So, the coaches voted, and based on arbitrary assumptions, ranked the top 25 teams in the country. There is an odd discontinuity here as some teams were rewarded for their postseason performance and some were punished for attrition, others were not.
Let’s get to it, in order.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
First thing, and most important, if you win in all, you deserve to be number one going into the following season. That aside, Ohio State returns all three stud signal callers (well, 2, if Miller goes to H-back), with Joey Bosa and Zeke Elliott each a year older, the fact that they have the best coach in football notwithstanding. 1st, with cause, and ought to be unanimous.
2. TCU Horned Frogs
This feels like a consolation prize for being left out of the Playoff. TCU fans have been salty and uppity about their “snub” since it happened. They have whined about brand name and cited handpicked stats to support their grievance. Oddly, they haven’t blamed Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who is deserving of the blame. He screwed TCU and Baylor both when he refused to pick a champion last year. The conference with “One True Champion” as its motto had co-champions in the first year of the slogan’s adoption. Hilarious. All this doesn’t even make a mention of the fact that TCU would’ve been behind Baylor in selection since BAYLOR BEAT THEM HEAD TO HEAD! Still, TCU will be good again this year, but they’re not worthy of being considered the second best team in the country. Coach Patterson and QB Trevone Boykin make a deadly combination. TCU is overrated by about 2 spots here. They should be 4th.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
Third is ok. Two would be better. Alabama has Nick Saban for a coach, stud running backs, and at the perennial team to beat in the SEC West (sorry, Auburn), the toughest division in college football. They reload every year and will have yet another running back in contention for the Doak Walker and possibly the Heisman. Plus, they have a lot of ammunition from getting embarrassed by Ohio State last year. From the looks of things, Alabama has a good shot at a rematch. They should be second.
4. Baylor Bears
Shawn Oakman is terrifying. In fact, he’s scary enough that I fear for my life for not ranking Baylor first. Still, fourth is at least two spots too high. Baylor should have been crowned the champion of the Big 12, and may have actually gotten in the Playoff over Ohio State. Woulda, shoulda, coulda. Still, as long as they don’t have another dog of a loss to a team like WVU, they may get in the Playoff this year. Of course, beating TCU will be markedly more difficult this year. Baylor should be 6th.
5. Oregon Ducks
Oregon is one of those teams that was oddly not punished for attrition. They lost Mariota to the NFL. That alone should take you out of the top five. They play in a soft conference so they should still be one of the top teams, but 5th best in the country is a little beyond pushing it. Oregon should be 8th.
6. Michigan State Spartans
I don’t understand how Sparty isn’t ranked higher coming off a great Rose Bowl win while returning so many players, including star QB Connor Cook. I expect MSU to thrive and to be tough to beat for anyone in-conference, including Ohio State. Plain and simple, this should be the third best team in the country on paper. Sparty should be 3rd.
7. Auburn Tigers
All the Auburn voters must not have paid attention during last year’s Outback Bowl. Auburn lost. It’s one thing to make the Playoff and lose, it’s another entirely to fritter away a game against a team that is good, but not as good as you are. Further, although we know Georgia will find a way to piss away a winnable game, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be in the poll as the second best SEC team. Auburn is overrated here, but adding Muschamp as DC will bolster a defense that was seriously lacking in creativity. Auburn should be 11th, but stand to likely improve that spot. They were a 5 loss team last year.
8. Florida State Seminoles
We have a winner, ladies and gentlemen, in the list of teams that voters didn’t punish for attrition. No team has lost more incredible players in the past two years than FSU. Their 2013 team should go down as one of the best teams in college football history. Now, that entire offense and a lot of that defense is in the NFL. I know FSU gets athletes like crazy, but there’s a lot of inexperience on this team. No way they should be a top ten team to start this year. Now, by adding Golson to Jimbo’s offense, they could be all-world again. But it’s just “could” at this point, especially with tons of analysts picking Clemson to win the ACC and having to possibly play Georgia Tech twice, a team that crushed a one-time-number-one Mississippi State team in the Orange Bowl. FSU should be 12th, but if they run it or survive with only one loss, they should make the Playoff again.
9. Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia is underrated on paper, but ninth isn’t fair considering the losses to Georgia Tech and Florida were both rivalry games, albeit games where Georgia had a streak going. And, this seems to not take into account the demolition of a good Louisville team in their bowl game last year. Georgia returns a ton, especially considering they will have Nick Chubb carrying the mail. Georgia is the odds on favorite to win the SEC East. They should be ranked 5th until they find a way to “Georgia” a winnable game this fall.
10. USC Trojans
Is this real? The Trojans aren’t even the best team in LA. They have no business being ranked above UCLA, much less Clemson, Georgia Tech, Arizona State, or Ole Miss. Just no. USC is staring down the barrel of five conference losses this year. Give me a break. This is brand name obsession at its finest.
My Preseason Top Ten
- Ohio State
- Michigan State
- Georgia Tech
As I mentioned, this is about end of season performance and attrition. These are paper rankings. There’s a reason we play the games.