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CFT Top 25: Gators to reascend to the throne

If you’ve been a reader of this lil’ ol’ website for any length of time, you know full well my opinion of preseason polls. I hate them. Despise ‘em. Loathe them on a level only exceeded by the BcS. And the “cast” of Jersey Shore.

So, what am I about to do? Attempt a preseason poll, of course.

Don’t read it the wrong way, though. It’s not that I think they’re worthless. Rather, I don’t think they’re worth anything. It makes no sense, before a single game in a new year with a different roster of players and possibly a change in coaching staffs has been played, to guess how to place schools in some semblance of a realistic order. A predetermined order, incidentally, that goes a long way in determining the “contenders” in the national title hunt

However, and irrespective of my utter contempt, fans love polls. They eat ‘em up, if for nothing more than the fact that it gives them something else to bitch about. So, who are we to deny the masses their preseason candy and constitutional right to whine?

Of course, feeding that hunger involves actual thought and (gasp!) work. And this year is especially difficult, particularly at the top of the poll. You could take anywhere from 5-7 teams, write their names on a slip of paper, toss them in a bag, pull one out and make a compelling case for whichever name happens to appear.

Not that I used that method. Exactly.

Before we get to the poll and allow the readers to commence to complaining -- or cheering if you’re a member of Gator Nation -- here are a couple of notes of explanation. In other words, don’t blame me, blame the excuses I make.

• Knowing full well that there is certainly talent there in the replacements, I simply could not justify putting defending national champion Alabama in the top spot after having lost all of that experienced talent on defense. And, no, the injury to Mark Ingram had no bearing on the decision. On a neutral field in December, Florida comes out on top, regardless of what happens in Tuscaloosa earlier in the year. Don’t hate, Tide fans. Instead, take comfort in the fact that I’m hardly ever right with this predicting crap.

• Speaking of Florida, I will go against what seems to be the consensus grain and say that the Gators’ offense will be much, much more effective and explosive with John Brantley and without Tim Tebow. Sacrilege, I know, but that offense is loaded with the weapons that can take advantage of Brantley’s passing skills. Given all of the young talent that’s expected to contribute immediately, I could be a year early on this one, but I’ll take my chances.

• The second-to-last draft of my poll, incidentally, had Ohio State at No. 1. The one before that had Boise State. In other words, don’t go counting on adding to your crystal collection just yet, Gators.

• Yes, the esteemed Phil Steele has once again gone out on his annual island and tabbed Oklahoma as his national champion. Nope, not buying what the guru of all college football gurus is attempting to sell. When it comes to an Oklahoma team coming off a five-loss season, I’m from Missouri. The Sooners need to show me something more this year to erase the memories of last year.

• No North Carolina or Penn State in the poll was not a mistake or an oversight. Given the uncertainty swirling around the Tar Heels and exactly which starters will or won’t be suspended for X number of games, it’s impossible to touch them at this point in the season. As for the Nittany Lions, the loss of Darryl Clark does indeed mean that much. Especially when it means replacing him with a true freshman at quarterback.

• I can hear it now. “Notre Dame ranked? Corporate lackey. NBC shill.” To be honest, I had the Irish ranked a lot higher initially before deciding to drop them a little bit based on the adjustment period the team will go through under new head coach Brian Kelly. Make no mistake, though: Kelly will turn that program around in a hurry.

• Nebraska will win the conference title in their Big 12 swan song. Why? They will be dominating on defense even without A Man Named Suh and will get improved play from the quarterback position. Why will the latter occur? Because the position simply cannot be any worse than it was in 2009, can it? Whichever of the trio of players in line for the starting job that winds up under center will certainly trip and stumble into better production than last year.

• Oregon State at 11 and the highest-ranked Pac-10 school? Yeah, surprised me too when I couldn’t talk myself out of it. The Beavers are my Oklahoma this year, if for no other reason than my gut is overruling my head at the moment.

• I think I might be underrating Auburn especially and Georgia possibly. Ditto for USC.

Anyway, here’s the CFT Top 25 poll in its entirety. Sharpen your rapier wit as you’re reading, then blast away.

1.) Florida2.) Ohio State3.) Boise State4.) Alabama5.) Nebraska6.) Iowa7.) Texas8.) Miami9.) TCU10.) Oklahoma11.) Oregon State12.) Wisconsin13.) Florida State14.) Oregon15.) Auburn16.) Pittsburgh17.) Georgia Tech18.) Georgia19.) Virginia Tech20.) LSU21.) Arkansas22.) USC23.) Notre Dame24.) Cincinnati25.) Washington