My selection of Iowa was questioned. A response: It's always bad when you lose a longterm starter at quarterback but Drew Tate didn't exactly play his ass off last year. His departure will be slightly less of a problem. Jake Christensen is the obvious replacement and a highly touted recruit. He'll probably be a dropoff but he's been groomed for a couple years. At RB, I like Albert Young and Damian Sims, especially if Sims can remain healthy, and the WR corps returns intact. Maybe. Pending Dominque Douglas's status after stealing lots of hats.
On defense, Iowa returns everyone on a pretty good defensive line. Brian Mattison is an underrated player; Ken Iwebema is getting some hype as a potential high NFL draft pick, and the tackles are getting to the point where they're actually experienced and large enough to damage people. King and Kroul were just sophomores a year ago, and King showed a lot of promise when he wasn't injured -- infrequently. Two starters return at linebacker and they have some nice recruits there in Jeremiha Hunter and AJ Edds. I will not say anything positive about the secondary. I hate it. It is loatheable.
Also, two things: Iowa was highly, highly negative in TO margin a year ago (111th) and will probably repair that -- Tate was responsible for much of it -- and there was a window in which Ty Willingham was killing ND recruiting and Illinois was still laboring under the pre-Zook ineptness (instead of the very particular Zook ineptness, which has awesome recruiting). This created an opportunity for Iowa to raid a bumper crop of Illinois recruits, who are now juniors entering the starting lineup. I think Iowa has major potential to be the surprise of the season, and not just because they miss OSU and Michigan. But I rated them #2 last year and they are Dead To Me so take it with a grain of salt.
I still hate Penn State #8. I do. I would be more comfortable with them at 12 or 15 or something but I can't find anyone below them I really believe in. I am still skeptical about UL as an actual power team, Oregon was a mess last year and its QB played baseball (and no one else is nearly as enthused as I am anyway), Florida loses nine defensive starters and its quarterback and still has no running game. I dunno. Maybe I should shove them higher just based on recruiting rankings and Meyer's ability to mitigate whatever issues his team has brilliantly. But... man. That's a lot of losses. I also hate to a slightly lesser extent OSU #9 and Wisconsin #11 (down one, I slid UL up), but both teams should have defenses that are at least solid and pounding running attacks that are the potatoes to the meat on the other side of the ball.
I'm still looking for feedback; this ballot is due tomorrow at 10AM but there is a second preseason ballot in a week.