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Fire Away: Revealing Miner Rush's Inaugural Blog Poll Ballot

The Blog Poll provides a fun way for blogs from across the country to submit Top 25 ballots each week during the season.  In years past, the poll has been sponsored and hosted by CBS Sportsline but this year the poll has been moved to Sports Blog Nation.  This is my draft ballot, I'd like to take another look at it once I get some community feedback.

The initial pre-season poll will be released this coming Monday.  Once the season starts, they should be released on Wednesday of each week.  I'll try and post my ballot on Monday to provide each of you with a chance to criticize it and argue for or against a certain ranking.  Let me know where you agree and where you think I'm a complete idiot.  Compiling this ranking, I realized how hard this actually is.  So, if I completely whiff on something, call me out- give me a chance to defend it or to correct it.

Here's my Pre-season Top 25 with an explanation of my Top 10.

1.  Alabama:  The way I see it, the defending National Champions are #1 until somebody beats them.  The Tide bring back Julio Jones and Heisman winner Mark Ingram.  You know their defense will be solid even without Rolando McClain & Co.  Quarterback Greg McElroy is back too.

2.  Texas:  The Longhorns lose a four year starting quarterback, but watching Garrett Gilbert in the MNC, I couldn't help but be impressed with his composure.   Will Muschamp will have the defense playing well enough to give Gilbert time to settle in.  As you'll see, I give a lot of credit to teams with quarterbacks that I know will be stellar.  

3.  Florida:  I debated this spot because I know Florida lost some key defenders and of course Tim Tebow.  I think John Brantley will help Florida's receiving corp reach new heights.  

4.  Oklahoma:  Landry Jones gained some valuable experience last season but the Sooners lost some studs in the NFL Draft.  Some Sooner fans might think OU deserves to be ahead of Texas, but I went with UT because right now, I think the Horns will beat Oklahoma in Dallas behind superior quarterback play.  That's not a knock on Jones, he's going to be great, but I think Gilbert is the real deal.

5.  Boise State:  The Broncos check in at #5.  Kellen Moore is an exceptional player.  The Bronco's open up on Labor Day night at home against Virginia Tech.  They also get Oregon State, a team I'm very high on, at home in Week 3.  We'll know how good Boise is very early on in the season.

6.  Ohio State:  Talk about consistent programs.  I can never put a Big 10 team ahead of Ohio State because it seems like these guys can sleepwalk through a season and still somehow play in the Rose Bowl every single year.  Terrel Pryor is getting better, but I'm still not quite sure he's running the right type of system to take Ohio State to a MNC.

7.  Nebraska:  This is one of those teams that I'm very hesitant to rank so high.  The Huskers simply haven't been able to find a serviceable quarterback in what feels like years.  The defense, as we all know, will be great.  But until they find someone, anyone, who can hit an open receiver the Huskers will continue to fall behind  Texas and Oklahoma.

8.  Miami:  Everybody else will put Virginia Tech or Iowa in the top 10.  I just can't bring myself to do it.  Iowa doesn't have an offense I can get behind.  Virginia Tech always manages to lose a game early on they aren't supposed to.  Why Miami?  Because I think Jacory Harris is a really good quarterback that can carry Miami to an ACC Chamionship.  Without seeing any games, I'd take a team with Harris over Iowa and Virginia Tech right now.

9.  Oregon State:  You're probably saying, what?  Oregon State?  I know, they are barely ranked in the AP and Coaches polls, right?  The thing is, I'm drinking the OSU Kool Aid.  They are my preseason pick to win the Pac 10.  I know, Stanford has Andrew Luck and Oregon always beats them.  Having seeing Stanford in last year's Sun Bowl, I just can't buy that team without Gerhardt.  Oregon?  I just think that those off the field issues they had this summer will come back to bite them.  With Masoli, Oregon is here, maybe higher.  Without him, I go with Jacquizz.

10.  TCU:  Immediately, I already think I over ranked TCU.  The problem is that at this point, I have a lot of trouble ranking teams without having any on field success to look at.  Andy Dalton, in my opinion, is not an elite quarterback.  TCU opens up with Oregon State, and as you can tell, I think the Beavers will find a way to beat them in Ft. Worth.  Right now, TCU gets this spot based mostly on reputation and defense.  No Jerry Hughes, I know, but Gary Patterson will have the Frogs, on defense, ready to go.  On offense?  I'm not buying it.

Teams of Note:  

17.  Houston:  I think the Coogs, on offensive firepower alone, can beat every team I have ranked behind them.  Do I think UTEP can beat them in Week 2?  Yes, I do.  But, preseason, I think Houston has earned the right to be the C-USA favorite.  The Cougars ended last year with Case Keenum in a slump.  Can't wait to see Andre Patterson's defense go against him.  

24.  Texas Tech:  I've been to a lot of Tech games (I graduated from Texas Tech Law School) and I'm curious to see how the team looks under Tommy Tuberville.  I'll say this, if Steven Sheffield is healthy, the Red Raiders can easily go 9-3.  Without him, Tech might go 5-7 depending on how the defense adjusts to the new system.  From someone who spent a lot of time in Lubbock, the loss of Mike Leach can't be overstated.  I almost don't want to rank Tech at all, if only to protest the firing of Leach.  But, I can't do that because I know he left behind some talent (especially at running back, if Tuberville finds a way to use the guys he has, watch out).

Here's my complete draft ballot.  Fire away!