2017 Preseason AP Poll
- Alabama (52)
- Ohio State (3)
- Florida State (4)
- USC (2)
- Penn State
- Oklahoma State
- Miami (FL)
- South Florida
- Kansas State
- Virginia Tech
- West Virginia
- Washington State
With just a couple of days away from the start of the 2017 College Football season, the Associated Press released their first rankings of the season earlier this week. The AP Poll will be the official rankings of the college football season until Week 9 on October 31st when the first College Football Playoff rankings are released.
The rankings start off with the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide, who received 52 (of 61) first-place votes. Finishing off the top five spots are the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes with 3 first-place votes, the #3 Florida State Seminoles with 4 first-place votes, the #4 USC Trojans with 2 first-place votes, and the reigning National Champion Clemson Tigers at #5. The top ten is rounded out as follows: #6 Penn State, #7 Oklahoma, #8 Washington, #9 Wisconsin, and #10 Oklahoma State.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are #1 in the poll for the fourth time since 2010. Each time the Tide has been ranked 1st in the preseason poll, they have usually underperformed. In 2010 they finished tenth, 2013 they finished seventh, and last season after losing in the National Championship game against Clemson they finished second. Putting Clemson at #5 is interesting when they are the reigning National Champions, but at the same time there are signs they are in a rebuilding season and Florida State is the favorite to win the ACC.
If the College Football playoffs were today, the two semifinal games would be #1 Alabama vs. #4 USC and #2 Ohio State vs. #3 Florida State. The first two out would be #5 Clemson and #6 Penn State.
The conference with the most teams in the opening poll is the SEC with six teams. Both the ACC & Big 12 are tied for second most with five teams each. The Big Ten & the PAC-12 each have four teams in the polls. The only team from a non-AQ playoff conference in the rankings is #19 South Florida from the American Conference.
Teams Ranked Too High:
#11 Michigan Wolverines
There is a lot of potential for the Wolverines offense in head coach Jim Harbaugh’s second year with Michigan. However, the Wolverines defense is a different story. Weakside linebacker Mike McCray, the team leader in tackles (76) and interceptions (2) is the only returner on defense. The inexperience will of this unit be hard to deal with when competing against some of the nation’s most talented offenses. Michigan also has a tough schedule, as they play at #6 Penn State, against #17 Florida (in Arlington), at #9 Wisconsin, and finally a home game against #2 Ohio State. Despite a strong recruiting year, Michigan could have trouble dealing with the inexperience.
#17 Florida Gators
For the past two seasons, the Florida Gators have been to the SEC Championship as winners of the East Division. This season, the Gators are predicted to finish second in the East behind the Georgia Bulldogs. The Gators’ offense has been inconsistent due to the fact that they can’t find a quarterback to run their offense efficiently. With a quarterback competition on-going, Florida is scrambling to decide between freshman Feleipe Franks or Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire. With three SEC losses last season, the Gators were inconsistent. Now with only three defensive starters returning, the Gators will have little more to improve. The schedule for the Gators will be tougher than last year with games against #11 Michigan (in Arlington, Texas), at Kentucky, Texas A&M, at South Carolina, and #3 Florida State.
Teams Ranked Too Low:
#16 Louisville Cardinals
Putting the Cardinals at a low spot with the huge potential and star-playing ability they have returning is questionable. Looking to make a run in his eighth season as head coach, Bobby Petrino is quite happy with the offseason of his team and their potential. The first big news for Louisville is that their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson is back for his junior season. Last season Jackson accounted for 5,114 total yards (3,543 passing, 1,571 rushing) and 51 total touchdowns (30 passing, 21 rushing). On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Jaire Alexander was named as a preseason All-American by the AP. With the potential of Clemson on a rebuilding year, it could leave room for the Cardinals to beat out Florida State and win the ACC.
#6 Penn State Nittany Lions
Last year was a mess when it came to deciding the winner of the Big Ten conference and who would move into the last spot in the 2016 College Football playoffs. Penn State won the East division by beating Ohio State. The Lions also won the Big Ten conference championship game against Wisconsin. The Ohio State Buckeyes went to the CFB playoffs because they only had one loss (as opposed to two losses by Penn State). Ohio State participated in one of the most embarrassing CFB playoff games in a 31-0 loss to Clemson. Penn State on the other hand, lost 52-49 in a fantastic Rose Bowl game against USC.
This year, Penn State is already showing why they should be worthy of playoff talk. They have one of the best running backs in the nation in Preseason All-American running back Saquon Barkley (1,496 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns last year), and they have had some great stability on their team throughout the offseason. While it may be tough to rank Penn State above anyone else, all the experts are liking the Nittany Lions chances this playoff.
Questionable Top 25 Teams:
#23 Texas Longhorns
The Longhorns have already started a very good process of rebuilding since they fired Charlie Strong as the head coach. Former Houston Cougars coach Tom Herman took over, and has provided a much-needed great offseason to the Longhorns football program. However, to put Texas at #23 is an overstretch. This is primarily the same team that just last season accounted for a 5-7 record. Outside of the departure of running back D’Onta Foreman, the offense looks to be solid. On defense, the Longhorns do return ten defensive starters, but that unit was responsible for their 90th ranked scoring defense (31.5 points allowed per game). This Texas defense will take some time getting adjusted to their new leadership.
#25 Tennessee Volunteers
The SEC East has been a mess for years now, as there usually isn’t a clear winner until late in the season. This is due to the fact that the teams in the East are so inconsistent. Last season, with QB Josh Dobbs, RB Jalen Hurd, RB Alvin Kamara, WR Josh Malone, DE Derek Barnett, and CB Cameron Sutton all on a team together, there was much hype around the Volunteers football program. Tennessee underperformed in wins, and lost games against Texas A&M, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt. The Volunteers were 68th in the nation in points allowed per game (28.8) and 104th in rushing yards per game (218.5). If last year was a team where high NFL Draft talent couldn’t accomplish their goals, what will happen this year?
Early matchups of the ranked teams:
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #3 Florida State Seminoles (Atlanta, GA) – 9/2
#11 Michigan Wolverines vs. #17 Florida Gators (Arlington, TX) – 9/2
#22 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #21 Virginia Tech Hokies (Landover, MD) – 9/3