The preseason Coaches Poll was released on Thursday. While there is, obviously, a lot of fanfare, here are the topics that matter most with the preseason rankings.
Alabama is No. 1
They don’t have a quarterback, they lose most of their star defensive linemen, they don’t have the normal depth at running back after losing a Heisman-winner and a star backup, and yet they’re still the top-ranked team in college football. The Crimson Tide got the love and respect from the coaches who assume The Process will just keep on rolling, even though No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Oklahoma, and No. 4 Florida State are loaded with more veteran talent.
Where are the quarterbacks?
Deshaun Watson is back for No. 2 Clemson, and Baker Mayfield returns for the No. 3 Sooners, but three of the top five teams – assuming Sean Maguire isn’t starting for Florida State – and five of the top eight teams will likely have a new starter under center. Call those situations the college football X factors this season – the team with the best new starting quarterback could rise up the rankings in a hurry.
How do the Power 5 conferences stack up?
The SEC rules the roost with six teams in the preseason top 25 (No. 1 Alabama, No. 6 LSU, No. 10 Tennessee, No. 12 Ole Miss, No. 16 Georgia & No. 25 Florida). The Big Ten brings four into the season (No. 5 Ohio State, No. 8 Michigan, No. 11 Michigan State, No. 15 Iowa) as does the Pac-12 (No. 7 Stanford, No. 17 USC, No. 18 Washington, No. 24 UCLA) Big 12 (No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 14 TCU, No. 19 Oklahoma State, No. 21 Baylor) and ACC (No. 2 Clemson, No. 4 Florida State, No. 20 North Carolina and No. 23 Louisville).
Who didn’t get any love?
Wisconsin beat No. 17 USC to end last season, returns a healthy Corey Clement, and should be stronger than last season, yet the Badgers were put in the Also Receiving Votes category at No. 27.
Boise State is technically 29th even though it’ll be a rock-solid lock to win double-digit games and be deep in the hunt for an unbeaten season. San Diego State is 35th and comes back even better after winning the Mountain West last year.
Four of last year’s conference champions – Western Kentucky, San Diego State, Bowling Green and Louisiana-Lafayette didn’t get into the top 25 – the Falcons and Ragin’ Cajuns didn’t receive a single vote.
What Does This All REALLY Mean?
That depends on how much stock you put into a preseason poll, especially one voted on by coaches who are generally only interested in their own teams – or at least the ones they’ll face.
Here are the top 25 teams in the 2016 preseason Coaches Poll:
4. Florida State
5. Ohio State
9. Notre Dame
11. Michigan State
12. Ole Miss
19. Oklahoma State
20. North Carolina