Preseason poll brings plenty of questions
On Thursday, the Amway Preseason College Football Coaches Poll was released, and the debate over who was ranked too high and too low began in earnest.
For the most part, there weren’t any glaring mistakes, but certainly, there are teams that are mystifyingly all aboard on the hype train, while a few others are flying under the radar.
Here’s 1-25: 1. Clemson; 2. Alabama; 3. Georgia; 4. Oklahoma; 5. Ohio State; 6. LSU; 7. Michigan; 8. Florida; 9. Notre Dame; 10. Texas; 11. Texas A&M; 12. Washington; 13. Oregon; 14. Penn State; 15. Utah; 16. Auburn; T-17. Wisconsin, UCF; 19. Iowa; 20. Michigan State; 21. Washington State; 22. Syracuse; 23. Stanford; 24. Iowa State; 25. Northwestern
Let’s dive in.
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Everybody’s chasing Clemson and Alabama
The Tigers have joined the Crimson Tide among the very best in college football, including a drubbing of Nick Saban’s team in the national title game, thanks to an NFL defensive line and future No. 1 overall pick, quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Both teams are loaded again this season, and it would surprise most, my self included if they weren’t back in the 4-team playoff once again.
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Ranked too generously
No. 7 Michigan: Jim Harbaugh is a great builder of programs, but his teams have typically underachieved in big games. This Michigan squad is good, but color me skeptical. If last season’s 62-39 drubbing in the regular-season finale against Ohio State isn’t enough reason to give pause, I don’t know what is.
No. 8 Florida: Dan Mullen won 10 games in his first season in Gainesville, but this is still a team with serious question marks on the offensive side of the ball, and it will probably take another recruiting class or two to rectify that. They are good, but I’m not sure if they’re Top 10 good.
No. 11 Texas A&M: Jimbo Fisher won nine games in his first season in College Station, but this year’s schedule is absolutely brutal, with games against Clemson and Alabama on the docket, as well as road contests against Georgia and LSU to close out the regular season. They aren’t to that level yet.
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Teams Outside the Top 10 that could make a run at the playoff
No. 13 Oregon: The Ducks return their entire offensive line, as well as quarterback Justin Herbert, who could potentially be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft. They will be tested right away against Auburn in Week 1, but have the talent to not only win the Pac 12 but get into the playoff.
No. 14 Penn State: The Nittany Lions will boast one of the top defenses in the country, led by future first-round picks DE Yetur Gross-Matos and LB Micah Parsons. The key will be quarterback Sean Clifford, who replaces record-setting 3-year starter Trace McSorley.
No. 22 Syracuse: This is a long shot, but I am a big believer in Syracuse coach Dino Babers who helped lead the Orange to 10 wins last season. The rest of the ACC outside of Clemson has plenty of question marks, and ‘Cuse has played the Tigers tough each of the last two seasons.
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No. 5 Ohio State: Yes, they have a new head coach (Ryan Day) and a new quarterback Justin Fields), but this roster is once again loaded with NFL talent. If they do slip up, I don’t expect it to be drastic.
No. 9 Notre Dame: The Irish have plenty of talent returning. Road games against Georgia, Michigan and Stanford will tell the tale of their season.