In recent years, almost everyone has had Nick Saban's Alabama among the top teams. Winning three national championships and continuing to have top recruiting classes will do that for you. Last year Bama was the favorite in most predictions and led in most polls until late in the season. In 2013 the Crimson Tide was going for its third consecutive national championship.Almost no one had Louisville as No. 1 except for Tim Brando, an erstwhile CBS sports reporter. Louisville finished about 15th, but the big news (in his opinion) is that in 2013 Brando picked Alabama seventh and that's where Alabama finished. There is no way to be sure, but one can't help but think that Brando began filling out his 2014 bracket at No. 7 with Alabama. "That will get those bammer fans in a tizzy," one can imagine him chortling. I'm not exactly sure if his prediction was how the teams would be ranked after the College Football Playoff or up to the playoff. My top ten was through the regular season and conference championship games so that it would have the four teams in the playoff. It may be that his prediction included no Southeastern Conference team making the four-team playoff that begins at the end of this season. The SEC had provided seven consecutive BCS champions until Auburn blew the streak. That was a two-team playoff, remember. My opinion is that just because Auburn faltered it doesn't mean the SEC has collapsed. Brando's top ten has it 1. UCLA, 2. Florida State, 3. Oklahoma, 4. Michigan State, 5. South Carolina, 6. Baylor, 7. Alabama, 8. Oregon, 9. Wisconsin, and 10. LSU. I don't consider that a horrible group. Not by any means. My pre-season top ten had nine of the same teams, though not in the same order. Here is my top ten (prior to bowl games): 1. Florida State, 2. Alabama, 3. Oklahoma, 4. Oregon, 5. Michigan State, 6. UCLA, 7. LSU, 8. Baylor, 9. Ohio State, 10. South Carolina. Everyone has a system of sorts for making these type predictions. I start with the SEC and in my calculations I have Alabama and South Carolina as the teams playing in the league championship game, with Bama coming out on top. I also have the Tide being the only team to hand LSU a loss and believe that the Tigers will give Alabama a tougher game than will the Gamecocks. Those three teams were going to be in my top ten, because last year's BCS game hasn't convinced me that the SEC doesn't still have the strongest football. I put Bama second, LSU seventh (that should have Brando in a tizzy), and South Carolina and the self-proclaimed Ball Coach 10th. The next thing I did was plug in FSU at the top. I don't always do that, but I think if Jameis Winston can keep his dating and shoplifting a bit more discreet, that with all the other weapons the Seminoles have – not to mention an ACC schedule – that it is hard to predict a Florida State loss. As the 2013 champion, the reward is a return to No. 1. I then went to other leagues (and I'll confess there are nuances in the Pac-12, etc. I am weak on). Speaking of the Pac-12, I made Oregon and Marcus Mariota the favorite over UCLA and Brett Hundley, and freely acknowledge that you'd take either of those teams and quarterbacks. So Oregon made my final four. Oklahoma looked awfully good to me in the Sugar Bowl (duh) and I think the Sooners are going to be more impressive this year than any team in the Big Ten. I think Oklahoma will win the Big 12, even though Baylor could finish first in that league. I've got OU third, Baylor eighth. Finally, to the Big Ten. Michigan State plays much like an SEC team, maybe tougher than most on defense. I've got them winning the league and finishing fifth. Urban Meyer won't annoint 2014 Ohio State as second only to 2008 Florida in the list of greatest teams, but the Buckeyes will be good enough to sneak into the top ten at number nine. The only difference in the 10 Brando teams and 10 McNair teams was him having Wisconsin instead of Ohio State, which is not much difference. I will acknowledge that if I had to predict it all the way to the end, I'd have Alabama winning the inaugural College Football Playoff.
McNair's Top 10 A Bit Different Than Brando's
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BamaMagYesterday at 10:40 AM