Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lots to discuss...

What a month for the Braves. They start off in last place, fresh off a 9 game losing streak and now on June 2nd, they are 1.5 games up in the NL East. Troy Glaus, Martin Prado, and Jason Heyward carried the offense and the pitching staff did a tremendous job. If Jurrjens comes back this month and the Chipper/McCann duo heats up, this team could take 1st place into the All-Star Break.

Falcons workouts start next month as well. If they can stay healthy, this team has a good shot at being a SB contender. I think TD has done well so far in free agency and the draft and more pieces are likely still to come.

Also, when June rolls around the CFB pre-season magazines start showing up. I've had a chance to see a couple and am going to post, as of right now, what I think the final Top 25 poll will look like heading into bowl season...

1. Ohio State (12-0) - No Texas/USC on the schedule this year and Wisconsin/Iowa are only potential stumbling blocks on the road. Home schedule includes Miami/PSU/Michigan, but with so many key guys back, I think OSU makes it through 12-0

2. Boise State (12-0) - Pretty much the entire 2009 team is back and they face a tough road game in Week 1 vs VT and also play Oregon State. An experienced team that has shown they can go on the road and beat good teams early in the year. VT will have 9 new starters on defense and will have a very tough, early task against Boise.

3. Nebraska (12-1) - Defense will again be a major strength for the Huskers. Despite losing Suh, the D has a lot of experienced players back and should stay in the top 10 nationally in scoring D and total D. The offense needs to improve from last year, but with all upper-class-men that have been to Big 12 CG's and had success, they should improve off of last years 25.1 ppg. They slip up once in the regular season and then beat OU in the Big 12 CG.

4. Alabama (11-2) - Nick Saban has done such a good job assembling talent at Bama that even with all the defensive losses, they should still be a top 10 defense. Marcell Dareus didn't start last year, but may be a top 10 pick in the 2011 draft. Dre Kirkpatrick and BJ Scott in the secondary are tremendously talented. They will be inexperienced and face a real tough schedule with the bulls-eye. Still the SEC favorites in my book, though.

5. TCU (12-0) - The Frogs are likely to be better than 2009, but will remain behind unbeaten Boise due to last seasons Fiesta Bowl. The 5th ranked offense nationally has all the key components back and should push 40 ppg this year. The Jerry Hughes loss will hurt on D, but 8 returning starters are back from a D that only allowed 12.8 ppg in 09.

6. Oklahoma (11-2) - The Sooners were decimated by injuries in 09 and are motivated to put last season behind them. Look for OU to beat Texas after losing 4 of the last 5 and advance to the Big 12 CG. Landry Jones is a super-sneaky Heisman pick.

7. Iowa (11-1) - The Hawkeyes are loaded on D and have one of the best front 7's in the country. Ricky Stanzi needs to stay healthy and limit his INT's, but the talent at RB and WR is there for the 11/20 OSU @ Iowa game to be one of 2010's biggest.

8. Florida (10-2) - The Gators will be young this year but still have a lot of talent. Voters will likely start them higher than #8 but keep them in the top 10 despite 2 losses. Brantley will immediately be a top 3 QB in the SEC, but the D needs to show it can produce without Charlie Strong.

9. Virginia Tech (10-2) - VT has the tough opener mentioned above, but their young D will be seasoned by November when they go to Chapel Hill and Miami back-to-back weeks. Even if they don't sweep those 2 games, the rest of the schedule sets up well enough that another 10 win regular season is likely. Taylor and the RB combo of Williams/Evans will make the Hokie offense better than 09.

10. Texas (10-2) - Texas still has enough talent to win 10 games, even with a ton of losses to graduation and the NFL. The secondary could be the best Texas has had in a while, even with the loss of Earl Thomas.

