Winners and Losers of the USA Today 2012 Preseason College Football Poll
The USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll has officially been released for the college football season. Yes, another great season of college football is just weeks away from finally taking place.
While we continue to patiently wait for those weeks to go by, this poll should keep us occupied for a few days. It is always fun to dissect the rankings, see which teams are ranked way too high, which teams should receive a little bit more love and which teams are being just flat-out disrespected by the voters.
There are many great college football teams out there, and the reality is that only 25 teams are going to be ranked each week. With the poll released, here are the winners and losers of the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll.
We all knew Oklahoma was going to be ranked high because it is every year, but I'm not sure anyone expected the Sooners to be a Top Five team in the poll.
Sure, the Sooners do return eight starters on offense, including quarterback Landry Jones, but the receiver position remains a question mark with several key players not sure if they will be allowed to play at the beginning of the season.
Oklahoma also has a defense that was ranked 55th in the country last season in yards allowed. That will not go over well with offensive teams such as West Virginia, Texas Tech and an underrated TCU team in the mix.
I know Bob Stoops will have his team ready when the season begins, but it seems this ranking is based on reputation and not the team that is returning.
I know the Big East isn't exactly the strongest conference in the world, but Louisville is a team that deserves some credit. It returns 10 starters from a defense that was ranked 17th in the country in points allowed.
The Cardinals also have a dark-horse Heisman candidate in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who completed over 64 percent of his passes last season as a freshman. It is only a matter of time before he becomes a household name.
I get that Louisville won't be winning any national championships anytime soon, and the Cardinals don't do anything particularly well. This is certainly not a fun team to watch, but it has the same tough-nosed mindset of head coach Charlie Strong. Louisville simply finds ways to win football games and plays great defense.
Don't be surprised if the Cardinals crack the polls as the season plays out.
Winner: Boise State
Maybe the coaches didn't get the memo, but this is not the same Boise State team that we have seen in years past.
Kellen Moore is no longer throwing touchdown passes with his awkward throwing motion, Doug Martin is no longer around to bully defenses with his bulky frame and Tyler Shoemaker isn't the go-to receiver any longer. The defense also took a hit, losing seven starters.
I'm sure the Broncos, playing in the Mountain West, will win double-digit games once again. After all, my local high school could probably beat half of the teams in that conference. But the goal is to find the top 25 teams and give them their proper respect. Is a team that lost nearly its entire starting roster really going to be as good as it was a season ago?
Loser: Oklahoma State
In the USA Today Coaches Poll released at the end of the 2011 season, the Oklahoma State Cowboys were ranked No. 3. In this poll, they are ranked No. 19. Quite a fall for a team that returns 14 starters from a year ago.
I know that Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon were the bread and butter on offense and are now playing in the NFL. But running back Joseph Randle is no joke after rushing for more than 1,200 yards last season and scoring 26 total touchdowns. The defense that led the country with 44 forced turnovers also returns eight starters.
Mike Gundy certainly has his work cut out for him, but he has an even deeper hole to climb out of with the ranking the Cowboys were given.
The biggest winner of today is without question the Texas Longhorns. This is a team that has won just 13 games in the last two years combined. Last season, the Longhorns were destroyed by Oklahoma, lost to an unranked Missouri team, lost at home to Kansas State and lost to Baylor despite producing more than 550 yards on offense.
The Longhorns do return 17 starters, including eight from a top-15 defense, but heading into the year, is this truly a Top 15 team? Texas wasn't even ranked for the final four weeks of the season, and the quarterback position is still a humongous question mark heading into fall camp.
It is really only a matter of time before Mack Brown turns this program around, but it is about time teams begin earning their rank instead of having it given to them for past success.
While I think the coaches got the poll right for the most part, you have to feel sorry for Washington, a team that missed replacing Auburn for the No. 25 spot by two points.
The Huskies return 15 starters from a year ago and should be one of the better defensive units in the conference with coach Steve Sarkisian having many pieces to work with.
Quarterback Keith Price is also a potential Heisman candidate, completing 67 percent of his passes last season for over 3,000 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Washington looks like a sleeper team on paper, but we will find out a lot more about this team when it plays the LSU Tigers in Week 2 of the regular season.
The LSU Tigers are considered the best team in the country. How are they not winners heading into the season?
You could have easily put Alabama in that spot considering it is the defending national champion. I'm sure many wouldn't have had a problem if USC was in that spot either, bringing back one of the most talented teams on paper that we have seen in a very long time.
However, the coaches believe that the Tigers are the best team the country has to offer. Defensively you know this team is going to be stifling once again. Offensively, they bring back eight starters, including a top-25 running game, an unmovable offensive line and a quarterback in Zach Mettenberger who will add another dimension to this offense.
The Tigers are on a mission after losing last year's national championship game and certainly have the squad to get things done in 2012.