Well, we're a few weeks into the season, so i figured I'd throw out some things that have caught my attention. Remember, the FTS top-25 will be out next week and weekly picks will be posted tomorrow.
1. Once and Future Programs - These programs used to be among the best in the nation, competing year-in and year-out for conference and national titles. They were the standard bearers of success and dominance, but then, something happened. Whether that something was recruiting problems, parity, Mike Shula, or the rise of other in-state programs, these programs disappeared form the national radar. Now they're threatening to return, full force, and claim their spots atop the polls.
Miami - Look out! Freshman Jacory Harris and a OC Whipple look to be all Randy Shannon needed to get this program back on track. I grew up hating Miami for all their assorted douchebaggery, but the Shannon administration finally has them disciplined and focused. God knows it took long enough (remmeber the brawl with FAU...?)
Michigan - RichRod has found a QB duo that works for his style of offense. Forcier is a clutch player and Robinson is a dangerous athlete. Combine that with Minor and an improved defense and things are looking up in Ann Arbor.
Alabama - See last season.
Florida State - I know, they've already lost a game. But, it was to another team on this list, and, my god, wasn't it a thriller? I loved them shutting up the cries in Provo and hopefully saving us a BCS-Buster from the beehive state. That, and it seems we finally might be seeing the 'Noles pulling away to the upper tier of the ACC.
Nebraska - The Huskers aren't even close to 'back' yet, but they seem at least be on the right track. It helps that the Big-XII North is a bit easier than the South. I'm sticking with my call for Nebraska to rep. the North in the title game, lose to Texas, but play well in a big bowl.
2. Can Florida Lose? I don't mean this as a literal question. Obviously Florida can, and most likely will, lose a game. What I mean is, can they lose a game and recover? Last year, they built slow and steady, racking up wins and going undefeated into the Ole Miss game. After that loss, and Tebow's impassioned 'God Bless' speech, they ripped off complete victories, dismantling good teams, and if they got down, the entire squad would be willed by their leader to victory. Can that happen again? I honestly don't think so. Tebow's mea culpa and fired-up leadership was something we'd never seen before. It was amazing and inspiring, taking the Gators all the way to the title. Would it have the same effect this year? How could a repeat speech actually re-inspire the team? Answer: it can't. If the Gatprs drop a game, they'll have to recover without the Superman mystique; it simply won't have the same effect. Not only that, but the team might get complacent, relying solely on some non-existent Tebow-magic that won't be there to bail them out again, which very well might cost them another game.
3. 2009's Greatest Opponent - The opponent likely to have the most impact this year, is one that will potentially be faced by every team: the flu. I'm surprised we haven't seen more of this lately, but how much affect will the flu have on this season? Ole Miss had 37 players laid up with it last week, but was fortunate to be in a bye week. Florida's carrying 6 infected players this week, as they prepare for Kentucky. Several Big-XII teams reported cases in the first few weeks, and some Georgia Tech players were iffy going into Miami. What if Ole Miss had been going into LSU or Bama with 37 players hooked up to IV's? It would have re-written the SEC West race - or still could. With the rampant spread of H1N1, not to mention the worse than usual normal flu rate, don't be surprised if a team loses key starters late in the week, lose tempo and timing, and drop a big game. There are too many high-stakes match-ups for this to not be the case.
4. Why...does Oklahoma get so much slack in the debate over big game let downs, but Ohio State gets run over the coals? Stoops has flopped bigger than Tressel and OU's mark in the top-tier games is worse than the Bucks..against worse competition. Who would you rather play? WVU and Boise State, or the SEC Champ 2 years in a row? Now, Oklahoma did OK against Florida, but Ohio State did well against Texas. You can say Ohio State has lost to USC twice in a row, but remember the last time OU played the Men of Troy? That's right, 55-19. So, why does Oklahoma get a free ride? Orson Swindle, in a very entertaining piece illustrated by Microsoft Paint, proposes that it's proximity.
5. So, Bobby Cox is going to retire after 2010. Oh well - it's football season, anyway.