The Group A pick boils down to Alabama vs. Anybody Else. My choice of "anybody else" is less a vote of no confidence in Bama and more of an acknowledgment of the difficulty of maintaining a dynasty in modern college football. Nebraska had an amazing run in the 1990s, Florida State was dominant for a stretch, USC was nearly unbeatable in the mid-2000s. All of them came back to earth. Besides, I think most people will pick Alabama, and if you want to win, you've got to take a risk.
Georgia was five yards and three seconds away from the national championship game last year, but I don't think they'll repeat that success. Ohio State and Stanford had great seasons as well. But I look at Oregon and I see a team that hardly ever loses. Despite losing Chip Kelly to the NFL, they keep the same offensive system. Plus they have a kid from my old high school. Amazing athletes + hometown sentimentality is enough to outweigh those ugly, ugly uniforms.
In Group B, I'm staying far away from Clemson, Texas A&M and Louisville. I think all three are far too mercurial and likely to finish the season much lower than this. So it basically boils down to who I think will win the Florida-South Carolina game, as these two are otherwise evenly matched. I like the wiliness of Steve Spurrier to exploit the weaknesses in Will Muschamp's defense. I expect an SEC East title and a boost into the Top 5 for South Carolina.
In Group C, I was torn between Notre Dame and Texas. None of the "States" tripped my trigger, although I think FSU is in the best position among the three to run the table. In the end I thought there's enough that can go wrong for ND, and a wide open Big XII, that I felt better with Bevo. Plus I won't feel doubly-awful if/when ND tanks.
Group D was somewhat easier. I've already picked Texas to win the Big XII, so no Oklahoma or TCU. I think Boise will plummet on its first loss and probably not recover. I am not picking Michigan. So, I ended up with Nebraska. I think they'll have a nice recovery from last year's embarrassments, the schedule gets easier, and I have a bonus reason to hate Michigan on Nov. 9.
Group E is weird: three Pac 12s and two Big Tens. I've already got a Big Ten team, so those two are out. No way I'm picking USC, and I don't know why Oregon State made the poll over someone like Michigan State. So I reluctantly choose UCLA. I realized after I made this pick that the Bruins and Huskers play each other (on Sept. 14).
As for the all important Group F. It couldn't be someone from the SEC because that conference is already well-represented. I didn't want to pick Iowa ... not enough confidence there. Michigan State is very tempting. They went 7-6 but had an awesome defense and lost five of those by a combined 13 points. But then I'd have to root for a team that plays Iowa and Notre Dame. Kansas State looks impressive but I gave that one to Franklin "The F Bomb." (Note: this was written before K-State's loss to North Dakota State last night.) I didn't pick an ACC team above, so that was looking good.
I needed someone off the radar, someone with talent but not in the media spotlight. Someone with a talented roster and a good coach.
Last year I picked South Florida. They went 2-10 and Skip Holtz got fired. This year I'm going even further southeast ... to Miami.
First and probably last time the Fresh Prince shows up on my blog.
Site of January's Irish Massacree, home of "Da U". The ACC is wide open, with only two teams in the Top 25, both on the other half of the conference. Miami's hardest games are home vs. Virginia Tech, at Florida State and home vs. Florida but a 9-3 record is certainly reasonable and could get them into the Top 20 or better.
Last year all my hard work and research garnered me a 38th place finish. We'll see how I do in 2013.