The Meech Poll: Preseason Top-25

With the college football season about a week away, there has been hot debates over the AP Poll, the Coaches Poll, and basically every other preseason college football poll ever made.

However, I would like to congratulate you my friends, as you have stumbled across the unequivocally most correct and #good preseason poll ever taken. The pollsters? Just one: Me.

Welcome to my top-25, be as mad as you want, but don’t hate the player, hate the game. Be sure to check in at the end of every week as we update the Meech Poll throughout the season!

Without further ado, here it is, the inaugural Meech Poll:

1. Alabama
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The insane football machine Nick Saban has built in the South East shows no sign of slowing down this season, with the Tide returning an almost absurd amount of talent on both sides of the ball. Guys like Jalen Hurts, Calvin Ridley and Bo Scarborough will headline the offense, which should continue to get more explosive as Nick Saban continues to adapt his team to the up-tempo style. Meanwhile, it’s the same old story on the defensive side of the ball with legitimate NFL talent all over the field including Minkah Fitzpatrick, Da’Ron Payne, Tony Brown, Da’Shawn Hand, Shaun Dion Hamilton who could all be top flight draft selections come next April.

2. Ohio State
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With the dominance displayed by Alabama over the last two years, it’s easy to lose sight of what Urban Meyer has done at Ohio State in his tenure so far. After going undefeated his first season with the Buckeyes, Meyer has continued to amass talent at Ohio State that only Alabama and maybe Clemson could compete with. This year’s Buckeye’s squad will have a lot of questions to be answered after getting blanked by Clemson in last year’s Playoff, but they have the talent and depth to get to their third straight Playoff appearance. J.T. Barrett will have to bounce back to his Heisman-worthy levels from two seasons ago, and that will rely heavily on the development of pass catchers like Binjimen Victor and Terry McLaurin. The run game should still be the lifeblood of this team with standout Mike Webber back to tote the rock. The defense should be at its usual dominant level as well, with veterans like Chris Worley, Sam Hubbard and Damon Webb patrolling at all three levels.

3. FSU

It’s impossible to talk about Florida State without mentioning their enormous week one matchup with Alabama. This game will set the table for national championship discussion for the rest of the season. It will also serve as a barometer for a Seminole squad that comes in with some important things to look out for. Can Deondre Francois take the next step and become the next great FSU quarterback under Jimbo Fisher? Will the offensive line do a better job of protecting possibly the toughest quarterback in college football? Can the skill position group on offense step up on the perimeter and in the backfield with the departure of Dalvin Cook? For the defense; will Josh Sweat and Brian Burns meet their incredibly high potentials? How will Derwin James, arguably the best damn player in the country, recover from his injury? Can Tavarus McFadden continue to be a ballhawk in the secondary, scaring opposing quarterbacks from even targeting his side of the field? Week one will be the toughest, but the earliest way of parsing out these questions.

4. USC

My good friend Jeremy Tache is the official conductor of the Southern California hype-train. USC is set up to be one of the top teams in the country this year, and that should scare you if you are a Trojans fan. They’ve been unable to live up to any preseason hype since the Pete Carroll era ended, highlighted by the disastrous 2012 Matt Barkley campaign. Clay Helton will have to do a better job of managing his team early on, with two of its first three games against Stanford and Texas. Sam Darnold will be the talk of the town, deservedly so, and could end up catapulting the Trojans into the Playoff for a chance at the team’s first title since 2004. Defensively, the Trojans bring back a bunch of veteran players and returning starters, which should be able to hold teams off as the offense explodes with Darnold at the helm. Navigating the early stretch will really set the tone and expectations for Southern Cal.

5. Penn State

A trendy pick during the end of the regular season for last year’s Playoff’s has become an even hotter name during preseason. Penn State has navigated the choppy waters of NCAA sanctions and has reemerged as a preeminent program in one of college football’s most competitive divisions. James Franklin went from being on the hot seat to being in the conversation for coach of the year, all behind the explosion in the second half of the year on the offensive side of the ball. The real question for the Nittany Lions will be whether it will be able to keep that kind of offensive production up. Trace McSorley protected the ball very well last season, but with his Rex Gross-ian attitude in how he attacks defenses, it’ll be important to see if he can keep up his efficiency. Penn State also has, for my money, the best player in college football to lean on if the offense begins to sputter in Saquon Barkley.

