Self explanatory---five best teams in each BCS conference, per CFR.
This list is simply a preseason/post-spring 2006 snapshot to kill time and stir discussion. Subject to constant revision.
- Miami-Come on, they're the 'Canes! They may never return to 2001 form under Coker, but they're still pretty good. Kyle Wright knows what he's doing this time around.
- Florida State-Looked like a much improved team final few games of 2005, almost toppled Penn State. Still running a mickey mouse offense, but they're overdue for a resurgent season to ice Bobby Bowden's amazing career.
- Clemson-Will play with some urgency this year as quarterback Will Proctor is a first-time starter entering his senior season. Solid running game, talent on defense and at the skill positions. This team's finally got some grade A ammunition.
- Virginia Tech-I like Ike. Quarterback Ike Whittaker that is---assuming he ever hits the field. It's a rebuilding year but Frank Beamer is simply one of America's finest coaches and has finally parted ways with the Vick legacy. That should mean he gets back to the business of aggressive defense, special teams and ball control offense.
- Georgia Tech-I love senior quarterbacks. Reggie Ball has plenty of warts to his game, but by now very little should rattle or surprise him. John Tenuta's defense has done well against ACC foes, so they have a shot of playing conference spoiler.
- West Virginia-Call them 1a. Pat White and Steve Slaton have to do their best to overcome a sophomore slump like the one that hit Michigan's Chad Henne and Mike Hart. Everyone will now be gunning for them and expectations are very high in Morgantown. A lot of the players on the roster aren't used to that kind of success and it may affect the team's psyche and outlook.
- Louisville-Petrino, Brohm, Bush. The Holy Trinity, sponsored by Yum Brands. West Virginia has more heart (won in a stunning comeback against the Cardinals last year as Steve Slaton scored six touchdowns), but these Cardinals have been through the ringer and will have a chip on their shoulder. Remember this date: 11/2/06---West Virginia @ Louisville.
- Rutgers-It's a tall order busting up the two-headed monster above, but Rutgers has a shot. They're yet another chippy team taking on the personality of coach Greg Schiano. They proved they belonged in a thrilling bowl loss against Arizona State.
- Pittsburgh-Tyler Palko will get it right this time. Coach Wannstedt has recruited a surprising amount of talent, enough to make some roster battles more competitive and hopefully shake up some of the malaise about the program.
- South Florida-The little engine that could.
- Ohio State-This is simply the best offense that Jim Tressel will ever coach at Ohio State. His defense needs work, but they'll come around. Must deal with hype and expectations.
- Iowa-Overdue for a high quality season. Defense loses a lot, but replacements will be surprisingly good. Well coached.
- Michigan-Will be nearly impossible to repeat last year's lackluster effort. Coaching shakeup should sharpen team's focus.
- Penn State-Rugged, fundamental team as always. Not as good as they think they are and not likely to improve upon last year's celebrated effort.
- Northwestern-Defense is loaded with upperclassmen. Several talented quarterbacks waiting in the wings to replace Brett Basanez.
- Texas-The Messiah left town. Must overcome "fat and happy" syndrome, after already playing in "country club-like" atmosphere that is Austin and the UT football palace. That said, they now have the swagger of a defending champ. Defensive line has addition through subtraction---losing inconsistent Rodrique Wright and gaining Frank Okam's services full time.
- Oklahoma-Not as good as some think they are, but aren't pushovers either. Offensive line still needs help and the offensive core is very young. Defense not as fast or athletic as early 2000's Sooner units.
- Texas Tech-Most talented team yet under Mike Leach. Live and die by their system, but finally have some playmakers to rally around on both sides of the ball.
- Iowa State-Can make strong ascent in another down year for the Big 12. One of America's most ultraconservative teams.
- Nebraska-I could just as easily have gone with Baylor or Kansas here. It's year three for Bill Callahan so the pressure and expectations are growing for a return to Husker prominence. I'm not sure they're anywhere close to meeting those expectations.
- USC-It will be difficult replacing the great offensive stars. Team needs to stay healthy. Defense should be fun to watch.
- California-The only other consistently good defense in the Pac-10. Wait-and-see attitude from CFR re: the changes to the offense and the quarterback competition.
- Arizona State-Supercharged offense will have to carry this team. Unknown what impact several talented transfers will have on the defensive line.
- UCLA-New DC DeWayne Walker should help restore competitive attitude to UCLA defense. Bruins have some talented offensive pieces to work with.
- Washington State-A team that runs great offensive and defensive schemes but rarely has the talent to win with them. Had a young, inexperienced team last year but should surprise a lot of people this year. The Cougars are in a 5th place tie with Oregon. I'm a fan of new quarterback Dennis Dixon's and think the Ducks should remain competitive.
- Auburn-Talent and depth everywhere on the roster. Brandon Cox is no longer a first-time starter and he has a million talented backs to work with. The defense is small but fast. Remember the name Trey Blackmon, a linebacker on this year's Tiger squad.
- Georgia-Never count out Georgia under Mark Richt. This team's finally sorted out its running back situation and can get to work on the business of helping out the new quarterback. The defense should do well, but must patch up spotty interior/run defense that haunted them last year.
- Florida-The offensive line remains a disaster and the tailbacks aren't much better. When those things sort themselves out the Gators will take off, as Urban Meyer has already shown he can patch together the Gators' defense.
- LSU-Talented, as always. Overrated, as always. Feeling confident after surprising victory over Miami in the Peach Bowl.
- Alabama-Offense can only improve. Fans and coaches were finally able to relax thanks to last year's successful effort.
Have at it, animals.