Dr. Saturday - NCAAF

Now in its fifth year, the Blog Poll is a weekly effort of dozens of college football-centric Web sites representing a wide array of schools under the oversight of founder/manager/guru Brian Cook at MGoBlog, and now appears on CBS Sportsline. It’s an effort to provide a more rigorous check on the mainstream polls that actually, like, count toward the mythical championship, and enthusiastically shines a light on its voters' biases. But mainly, it’s fun. The initial poll of the season will be released this week.

As always, the first poll of the season is brought to you by the late, great Jim Croce, who reminds readers:

After all it's what we've done
That makes us what we are.

As usual, I've noted that my poll is not a power poll -- that is, it's an attempt to actually predict the final order at the end of the regular season, and therefore is heavy on strength of schedule and similar considerations. A team like Boise State, in all likelihood, is going to finish 12-1, or thereabouts. But unless the Broncos run the table with a win over Oregon in the opener, the top 10 is off-limits to them and their WAC-laden resumé. So the opportunity to beat good teams is the first consideration; on the opposite side of the coin, the opportunity to avoid four or five losses against a hellacious slate (ahem, Miami) is the second. These are projections intricately tied up with the schedules and potential ceilings, not an abstract judgment of overall strength, which will vary from week to week, anyway.

Florida is No. 1. Obviously. I'm not sure they don't have the best offense, best defense and best overall special teams in the country; if they don't, it's close on all counts. As I've said before: If the Gators don't meet your criteria for a preseason favorite, no team ever will.

Welcome to the Ole Miss bandwagon ... I've been a bit of a hater on the widespread Rebel love this offseason, but the more closely I look at Ole Miss, the more I see what everyone else has been seeing in them: A first-rate quarterback, a dangerous set of skill players, a top-20 defense with eight starters back, a trio of big-game wins last year and a schedule absent both Florida and Georgia. I'm firmly invested in Alabama's ridiculous defense and/or LSU's overall talent carrying the West (more on the Tigers later today), but I'm much closer to considering the Rebels a real contender in the division -- they remain the only team that hasn't won it in 17 years -- than I was a month ago. They should hit 10 wins.

... and, uh, Notre Dame? I've been hard on the Irish, less so in this space (except in a lighthearted fashion) than on a couple podcast appearances. But you can't deny ND the perfect storm of maturing talent and a schedule full of imminentily-winnable-yet-still-respectable games -- eyeballing the schedule, this is very, very plausibly a double-digit winner if the growing pains of the last two years pay off for what now qualifies as a ripe, veteran lineup. I'm not willing to project the BCS, but the situation is obviously favorable enough that Charlie Weis likely won't survive anything worse than 8-4, and even then it depends on the four.

Big East represent! It's not that I'm gangbusters in any way about West Virginia, but I do think the Mountaineers will be the best team in the Big East by a whisker or two, and at no point in the BCS era has the champion of any "Big Six" conference failed to finish in the final top 25 -- even Pitt made the cut in 2004. A repeat of that season is the worst case scenario for the conference, but even if it is a messy round of circular sniping from which no team emerges unscathed, the top team in the Big East will find its way into the mix one way or another.

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