game undefeated?

It is always dangerous to conflate single instances with established patterns; Louisiana State was the first two-loss national champion of the era in which the final poll votes occur after the last bowl game has been played, so it is unlikely that this anomaly will be repeated just one autumn removed from the wackiest college football season since 1990.

The 2008 schedule features too many games between top teams for there to be any realistic chance of two unbeatens meeting in Miami. While I want to believe the ‘Dawgs can run the table, they face a tough slate and my friends are realistic, even if I sometimes dream the impossible dream.

Well, O.K., actually, it’s only improbable . . . by which, of course, I mean probable . . . by which, of course, I mean it’s going to happen, baby! S.E.C.! S.E.C.! S.E.C.! Whooooooooooooo!

Assuming the Red and Black do not go through the regular season and the S.E.C. championship game without a blemish, I believe that any team that goes into the B.C.S. title showdown without a loss will have gotten there for reasons having less to do with the contender’s quality than with its opponents’ lack thereof. If Ohio State catches Southern California during a brief downcycle brought about by question marks at quarterback and goes on to finish without a scratch, or if West Virginia survives the Big East gauntlet unscathed, it most probably will be because the teams they played were overrated, not because they were underrated.

Accordingly, if a once-beaten Big 12, Pac-10, or S.E.C. champion goes to the B.C.S. championship game to play an undefeated A.C.C., Big East, or Big Ten champion, I believe the battle-tested one-loss team will beat the comparatively untried undefeated team.

6. OK, time for some Olympic fever. Which athlete from the Beijing Olympics -- any sport, any country, with the exception of USA basketball since those guys are already pros -- would you most want to add to your team's roster this season? No worries about age, eligibility, or even gender; we'll worry about that crap later.

Oh, for crying out loud! It’s bad enough that I can’t get this celebration of the wonderful ways in which a totalitarian regime can force its freedom-deprived subjects into putting on a really nifty opening ceremony off of the side of my Coke cans; now I have to tolerate questions about it in a college football BlogPoll roundtable, too?

Do I look like a commie-coddling we-are-the-world idealist? I am officially boycotting this last question.

"Diane, I refuse to follow the Beijing Olympics until they free Tibet!"

As always, take those answers for what they’re worth and feel free to share your own views in the comments below.

Go ‘Dawgs!