Each off-season we find ourselves twiddling our thumbs and waiting for new arbitrary lists for us to get artificially indignant about. Now that we're reaching that point in time where we have multiple of those from which to aggregate our collective mock outrage, it's time to take a look at how the preview magazines (and other notable forecasting entities) foresee the 2012 college football season playing out. Analysis after the jump:
|Rank||Consensus||Lindy's||Phil Steele||Athlon||USA Today||CFB Live|
|6||Florida State||Georgia||Oregon||Ohio State||S. Carolina||Georgia|
|7||Georgia||Michigan||Texas||Michigan||Florida State||Florida State|
|8||Michigan||Florida State||Georgia||Georgia||Ohio State||South Carolina|
|10||South Carolina||West Virginia||Florida||S. Carolina||Arkansas||Michigan|
|11||Ohio State||S. Carolina||Ohio State||Texas||Texas||West Virginia|
|12||Texas||Michigan St.||Oklahoma St.||West Virginia||Georgia||Michigan State|
|13||West Virginia||Clemson||UNC||Arkansas||West Virginia||Kansas State|
|16||Clemson||Oklahoma St.||Arkansas||Virginia Tech||Wisconsin||Wisconsin|
|17||Oklahoma State||Wisconsin||Nebraska||Wisconsin||Oklahoma St.||Nebraska|
|18||Nebraska||Virginia Tech||Stanford||Michigan St.||Nebraska||Clemson|
|19||TCU||Texas||Michigan St.||Oklahoma St.||Notre Dame||Virginia Tech|
|20||Florida||Florida||USF||Notre Dame||Michigan St.||Ohio State|
|21||Stanford||Stanford||Notre Dame||Stanford||Stanford||Oklahoma State|
|22||Virginia Tech||Kansas State||Michigan||TCU||Boise State||Texas|
|23||Notre Dame||Louisville||S. Carolina||Louisville||Clemson||Boise State|
|24||Kansas State||Boise State||Virginia Tech||Boise State||Virginia Tech||Notre Dame|
|25||UNC||Nebraska||West Virginia||Washington||Kansas State||Florida|
Woah there. Slow your mindless ESECPINHURRRRR mongering for just a second. College Football Live's poll pretty likely has the most (in terms of sheer numbers) independent voices going into it, so while you may not like where they seed the Buckeyes, it's a collective of talking heads/writers/journos/etc that feel that way, not just some board room of cartoonish super villains who's entire purpose is to carry out Machiavellian complicated Rube Goldberg-editorial mechanisms to get under your skin.
And honestly? Seeing as how Ohio State was a hot mess of a 6-7 football team with a suboptimal secondary who now have to usurp a radically ideologically different way of playing the game offensively, I'm not sure cautious pessimism isn't a whole heartedly terrible approach at this point in time. 7-5/8-4 feels about right to me and that would put Ohio State squarely around the 20's range come season's end. Remember, say it with me now: year two, year two, year two, year two, year two, ...
As far as the rest of the chips go, Phil Steele clearly champions his positioning as a contrarian going in on North Carolina, Ohio State's second opponent of the year, UCF, and Skip Holtz' USF Bulls. I could equally see any or none of these teams mattering in 2012, so we'll have to see if he's on to something or merely grasping at straws.
USC, LSU, and Alabama are pretty unanimously 2012's teams to beat and while each is uniquely flawed, I don't think it's a stretch in the least to assume at least one of those three will find themselves in Miami in early January with pretty much everything on the line. I can't subscribe to the Oklahoma/Florida State madness (particularly given the Sooners' wide receiving corp entirely being suspended, hurt, or on a train to Tunisia), but will concede that the Seminoles' slate is some real Drake fodder (e.g. soft). It'll be extra hilarious when the 11-0 'Noles lose their regular season finale to a 7-4 Florida team at home.
Michigan and Michigan State both have rather large deltas. I'd be willing to wager as of this moment in time that the Wolverines are about what they were last year while Sparty is a bit worse (if you want one huge counter argument to College Football Live's poll, it would be their overrating of them). The consensus of the polls would seem to suggest a Michigan/Wisconsin Big Ten Championship date in Indianapolis.
Any thoughts on the rest? Who's overrated? Who's underrated? How will the Buckeyes and the rest of the B1G fare?