Hot off the press, ESPN’s popular show, College Football Live has announced their quite early Top 25 rankings. As mentioned in Daniel Battle’s last post on the rankings, Notre Dame has been ranked 24th in the country. Again, it is only April and the college football season is many months away but this is a very good thing that lets the team and fans have confidence in what the new season will bring. As a so-called college football expert through my radio show, in this post I will be breaking down the interesting rankings to me in the ESPN Top 25 and giving my prediction on how those teams finish, including the beloved Fighting Irish.
1. USC- This ranking for the Trojans of Troy was one that I will say surprised me. With Matt Barkley coming back for his senior year, I understand the optimism but #1 in the country, after coming back from a two-year bowl ban, as well as a myraid of NCAA sanctions? I don’t know about that one. USC’s schedule is not really one of great difficulty but if I were picking the rankings I would have probably had them somewhere in the 10-15th spot range. Record Prediction: 9-3
3. Alabama- Since when is a defending national champion not ranked 1st in the country? When they lose 15 players to the NFL in a span of three days, that is when. It all started with crafty running-back Trent Richardson, being selected with the 3rd overall pick and ended after Phelon Jones was singed by the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent. The Crimson Tide should be fine though with potential Heisman candidate, AJ McCarron leading the squad at the helm of starting quarterback.
9. Arkansas- Even with the Bobby Petrino mess, the Razorbacks end up in the 9th spot in the ESPN polls. John L. Smith will have a tough task at hand though, dealing with a team, school, and fan base looking ahead a year to when Arkansas gets a permanent coach and rebuilding begins. Tyler Wilson is an NFL ready QB but may not have much help around in the form of wide-receivers. Overall, I do not think that the players will be committed to John L. Smith because in the long run he won’t be there. This could be beneficial to him, but not necessarily to Arkansas. Record Prediction: 7-5
22. Texas- This one comes as a surprise to me because I honestly did not see a team that went under .500 in the Big 12 lat season getting a ranking in the Top 25. Despite quality wins last season against BYU and Texas A&M, the Longhorns went 4-5 in conference play including being blown-out by Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., and Baylor. Also, do not forget that the Hook ‘em Horns scored a weak 5 points against Missouri, last season even after coming off of a two-game winning streak. Record Prediction: 7-5
24- Notre Dame- Even as a life-long Notre Dame fan and and as someone who covers the team every day, this one took me by surprise. Last season was admirable but not what was expected in Domer country. Some had the team being BCS worthy but they ended with an 8-5 overall regular-season record which to some looks good and it is, but if you’re Brian Kelly, you want a 9-3 season that could potentially earn you a BCS birth. The Champs Sports Bowl also was a doozy for the Irish as they failed to show up in an 18-14 loss to the Seminoles of Florida St. With all of that being said, this year’s recruiting class is very, very good and the addition of 2nd overall player in the class of 2012, Gunner Kiel, makes for a bright future in the Bend. Obviously, the losses of Michael Floyd, Jonas Gray, Robert Blanton, Harrison Smith, and Darius Fleming hurt but if the new players can step into their roles, there could be bright things happening in the land of Rockne. Oh and the quarterback conundrum? It isn’t a bad problem to have. Record Prediction: 9-3
Overall, the very early pre-season poll looked pretty good to me, with a few exceptions as noted above but as always once the college football season starts, it will be thrill as is every season.