It’s the most wonderful time of the year, college football preview magazine time! Yes, this is the time of year when companies start going to printers to publish the annual college football preseason magazines that have become an annual tradition keeping many attached to the old, traditional paper medium to get our college football fix. There is just something nostalgic about flipping through the pages, wondering which team will be ranked next. Many college football fans dare not to leave on a vacation without a copy of their favorite preseason annual, myself included.
But how accurate are those preseason magazines anyway?
Comparing the top ten rankings between Phil Steele, Athlon Sports and Lindy’s shows some similar trends in thinking, as well as some significant misses by each. In the end, there is always going to be something that nobody sees coming at the time of publication, such as Georgia’s rash of injuries or Notre Dame losing a starting QB from a BCS Championship contender the previous season. For that, every preseason magazine should get a free pass, maybe two, when it comes to standing by the preseason rankings.
All three preview magazines here predicted Alabama and Ohio State to play for the BCS Championship, and that came close to happening until the final couple of weeks of the regular season. After that we see some mixed results, but Phil Steele had Florida State ready to slide into the championship mix when few others did.
2. Ohio State
3. Florida State
8. Oklahoma State
10. Notre Dame
Steele swung and missed on Texas and USC, but Alabama and Ohio State looked solid until the final game each played before the bowl season.
2. Ohio State
5. South Carolina
8. Notre Dame
9. Texas A&M
Athlon Sports missed the mark on Florida State, although they were not necessarily wrong about Clemson. Athlon ranked Florida State at No. 15 in the preseason ranking.
2. Ohio State
5. Texas A&M
9. South Carolina
Lindy’s also whiffed on Florida State while banking on Clemson out of the ACC and going heavy on SEC contenders. Lindy’s was a tad more optimistic about Florida State than Athlon Sports, ranking the Seminoles No. 13. Both Athlon Sports and Lindy’s were much more pessimistic about the Longhorns than Phil Steele, with each listing Texas at No. 18.
For a more comprehensive look at how underrated or overrated teams were in these preview magazines and more, check out this database comparing and contrasting preseason ranking with final AP ranking. Auburn, not surprisingly, stunned everyone, as did Missouri. Florida, Texas and Georgia ended up being the biggest disappointments for a variety of reasons.