The college football season is now officially less than four weeks away, with a small handful of schools already in fall camp in preparation for Week 0. As the season draws closer and closer by the day, the anticipation for one of college football’s great summer traditions is approaching. That’s right, the preseason top 25 poll form the Associated Press. The AP Top 25 preseason poll will be released on Aug. 19, with the preseason All-America team being announced the next day.
There are many criticisms of preseason polls that could be getting louder each year, but the polls coming out before the season are not going anywhere. They are as much a part of the tradition of college football as anything else can be in the offseason. It generates discussion and debates that really have no purpose other than to attract readers and comments and maybe some phone calls to certain radio shows who follow college football instead of NFL training camps and baseball pennant chases as much.
The biggest question for this year’s preseason poll may be how the first-place votes are split between defending national champion Clemson and Alabama. The two programs were the top two teams in the preseason poll last year, with Alabama taking the top spot in the preseason AP Top 25 for the third straight season. After last year’s national championship game, it would seem Alabama’s streak will come to an end with the Tigers getting the preseason No. 1 designation.
Here’s a refresher on how last year’s preseason AP Top 25 looked when it was released, and how each team ended the season (all rankings used are AP rankings at end of the season):
- Alabama (No. 2, 14-1, SEC champion, national championship game runner-up)
- Clemson: (No. 1, 15-0, ACC champion, national champion)
- Georgia (No. 7, 11-3, SEC East champion, lost Sugar Bowl)
- Wisconsin (8-5, won Pinstripe Bowl)
- Ohio State (No. 3, 13-1, Big Ten champion, won Rose Bowl)
- Washington (No. 13, 10-4, Pac-12 champion, lost Rose Bowl)
- Oklahoma (No. 4, 12-2, Big 12 champion, lost CFP semifinal)
- Miami (7-6, lost Pinstripe Bowl)
- Auburn (8-5, won Music City Bowl)
- Penn State (No. 17, lost Citrus Bowl)
- Michigan State (7-6, lost Redbox Bowl)
- Notre Dame (No. 5, 12-1, lost CFP semifinal)
- Stanford (9-4, won Sun Bowl)
- Michigan (No. 14, 10-3, lost Peach Bowl)
- USC (5-7)
- TCU (7-6, won Cheez-It Bowl)
- West Virginia (No. 20, 8-4, lost Camping World Bowl)
- Mississippi State (8-5, lost Outback Bowl)
- Florida State (5-7)
- Virginia Tech (6-7, lost Military Bowl)
- UCF (No. 11, AAC champion, lost Fiesta Bowl)
- Boise State (No. 23, 10-3, bowl game suspended due to weather)
- Texas (No. 9, 10-4, won Sugar Bowl)
- Oregon (9-4, won Redbox Bowl)
- LSU (No. 6, 10-3, won Fiesta Bowl)
Among the biggest misses in the 2018 preseason top 25 had to be USC and Florida State. The Trojans and Seminoles each missed out on the postseason. Virginia Tech would have been there too if they weren’t able to reschedule a game at the end of the regular season to preserve the bowl streak. But Wisconsin and Miami were each top 10 teams in the AP poll and they ended up playing each other in the Pinstripe Bowl at the end of the year. Penn State was a top 10 preseason team too and ended the year with four losses. At least the Nittany Lions managed to stay ranked. The same was not true for Auburn, who started the year in the top 10 and ended the season with five losses.
some notable omissions from last year’s preseason top 25 include Washington State (No. 10 in final AP poll with 11-2 record), Kentucky (No. 12, 10-3), and Syracuse (No. 15, 10-3). Fresno State (No. 18, 12-2) soared past Boise State in the Mountain West, and Cincinnati (No. 24, 11-2) maneuvered their way into the top 25 as well. Army (No. 19, 11-2) also proved worthy of votes as the year went along.
Use this as a reminder that when the preseason poll comes out, it really means very little in the long run. either Alabama or Clemson is going to be No. 2, in all likelihood, and that’s perfectly acceptable. Both teams should be great this year. At least one Big Ten and SEC team will be completely overhyped to start the year that may end up looking silly down the road. UCF fans will cry foul and feel disrespected by the voters, and odds are the voters will pair of UCF and Boise State in the poll.
Let the overreaction to preseason polls commence!