The Worst Preseason No. 1 Teams in College Football History

Dan VastaSenior Writer IIIJune 8, 2012

The Worst Preseason No. 1 Teams in College Football History

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    We hardly see the number one preseason team end up hoisting the crystal ball when the college football season comes to an end.

    In fact, that has happened just twice in the BCS era as Florida State was the first to go wire-to-wire in 1999 until USC accomplished such an impossible task in 2004.

    However, many might be thinking what are the chances of the top ranked team in August to fall flat on their faces?

    Actually, the numbers are completely one-sided in that it is very rare for a top ranked team in August to even finish the season ranked outside the top 10.

    So, looking back since the first year the Heisman Trophy was handed out (1935, Jay Berwanger-Chicago), here are your worst preseason number one teams in college football history.

    Note: These teams are not necessarily putrid, they just happened to have the least amount of success in comparison to all the other number one teams that had a lot of success. Also, these rankings are used from the Associated Press Poll.

Oklahoma 2011: Final Rank: No. 16

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    The Sooners were the top ranked team in America one season ago and they had the looks of becoming a legit BCS title contender with the weapons they had on both sides of the ball.

    Landry Jones had a bevy of weapons at wide receiver, but injuries really started to add up towards the end of the season. Throw in the emergence of Baylor's Robert Griffin III as well as Oklahoma State's unstoppable offense and there was no wonder the Sooners lost three games.

    Still, a 10-3 finish and another top 20 finish for Bob Stoops just makes you feel as if the Boomer Sooners are spoiled since they are accustomed to achieving so much success.

Georgia 2008: Final Rank: No. 13

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    Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno were a fine duo in the SEC back in 2008, and they had a speedy defense to lockdown arguably any school in the country.

    However, that defense had issues slowing down the likes of Alabama, Florida and Georgia Tech. 

    The team was not a joke at any point during the season, but they never quite lived up to the hype as the gauntlet of an SEC schedule bit them a few too many times.

    It was nice however to see them finish up their season with a postseason victory over Michigan State 24-12.

Penn State 1997: Final Rank: No. 16

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    Penn State had a solid 9-3 season, but many had anticipated a BCS title in their future since they were ranked number one for the preseason.

    Penn State lost to Michigan and Michigan State by a combined score of 83-22 and those two losses dropped them from atop the polls all the way down to No. 11 heading into their bowl game.

    That was actually a kind ranking because they were once again exposed against a speedy squad as the Gators defeated them 21-6 in Citrus Bowl.

    The AP dubbed them in their finals polls at No. 16, which ranks among the more recent disappointing top ranked squads to start the season.

    Notable NFL Draftees: Curtis Enis, Joe Jurevicius, Phil Ostrowski

Auburn 1984: Final Rank: No. 14

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    It was Bo Jackson's junior season and it was by far his worst season from a production standpoint while  he was an Auburn Tiger.

    Jackson rushed for only 5 TDs, but this is a team game and his Tigers' were the top ranked team heading into the season.

    The problems started right away as both No. 14 Miami FL and No. 4 Texas defeated them in the opening two weeks of the season.

    Both losses were y single digits and Auburn would bounce back by winning seven straight until the Gators beat them up 24-3.

    They then lost to Alabama before they finished their season on a strong note with a Liberty Bowl victory over Arkansas, 21-15.

    The Tigers went 9-4 and finished the final AP poll at No. 14.

Ohio State 1980: Final Rank: No. 15

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    The Buckeyes came into the 1980 season as the top ranked team, but they suffered a few close losses that diminished their season quite a bit.

    Ohio State dropped to second in the polls despite winning their first three games by a solid margin (74 points). Instead Alabama moved up to number one, but the point was moot once the Buckeyes were upset at home by No. 20 UCLA 17-0.

    The men from Columbus would bounce back before Michigan defeated them (9-3) to cap off the regular season.

    Ranked just outside the top 10 entering their Fiesta Bowl matchup with Arizona State, the Sun Devils knocked them off as well (31-19) and Ohio State fell down to No. 15 in the final polls.

Notre Dame 1971: Final Rank: No. 13

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    Walt Patulski ended up finishing ninth in the final Heisman Trophy voting, but Notre Dame was never quite able to live up the preseason hype that they were labeled with.

    They had a solid season going 10-2, but most had expected them not to lose a single game that season. USC and LSU both beat them by a few touchdowns in 1971.

    Ara Parseghian did win a national title for the Irish five seasons prior in 1966, but he made up for the disappointing '71 season by winning another national championship in 1973. 

Ole Miss 1964: Final Rank: Unranked

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    The Ole Miss Rebels were the top ranked squad heading into the season, but they ended up being nothing more than an average SEC squad.

    Finishing the season unranked was tough to endure, but the team ended up going 2-4-1 in the SEC while going 5-5-1 overall.

USC 1963: Final Rank: No. 16 (Coaches)

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    The USC Trojans ended up going 7-3 with John McKay as the head coach, but a No. 16 rankings in the final Coaches Poll did not make the season a complete failure.

    They ended up winning the final three games of their season, which included wins over Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA.

Iowa 1961: Final Rank: Unranked

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    Coming off a sensational 8-1 season in which they won a share of the Big Ten conference, the Iowa Hawkeyes were ranked as the top team in the country heading into the season.

    Iowa went from first to seventh that season thanks to a 2-4 and 5-4 overall season in 1961.  

    It was interesting to see this squad ranked number one in the country since Jerry Burns took over for the successful Forest Evashevski (three conference titles, 1958 national title champions).

Notre Dame 1950: Final Rank: Unranked

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    Frank Leahy and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were coming off an undefeated national championship the season prior, but the 1950 did not go so well.

    In fact, it was Leahy's worst season by far while at South Bend. The Irish went 4-4-1, but he did finish off his tenure with the Irish by going a sensational 23-4-3.

    Other notable: Pittsburgh 1939

Top Ranked Preseason Teams During BCS Era

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    Year: Team (Final Rank)

    2011: Oklahoma (No. 16)

    2010: Alabama (No. 10)

    2009: Florida (No. 3)

    2008: Georgia (No. 13)

    2007: USC (No. 3)

    2006: Ohio State (No. 2)

    2005: USC (No. 2)

    2004: USC (No. 1)

    2003: Oklahoma (No. 3)

    2002: Miami FL (No. 2)

    2001: Florida (No. 3)

    2000: Nebraska (No. 8)

    1999: Florida State (No. 1)

    1998: Ohio State (No. 2)

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