Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's Official: Gators Consensus #1 In Pre-season College Football Rankings

Today was a glorious day. One I look forward to every year!

This morning I stopped by the local grocery where I occasionally stop for coffee before work. After I grabbed a venti Pike Place, I passed by the magazine aisle -- and there they were, in all of their wonderful, colorful, glossy gridiron glory... 2009 pre-season college football magazines from Lindy's, Athlon, and The Sporting News!!

Without hesitating, I snapped up a copy of each magazine--taking them from the back of the rack where the less 'violated' copies were (don't want to buy one that, GASP, has already been opened and read by someone loitering in the aisle, too cheap to buy their own). I paid for them in the self-check out line, popped the magazines in my work bag, and went off to work looking forward reading them.

Now that I'm home and have quickly reviewed each magazine (I'll give them a proper detailed analysis over the weekend), this year's magazines validated what I had already suspected since Tim Tebow declared that he was returning for his senior year... The Florida Gators will be the consensus favorites to win the natoinal championship going into this years' college football.

Each magazine listed the Florida Gators as the pre-season #1 team, referencing the Gators' combination of talent, returning starters (the entire first team AND second team defense is back!), coaching, and favorable schedule (no 'Bama, no Ole Miss, and only tough road game is at LSU). Now, realize that these magazines rarely pick the same team as pre-season #1... so the fact that they all agree on Florida reinforces the fact that the Gators SHOULD be playing in the Rose Bowl in January. Their agreement also makes me positive that the coaches poll and AP poll will also have the Gators in the #1 spot in late August.

However, while it was nice to see each magazine all thought my beloved Gators were the #1 team in the country, I got that feeling in the pit of my stomach that it's too good to be true. The 'what-ifs' started to sneak into my head. The Gators will be favored going into every game they play this year, but I don't think it's a slam-dunk like the magazines posit. College football has too many variables and moving parts during the course of a long season--and rarely does the consensus pre-season pick make it through unscathed (see Ohio State in 2006).

IF the Gators keep Tebow healthy (sure, John Brantley had a great spring, but is he ready to lead the Gators to national championship?), IF injuries don't hit the offensive line, IF our skill players don't fumble away a game (like they did against Ole Miss in 2008), IF the Gator defense doesn't get complacent with their incredible depth... it doesn't matter how good the team is on paper, there are always 'IFs' that can in the way.

I'm hoping the Gators whiff on the IFs this year to take their 3rd football national championship in four years.

Athlon Top 10:
1) Florida
2) Oklahoma
3) Texas
4) USC
5) Ohio State
6) Alabama
7) Penn State
8) Virginia Tech
9) Oklahoma State
10) Ole Miss

Lindy's Top 10:
1) Florida
2) Texas
3) Oklahoma
4) USC
5) Virginia Tech
6) LSU
7) Alabama
8) Ohio State
9) Ole Miss
10) Oklahoma State

Sporting News Top 10:
1) Florida
2) Texas
3) Oklahoma
4) USC
5) Ole Miss
6) Virginia Tech
7) Oregon
8) LSU
9) Ohio State
10) Oklahoma State