Poll Dancing 2011: Pre-Season Pretenders

The Pre-Season Coaches’ Poll was released this morning, instantly closing off the BCS Championship to around 85% of FBS teams.  This year’s edition sets up Oklahoma and Alabama to face off for the title and I eagerly anticipate that matchup as I fondly look back on last year’s Alabama/Ohio State battle and 2009’s Florida/Texas bout.  Of the 10 teams ranked in the top two of this poll in the past five years, only 3 have actually made it to the title game.

Of course, figuring out who the best two teams will be before any games have been played isn’t easy, but even if we open up the range to teams in the pre-season top five, we only add 3 more to the list.  And in what has to be their worst job at guessing who’s good ever, last year’s actual title matchup featured the pre-season #’s 11 and 23.

I’m not even going to pretend that I know how the coaches fill out their ballots (although here is some footage of Chip Kelly making his selection), but I am going to pretend that I know which picks they got wrong.  Here are my picks for which teams in the Top 10 will lose at least 2 games this year.

#2 Alabama

The Tide faces four road games against teams ranked in the pre-season poll:  Penn State, Florida, Mississippi State and Auburn.

#4 LSU

The Tigers open with a neutral-site game against Oregon.  Even if LSU pulls it off, they still have consecutive road games against Mississippi State and West Virginia and host Florida in game six.  The back half gets a little easier but still features a visit to Alabama two weeks after taking on Auburn.

#5 Florida State

After a laughable two-game head start featuring Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern, the Seminoles host Oklahoma, who will likely still hold the top spot coming into the game.  Last year’s visit to OU was the first really big non-conference game FSU has played in a while and the Sooners blasted them in that one.  The next week they travel to take on Clemson, a team they struggle with on the road and then follow up a bye week with two more road games (albeit against Wake Forest and Duke).  The season closes out with a road game against the rival Gators, looking for some revenge for last year’s 31-7 FSU win.

#7 Boise State

Unfortunately for the Broncos, moving to the Mountain West isn’t going to give them any extra benefit of the doubt.  If they can go unbeaten, they may have a shot at a title spot, but they’ll still be subject to the mid-major One Strike And You’re Out rule.  That strike could come as early as week one when they take on Georgia in Atlanta, or a little later with two consecutive road games against old WAC foe Fresno State and an improved Colorado State.  But the real trouble spot is a visit from TCU followed by a trip to San Diego State.

#8 Oklahoma State & #9 Texas A&M

These two are together because they play each other on September 24th and unless Texas decides otherwise, one of them has to lose.  If Oklahoma State wins, they still have consecutive road games against Texas and Missouri, a visit to Texas Tech and a home game against a possibly undefeated Oklahoma ahead of them.  If the Aggies win, they go immediately into a neutral site game against Arkansas and a road trip to Texas Tech.  Later, they get Oklahoma on the road and host Texas to close out the season.

#10 Wisconsin

If Russell Wilson clicks in a system that isn’t really designed for his skill set, the Badgers could be in for a magical season.  If not, an early game against Oregon State could prove tricky.  More harrowing is the season-ending gauntlet featuring 4 road games out of 6, including back-to-back trips to Michigan State and Ohio State.  Penn State visits to wrap things up.

The Breakdown

Here is the number of teams from each conference featured in the poll:

SEC – 8 (66% of conference)
Big 12 – 5 (50% of conference)
Big Ten – 5 (42% of conference)
Mt. West – 2 (25% of conference)
Pac 12 – 2 (17% of conference)
ACC – 2 (17% of conference)

There are no teams from the Big East or any mid-major conference outside of the Mt. West included in the poll.


  1. […] back in the innocent days of August, I sifted through the pre-season top 10 and chose a handful of teams that I thought we finish the season with at least 2 losses.  In the interest of calling myself out […]

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