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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

BlogPoll Roundtable #2

One of the niftier components of the BlogPoll are the occasional roundtable discussions. These roundtables focus on issues concerning college football and the polling process. This week's roundtable is being hosted by The Ciskie Blog. Here are my answers about Week 1 surprises.

1. What team best met your overall expectations of them in their opener

USC best fits here for me. I expected the Trojans to demonstrate that the NFL took only a small bite from their burrito of talent. John David Booty sparkled and picked a part the Arkansas defense. Overall, USC displayed the kinds of weapons that put fear into this Husker fan. I was holding out a small glimmer of hope that Booty would struggle early and lack confidence going into the game with Nebraska…so much for that. Defensively USC made the Arkansas offense look as though it was being directed by a high school coach. It also led to the first quarterback controversy of the season and turned the temperature under a Houston Nutt’s chair up a notch or two. Given that USC’s toughest games are at home I don’t see them finishing outside of the Top 5 this year.

2. What team jumped off the map and surprised you the most? (Bonus points to anyone who can make an argument for someone besides Tennessee.)

I’m going with Oregon on this one. I have to admit that I didn’t have much faith in their ability to cover against Stanford. Instead the Ducks pounded the Cardinal with a prolific offensive attack. Running back Jonathan Stewart had a breakout game and now looks like the biggest star in the Pac 10 outside of L.A. In addition, quarterback Dennis Dixon exceeded expectations by going 21-30 for 236 yards and a TD. While the offensive output is expected in the Pac 10, I was also impressed with Oregon’s defense. It looks like a unit that is capable of shutting opponents down meaning the offense might not have to rely on late scores to put teams away. We should know even more about the Ducks after their trip to Fresno.

Honorable mention here has to go Colorado. The overall ineptitude of this squad caught me completely by surprise. After falling to Montana State and now facing a brutal schedule the rest of the way Dan Hawkins has to be missing the smurf turf of Boise State.

3. What team best moved themselves into a position to surprisingly contend for a national title?

Tennessee is the easy answer and rightfully so. The Vols offense looked unbelievable and Meachem gives them a huge weapon. I don’t, however, see them as legitimate national title contenders given their schedule. Despite their obvious improvement I imagine that either Georgia or Florida takes care of the Vols’ championship hopes.

The other team I would put here is Louisville. I know they lost Bush, but they also showed they can put other talent on the field. Brian Brohm looks healthy and might have been the best QB in the nation this first week. They have a favorable schedule and barring further injuries or unexpected twists should be in the hunt later in the season. Whether you would consider their contention a surprise or not, however, is up to you.