Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Like It Is:
Top 25? Picking sweet 16 makes more sense
In the Nov. 30, 2013, file photo, Auburn linebacker Jake Holland (5) pushes Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper (9) out-of-bounds during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Auburn, Ala. Alabama is hoping for another powerful rebound to once again go from a big beating in the Big Easy, to national dominance. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)
For the first time the National Football Foundation and Football Writer's Association of America will have their own football poll.
It will be the Super 16 and will debut Sept. 15, giving most teams a chance to get one or two of those pay-for-play games out of the way.
There are 41 voters on the panel, including yours truly, and our votes will be revealed each week for the sake of transparency. Not sure how the other voters feel, but when it gets to the nitty-gritty and the whole nation is watching to see who will make the Final Four of the college football world, it won't be watching 25 teams, but more likely a sweet 16.
While my first ballot isn't due for almost a month, and with The Associated Press revealing its top 25 last week, here is a look at how my first vote will be if everyone is undefeated after three weeks of play.
1. FLORIDA STATE With 13 starters back, including Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, the Seminoles look ready to run to the national championship game again.
2. AUBURN The Tigers have more starters back than Alabama and are the defending SEC champs. In my opinion, they have to at least start ahead of the Crimson Tide in preseason polls.
3. OKLAHOMA The Sooners are talented, deep and have a nice schedule that includes getting explosive Baylor at home. The Sooners may have one of the best defenses in the country. They also beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
4. OREGON The Ducks are loaded on offense with eight starters back and have the key ingredient to win a lot of games -- speed.
5. ALABAMA Nick Saban deserves all the credit he gets, but this team could be a challenge with only five starters back on defense. He still hasn't announced a starting quarterback.
6. GEORGIA The Bulldogs are due a large dose of luck after all the injuries they had last season, not to mention some bad luck (in Hail Mary loss to Auburn). Todd Gurley may be the best running back in the country.
7. UCLA The Bruins should be undefeated and getting national attention when they host Oregon on Oct. 4 in a must watch game (Arkansas has an open date). UCLA won 10 games last season and returns 17 starters.
8. BAYLOR Art Briles will make his offense his defense, and quarterback Bryce Petty has the receiving corps to put up a lot of points.
9. MICHIGAN Brady Hoke has 13 starters back and should continue to improve despite a challenging schedule.
10. SOUTH CAROLINA Steve Spurrier said this may be the best offensive line he's had as the Gamecocks' head coach. He needs to establish a quarterback who can manage the game.
11. OHIO STATE Losing quarterback Braxton Miller, the two-time Big Ten player of the year, was huge.
12. SOUTHERN CAL The Lane Kiffin experiment is completely over. The Trojans won 10 last year and return 14 starters, plus they don't face Oregon.
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13. LSU The Tigers are going to win one they aren't expected to and will be upset at least once because there are lots of questions about the offense.
14. MICHIGAN STATE It will be hard to repeat a 13-victory season, but the offense could be very good if the line steps up.
15. TCU Gary Patterson has 16 starters back and has spent the past two seasons building for this one. The Frogs won't win the Big 12, but the path to that championship includes dealing with TCU.
16. MISSISSIPPI I still think the Rebels might be looking ahead to the Egg Bowl when they come to Fayetteville, but with 15 starters back it is time they made some noise.
Sports on 08/24/2014