6. Clemson
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I know what you’re thinking: Meech, Clemson is replacing guys like Deshaun Watson, Ben Boulware and other guys pivotal to their National Championship runs the last two seasons. However, Dabo Swinney has created a factory at Clemson that rivals the likes of Ohio State and even Alabama. The Tigers still have weapons for whoever lines, up under center next season, with possibly the best wide receiver in college football, Deon Cain, title-game hero and certified Alabama killer, Hunter Renfrow, and plenty of other guys with talent and big game experience like Ray-Ray McCloud and C.J. Fuller. The defense is stacked too, especially in the trenches with Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant joining dominant big men Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence in a pass rush rotation and front seven that figures to be one of the most fearsome in college football yet again. If the QB play is anything above or near average, the Tigers could find themselves competing for a title again this season.

7. Oklahoma
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Following the sudden retirement of Bob Stoops, there were some questions in my mind about who the Sooner’s would get to replace the coaching legend. By just promoting offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley to head coach, I think Oklahoma has set themselves up nicely for a run at the Playoff and the future. Baker Mayfield is set to play his last season of college football, but will line up to some new offensive additions. The defense is older, but has some young guys who will need to prove themselves once the season begins. Ultimately, the biggest hurdle for OU will be the week two matchup against Ohio State, which may likely make or break their season. Can a new offensive unit and a defense with some question marks gel quickly enough to take on the Buckeye’s, especially with only one game against UTEP to tune the loose ends?

8. Washington
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The bad news for the Huskies is that they lost almost their entire secondary to the NFL Draft last season. However, there is more looking up for Washington than there are things trending downward. For example, it returns with one of the best quarterback’s in the country with Jake Browning back, they have one of the top five coaches in college football, Chris Petersen at the helm, and the team is coming off one of the best years in the programs recent history. Want more to be excited about? The Huskies also return with playmakers on both sides of the ball like defensive tackle Vita Vea, inside linebackers Azeem Victor and Keishawn Bierria, wide receiver Dante Pettis, and running back Myles Gaskin. One of the biggest advantages for Washington is being able to avoid USC in the regular season in addition to being able to play Utah and Washington State at home. Its biggest test will likely come on the road against Stanford.

9. LSU

There is only two reasons LSU is in the top 10 in the Meech poll: the run game and the defense. If you want to distill that down even further, LSU finds themselves at nine because of Derrius Guice and Arden Key. The Tigers played well down the stretch under interim and now permanent head coach Ed Orgeron, who is now at his dream job in the bayou. LSU still need to prove they can get over two hurdles, however: beating Alabama and finding any sort of consistency and competence at the quarterback position. Danny Etling is back, and that’s…. well, fine I suppose—but if he plays as poorly as he did last season, it could mean another disappointing season for a team with more NFL talent than just about anyone else in the country.

10. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys are coached by the man with the most majestic mullet I have ever seen, and that alone makes them worthy of a top-10 ranking, as determined by this esteemed panel. In all seriousness though, Oklahoma State returns one of the best quarterback’s in college football in Mason Rudolph, who throws one of the prettiest deep balls in recent memory. The Cowboys also have explosive playmakers like James Washington and Justice Hill, who will be ready to tear up lackluster Big 12 Conference defenses this season. Other than big games against Texas and Oklahoma, OSU should be favored in almost all of its other contests this season, and if they can get past in-state rivals in Bedlam, we may just see the Cowboys on the doorstep of the Playoff.

11. Wisconsin
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Here is all you need to know about Wisconsin: Their defense is going to be very good again, and they are going to try to run the ball because of an inability to throw the ball down the field—they will, however, still manage to win 10 games and end up in the Rose Bowl.

12. Texas
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I was tempted to put Texas in the top seven just because that’s how much I believe in the talent on the roster and the new direction under head coach Todd Herman. They land at 12 only because it’s Texas, and they haven’t been able to put anything together recently. Shane Buechele is back running the offense, and Malik Jefferson is probably one of the top-three linebackers in all of college football.

