The Five Most Underrated Teams of 2010

My 2010 preseason rankings analysis has been getting a whole lot of traffic and lots of comments. Of course, everyone who is a fan of a team deliriously believes their team is the best and deserves more recognition. So I’ve decided to do a two part post. First, the most underrated teams. Then, the most overrated. I’ll start by saying it was hard to decide on these teams but I’ll explain why I did and left others out.

5. Uconn

The Huskies lost nearly every game by a score or less last year. When your hardest non-conference game in 2010 is your first week on the road at Michigan, you’ve got a great schedule. They also get West Virginia and Pitt at home this year. They have the schedule to do really, really well, not to mention the skill and coaching. They aren’t really on anyone’s radar though for some reason. The Big East isn’t spectacular, and their non-conference is Michigan, Texas Southern, Temple, Buffalo and Vanderbilt. They have a schedule that could go undefeated, but it’s unlikely they will, as they aren’t that good, but they will surprise you when they are ranked in the top 15 at the end of the year.

4. Wisconsin

Yeah, they will probably be right around top ten in the preseason polls. So why is no one talking about them? They beat up on Miami in their bowl game last year. They always have a stout running game. The reason is they play Ohio State and Iowa this year in the Big Ten. So what? Ohio State is consistently overrated and Iowa is not as good as people think they are. They got lucky far too often last year. They were not as good as their record reflected. This year will prove it. If Wisconsin wins one of those two, then Michigan State is the only one left on that schedule that poses a threat to going nearly undefeated. Don’t be shocked if the Badgers end up in the Rose Bowl this year.

3. Washington

Jake Locker is the man. This kid can flat out play. And now he has a coach that can flat out win. Big win over USC last year. Chances are with Cal always in limbo, Oregon down, USC down and no one else really there to steal the conference, Washington could end up in a Rose Bowl. Here’s their biggest hurdle: two non-conference games, BYU and Nebraska. They get Stanford and Oregon State at home this year, two teams that could also contend for the Pac-10 title. They have talent, experience and coaching. Can they overcome the tough schedule? We’ll have to see.

2. Michigan State

The Spartans had a rough year with half the team getting suspended last year. If they stay healthy and in tact, this team could be the biggest surprise in the Big Ten. I’m sure Ohio State is already making reservations for the Rose Bowl, but they might want to hold off on those plane tickets. Michigan State has a very reasonable chance of making it to Pasadena this season. Here’s what they have going for them: no Ohio State on the schedule, Wisconsin at home, and a non-conference consisting of Western Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Notre Dame and Northern Colorado. It doesn’t get much better than that. Season closer on the road at Penn State could have a ton of BCS implications.

1. Navy

10 wins last season. Nearly beat Ohio State on the road. Don’t worry, it gets better. Want to hear their schedule this year? Maryland, Georgia Southern, Louisiana Tech, Air Force, Wake Forest, SMU, Notre Dame, Duke, East Carolina, Central Michigan, Arkansas State, Army. Yup, that’s it. Is there any reasonable way you can see these guys losing? The Notre Dame jinx is over, Central Michigan lost their best player of all time, East Carolina lost their best coach of all time, and you can see the rest of the list. I don’t know why more people aren’t thinking the Midshipmen could go undefeated this year. This is their best chance to do it if they’re going to. Of course, they’ll get the Boise State treatment and not go anywhere even if they do go undefeated, simply for the schedule. However, with a good team, a good coach and a favorable schedule, you better believe these guys have a great shot at a top ten ranking by season’s end.

Now, honorable mention. Here’s the teams that are getting some hype, but probably not as much as they deserve: Nebraska, North Carolina, Stanford, Arkansas, TCU and Auburn. Yes, they’re getting attention, but my guess is every team mentioned in the top 5 and honorable mention will end the season ranked higher than where they started.

Stay tuned for the overrated teams!