With the release of the pre-season AP Top 25 – the only poll that really matters until the BCS comes out – I, like many of you, admired our spot at number six, but immediately turned to asking, “What will it take for us to move into the Top spot?” Fortunately for you guys, I put my thoughts and homerism into action and have figured out exactly how and when the Frogs can take the top spot in the poll and, since by going undefeated just about any team in the Top 25 would likely jump us even with the same record, I’ve figured out when every single team will lose a game, leaving the Frogs as the only undefeated team in the country and thus an undisputed #1. To kill the monotony - and to actually devote some time to appeasing my real life employer – I’ll do the Top 10 today and the remaining 15 tomorrow.
Note: I’ll try not to contradict myself – IE predicting Florida to both lose and defeat Alabama – but I can’t promise it won’t happen as I get deeper into this.
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide.
Potential Pitfalls: 9/11 vs. #19 Penn State, 9/25 @ #17 Arkansas, 10/2 vs. #4 Florida, 11/26 vs. #22 Auburn.
When They Fall: Most analysts will continue drinking the Saban Kool Aid until it runs out, so they wouldn’t expect the Tide to lose any games this season. And, given that they play most of their difficult games at home, this isn’t an outlandish assumption. With all of the turnover they experienced on defense, facing Penn State in the second week of the season looms large, but seeing as how the Nittany Lions will still be breaking in a new quarterback, I don’t see the Paternos being able to put up enough points to outgun Alabama who returns all of their offensive playmakers from a year ago. The Florida game will obviously be the game of the year if both teams are undefeated, and even more so as these two teams haven’t met in the regular season in several years, but since that game is at home, the Tide will most certainly have the edge and I expect them to work that one out. And Auburn is always a very, very tough game no matter the circumstances, so don’t rule out the Tigers in the late season upset. But, my entirely outrageous pick that will be overhyped to death the week of the game and probably result in a Bama blowout is for the Razorbacks to take out the #1 ranked Tide in Fayetteville. Regardless of your rooting interest, this game should be as fun to watch as any the rest of the season as both teams have ridiculous offenses that will be forced to bail out their less than adequate defenses all season. Seriously, if you’re a betting man, take the over and pop the bubbly because this one is going to be a shootout. But, seeing as how this will be the biggest game to roll through Fayetteville in recent memory, I expect the home crowd to be fired up and push the Hogs over the top. If you've ever met a local Arkansas fan, you'll know what I mean. Predicted Fall: Week 2.
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes.
Potential Pitfalls: 9/11 vs. #13 Miami, 10/16 @ #12 Wisconsin, 11/13 vs. #19 Penn State, 11/20 @#9 Iowa.
When They Fall: That second week game against Miami is extremely tempting to pick, just because surely this is the year the Hurricanes live up to the pre-season hype, right? And, like most other ACC teams, Miami at least gives you a semblance of hope by charging hard out of the gate, only to fall apart down the stretch. But, like, Nebraska, I’m not buying the Canes hype this year, so I’m ruling that one out. Same goes for Penn State – they’ll have a couple of losses by then and will have run out of steam. Iowa is definitely intriguing as it’s going to be played in Iowa City, and if both teams are undefeated and it’s for the Big Ten title, that crowd will be absolutely electrifying. But for some reason Iowa can never beat Ohio State – it’s happened once since 1992 – so I doubt they drop that one, no matter the circumstances. So, by default, I’ll go with the game against the Badgers in mid October. For a team that hasn’t really done much, Wisconsin always seems to get a ton of hype, no? I don’t really know much about this particular Badgers team, and I’m pretty shocked to see them ranked so high, so this will be their chance to justify it. Still, this pick is shaky at best. Predicted Fall: Week 6.
#3 Boise State Broncos.
Potential Pitfalls: 9/6 @ #10 Virginia Tech, 9/25 vs. #24 Oregon State.
When They Fall: I’ll be honest – after the Fiesta Bowl and through all of this Utah/BYU bullshit, I’ve really grown to like the Broncos. At this point, they’re our only true allies atop the Mountain West, and since their future records are going to essentially help make or break the MWC, it’s in our best interests to root for them. But still, they’re ranked three spots ahead of us, so we need them to lose a game before the season is complete, and as they’ll likely run the WAC for the third straight year, we need them to lose one before summer turns to fall. The easy pick here is their opener against Virginia Tech – early season, neutral site that’s basically a VT home game, BCS Power, the whole ACC only loses games to each other thing – but I’m not sure that helps us. On one hand, it goes ahead and eases the tension for which non-AQ schools is in the drivers seat for an auto bid, but on the other it’s a HUGE boost to the conference in future BCS talks. The Oregon State game, however, would be the PERFECT opportunity for them to lose since, assuming we defeat the Beavers opening weekend, we’d have a direct measuring stick against the Broncos. I’m really split here - with 21 starters returning and the Broncos not having lost a season opener since Georgia in 2005, you can’t really play the opening season jitters card here because they’re so experienced. On the other hand, I expect us to take out the Beavers, and I think Boise is also better than those guys, so it’s hard to pick against them there as well. But, the Broncos have to lose a regular season game again eventually right? So why not right off the bat? I’m taking the Hokies. Predicted Fall: Week 1.
