In a moment of weakness this summer, esteemed college football blogger Brian Cook of MGoBlog invited Blatant Homerism to participate as a voter in the SBNation College Football BlogPoll Top 25. As such, I'm required to participate put together a preseason top 25 ballot.
I try to orient preseason rankings towards perceived team strength, as opposed to my in-season poll, where I tend focus on actual achievement. The basic premise of my preseason ballot: If Team X and Team Y met up at Hamill Field on a Saturday afternoon in October, who wins?
Rivalries, momentum and whatnot are irrelevant. The team that I think has the best chance of beating everyone else is No. 1, the team with the second-best chance is No. 2, and so on.
Bear in mind that this is not a prediction of how the season will actually turn out. So don't come bitching to me about schedule or who has to play whom on the road.
As loyal readers know, I don't really get too jazzed about trying to rank teams outside of a top 10. Honestly, the next 15 teams tend to be so close that trying to rank them from 11 to 25 typically turns into an exercise in the finest of hair-splitting. That goes double for a preseason poll put together before we've even seen a snap.
A few notes:
*To be clear, I don't expect the Alabama Crimson Tide to repeat as national champion. In fact, I don't think 'Bama will make it to the national championship game. However, the Tide's talented roster, spirit-crushing run game, efficient pass attack and world-class coaching give me reason to think I'd favor the defending champs versus all comers.
*As with 'Bama, the Florida Gators probably won't win a title this season. Watch out next year, though, because there are more top-notch football prospects walking around Gainesville right now than anywhere else in the country. All that talent makes Florida a solid No. 2, in my book.
*The USC Trojans are facing a few thin years once those nasty NCAA sanctions kick in. Not this season, though, as departed coach Pete Carroll bequeathed a loaded roster to protege Lane Kiffin. Little Kiffin's staff did a solid job coaching up the scraps left behind by Phil Fulmer at Tennessee, and imagine what Monte Kiffin will be able to do with all those blue-chippers on D. In a one-off game, USC would make for a dangerous opponent.
*Oklahoma and Texas are thisclose. I give the Sooners a slight nod based on experience on the offensive side of the ball. I don't feel good about it.
*Speaking of Big 12 teams, Nebraska has a top-five D, but I can't get past that popgun offense.
*Anybody know what to do with LSU? The Tigers have the players to win 10 games and the coaches to give away four of them. This team could finish the year in the top five of the major polls or completely out of the picture and it wouldn't shock me.
*I'm predicting the Pittsburgh Panthers will fall victim to their schedule. Pitt is the strongest team in an uninspiring Big East, but will eventually bow out to UConn.
(Editor's note: The actual BlogPoll ballot isn't due until Monday, so consider this a rough draft. If you've got a case to be made for a team that is too high or too low, please feel free to do so in the comments section below.)