Preseason polls; 2003 CFB opener on August 23

ES discusses the preseason polls, the 2003 college football opener, teams to watch, and other items in his most recent addition to SI. Whatever happened to Big Red? ES investigates. Plus: Find out who takes home the 2003 Cupcake award.

(6/17/03) -- The ES has taken a look at the eight major national preseason previews out there, and the top 25 has remained about the same as after the first four previews. Again, if a team ain’t rated in a pubs’ Top 25, the ES gives it a 26. Oklahoma, Ohio State, Miami are the top three. No surprises, there. Here's the Top25 Publicity Polls as of June 17:

#-Team, Pts
1-Oklahoma, 13.0
2-Ohio St, 17.0
3-Miami, 24.0
4-Auburn, 41.0
5-Texas, 45.0
6-Kansas St, 54.0
7-Va Tech, 70.0
8-Michigan, 72.0
9-USC, 77.0
10-Georgia, 82.0
11-Pittsburgh, 82.0
12-NC St, 108.0
13-Maryland, 109.0
14-Washington, 126.0
15-Virginia, 129.0
16-Tennessee, 138.0
17-Fla St, 140.0
18-LSU, 149.0
19-ND, 155.0
20-Arizona St, 164.0
21-Purdue, 171.0
22-Wisconsin, 177.0
23-Alabama, 179.0
24-Texas A&M, 183.0
25-Oregon St, 186.0

Michigan State has been ranked in the low 40s – and ninth in the conference (ahead of NW and Indy) -- in both Athlon and Lindy; expect that trend to continue across the board.

Question: When and who will play in the 2003 college football season opener?

Answer: There are two games, both on Saturday, August 23. Grambling (I-AA) at San Jose State, 6:00 PM ET. and California at Kansas State, 7:45 PM ET. The ES is putting his money on the Spartans and the Wildcats. The ES lists the Silicon Implants as a 10-point favorite over Eddie’s Boys, and the Farmers as a 15-point fave over the Pot Smokers.

Teams to watch in 2003: Auburn, Pittsburgh, Arizona State.

Auburn’s schedule resembles Georgia’s schedule last season; its tailor made to take them to the SEC title game. Watch Auburn open vs. Southern Cal at home on Aug. 30; the Tigers also have home tilts against W. Kentucky (I-AA), Tennessee, Mississippi St. Louisiana-Monroe, Ole Miss, and ‘Bama. Potential pitfalls are at Arkansas, LSU and Georgia.

Pittsburgh has a DREAM schedule, with all of its toughest contests at home. Pitt plays Notre Dame, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Miami all in the Steel City. Watch the Panthers beat Miami this fall in the season finale. Potential pitfalls: at Texas A&M and at West Virginia.

Arizona State’s conference schedule puts them at the top with USC in the Pac10 leaderboard. The Devils host SC, Oregon, Cal, and Arizona at home. Key matchups: at Iowa and at Oregon State. Don’t be surprised to see ASU go 10-2 this fall.

Kansas State wins 2003 Cupcake Award

The Wildcats once again win the award for scheduling Crippled And Weak University throughout the fall to pad its win total. Watch the ‘Cats take Troy State, Massachusetts, and McNeese State to the woodshed in September. Schedule these teams on the hardwood, not the gridiron. Shame on you, Kansas State. And, KSU has NINE home games; it should be 5-0 by the time it travels to Texas on October 4. Don’t be surprised to see KSU go 11-2, with road games at Texas (loss), Oklahoma State (toss-up), Iowa State (win), and Nebraska (win).

Whatever happened to the Big Red?

Nebraska isn’t even listed in the Top 25 in any of the preseason mags so far. The Huskers have seven home games, opening with Oklahoma State on August 30. Probable wins include: home games vs. Utah State, Troy State, Iowa State, and on the road at Southern Miss and at Kansas. Probable losses include: home vs. Penn State, away at Texas and at Colorado. That’s a 5-3 record heading into the toss-up games: home vs. Texas A&M and Kansas State, away at Missouri and at Colorado. Nebraska could be as good as 9-3 or as poor as 5-7. Don’t be surprised to see Solich being kicked out the door at year’s end. The ES is loving seeing Nebraska on the skids. Every dog has their day.

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