Yes, the USA Today Coaches' Poll came out earlier this week. A brain trust worthy of ranking teams just ahead of the opening of the season. Much has changed since the poll came out for a select few teams such as the Oklahoma Sooners but as the season wears on, these polls will continue to change in drastic measure. The SEC landed eight teams on this poll to go along with six from the Big XII. These two conferences are certainly the heavyweights comprising over half of the field. However, which teams are getting a bit of love that they don't necessarily deserve?
#6 Georgia Bulldogs - The Boise St. Broncos came to town to begin the 2011 season for Georgia on "neutral" territory and took a win back to Idaho. With the two top running backs in Isaiah Crowell and Carlton Thomas having left the program, the Bulldogs are left with a huge question mark on offense. Couple that with the questions on who will play center and Georgia could be in for a world of hurt. In the SEC, a power run game is expected and Georgia could be without one as they take on some of the top defenses in the nation. This is a team that ended the season ranked #20 in the nation and with as many question marks as they have right now, I'm just not quite ready to put them into the top ten.
#7 Florida St. Seminoles - Depth was a huge concern for Florida St. especially along the offensive line. This is a season where everything coming out of Tallahassee is boasting about depth but if 2011 was an indicator of anything, it's that the problems are likely still there. Sure they may have bodies but physical and mental toughness are another thing. Let's not forget the Noles averaged a measly 112 yards per game on the ground as well last season to go along with QB E.J. Manuel who isn't as tough as NoleNation once thought.
#8 Michigan Wolverines - This team has become so dependent upon the play making ability of a single player, QB Denard Robinson. The Shoelace is a phenomenal athlete and competitor but he will be taking a ton of shots once again. If Denard were to go down, this would be a team finding itself in the middle of the pack and likely outside of the top 25.
#15 Texas Longhorns - The feel of "because it is tradition to rank the Longhorns" comes to mind here. Let's face it, Texas has possibly the best defense in the Big XII but is severely lacking on the offensive side of the ball. If Mack Brown continues to nurture a house divided, this is a team that will celebrate one point victories much like 2011 while struggling against the Big XII Newcomers. UT much find a quarterback as well as a consistent running game as the defense will tire out come November.
#18 Stanford Cardinal - Losing Andrew Luck is going to be a tall task. Not only will they be looking to name a starter, Stanford will also be looking to fill some receiver slots as well as the left tackle and right guard positions. However, the one thing they do have going for them is a stable of running backs. Again, like Georgia, if the Cardinal is unable to get the push they need in the running game, pressure will be heavy on the new QB and could make for a long season for him. I do think Stanford should be a ranked squad but I would put them in the 20-25 range.
#19 Oklahoma St. Cowboys - The Cowboys had their best season to date in 2011. Forcing turnovers became the staple of this team. The loss of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon are huge especially when Weeden's successor is a true freshman in Wes Lunt. Growing pains are a part of the process but it becomes an even taller task knowing you need to constantly have one eye over your shoulder as the left tackle could be a redshirt freshman. Outside of that, this has potential to be a good team.
#20 Virginia Tech Hokies - This could be a big year for returning QB Logan Thomas, however I see it setting up for disaster for a single issue. While the Hokies appear deep across the defensive side of the ball, they will be replacing eight starters on offense. But, the major factor to consider is that out of eight of those being replaced, four are off the offensive line.