Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Early poll love for Stanford, Oregon
By Ted Miller
Might Stanford be headed back to the Rose Bowl next January, only this time to play Alabama and to try to end the SEC's streak of seven consecutive national titles?
Or is it going to be Oregon under first-year coach Mark Helfrich?
That's one takeaway from some of the early preseason Top 25s that have been released over the past couple of weeks. The winner of Oregon's visit to Stanford on Nov. 7 -- Thursday night! -- is a good pick to play for the 2013 national title, the final year in the BCS system.
That's what NationalChamps.net projects. It ranks Stanford No. 2 and Oregon No. 3. Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated has Texas A&M at No. 2, with Stanford at No. 3 and Oregon at No. 4.
In ESPN.com's Way-Too-Early Top 25, Mark Schlabach had the Ducks second and Stanford third.
So the Pac-12 seems to be a solid pick to begin the 2013 season with a pair of top-five national title contenders.
After that, there seems to be little consensus on the conference.
The only other Pac-12 team Staples ranks is UCLA at No. 24.
NationalChamps.net has Oregon State at 16th and USC at 21st, but includes a list of teams considered that notes UCLA and Washington.
ESPN.com has the most love for the Pac-12. It ranks Oregon State 15th, UCLA 21st and USC 25th.
The Pac-12 blog, ultimate arbiter of all that is wise and good, believes Washington and Arizona State also are Top-25 teams.
The Sun Devils have a tough early schedule that may knock them back a few clicks, but I view them as a slight favorite over UCLA in the Pac-12 South Division.
The Huskies would be getting more Top-25 buzz if they didn't lose their final two games, including an epic collapse in the Apple Cup against rival Washington State. Same goes for the Beavers, who lost ground after falling apart in the fourth quarter of the Alamo Bowl against an inferior Texas team.
The consensus is Oregon and Stanford -- or is that Stanford and Oregon? -- are the class of the Pac-12 (again) in 2013. But Oregon State, UCLA, USC, Arizona State and Washington also figure to be getting Top-25 consideration.
So start hounding your the AP voters now!