USA Today 2012 Preseason Poll: 5 Teams Who Should Be In, 5 Who Should Be Out
The USA Today preseason coaches' poll is filled with surprises, and there are a number of misplaced teams. After looking at the Top 25, there are five teams that shouldn’t be there and five others that should.
The majority of the poll is well placed, but there are some major questions with some of the lower-half decisions in the list. Teams like Texas and TCU enter the poll very high, despite having loads of questions heading into the fall.
Taking a look at the over-ranked and the near misses, here are the five overrated and the five underrated teams in the USA Today preseason coaches' poll.
Texas Longhorns: Out
Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESS
The Texas Longhorns received the listing of No. 15 in the country in the USA Today preseason coaches' poll. That is a very lofty ranking for a team that finished 8-5 with no definitive starter at quarterback.
The Longhorns enter the season with a good defense, but there is still a cloud of doubt that surrounds the quarterback and a lot of youth along the offensive front.
Texas will be a good team this season and should be able to pull themselves up into another eight- or nine-win season, but listing them at No. 15 to start the year is a gift that rides on the name—Texas.
Louisville Cardinals: In
Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Charlie Strong called out the media this spring for not covering his team enough during the Kentucky basketball title run. While it seemed laughable then, now it seems like a reality for the Cardinals.
Why is the country ignoring this team? Teddy Bridgewater returns as one of the elite quarterbacks in the game, and the Cardinals defense will be very good—especially at the linebacker position.
Add a lot of returning experience to the fold, and the Cardinals are easily a Top 25 team. They weren’t even ranked in the first USA Today preseason coaches' poll.
The Cardinals enter the 2012 season the favorite to win the Big East. They deserve a mention in the Top 25.
Oklahoma State: Out
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Oklahoma State pulled a No. 19 ranking in the first release of the USA Today coaches' poll. How that happened, no one may know—except the coaches.
State lost major playmakers Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden from the offense, and the defense was ranked No. 107 in the country by season's end. There is a lot of growth needed defensively this year.
There are a lot of strides that have to happen for the Cowboys to be contenders in the Big 12 again this season. They could make those things happen, but to start the season at No. 19 shows that last year’s success has continued to make the Cowboys shine heading into 2012.
Washington Huskies: In
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Washington exploded onto the national scene last year on the back of quarterback Keith Price. The Huskies return the majority of their team, and more importantly, Price is back.
The Huskies have a tough schedule to start the season, but they are very talented and experienced despite the youth that is present.
Head coach Steve Sarkisian has been very good on the recruiting trail and has built a team that believes it can win any game in which it competes. The Huskies have depth along both the offensive and defensive lines, giving them another vital edge heading into the season.
The Huskies may struggle a bit early, but they have a shot at another special season. They deserve a mention in the Top 25.
Notre Dame: Out
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Notre Dame lands at No. 24 in the USA Today preseason coaches' poll. The Fighting Irish have a huge reputation that tends to land them in the Top 25, but a number of questions on offense and defense have the country doubting the ranking.
The Irish have issues at quarterback, no clear answer at running back, loads of questions in the secondary and unsure linebacker play heading into the season. If you can ignore those things, put the Irish up there—I can’t overlook the issues.
The Irish have the chance to be good this year despite one of the most difficult schedules in the country, but to this point, the expectations should be a bit more tempered than they are.
Notre Dame is a bubble team, but it needs to be popped at this point.
Baylor Bears: In
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Robert Griffin III is gone. The Bears will struggle to replace his play this year, but the Bears are a no-brainer pick for the Top 25.
The Bears return a very talented—and healthy—secondary this year. They have a strong defensive front seven and have a wealth of talented running backs left in the fold. Lache Seastrunk and Jarred Salubi will share carries, forming one of the most dangerous tandems in college football.
The offensive and defensive lines are solid, and there are no-name playmakers that remain at receiver. Baylor is the opposite of Texas, whose reputation earned them a Top 25 spot, but they deserve it more than Texas to start the season.
Baylor is far from a one-hit wonder—they'll prove it in 2012.
Florida Gators: Out
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Florida enters the 2012 season with one of the best defenses in the SEC, but the offense is not the Gators' attack of old—far from it.
The Gators have a lot of playmakers on the offensive side of the football, but looming questions at the quarterback and running back positions give cause for concern in Gainesville. The Gators could be very good, but after last year’s disaster on offense, it is hard to argue a Top 25 ranking.
This team has the talent to push for the SEC East this fall, but they could also be a bottom feeder if the quarterback situation doesn’t come clear early. Florida is talented, but, to this point, it has too many questions to land in the Top 25.
N.C. State Wolfpack: In
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Mike Glennon is all you need to know about the Wolfpack heading into the 2012 season. Well, he may not be all you need to know, but he is good enough to make the case that N.C. State needs a lot more love than they are getting this preseason.
Glennon stepped into the shoes that Russell Wilson left last year, tossing 31 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards through the air. The Wolfpack return all but one starter on the offensive line, as well as their host of running backs.
The Wolfpack face questions at linebacker and receiver, but they should overcome those woes early as the talent is there for N.C. State to be dangerous in 2012. Not finding them in the Top 25 to start the season is a bit of a surprise, but Mike Glennon isn’t likely worried. He is going to go to work and toss 30 more TDs this fall, whispering, “Told you so.”
TCU Horned Frogs: Out
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TCU has a lot of issues defensively to start the season. They do return quarterback Casey Pachall and a wealth of talent at running back and receiver, but the defense and offensive line have a lot of questions.
There is scattered experience along the offensive line, but not enough to give the warm and fuzzy that the Horned Frogs are looking for heading into Big 12 play.
The Horned Frogs lose four of five starters in the secondary and have a lot of gaps to fill at linebacker. The Horned Frogs are known for powerful defense, but this season may be a shock as they face powerful Big 12 offenses.
A No. 17 ranking looks a bit high at this point—especially with the gaps defensively.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: In
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The Yellow Jackets are a year removed from the departure of quarterback Josh Nesbitt, but the dangerous flexbone offense is still found in Atlanta.
The Yellow Jackets return a lot of talent at running back and have a quarterback in Tevin Washington who is good enough to produce quality results. Receiver has questions, but the Yellow Jackets are not extremely reliant on the passing attack to succeed offensively.
On defense, the Yellow Jackets were bad a year ago, but they return a lot of experience and talent. The defensive backfield is a huge strength, and the linebacker play should be formidable. The defensive line will need to progress, but top to bottom, this roster deserves a Top 25 billing to start the season.