Greenville, SC-Brentson Buckner is joining everyone else and picking Southern California as the number-one college football team in the United States. Buckner released his preseason poll on Thursday, August 30, the day of the season opening games, so he had the most up to date information available.
Brentson reveals his Harris Poll picks each week on his website, at http://BrentsonBuckner.com/harris.html. Read Brentson's Clemson, NCAA and NFL commentary at http://BrentsonBuckner.com/buckshots.html.
Buckner has balance in his top seven picks as six different conferences are represented in his elite Super Seven. Southern Cal is tops, the same team chosen by the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls. LSU, coming off a Sugar Bowl win over Notre Dame, is second, followed by a talented Michigan team that has three players listed as candidates for the Walter Camp National Player of the Year Award.
Buckner has West Virginia and the talented backfield duo of Steve Slayton and Pat White ranked fourth, while Texas rounds out the top five. Defending champion Florida is sixth and ACC power Virginia Tech is seventh.
"Southern California continues to recruit great players," said Buckner. "They have the most talent. They have a high school All-American at every position, it is amazing how they continue to get great players year after year even though great players are already on campus. They have about 10 high school All-America running backs, although I see a couple have left the program.
"Southern Cal if the top tier of the nation by itself. They are as close to a sure thing for the national championship as you are going to get this time of the year.
There are some outstanding teams who will challenge Southern Cal, however. "You have to play the games on the field. Southern Cal did lose two games last year.
Everyone will be watching Virginia Tech. They will be America's team this year in light of the terrible shooting they had on campus last spring. They will be like the New Orleans Saints were in the NFL last year. Virginia Tech has talent on defense, they were number-one in total defense last year and have a lot of guys back. On offense Brandon Ore is a tough runner who will be a key for them.
"West Virginia has two Heisman candidates in quarterback Pat White and running back Steve Slayton. People underestimate Slayton's ability as a receiver. I see where White expects his team to average "half a hundred" on offense. Those are high expectations. The only question for West Virginia is their defense. You can't outscore teams all the time. At some point their defense is going to have to come up with a key stop against Louisville or Rutgers, or someone else who is capable of scoring as many points as they do.
"Michigan is another team I like. They have the triplets on offense in Mario Manningham, quarterback Chad Henne and running back Mike Hart. You can't play eight in the box to stop their running game because Manningham will beat you down field. They also have a great offensive line let by Adam Kraus. The defense is a concern because they lost three high draft picks. If they can get new guys to stop up there, Michigan could be playing for the national championship.
"I picked Louisville 11th, but they are also a team that could jump into the national championship picture. They would be my sleeper team. With quarterback Brian Brohm, a preseason first-team All-American by a lot of publications, they are capable of outscoring anyone. I really like their trio of running backs. When Michael Bush got hurt last year it was a blessing in disguise because it forced those guys to play and they played very well. I also like their 6-6 receiver Mario Urrutia. They key for them will be their defense and replacing Amobi Okoye, the youngest guy ever to be drafted by the NFL."
Buckner also sees Clemson, South Carolina and Georgia as top 25 teams this year. He picks South Carolina 20, Clemson 22nd and Georgia 25th in his preseason polls.
"I think all three could have very good years. They all have some questionmarks on both sides of the ball and will have some bumps in the road as we go on through the season. But in the end I think they will be solid clubs."
Brentson Buckner 2007 Preseason Poll
1. Southern California
4. West Virginia
7. Virginia Tech
12. Ohio State
14. Florida State
20. South Carolina
21. Boston College
23. Boise State