Brian proposed the following straightforward Blogpoll roundtable.
Who is overrated?
I suppose at this point I should defend my ranking of LSU at #15. No other voter ranked the Tigers lower than #7, and a clear majority of voters placed LSU in the top 3. Frankly, I may move the Tigers up on my second preseason ballot next week, but still probably not as high as #7. Certainly, LSU has a bunch of talent. Saban and Miles have recruited successfully. Still, the Tigers are not the defending national champions. They lost two games last year. They lost nine starters, including an outstanding quarterback, his two top receivers, and 40 percent of the offensive line. Yes, the defense is loaded, but LSU was loaded last year. To veer a bit into the hated intangibles, I get something of a Bob Davie/Ron Zook vibe from Miles. Can he isolate his poor judgment re: public speaking from the split-second coaching decisions he must make? I realize, of course, that Miles is 22-4 at LSU, so he can't possibly be as bad as Davie or Zook, but since it's the preseason, my hunch is enough to discount LSU. Certainly, I have no doubt that LSU is capable of winning the championship, and I think to some degree my extremely low ranking of the Tigers is backlash against what I view as an extremely odd consensus that LSU is going to be amazing this year.
Although the Blogpoll isn't as out of line as the AP and coaches' polls (which both rank the Badgers #7), I still think that Wisconsin is overrated and will not be anywhere near the top 10. One of the Blogpoll directives is that schedule-based prognostication is discouraged. I may be breaking that rule, but I don't think so, because schedule (the absence of Ohio State, the absence of any meaningful nonconference competition) was such a significant part of Wisconsin's one-loss 2006 season. The Badgers lost two of their three most important offensive players, including an experienced quarterback and the best offensive lineman in the country, and now play each of the Big Three, including two on the road, and I'm supposed to believe that the Badgers, a school with only three one-loss seasons in the last half-century, are going to waltz into championship contention? I'm not seeing it. Certainly, as an Indiana fan, gearing up to watch the Hoosiers play a non-conference slate of Indiana State, Akron, Western Michigan, and Ball State, not to mention missing Michigan and Ohio State for the next two years, I'm in no position to criticize anyone's schedule, but I do think Wisconsin's 11-1 last season was a bit illusory.
Who is underrated?
Well, based on my ballot I suppose I have to say Georgia. To some degree, my rationale for ranking the Bulldogs #5 (as opposed to #14 in the Blogpoll at large) is inconsistent with above. UGa returns only 3 defensive starters. Consistent with my other logic, the Bulldogs do return QB Matthew Stafford, who should be better (of course, being worse would be almost impossible). In the SEC East, even compared to defending champion Florida, I trust Richt's track record at Georgia more than I trust the track record of any other coach/program. Last year was Georgia's worst season since Richt's first season, 2001. My hunch is that Georgia will rebound. That's good enough for the preseason, right?