What is the cheapest commodity in the world? I’m glad you asked, because when most rabid college football fans are asked this question, their eyes get funny and they go silent.
It’s not that they are stupid; they simply don’t know, and neither do most people know because they do not pose the question, and think about an answer.
Since the long-awaited college football season starts next Thursday (8-30-2012), I will save you some time by giving you the answer: it’s opinions.
That said, if you are a crazy, excited college football fan, listen to what Phil Steele says. His No. 1 pick is none other than the Texas Longhorns, who were 13-12 the last two years and ended up unranked. Steele points out that the Longhorns two toughest games this season will be Oklahoma State and the Red River Rivalry with Oklahoma, and that no less than 4 National Champions in the last 12 years have been off 5-loss seasons. Texas was 8-5 last year.
Steele publishes Phil Steele’s College Football Preview, and for the last 14 years he has been the most accurate prognosticator among 12 preseason publications.
Steele predicted that the Top 10 preseason picks this year will be USC, LSU, Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, Georgia, Arkansas, Florida State, South Carolina and Michigan.
This year’s Top 25 Coaches Poll had the same teams among its first 10 picks. Not too shabby for openers, but that’s typical Phil Steele.
Here’s why you should pay attention to what Steele has to say:
In 2000, Steele had Oklahoma as a surprise team. The Sooners were a 50-1 shot to win the national title, but went undefeated and did exactly that. He also picked the Oregon State Beavers, who went 11-1 with a blowout win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
In 2002, he picked the Ohio State Buckeyes, who were not a Top 10 pick coming off a 7-5 season, but won the National Title over Miami-FL in the Fiesta Bowl.
In 2003, he liked an 8-5 LSU team that beat USC for the National Title. USC was Steele’s No. 5 surprise team that year.
In 2004, he picked an unranked Auburn team that would go undefeated but not play in the National Title game.
In 2006, he picked an unranked Boise State team to become the second mid-major team to make it to a BCS bowl game, and the Broncos did so, beating Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, one of the great upset wins in college football history.
In 2007, Steele picked both Ohio State as his No. 4 surprise team and the Buckeyes ended up losing to LSU in the National Title game. He also picked the Hawaii Warriors, who went undefeated in the regular season before losing to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
In 2008, he liked mid-major Utah to make it to a BCS bowl game. The Utes went undefeated at 13-0, beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
In 2010, Steele picked Auburn as his No. 5 surprise team, and the Tigers ran the table at 14-0 and beat Oregon in the National Title game.
Enough about Phil Steele, he is hands down the best at letting you know who the surprise teams are going to be this year.
So Steele’s No. 1 surprise pick this season is Texas, followed by Clemson (#2), Oklahoma State (#3), Wisconsin (#4), Florida (#5), Louisville (#6), Nebraska (#7), Virginia Tech (#8), Michigan State (#9) and Stanford (#10). Two other long shots are Tennessee (#11) and South Florida (#12).
If you are a betting man–or woman–this is information you can use before you start laying down your hard-earned money.
My first stop every year is to go find Phil Steele’s College Football Preview. Steele doesn’t pay me for all this free publicity; I do it because he and his staff of researchers and writers deserve it.