11. North Carolina (10-2) - It's difficult to put a team this high when they have yet to win a bowl game with their current coach. But Butch Davis has done it before, and there are NFL players all over the defense. Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin, Quan Sturdivant, and Kendric Burney are all 1st-3rd round picks. Several others will likely end up on NFL teams. The question is the offense, led by the erratic TJ Yates. If the offense can improve from their 23.8 ppg in 09, this team could be in the hunt for a BCS bowl.

12. Wisconsin (10-2) - The Badgers will have a typical Wisconsin team in 2010. Stud offensive lineman, a steady QB, and a good running game. The defense has some holes to plug, but outside of the October OSU/at Iowa back-to-back stretch, the schedule isn't too difficult.

13. Auburn (9-3) - The Tigers have 13 senior starters and should be in position to win now in 2010. The schedule is about as set-up as you can hope for in the SEC, with the only tough road game being the finale in Tuscaloosa. If they can beat South Carolina and go on the road and win vs UK and MSU, the Iron Bowl could be for the SEC West.

14. Georgia (9-3) - Lots of "if's" on D for the Dawgs, but the offense has a ton of potential. They need Aaron Murray to be a better version of Joe Cox and not have another rash of injuries on the offensive line. If they survive the South Carolina/Arkansas early September back-to-back, the Florida game will likely be for the SEC East title.

15. Oregon (9-3) - This Oregon team had a ton of potential, but there are too many question marks for Chip Kelly's program. The Masoli suspension was another black eye (no pun intended), but this team is loaded with players. It's tough to predict 10-11 wins though with the current situation of the program.

16. USC (9-3) - Tons of players in LA will give Lane Kiffin a good shot at 9-10 wins in year 1. The reason success is likely in 2010 is in large part due to Monte Kiffin taking over the defense. The D should improve dramatically from last year, where they gave up 55, 47, and 36 points in 3 different Pac-10 games.

17. Pittsburgh (9-3) - The Panthers should get their 1st Big East title under Dave Wannstedt in 2010. Dion Lewis returns and will likely get 1500+ yards again.

18. Florida State (9-3) - A healthy Christian Ponder will mean a spot in the ACCCG for the Seminoles. The offensive line as a whole returns and play-maker Greg Reid returns in the secondary.

19. Arkansas (8-4) - Ryan Mallet is the best QB in the SEC and potentially a top 10 NFL pick. The weapons he has on offense are why Bobby Petrino came to Fayetteville. The defense is still the weak spot and has to improve if they are going to start beating the elite SEC teams.

20. Stanford (8-4) - Like Arkansas, Stanford has a future NFL quarterback and tons of questions on defense. The Cardinal finished 09 on a good run and should turn that into a top 3 spot in the conference in 2010.

21. West Virginia (9-3) - WVU has the best spot to knock Pitt out of a BCS game in 2010. Noel Devine is a stud at RB, and the 31st ranked scoring D in the country returns 10 starters. We should get a read on where the Mountaineers are on 9/25 when they travel to LSU.

22. Connecticut (9-3) - The Huskies were on a great run at the end of 09 and have a lot of momentum heading into the season. Keeping Randy Edsall was the key to keeping the run of success at UConn possible in 2010.

23. Texas Tech (8-4) - Tommy Tuberville knew what he was doing when he took the job in Lubbock. He claims they will still run the spread offense, but his experience running it at Auburn was a disaster. I think he will have more success at TT and end up in a good bowl game in year 1.

24. Georgia Tech (8-4) Another good season in year 3 for Paul Johnson is likely. Josh Nesbitt returns and is in year 3 running the triple option offense and Anthony Allen is the next 1,000 yard back. The defense still has holes, but Al Groh should help make some improvements. The schedule poses 5 tough road games, including back-to-back trips to Lawrence, KS and Chapel Hill, NC in September. The team also travels to Clemson, VT, and UGA.

25. LSU (8-4) - In what is likely the final year for Les Miles in Baton Rouge, the Tigers have a very tough road ahead of them. They will need to improve on offense and stay healthy to have a shot at earning a top 3 spot in the SEC West.

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