Pre-season football rankings - the road to #8

USA Today released the Top 25 Coaches Poll today.  There was some good news - the Sooners, ranked 8th, are the highest ranked team in the poll that did not end last season ranked in the top 25.  If you assume that means that we have to jump 6 teams to end up as one of the top two teams, let's take a quick look at what has to happen for us to end up in one of those top two slots:

Rank Team (first-place votes) 2009 record Points Final 2009 rank
1. Alabama (55) 14-0 1,469 1
2. Ohio State (4) 11-2 1,392 5
3. Florida 13-1 1,245 3
4. Texas 13-1 1,240 2
5. Boise State 14-0 1,215 4
6. Virginia Tech 10-3 1,052 10
7. TCU 12-1 1,051 6



Everything below assumes that we can overcome any challenges and win our games.  That includes beating #20 Florida State at home, beating unranked (#26) Cincinnati on the road, beating #4 Texas, and then a showdown against #9 Nebraska in the Big 12 title game.  It is not impossible, but will require consistency that the Sooners did not have last year.

On to the other pieces that we need to have fall into place - really it is pretty simple (if you want skip to the end, I provided a quick recap of what needs to happen):

#7 TCU faces no real tests in the season (at least based on pre-season rankings).  As expected, Utah and Air Force are expected to be the two stiffest tests, but TCU should have enough firepower to win - even facing Utah on the road.  They have a solid shot to go undefeated, but if they do it may still not be enough to overcome the Sooners who start right behind them in the poll.  I think Utah or Air Force tests them enough to put doubt in the voter's minds and these close calls drops TCU behind us in the poll.

#6 Virgina Tech and #5 Boise State play each other to open the season, so one of them is out.  If Boise State wins, they face no other competition the rest of the season and I expect that pollsters would continue to push them into the top two.  If Virginia Tech wins, they face some additional tests, including a season-ending test at Miami.  For our scenario, our rooting interest is with the Hokies to beat the Broncos as that knocks the Broncos out of the MNC chase while leaving the Hokies with additional chances to stumble.

Beat #4 Texas on October on 10/02/10 and their season is done and they are eliminated from the chase.

That same weekend, I think most Sooner fans have to swallow their pain left over from the Orange Bowl and pull for  #3 Florida to beat #1 Alabama - Florida faces tougher tests after the Bama game while Bama has a friendlier schedule and I don't see a real challenge - even in the vaunted SSSSSEEEEEECCCC.  We have to hope then that Florida decides that this upset of 'Bama guarantees all of their future opponents to roll over and they stumble late in the season allowing us to jump them to set up a MNC match-up against....

#2 Ohio State

In the "Youngstown Bowl" or the "Redemption Bowl" or something along those lines where we will have to hear again and again about how both the Sooners and the Buckeyes have lost multiple BCS games over the past five years.

So, to recap:

Go Utes - play the Frogs close at least

Go Hokies - Beat the Broncos

Go Tarheels / Go Canes - Beat the Hokies

Go Gators - Beat ' Bama

Go Bulldogs - Beat the Gators



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