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BRUCE CISKIE ROUNDTABLE

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The BlogPoll's great for many reasons. You get to laugh at certain pollster's submissions. You get to see which irresponsible laggards fail to file ballots for weeks at a time (us.) You get to see obsessed, overly-degreed people with a deep understanding of amateur statistics make predictions that turn bad with the speed of cheap bananas.

You also get the primary benefit of participating in roundtables that ask you questions your sleeping CFB brain may not even have thought of yet, which is certainly the case with Bruce Ciskie's roundtable this week.

1.Which preseason college football magazine is your favorite?

Steele, which we never would have known about if we'd never dipped our toe in the blogosphere. We only bought it looking for a slightly BETTER preview. We never imagined the VHT Steele guide would only simply post the best WP of any guide in the WWW, even winning our hearts with its idiosyncratic prose, abbreviations, and spastically ecstatic prose!

The reason to love it logically are the endless stats and encyclopedic scope of the thing. The irrational cuddly reason to love it: it's put together by someone who, though they might have started putting the thing together as a wagerer's bible, has inadvertently turned it into the Cryptonomicon of football-mad America.


Phil's literary counterpart.

2. What team is being supremely overrated in the preseason rankings?

The chic choice has become Notre Dame, but noblesse oblige will carry them high into the rankings even as a two-win team. Miami, on the other hand, drifts into people's preseason rankings around the ten spot for no other reason than the fact that they're Miami and allegedly talented to an extent where coaching turnover, an ACC schedule, and a creeping malaise of mere "very good-ness" will make no discernible difference in their performance.

Coker's got a sophomore quarterback being yanked out of one system and placed in another, a whole new offensive staff moving in, and a tailback spot that refuses to fill itself with the single, dominant starter Miami's traditionally had. The line's got to recover from last year, and Randy Shannon can't coach the team into an ACC championship by himself on the defensive side of the ball. The qb thing's got to be restated for emphasis: he's a sophomore moving into a new system at a high-profile school with mercenary fans . Switching senseis on a young qb always has serious side effects that sometimes wobble into the disastrous. Wright's very, very durable, but he didn't deserve this, and will likely spend the first eight games of the season ducking, throwing the ball away, and mentally awaiting the moment when the blurs slow down into coherent zones and routes.

And like FSU, Miami can't conserve their juice during a weak run through straw dog conferencing anymore on their way toward prime bowl berths and national title appearances. The ACC won't let them do that now, as Miami's loss to Georgia Tech last year clearly demonstrated. (Losing to Chan Gailey=clearly descending to pack.)


Kyle Wright assuming the position.

3. Turn the tables. Who is underrated?

Iowa. Drew Tate throws with the proper blend of arrogance, precision, and foolishness in the face of pressure you want in a qb. Their plug 'n play schemes keep players comfortable in their assigned roles, but they're more explosive than most give them credit for while playing a very difficult Big Ten schedule. The best phrase for Iowa's transformation under Ferentz is "mechanization," since they crank out the same kind of teams year in and year out: big on the line, mobile at linebacker, fundamentally sound at the skill positions, solid in special teams and kicking, the NFL equilibrium model transferred to the college scene. Sometimes the equilibrium model gets you 7-5. Sometimes it gets you 10-2.

7-5, though is an aberration. They're a much better team than that.

4. Which conference will be the best in 2006?

The Pac-10, of course. Why argue?

5. Which "non-BCS" conference will be the best in 2006?

We can't say the Big East here, can we? They still get a spot? Why doesn't someone tell us this shit before we get on the air? Are we on fucking Jefferson Pilot or something? Jesus, these people...

How about the WAC? Sure. They're a joke that needs to be retired, since Fresno State's near-defeat had the Bush family so scared they fled their house shortly thereafter. Dennis "Shots Up!" Erickson is back at Idaho, Boise will likely continue to be the darling of ESPN2, and Nevada's a solid "Improbable Sponsor" Bowl Team now. Plus they run the pistol formation, whose play-fake is so huge it killed three free safeties from whiplash last year. So, sure, give the WAC a hug for us. We'll call 'em next week.


WAC-tually employed in the WAC: the currently WAC-tivated pistol formation.

6. Which non-BCS conference team will have the best season?

TCU. Patterson recruits whomever he wants, beat Oklahoma last year, and only has to face one serious challenge in '06, a game with Texas Tech that they could, in concept, win. That would leave them undefeated and looking in on a BCS crew of one-loss teams with a very suggestive look on their face.

Let's get your first read on this one...who will win the H*i*m*n? Oh, by the way, players whose last names begin with the letter "Q" are ineligible.

Unfair and creative, Bruce. We'll roll with it and give you an unfair and creative answer in Chris Leak, creative because no one seriously expects him to do it and he's getting to be accurate to bejeezus with the ball in a system that asks him to throw a ton of short passes; unfair because he's the quarterback of our chosen team. Given the complete lack of a run game, Leak could in theory have one of those two or three loss "valiant warrior" seasons where diminished expectations and the spectre of unfulfilled potential create a nifty storyline voters can buy with ease as he tries to throw the Gators into games by himself. This is dependent on the following things:

1. Brady Quinn's arm being sawed off by angry Columbian gangsters.

2. Ted Ginn bending time with his speed and disappearing into a chronodistortion fold.

3. Troy Smith following Ginn into the same hole on a following block.

4. Adrian Peterson becoming angry and attempting to stiffarm a Dodge Ram that looked at him funny.

5. Kenny Irons getting killed in a taunt fight by his brother, who is on public record as saying Irons should just take the ball and "run for the jungle."

If all of that happens, sure, the Ladyback wins the Heisman. Our betting window is open at harumphharumph at yahoo.com if you're interested.


The most lukewarm Heisman endorsement you'll ever read.