1. USC (12-0)…It almost looked as if what happened in the Big 12 Championship Game encouraged the Trojans to pour it on their cross-city rivals. They're now just one game away from college football immortality. My preseason rank: #1
2. Texas (12-0)…It wasn't scandal, infamy, or treachery that did in Gary Barnett at Colorado. It was the 70-3 kill shot delivered by the burnt orange while delivering Mack Brown his first conference title. My preseason rank: #8
3. Penn State (10-1)…Hard to believe the Orange Bowl will be the Nittany Lions first appearance in the BCS, and given the amount of seniors they lose they probably won't be back next year. My preseason rank: #19
4. Ohio State (9-2)…Easily the best of the two-loss teams, and had Troy Smith not gotten in trouble off the field they might have been the best team, period. They're headed back to the Fiesta Bowl for the third time in four years. My preseason rank: #7
5. Auburn (9-2)…The hot team at the end of the season is a big favorite over the Badgers in the Capitol One Bowl. Should be a preseason top 5 team for 2006. My preseason rank: #32
6. Oregon (10-1)…The Ducks aren't feeling the BCS love, but the Pac-10 rarely does. Still, San Diego isn't a bad consolation prize for a team unranked in the preseason. My preseason rank: #41
8. Notre Dame (9-2)…Next to the Rose Bowl, the battle in the desert between the Irish and Buckeyes will be the focal point of the BCS. My preseason rank: #44
9. LSU (10-2)…The question they're asking down in Bayou country is whether or not Nick Saban could've taken all this talent and run the table with it? Tough for Les Miles to win 10 games and still not impress some people. My preseason rank: #2
10. Miami, Fla. (9-2)…It's back to the Peach Bowl for the team with maybe the best defense in the United States. My preseason rank: #10
11. Virginia Tech (10-2)…In their two benchmark games this season the Hokies didn't deliver, but they have already proven their worth in the ACC. My preseason rank: #6
12. Alabama (9-2)…Won't it be fun to watch that Crimson Tide defense chase the chuck-and-duck all over Dallas at the Cotton Bowl? My preseason rank: #14
14. Texas Tech (9-2)…Won't it be fun to watch the Red Raiders attempt to move that stout ‘Bama defense down at the Cotton Bowl? My preseason rank: #20
15. Texas Christian University (10-1)…I'll now go out of my way to annoy TCU by dropping the "c" word in their acronym they seem hell-bent – literally – on running from the reason for the season. My preseason rank: #39
16. Florida (8-3)…Again the Gators buy…err…I mean negotiate their way into the Outback Bowl for another loss to the Hawkeyes. My preseason rank: #5
18. UCLA (9-2)…You must pack a defense on the road. Repeat: you must pack a defense on the road. For years the Bruins defense has been porous, can't they find athletes to play defense in Los Angeles? My preseason rank: #18
20. Boston College (8-3)…Another team who deserves better than their bowl sentencing to Boise, but lack of a travelling fan base dooms them Idaho. My preseason rank: #31
21. Louisville (9-2)…The Gator Bowl is the almost-bowl between two teams that each should've won their conferences and been in the BCS but didn't and aren't. My preseason rank: #3
22. Clemson (7-4)…Hard to believe, but if the Tigers win their bowl game it will be just the second time they've finished a season ranked since Tommy Bowden arrived. My preseason rank: #46
23. Michigan (7-4)…Regardless of what they're saying it has to hurt the Wolverines that a program they view as inferior was chosen for a January bowl over them. My preseason rank: #4
24. Oklahoma (7-4)…They played the Ducks last year, and will play them again next year. And they play them again at the Holiday Bowl. My preseason rank: #11
25. Georgia Tech (7-4)…I still think the Yellow Jackets had a pretty solid season considering the schedule they played. My preseason rank: #15
1. If there is a single ISU fan that thinks after Texas routed Colorado in Houston the Cyclones were better off losing to Kansas, they should have their season tickets revoked forever. That kind of loser mentality – which I have encountered a little bit – is what prompts national announcers to say, "and that's why they're Iowa State."
2. Last season I fell for the "well Oklahoma is more physical on both sides of the ball" argument before the BCS title game. I'm not fallen for the banana in my tailpipe again with another Big 12 champion. The Longhorns have had a great season, but they're essentially playing a road game against a team playing for history that has too many playmakers. It won't be a rout, but the Trojans will pull away later, 35-24.
3. Please stop any whining about you-know-who going to the Outback Bowl while ISU heads to a "minor bowl." I haven't seen too much of this on this site, but have heard it on the radio and in other venues. The reality is this speaks to the superiority of the Big Ten from a marketing perspective over the Big 12. And if Iowa punked anybody it was Michigan, not Iowa State.
4. The basketball game tonight will be tough. Iowa will rally around the unfortunate injury to Jeff Horner, and ISU isn't strong enough inside yet to pull away in this game. Plus, Tony Freeman and Mike Henderson match up well with ISU's style of play. I really think the whole game comes down to Adam Haluska. If he makes shots from the outside, which Drake and UNI didn't against the Cyclones, the Hawkeyes can still win. But if he disappears again like he did against the Panthers and the crowd gets on him, then I think ISU gets it done by 6-10 points. That's not a prediction, because I think the game is a toss up, but an analysis.
5. So far I must say the Houston Bowl seems to be sending some mixed signals about what it's willing to do to get Cyclone fans to the bowl game. At KXNO and WHO we thought about putting together our own fan trip, and figured the Houston Bowl would want to help us get some of our thousands of listeners down there for the game. They said they couldn't help us. Then we offered to allow them to market their game here on our website, and this they also declined. I'm reminded of what Iowa Cubs G.M. Sam Bernabe likes to say: "empty seats don't buy beer." So, by refusing to help two different entities that reach tons of Cyclone fans here in Iowa each day, the Houston Bowl is certainly employing an interesting marketing strategy. In addition, did you know the Houston Bowl is in HD? That means for what it costs to go to the game you could buy a rather nice HD-TV, watch it at home, and then watch every major sporting event in HD at your house as well. Just something to keep in mind.
Finally, if you're interested in seeing my complete preseason rankings – which were a projection back in July of how the season would end in December – just click on this link:http://iowastate.scout.com/2/397450.html