1. In his "visiting lecturers" series posted on Every Day Should Be Saturday over the past few months, Orson Swindle asked each participant to explain which country, during which historical period, their team most resembles. Let's bring everything up to the present day and ponder: Which current sovereign nation is your team? Or to look at it another way, how does your team fit into the "world" of college football?
Britain, on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution. Much like the Industrial Revolution where subtle changes led to, well, a revolution, such is the same with the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Captain Leach did not go out and hire Boom M____ F____, he instead hired Ruffin McNeill. Liken Ruffin McNeill to steam, seemingly nothing more than water vapor, but strong enough and powerful enough to revolutionize the world as we know it today (a bit of a hyperbole).
Steam = Ruffin McNeill
Steam Engine = Texas Tech
Again, an innocuous hire, which I think Texas Tech fans have complete faith in McNeill to improve the defense. McNeill is completely in charge of the defense, from scheme to coordination to recruiting. In fact, McNeill already has 9 defensive recruits for 2009, which is a little bit surreal, especially for Texas Tech. Until recently (i.e. this year) Texas Tech has had little success signing players early, but now McNeill is signing a majority of the recruits and I certainly get the feeling that Leach wants to tip the volume of players towards the defense, with the theory being that quality volume will lead to more defensive success, and we've already got that offense stuff figured out.
2. Every preseason roundup has to have some discussion of who's overrated, but let's go beyond that. Which team do you think is poised to crap the bed in the biggest way this season relative to high expectations, and which game do you think will begin their slide into ignominy?
Kansas. I just don't understand how their success is going to be sustainable, especially this year. The Jayhawks are #15 in the BlogPoll and have to go to South Florida, to Colorado, to Missouri and to Nebraska. Go ahead and mix in home games against Colorado, Texas and Texas Tech and I'm a little worried about what Kansas is going to do this year. I'm one of those guys who buys into recruiting rankings to some extent and although last year was a tremendous year the overall talent just isn't that of a top 15 program (per Rivals: #40-2008; #50-2007; #38-2006; and #48-2005).
3. On the flip side of that coin, which team do you think is going to burst out of nowhere to become 2008's biggest overachiever -- this year's version of Kansas '07, as it were -- and what's going to be the big upset that makes us all finally sit up and take notice of them?
Teams in the lower half of the poll all seem problematic, at least right now. It's one problem or another. I'm going to go with Wisconsin, although the Badgers are already at #13. I could seem them rise quickly with the toughest conference road game being Michigan, and having Ohio State and Penn State at home. Win two out of three of those three games (which are also back-to-back-to-back) and Wisconsin could be a one loss team by the time it's all said and done. The Badgers have a nice mix of returning starters (8 on offense and 9 on defense) along with a veteran QB in Allan Evridge, 4 returning offensive linemen and P.J. Hill, I like their chances.
4. Here's an "I'll hang up and listen" question. I put Ohio State and Oklahoma #1 and #2, respectively, despite their recent high-profile BCS face-plants. Where did you rank those two teams, and did those BCS issues have anything to do with it?
I had Ohio State at #2 and Oklahoma at #6. Originally I had Ohio State at #1 before being convinced otherwise by DTN constituents that Georgia deserved the top spot. With OU, I just think it's Missouri's year this year and I think OU will win the South, but won't go without a loss. In any event, I didn't even consider said face-plants from last year.
5. Last season was a statistical outlier in countless ways, not the least of which was the fact that we ended up with a two-loss team as national champion. Do you think anyone plays a strong enough schedule to get MNC consideration as a two-loss team this year? Conversely, do you see anybody managing to sail into the national-championship game undefeated?
Question 1: I think the best answers are Georgia, Florida, and possibly USC. It wouldn't bother me if any of those teams were two loss teams, so long as those losses were to quality opponents.
Question 2: Absolutely not, but it wouldn't surprise me if Missouri went undefeated in conference play, with their toughest game against UT and only having to go on the road to face Nebraska, Baylor and Iowa State. I can see a situation where Chase Daniel gets Mizzou in the Big 12 title game, undefeated and winning it the conference title, especially with that sort of momentum. Besides, Daniel will have the backing and mojo of Everyman who sits on their couch thinking that they could do what Daniel does and that's a lot of mojo.
6. OK, time for some Olympic fever. Which athlete from the Beijing Olympics -- any sport, any country, with the exception of USA basketball since those guys are already pros -- would you most want to add to your team's roster this season? No worries about age, eligibility, or even gender; we'll worry about that crap later.