13. Stanford
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David Shaw has built this program into a legitimate problem in the Pac-12, and Cardinals seem to be positioned nicely for a run of sustained success. Christian McCaffery is gone, but don’t expect that to make a huge difference in their win-loss record this season, as most of the team’s big men will return on the offensive line.

14. Michigan

Not much to say other than expect great defense, a solid running game, and some nice flashes from quarterback Wilson Speight, despite losing a bunch of guys to the NFL. There will also probably be a lot about Harbaugh being a lunatic, mostly because he is one. Also, I’m sure there will be like four or five things that make Michigan fans #mad #online about something.

15. Louisville

Lamar Jackson is back, and that, in itself, makes this team worth watching. Bobby Petrino isn’t the most reputable character, but he can scheme the hell out of an offense. It will be interesting to see how Louisville fits in a division where it seems like they will always be destined to finish third behind FSU/Clemson. Can the Cardinals finally break the barrier and make their way to the ACC Title game?

16. West Virginia
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Dana Holgerson is one of my favorite coaches in college football, and I’ll be damned if he doesn’t get the credit for churning out some quietly excellent seasons at WVU in a conference where the team has to travel all-over the country for every road game. He has the Mountaineers playing defense better than most in the Big 12, and they have Will Grier coming in to toss the pill this season. They strike me as a sleeper New Year’s Six-Bowl team.

17. Georgia
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Kirby Smart has done a hell of a job recruiting at Georgia in his two cycles so far, so it’s just a matter of putting that talent into the right positions to succeed as they continue to develop. Georgia probably should win the SEC East this season, which means they probably won’t. Expect UF somehow limp past them, only to be sacrificed to Alabama or whoever else comes out of the SEC West.

18. Washington State
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Other than maybe Deondre Francois, you won’t find a quarterback, and maybe any other positional player tougher than Luke Falk. He is one of the most talented quarterback’s Mike Leach has ever had, and he has most of his weapons returning this season. Also, don’t look now, but the Cougar’s defense was playing well while being very aggressive last season. If Wazzou can just avoid losing to an FCS team to kick of the season this year, they could find themselves in the thick of the Pac-12 North race.

19. Miami

Never forget that Duke, Wake Forrest, and Boston College have all been to more ACC Championship games than Miami. NEVER FORGET IT. Really though, this should probably be the year the Hurricanes end up winning the Coastal, but for the love of God, can they actually beat FSU for once? Mark Richt changed the way I eat sandwiches, and for that alone, he is in my top five favorite coaches.

20. USF

It pains me to even put them on here, but Charlie Strong was the perfect hire after Willie Taggart departed for Oregon. Quinton Flowers is a legitimate Heisman contender leading the offense. USF should easily be the best team in the AAC, and therefore the best group of five team in the country.

21. Auburn
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Jarret Stidham is under center now, which is good, because he is awesome. The real question is can the defense repeat the same performance they came out with last year? If so, Auburn could make some noise. If not, it may be the end of the Gus Malzahn era.

22. Virginia Tech
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They lost their quarterback somewhat unexpectedly to the NFL Draft, but Bud Foster is one of the best defensive coordinators in the business and head coach Justin Fuente has been piecing together explosive offenses since his days at Memphis. The Hokies are Miami’s biggest competition in the Coastal this season.

23. TCU
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Gary Patterson is one of the top seven coaches in college football, and returns serious offensive firepower with Kenny Hill, KaVontae Turpin, Kyle Hicks, and Taj Williams. If Patterson can restore the defense to its normal level, which appears to have disappeared since 2014, the Horned Frogs could make some noise.

24. Boise State
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You can’t have a preseason top-25 poll that will be taken seriously if you don’t include Boise State in the 20-25 range. It’s an obligation at this point. They are also easily the best team in its conference, and have Brett Rypien spinning the rock for them this season.

25. Utah
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Kyle Whittingham has built a program on toughness and attitude in Utah, and now the Utes are one of those pesky teams who knock off a title contender mid-way through the season seemingly every year now.

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