2017 Preseason College Football Coaches Poll Top 25: 5 Things That Matter
The preseason Coaches Poll was released on Thursday. While there is, obviously, a lot of fanfare, here are the topics that matter most in the preseason rankings.
1. Alabama is No. 1 again … duh
Losing to Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game didn’t matter.
Losing four first round draft picks didn’t matter. Losing nine of the top 80 players to the 2017 NFL Draft didn’t matter. Losing ten players to the NFL didn’t matter, and neither did losing Lane Kiffin, losing Steve Sarkisian, or having some concerns about the passing game.
Alabama is No. 1 in yet another preseason Coaches Poll – just like it was last year, in 2013 and 2010. 2008 was the last time the Crimson Tide started out the year outside of the top five – clocking in the top spot in the Others Receiving Votes category – and has been a fixture in the top four over the last several seasons.
There’s plenty of reloading to do on the lines, an alpha dog linebacker has to emerge, and again, there are still a few questions about the consistent downfield passing game, but whatever. It’s Alabama. It’ll all be fine.
However, it also means there isn’t a superstar team out there that’s another obvious choice.
No. 2 Ohio State has a slew of concerns, too, in reloading mode. Florida State might just be the best team, but it still has to prove it hold up against the more physical teams, and USC, Clemson and Penn State aren’t quite up to No. 1 status.
2. Big Ten Love
It didn’t exactly play like it in the bowl season, but the Big Ten came up with the best season of any conference last year – with the ACC a hair behind. In the preseason Coaches Poll, though, it’s getting all the love from the voters.
Ohio State starts out No. 2, defending conference champion Penn State is sixth, Michigan – despite losing everyone – is ninth, and Cotton Bowl champ Wisconsin tenth.
Northwestern is in the Also Receiving Votes category 35th, Nebraska 36th, Minnesota 50th, Iowa 51st, and Michigan State receiving one vote.
Overall, the Big Ten had four teams in the top 25 – again, all in the top ten. The ACC (Florida State 3, Clemson 5, Louisville 17, Miami 18, Virginia Tech 22) has five teams, the Big 12 (Oklahoma 8, Oklahoma State 11, Kansas State 19, West Virginia 20, Texas 23) also has five, the Pac-12 (USC 4, Washington 7, Stanford 14, Utah 25) with four, and the SEC starts out with (Alabama 1, LSU 12, Auburn 13, Georgia 15, Florida 16, Tennessee 24) with six. South Florida is the only aberration from the Power Five conferences, starting out 21st.
3. The early showdowns
The one big positives out of the preseason polls is the hype. It might not mean much in a College Football Playoff era, but it sounds neat when there’s a showdown between a few highly-ranked teams.
And that’s exactly what we’re getting in Week One.
It’s one of the most exciting opening weekends ever, highlighted by preseason No. 1 Alabama dealing with No. 3 Florida State in Atlanta.
No. 9 Michigan and No. 16 Florida play in Arlington, and No. 20 West Virginia faces No. 22 Virginia Tech in Landover.
No. 2 Ohio State has to start out the Big Ten season right away on Thursday night at Indiana and No. 4 USC faces last year’s Group of Five star Western Michigan.
In Week Two. No. 2 Ohio State welcomes No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 5 Clemson hosts No. 13 Auburn, and the Pac-12 season kicks into high gear with No. 4 USC facing No. 14 Stanford.
In the third week, No. 5 Clemson and No. 17 Louisville battle, and No. 18 Miami has a chance to make a statement against No. 3 Florida State.
4. Who is, technically, underrated?
Everyone likes to throw out the idea of someone or something or some team being overrated or underrated, without considering that no one’s technically rating any of those things.
The coaches just rated the top teams – so who’s underrated and who’s overrated?
There’s no glaring issue with the top 25 – Washington is a bit low at seven, though – but UCLA is going to be a whole lot better than it was last year with QB Josh Rosen back and healthy.
The Bruins received just one vote.
Oregon is also going to bounce back, but there wasn’t any love coming from the pollsters who put Willie Taggart’s team 34th in the Also Receiving Votes category.
Minnesota (just six votes) and Iowa (five) will flirt with top 25 status in a hurry. Georgia Tech (ten votes) will be dangerous, North Carolina (eight votes) won’t fall off the map, and North Carolina State (33rd overall with 39 votes) will be a massive problem for the rest of the ACC.
So if those teams are underrated …
5. Who is, technically, overrated?
USC isn’t the fourth-best team in college football, but everyone saw the Rose Bowl, everyone knows Sam Darnold, and everyone likes the brand name. In an improved Pac-12 – especially in a South that was hammered by injuries last season – the Trojans will be good, but they’re not quite as strong as advertised.
Penn State is loaded with experience and talent on both sides of the ball, but 2016 was a magical season that won’t be repeated. No. 6 isn’t that bad or off, but it’s probably around five spots too high.
Colorado is way overrated at 27th overall, especially considering Oregon and UCLA are so far behind the defending Pac-12 South champs. The Buff offense should be fine, but the defense loses a slew of the key parts. Worst of all, again, like USC’s issue, the rest of the division will be better. Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA won’t be as banged up again.
2017 Preseason USA Today Coaches Poll
1. Alabama (49) 1603
2. Ohio State (5) 1512
3. Florida State (4) 1434
4. USC 1415
5. Clemson (7) 1367
6. Penn State 1257
7. Washington 1245
8. Oklahoma 1237
9. Michigan 959
10. Wisconsin 936
11. Oklahoma State 912
12. LSU 834
13. Auburn 819
14. Stanford 732
15. Georgia 701
16. Florida 681
17. Louisville 676
18. Miami 472
19. Kansas State 339
20. West Virginia 319
21. South Florida 247
22. Virginia Tech 235
23. Texas 193
24. Tennessee 155
25. Utah 109
Others receiving votes: Washington State 99; Colorado 72; TCU 58; Boise State 49; Notre Dame 49; Texas A&M 46; Pittsburgh 45; North Carolina State 39; Oregon 37; Northwestern 25; Nebraska 23; Memphis 22; Arkansas 22; Mississippi State 19; San Diego State 18; Appalachian State 11; Brigham Young 10; Georgia Tech 10; Tulsa 10; Wyoming 9; Western Michigan 8; Temple 8; North Carolina 8; Houston 7; Troy 6; Minnesota 6; Iowa 5; Louisiana Tech 4; Syracuse 3; Arizona 2; Army 1; Colorado State 1; Michigan State 1; Maryland 1; Toledo 1; UCLA 1