Preseason College Football Blogpoll Top 25

I am participating in a Blog Poll at MGoBlog of multiple bloggers top 25 for college football. Go ahead and check out mine, trash it, or praise me on my voting. Also check out each Wednesday at 10am eastern to see the final results.

Rank Team Delta
1 Oklahoma 25
2 Southern Cal 24
3 Georgia 23
4 Ohio State 22
5 Florida 21
6 LSU 20
7 Auburn 19
8 Missouri 18
9 Virginia Tech 17
10 Texas Tech 16
11 Wisconsin 15
12 Clemson 14
13 West Virginia 13
14 Oregon 12
15 Brigham Young 11
16 Tennessee 10
17 Texas 9
18 Arizona State 8
19 Illinois 7
20 Kansas 6
21 Penn State 5
22 South Florida 4
23 Fresno State 3
24 Utah 2
25 Oregon State 1

Previewing Utah’s Opponents: Oregon State Beavers

This is a game all of the Utes are looking forward to, because it was the game that ended the season for running back Matt Asiata and limited quarterback Brian Johnson for what he could do all season.  Oregon State is always quietly a very good Pac-10 team, and an interesting fact was found out is that Oregon State has the best Pac-10 conference record only behind USC. 

Oregon State makes the return trip to Salt Lake and the Beavers will be welcoming back star wide receiver and punt returner Sammie Stroughterwho gaine an extra year of eligibility and is looks to return to his all-Pac 10 performer. 

Offense: The quarterback position was very unstable last year and outright terrible at times, so the good news and the bad news is the same with Lyle Moevao and Sean Canfield back again to compete for the starting spot.  Moevao was named the starter last spring, partly because Canfield was still recovering from a shoulder injury that had him miss the last three games and one that required surgery.  Having players back who had time can only be good, but they now need to produce with results.  Moevao is the guy and impressed the coaches during spring practices, and they hope that the success will carry over into the upcoming season.

The running backs on the team were the big surprise for the coaches because they did lose tailback Yvenson Bernardrushed for 1,214 yards and 13 touchdowns while also catching 36 balls for 179 yards and a score.  Some Oregon State people feel the running back position might even be better then last year, but that will be tough to top with just one player.  All the rave is over redshirt freshman Ryan McCants who reminds the staff of former Beaver Steven Jackson.  The other back who will see time is junior college transfer Jeremy Francis who should see time at tailback and the H-back.

Just by having Sammie Stroughterback should help these quarterbacks feel more comfortable with this all-league talent.  The last full season Stroughter played which was in 2006, he led the Pac-10 with 92.4 receiving yards per game behind 74 catches.  Sophomore James Rodgers is considered to be the most explosive receiver on the team and as a freshman he rushed for 586 yards at 11.7 yards per carry, and he also caught 19 balls for 208 yards and scored four total touchdowns.  The receiving corp was one of the thinnest but with Rodgers emerging as a versatile number two and Sammie Stroughter back the wide outs are now a strong group.

Defense: The defense returns only three starters and will need to rebuild their defense for this upcoming season.  The defense last year was possibly the beset in the Pac-10 by giving up only 70 yards per game on the ground and were one of eight teams who accomplished that feat.  The bad news is that the front seven does not return so the front line could now be their weakest part of the deffense.

While the starters are gone there are two returnign players who had a bunch of playing time¬†are ends Victor Butler and Slade Norris¬†who were among the nation’s elite third-down pass rushers. Each ranked in the top-10 in the Pac-10, Butler’s 10.5 sacks placing third and Norris’ nine sacks sixth. Butler finished the year with 32 tackles, 12.5 stops for loss and an interception.¬† These two will be the new anchors for the front seven of the defense.

The strongest part of the defense is intact with their top five players back is the secondary.  The best cornerbacks in the league reside in Corvallis with seniors Brandon Hughes and Keenan Lewis who both should be in NFL camps next season.  The safety position will be manned by three players starting with Al Afalava, Bryan Payton, and Greg Laybourn and they will share the playing time.  The secondary is where this defense could be very impressive and force teams to hold the ball longer then they want.

Early Prediction:  The Utes remember what happened last year and will want to defeat the Beavers.  With the Beavers secondary as good as it is could cause Utah trouble.  The home field gives the Utes the edge and thus look for them to win in the four to ten point range.

Previewing Utah’s Opponents: Weber State Wildcats

This game is a reunion of sorts for former Utah Ute head coach and current Weber State head coach Ron McBride.  McBride coached the Utes for twelve years spanning from 1990-2002.  His overall record for the Utes was 88-63 and the best season was the 1994 season when Utah won 10 games and finished 8th in the country.  Also, McBride can be linked to Urban Meyers success with the way Coach McBride recruited.  He will receive a nice welcome at Rice-Eccles before his team takes the field against a superior opponent.  Weber State from the Big Sky conference is usually a solid team, but went 5-6 last year.

Offense: Coach McBride is known for smash mouth football, so look for the Wildcats to use their running game agaisnt the weakest part of Utah’s team which is their defensive line.¬† Weber State did score 27 points per game but their defense could not hold up.¬† The main player for the Wildcats is their quarterback which they have two of, first is last years starter Cameron Higgins who threw just under 2,000 yards and then there is Alabama trasnfer Jimmy Barnes who saw limited time partly because he joined the team late last summer.¬† As of now the starter still is Higgins, but there is some pressure from the back up spot.

The running game will be Weber’s best friend and it all starts with Trevyn Smith who ran for 1,300 yards and seven touchdowns.¬† The amazing feat about is that he averaged 5.0 yards per carry which could hurt the Utes if that same type of running attack can be duplicated from last season.

Defense: This is the area of improvement needed for the Wildcats, because last year they gave up 29 per game.  Against Utah the team will struggle mightily to keep the game close.  The biggest deficiency was the passing game while giving up the big play, which again they will struggle against the Utes.

Early Prediction: There is no reason for Utah to dominate by at least 30 points.  This will be a good point in the season to get back ups work and to rest some key players.