#4 Florida Gators.
Potential Pitfalls: 10/2 @#1 Alabama, 11/27 @ #20 Florida State.
When They Fall: I threw Florida State up there as a potential spoiler just because hopes are riding high in Tallahassee that this can be the year they upset their in state rivals due to the quarterback transition, but that’s the last game of the season, and I’ve already painted myself into a corner with the Gators losing to Alabama in their section. John Brantley may be the most technically sound QB to come out of Florida under Meyer, but there’s no way he takes out the Tide in his fifth game under center and first true SEC test. Saban’s deal with the devil assures this outcome. Predicted Fall: Week 5.
#5 Texas Longhorns.
Potential Pitfalls: Can I pick every week just since I hate those bastards so much? No? Ok, well the only obvious ones are 10/2 vs. #7 OU and 10/16 @ #8 Nebraska, but just for funs sake, let’s assume the Horns get back to their typical ways under Mack Brown and drop a game they’re absolutely not supposed to lose and throw in 9/18 @ Texas Tech, 9/25 vs. UCLA and 10/25 vs. aggy.
When They Fall: I still can’t accept that Texas is ranked higher than we are. It just breaks my heart. I don’t care if Garrett Gilbert is a stud and that he did the best you could’ve expected of him in the title game; he’s going to have some growing pains before he fully realizes his potential just like every other quarterback in the history of the world has. If he leads to Longhorns to an undefeated season this year and a title bid, I’m quitting college football. Mark it, I’ll be done. So, for the sake of this, I’m going with the Sooners to regain control of the rivalry this year and put GG back in his place. Even without Bradford last year and an offensive line that couldn’t stop a pee wee team, the Sooners rose to the occasion and took advantage of a poor day by Colt McCoy and almost pulled the upset. With a more experienced Landry Jones facing a UT defense in transition – even though they’re led by Will Muschamp, there are still some holes, guys – I think OU will pull this one out. Or at least I hope they do because, pending that, the schedule is terrifyingly favorable for a UT run if they can get by UCLA and Tech early. You’re probably thinking, “What about Nebraska??!!?!” due to all the hate and the fact that they could go 1-11 this year and call it a successful season if that one is against Texas, but with 2 weeks to prepare, and the fact that I think Nebraska will end up psyching themselves out of it, UT will leave Lincoln with a win. Predicted Fall: Week 5.
#6 TCU Horned Frogs.
Potential Pitfalls: 9/4 vs. #24 Oregon State, 9/24 @ SMU, 11/6 @ Utah.
When They Fall: Well, the easy answer here is never, of course. I think we’ll absolutely run the tables again because, if you believe what they’re saying over at Menace in the practice reports, we have the greatest collection of offensive talent ever assembled under one roof. The hard answer though? Well, it’s the same as the easy answer: We will not lose a game this year. You may think it funny that I mention SMU as a potential stumbling point and not Baylor, and that’s mainly because I think we overlook SMU at our own risk now that they have a real coach and a real QB, and also because F Baylor. Truthfully though, other than Virginia Tech/Boise, and of course our game, SMU/Tech is the game I’m most excited to check out opening weekend just to see what they’re made of. The whole Friday night ESPN crowd factor when we head to Dallas should be noted, but seeing as how amped up they were 2 years ago in Dallas before Jerry Hughes ate them for dinner, I’m not that concerned. As for Oregon State, we don’t lose season openers under GP and it’s in our backyard, and with Utah I think our hate for them will fuel us to victory no matter how good Jordan Wynn ends up becoming. Predicted Fall: Never, bitches.
#7 Oklahoma Sooners.
Potential Pitfalls: 9/11 vs. #20 Florida State, 10/2 @ #5 Texas, 10/23 @ Missouri, 11/6 @ aggy, 11/13 vs. Texas Tech.
