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August 10, 2009
Monday with Mike: Top trios in the nation
Those of us approaching middle age probably have heard "good things come in threes" about, oh, a million times. It probably started when our grandmothers handed us three cookies when we were 4 after we went 10 minutes without knocking something off her shelves.
Since then, we have learned that good things do come in threes, in sports (Tinker to Evers to Chance, the Steel Curtain's Greene, Lambert and Blount, and the Celtics' Bird, McHale and Parish) and music (trios such as Nirvana, The Jam, Husker Du and Cream) and even cheesy sitcoms (Jack, Chrissy and Janet).
In college football this season, five teams have special trios worth bragging about. For the purpose of this exercise, we looked for teams that had stars at the skill positions on offense (sorry, no linemen allowed) or at each level on defense (line, linebacker and secondary).
Here are the five:
1. Oklahoma State
The SEC led the way with five teams in the top 25, including three West Division teams in the top 10 (Alabama at fifth, LSU at ninth and Ole Miss at 10th). The ACC, Big 12 and Pac-10 each had four teams, the Big Ten and Mountain West had three each and the WAC and independent ranks each had one.
Four teams that were unranked at the end of last season are in the preseason poll: LSU, North Carolina at 20th, Nebraska at 22nd and Notre Dame at 23rd. The four teams who enter the season unranked after finishing last season ranked are Cincinnati (17th last season), Michigan State (24th), Missouri (16th) and Texas Tech (12th).
Perhaps the most surprising result in the poll was that Boston College - a team picked to finish last in its division in the ACC - received three votes. BC lost its coach, its projected starting quarterback and its best player in a five-month stretch.
A bit of under-the-radar news last week was that Florida WR Riley Cooper will play his senior season rather than skip it for pro baseball. Why is it a big deal that a guy who caught just 18 passes last season - and has just 30 receptions in his career - is returning to the team? He is the only returning starter at wide receiver for Florida, and he is by far the Gators' best downfield blocker among the receivers. The Gators are loaded with talent, but the situation at wide receiver bears watching. Florida lost its top two receivers, Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy, and the Gators need two or three wide receivers to become consistent playmakers. Junior TE Aaron Hernandez might lead the Gators in receptions, but Tim Tebow needs some targets on the outside he can count on; Cooper, who is his roommate, likely will be one of them.
As a reminder, here are the dates for this season's BCS games: Jan. 1, Rose and Sugar bowls; Jan. 4, Fiesta Bowl; Jan. 5, Orange Bowl; and Jan. 7, BCS title game in Pasadena, Calif.