Throughout the year, I'll be participating in the BlogPoll Roundtable. The first one of the year is hosted by Doug at Hey Jenny Slater.
1. Without naming names, a few teams seem to have popped up frequently on everyone's "overrated" lists in the preseason, so let's forget about them for the moment and concentrate on a different group: sleepers. Which currently unheralded team are you currently putting at least a few of your chips behind in the hopes that you'll be able to say "totally called that" once they've accomplished big things by the end of the season?
At this point, the nature of the offseason had led to someone calling just about any team in country a sleeper. If you want to be unique, you have to go completely off the board and pick a team like Northwestern because its quarterback's name is Kafka and then make a reference to passing his trial. I'll go with Clemson, my pick to win the ACC this year. The Tigers return arguably the best defense in the ACC in 2008 and C.J. Spiller. Their offensive line is no longer a liability and neither is Tommy Bowden's bitch mentality. The pressure is off Clemson this year, which is why I think it'll win 10 games and the ACC in 2009.
2. In a similar vein, pick a sleeper player on your team whom nobody's talking about right now and tell us why we will be talking about them by December.
Jake Johnson is a sophomore linebacker whose "OMG! Shirtless!" photos have Hokie fans eagerly awaiting his first season as a starter. Johnson is a weight room hero who was impressive on special teams last year. His biggest weakness right now is pass coverage, but he is expected to a run-stopping beast. "Jakeamania" has already made him a cult hero in Blacksburg before his first career start.
3. Florida is about as big a consensus favorite as we've seen in recent years, but remember, USC got 62 out of 65 first-place votes in the AP's 2007 preseason poll and still managed to lose to Stanford. Given how difficult it is to go undefeated period these days, where do you think the Gators are most likely to stumble in the regular season?
They won't. Florida will be 13-0 before it loses to Texas in the BCSCG. If there is a potential stumbling block, the obvious games are the night game in Baton Rouge and the neutral site game against Georgia. But the only blemish for the Gators last year was to Ole Miss, an inconsistent-but-improving team, in Gainesville. This year's Ole Miss is Arkansas, which travels to The Swamp on Oct. 17, the same day OU and Texas meet in Dallas. The game will fly under the radar, could be a Noon:30 start in what used to be the Raycom special and comes right after the Gators' trip to Baton Rouge.
4. Which regular-season game not involving your team or conference are you most looking forward to this year?
Easy. OU-Texas. Not because of the game itself, mind you. I'm most looking forward to being in the West End Friday night to see the fights. Last year's BCS drama between my Alma Mater and the Longhorns will add even more ammo to the West End powder keg and that night can only end with a guy getting tazed in the groin and then trampled by a police horse. Wait, that already happened when I was there in 2004? Your move, 2009.
5. In honor of Georgia's opening-weekend opponent and their most prolific booster, let's say you somehow come into T. Boone Pickens money and can buy anything you want for your program -- facilities upgrades, an airplane for recruiting, buy out the contract of that coach you hate, you name it. Where does your first check go?
I would get Virginia Tech a concrete slab with my name on it. Maybe Frank Beamer will put it up on the refrigerator!