Here we go! Its voting time again. This year I'm moving my vote in the annual BlogPoll from my now defunct general sports blog to Crimson And Cream Machine. In addition the poll itself is moving from CBS Sportsline to Sports Blog Nation. Its a win-win for everyone and further proof that SBN is growing as the premier voice of the fan in the sports market.
The initial pre-season poll will be released this coming Monday and then once the season starts you can look for them to come out every Wednesday. For our part, here at The Machine, I'll post my ballot in time for you to completely scrutinize it. Let me know where you agree and where you think I'm complete insane. Make a good, solid argument and you could even change my mind as to how I'm voting. Here's a look at my pre-season ballot with a bit of explanation for the Top 10.
1. Alabama - Before any analysis is given here it should be noted that my philosophy has always been, you're number one until someone beats you. That's the benefit of being the defending champions. The Tide could have the best offense in the SEC this season. They're crazy fast on the edges with Julio Jones and Marquis Maze, powerful in the backfield with Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, and say what you want about Greg McElroy but the kid has never lost a game in which he started.
2. Ohio State - The Buckeyes are always good on defense and after watching what their offense did to Oregon in the Rose Bowl last January it appears that they're poised to make a run to the title in 2010.
3. Boise State - Wait...what? Its time to stop looking at the Broncos as a non-BCS conference team and start seeing them as a national power. No one from the "major conferences" is willing to play them in a home-and-home series which just reinforces my previous statement. Boise State has 18 returning starters (9 on each side of the ball) and a quarterback who should be a Heisman candidate this year. If they get past Virginia Tech on Labor Day then they're on the road to another undefeated season.
4. Florida - Tim Tebow is gone but the Gators are still loaded on offense. Jeff Demps, Emmanuel Moody and Deonte Thompson are all back as skill position players and most importantly four of the five offensive lineman are back. If Florida falls out of the hunt this year it won't be because of the offense.
5. Virginia Tech - The credibility of Tech's defense can never be questioned despite how many players transition in and out each year. Mark it down, the Hokies are going to give the Boise State rush defense their strongest test of the season right out of the gate. Ryan Williams emerged last year as an explosive back (and the Hokies will have Darren Evans back this year) and quarterback Tyrod Taylor will keep opposing linebackers guessing with the options he presents due to his ability to run the ball.
6. Oklahoma - Biggest offensive question mark, o-line. Biggest defensive question mark, corner backs. If Oklahoma provides reliable answers to those questions then look out because they are staked and loaded at every other position. Including 2009, Bob Stoops has only had three seasons in which his squad won less than 10 games in a season. The previous two times (1999, 2005) the Sooners came back to win the Big 12 championship the following season and the national championship in 2000. They're the odds on favorite to see that trend continue in 2010.
7. Texas - A new era is beginning in Austin, TX and feelings are mixed across the country. I understand that the Longhorn fans feel they should be ranked higher but they're going to have to understand my skepticism for right now. They'll be solid on defense but have a big question mark all over the offense. The formula is simple for Texas. Win and you move up on this list.
8. TCU - Gary Patterson has built his program on defense last year we saw the offense come along to balance out the Frogs. In 2010 they return 16 starters from a team that was almost perfect. Now they're looking to finish the deal in 2010.
9. Iowa - Quarterback Ricky Stanzi is 18-4 the last two years are the starting quarterback for the Hawkeyes. Last season ended with a win over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl and greater things are expected in 2010.
10. Nebraska -The Huskers still have a lot to prove on offense but even in the absence of Ndamukong Suh the defense will still be one of the best in the country. A soft schedule to begin the season will provide Bo Pelini plenty of opportunity to work out the kinks on offense.