If you haven't heard, SBNation has officially taken over the famous BlogPoll Top 25 this year and I am happy to be voting it in for the first time.
If you aren't familiar with the BlogPoll Top 25, it is made up of more than 100 of the most knowledgeable college football bloggers representing fans from virtually every rooting interest. Every single ballot is reviewable to the public, similar to the AP Top 25, but the poll also keeps track of every voter's voting trends, which sometimes exposes biases. More information on the BlogPoll Top 25 can be found here.
So, now that you know what it is, it's time to see how I voted in the first poll. The actual poll will be released Monday -- and every Monday there after -- but I've already submitted my ballot for Week 1 and here it is:
Now, I've long been on record for criticizing preseason polls. I've never said they should be eliminated, but I've also said you shouldn't take them too seriously. None of these teams have played a game yet and I'm only going off what I'm able to see on paper.
With that said, I spend much of my summer doing research on teams across the country so I didn't just put 25 random teams on this ballot or simply base it off of other Top 25s that are out there. I think you'll see some unique differences in my poll if you look at it closely.
At the same time, I'm going to warn you that my ballot might look a lot different after Week 1. I watch a ton of college football on Saturdays and spend time watching the details. I'm not going to put all the weight on Week 1 results as a lot of these teams play garbage opponents, but it will be a combination of Week 1 performance and expected performance based on what we see on paper. For now, all we have is paper.
I'm not going to go through my entire Top 25, but I will justify some of my ballot as we are asked to do each week.
No. 1 Alabama - Most believe Oklahoma is the No. 1 team in the country. Back in the spring, I thought so too. But it's been a rough offseason for the Sooners in terms of injuries and the death of linebacker Austin Box and I think Alabama's defense is simply better. But the truth is, right now, I don't know who is No. 1. One of the great things about this poll is that we are more reactive than most polls so you are going to see some change up top throughout the year.
No. 4 Boise State - Part of me wanted to put the Broncos No. 1. They might have the most talent returning in the country.
No. 9 Wisconsin - I've been saying the Badgers are a fringe Top 10 team, but when I look at all the teams I have listed behind them, I can't justify any of them being better than Wisconsin on paper. And there's no way I'm going to put them ahead of TCU, because, well, you know...
No. 12 Notre Dame - I feel like a hypocrite putting the Irish this high because most years I belittle the media for ranking Notre Dame too high in the preseason polls. But, I genuinely think this is a good football team this year. I predicted the Irish's struggles last year, but also said they would get better throughout the year, building to a special season in 2011 under Brian Kelly. They're right on track and I'll eat crow if I'm wrong.
No. 13 Michigan State - I worry about the Spartans' defense, but this is going to be one of hell of an offense. Might even be better than Wisconsin's. Michigan State is this good.
No. 22 Northwestern - For now, I'm giving Pat Fitzgerald and Dan Persa the benefit of the doubt. They both claim Persa is going to play against Boston College in the opener. We'll see. If Persa is healthy, this team is better than most think, if he's not, well, they are still pretty good, but not worthy of the Top 25. I'll be watching the NU-BC game closely Sept. 3.
No. 25 Northern Illinois - Don't sleep on the Huskeis. New Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill really struggled leaving DeKalb because he knew how good this team could be this year. And last year they went to the MAC Championship Game and beat Fresno State in their bowl game. It's too bad their game with Wisconsin won't be on TV because it's going to be a lot closer than most people think.
OK, this is where you guys come in. What do you think about my ballot?