When They Fall: In the reversal of the Florida pick, I’ve painted myself into a bit of a corner here by taking UT off the table due to their prediction. Florida State is a serious treat to nibble on, but they’re just a hard team to get behind due to their recent failings. Missouri is supposed to be somewhat of a Big 12 North dark horse this year with QB Blaine Gabbert having another year under his belt. The Sooners also seem to have trouble with Tech every so often, getting blasted last year in Lubbock, but they haven’t lost to them in Norman since 1996, so that’s a hard one to argue. If they can beat Texas they have a good shot to run the tables, but they unfortunately get most of their tough conference games on the road – OSU, aggy, Baylor, Mizzou – so it will be tough. Just because I have to pick a game here, I’ll get on the Jerrod Johnson train and pick aggy to win that one in College Station, but really, the Texas game could go either way so it could easily be that one. But, since I took that one off the table, I’ll say aggy and pray I’m right. Predicted Fall: Week 10.
#8 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Potential Pitfalls: 9/18 @ Washington, 10/16 vs. #5 Texas, 11/20 @ aggy.
When They Fall: If Jake Locker ends up being the player he’s supposed to be, the Huskers are taking a DANGEROUS risk heading to the pacific northwest early in the season, but I’m extremely skeptical of his capabilities. Does he have guys to throw to? Aggy could also be a tough win for Nebraska, but they will sadly end up losing to Texas before aggy is even on the horizon, so it’s not worth discussing. As I said above, Nebraska has just hyped this game up far too much in the minds of their players and fans and, even though they’ll be driven by some extreme hate and the opportunity to take out Texas in their final year in the conference, this is one of those games that Mack just doesn’t lose. The last time I can think of a team wanting to beat UT more and pulling it out was the aggy game following the bonfire collapse, and considering everyone every year wants to beat Texas, the track record just isn’t that good. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it. Predicted Fall: Week 7.
#9 Iowa Hawkeyes.
Potential Pitfalls: 9/11 vs. Iowa State, 9/18 @ Arizona, 10/2 vs. #19 Penn State, 10/23 vs. #12 Wisconsin, 11/20 vs. #2 Ohio State.
When They Fall: More than any team in the country, Iowa should finish the season undefeated based on their schedule. Please check it out. Every single one of their difficult games will be played at home with only two road games – Arizona and Michigan – posing any issues. They return a decent amount of talent from last season’s Orange Bowl winners and they’ve been due ever since Kirk Ferentz stepped on campus. But, then again, this is Iowa we’re talking about, and Iowa is perhaps the most snake bitten good team in the country. Last year they ran their record to 9-0, then lost to Northwestern. Two years ago they beat third ranked Penn State… but only after losing to Michigan State, Northwestern, Illinois and Pitt. And, for some reason, they are rarely able to considerably put away Iowa State when the Cyclones have no reason to compete. In other words, Iowa is probably going to win some games they shouldn’t, but DEFINITELY lose some games they shouldn’t. This year, I’m picking Arizona. I know nothing about the Wildcats. They’re probably terrible and this is probably a silly pick. Besides that, most of Iowa’s bad losses are relegated to Big Ten play only. But, I like to live dangerously and considering Iowa only defeated Northern Iowa last year due to TWO late blocked kicks, this really isn’t that outrageous of a call. Oh, and in case I'm wrong, they're definitely losing to Ohio State. Predicted Fall: Week 3.
#10 Virginia Tech Hokies.
Potential Pitfalls: 9/6 vs. #3 Boise State Broncos, 9/25 @ Boston College, 11/4 vs. #16 Georgia Tech, 11/13 @ #18 North Carolina, 11/20 @ #13 Da U.
Predicted Fall: Much like the TX/OU game, the Boise/VT game really could go either way and should be a great one to watch. But, as I picked VT above, I’ve got to keep that in mind and move along. Fortunately for the Hokies, if they are able to pick up that win opening weekend, it’s smooth sailing until November. The bad news is, the November schedule is an absolute pigskin prison rape. They get the meat of their ACC schedule in a three week span, with two of those coming on the road. So really, take your pick because this is the ACC and in the ACC no one goes undefeated. For my pick, though, I’m going to give GT a potential loss, UNC a big no, and if they win those two, they’re definitely losing to Miami because that’s just the nature of the beast. Frank Beamer's extra neck frowns at this prediction. Predicted Fall: Week 12.
So, by my estimate, the Frogs will potentially have to wait until the bye week following the Utah game before claiming their rightful spot atop the polls. And honestly, I'm ok with this. If our reward for not having football for a week in to come out of it with a #1 ranking, then add in a few more bye weeks for good measure. Of course, going out on a limb and assuming I’ve picked one of these wrong, it could come well before that, or not at all, and we still have 15 more teams to look into. So, until tomorrow, Go Frogs.