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Who's No. 1?: The First Draft of the Dawg Sports 2010 Preseason SB Nation BlogPoll Ballot

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It will not be long before it is time to cast our SB Nation BlogPoll ballots. I already have identified the teams I believe are underrated or correctly rated, the teams I believe are overrated, and the teams I just flat ain’t buying.

That just leaves the compilation of the top 25 itself, and I’m not going to lie to you: my rankings look and feel like I just pulled 25 well-known college football teams out of a hat more or less at random, so I am submitting them to you for your critical evaluation before the time comes to cast my vote. Here, therefore, is the rough draft---emphasis on the rough---of my preseason BlogPoll ballot:

  1. Boise St. Broncos
  2. Florida Gators
  3. Alabama Crimson Tide
  4. Ohio St. Buckeyes
  5. Texas Longhorns
  6. TCU Horned Frogs
  7. Iowa Hawkeyes
  8. Oregon Ducks
  9. North Carolina Tar Heels
  10. LSU Tigers
  11. Virginia Tech Hokies
  12. Pittsburgh Panthers
  13. Nebraska Cornhuskers
  14. Penn St. Nittany Lions
  15. Oklahoma Sooners
  16. Miami Hurricanes
  17. Auburn Tigers
  18. Houston Cougars
  19. Washington Huskies
  20. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
  21. South Carolina Gamecocks
  22. Clemson Tigers
  23. Arizona Wildcats
  24. Texas A&M Aggies
  25. Southern Miss. Golden Eagles

Yes, I know I omitted the Arkansas Razorbacks, Florida St. Seminoles, Georgia Bulldogs, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and USC Trojans; there’s no use trying to sell me on any of those teams until one or more of them starts to prove it on the field. For the most part, the placement of the 25 teams represented in the poll is based upon my gut sense of where they go, but this is based upon scant evidence and I’m a guy who owns Football for Dummies, so what the heck do I know?

Here, though, are a few notes on my placement of particular teams:

  • While I ordinarily am not inclined to emulate Steve Spurrier, I have made it my practice annually to do with the Golden Eagles what Darth Visor made a habit of doing with his former employer, the Duke Blue Devils; viz., rank them No. 25 on my preseason ballot. While there are legitimate reasons for thinking the Eagles will make some noise in Conference USA this fall, my vote each year is a tip of the cap to Matt "Dr. Saturday" Hinton, a University of Southern Mississippi alumnus.
  • I take nothing away from Nick Saban and the defending national champions, but defense still wins championships, and the Tide lost a lot on defense. Meanwhile, I may be pathologically nervous concerning the Sunshine State Saurians, but I have fewer doubts about the Gators than I have about ‘Bama, at least on the side of the ball that matters most.
  • I’m sure the most eyebrow-raising part of my draft ballot is the placement of Boise State at No. 1. I understand the arguments against the Broncos and against the chances of a team becoming a first-time national champion, but there are arguments for Boise State, as well, and BSU has been working its way toward the top of the college football pecking order for a while now.

    I respect the skepticism of the Bronco faithful, one of whom had this to say: "Does Boise State have anything to prove this season? For anyone who was at the Georgia game in 2005, the answer is an obvious yes." Well, I was at that game, and the world has turned a few times since then. Since coming up short on the grand stage five seasons ago, Boise State has hammered the Oregon St. Beavers at home in 2006, upended Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, won at Oregon in 2008, and bookended an undefeated run in 2009 by beating the Ducks on the blue field and the Horned Frogs in a BCS bowl.

    While I’m not sure the Broncos would beat Alabama or Florida on a neutral field, I didn’t think the Broncos would beat the Sooners, either, so the benefit of the doubt isn’t entirely out of line here. Frank Beamer, whose VPI squad opens the season against Boise State on Labor Day night, summed it up nicely: "Every time they’ve had a big stage, they’ve answered the bell. . . . [I]t’s just like us opening the season with Alabama last year. It’s the same caliber of team." While BSU must carry a different mindset into the 2010 season---Chris Petersen says, "Instead of proving everybody wrong, now we want to prove everybody right"---the Broncos are the team I’m most confident will get to the national championship game.

    Yes, their relative lack of schedule strength is a part of that calculus, but Boise State is taking on all non-conference comers and throttling (not just skating by) the weak sisters of the WAC. Yes, the flawed nature of the other contenders makes the Broncos the dog with the fewest fleas, but any squad that returns 22 of 24 starters from an undefeated BCS bowl champion is, almost by definition, the country’s most complete team, particularly when that club is led by a head coach with a 49-4 record and two national coach of the year trophies in a four-year career. That gets Boise State the No. 1 ranking until I’ve been given a reason to rank them elsewhere.

Please feel free to provide your feedback and pose your questions in the comments below.

Go ‘Dawgs!