You never want to wish the summer away, but this season can't really get here soon enough. We know that, despite seeing a quite a few great teams over the past seven years, this one could be special. The guys getting paid to put together rankings seem to agree as virtually every pre-preseason poll has the Buckeyes or Georgia in the top spot.
But what does Vegas think? The Money Line Journal compared summer rankings to current odds and showed that while the press may be all about the Buckeyes and Bulldogs, the guys setting the odds like a few other teams better. USC is the favorite at 3-1, while the Florida Gators have the 2nd best odds at 6-1. Oklahoma is 3rd at 8-1, while Georgia and Ohio State round out the top five at 9-1 and 10-1 respectively.
One thing to keep in mind is that the odds don't necessarily represent a team's full worth. The Buckeyes have the fifth-best odds to win the championship, but they could easily be the second-best team in the nation. The fact that they have to go on the road to the team with the best odds is most certainly playing a factor on their number. Either way -- the winner of the Battle of Los Angeles on September 13th will not only sit atop the polls, but will also be the team with the new best odds to win the championship.
If Vegas isn't your thing in terms of indicators, screenshots revealing top player rankings for EA's NCAA Football 09 are out and the Buckeyes and Trojans are both stacked. Laurinaitis registers a 99 overall rating, Beanie a 97, Jenkins, Boone and Freeman are 96s while Rehring and Lawrence Wilson close out the top seven with a 95 and 94, respectively.
While I'm not sold on Rehring at 95, this is a partial list of guys that weren't good enough to make the first screen: Robiskie, Coleman, Washington, Chekwa, Hartline, Cordle, Boeckman, Saine and Heyward. Scary, huh?
In the minds of EA, the Buckeyes are slightly better than USC, as the Trojans only have three players with a rating of 95 or better to the Buckeyes' six. Linebacker Ray Maualuga is a 98 -- and he's given me enough nightmares to earn it. All-American safety Taylor Mays is a 96 and tackle Fili Moala is a 95. The Trojans' second beast of a linebacker, Brian Cushing checks in with a 94 rating.
What's interesting about this Trojan team and it's nicely illustrated in the player rating graphic, is the fact that most of USC's talent is on the defensive side of the ball. McKnight is electrifying and Sanchez will be good (if not right away), but that defense could be the best unit the Buckeyes go against since the BCS Championship victory over Miami.
(Odds link via Get the Picture)