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AP Preseason Poll 2012: Oregon Leads Teams That Will Be Overlooked in Rankings

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the Oregon Ducks talks with Darron Thomas #5 and LaMichael James #21 in the first half as the Ducks take on the Wisconsin Badgers at the 98th Rose Bowl Game on January 2, 2012 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images
Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2012

The AP preseason poll will be released on Saturday, and the Oregon Ducks are one of two teams in danger of being overlooked by voters.

SEC teams will occupy the top of the poll as usual, and there will not be any argument about either team being ranked that high. The Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers will hold the top two spots after both played in last year's national championship game. 

The Pac-12 has gotten respect in recent years, and the conference has two teams ranked near the top of the poll. 

USC could challenge the SEC teams for the top spot in the poll, and they will be ranked ahead of Oregon. Quarterback Matt Barkley led the Trojans to a 38-35 upset over the Ducks in Eugene last year, and they are the favorites to win the Pac-12 this season.

Coincidentally, the two teams in danger of being overlooked played each other in last season's Rose Bowl. The Ducks defeated the Wisconsin Badgers 45-38 in one of the most exciting bowl games in recent memory.  

After winning their conferences last season, both programs will need to overcome being underrated by voters.


University of Oregon

As previously mentioned, USC will be the team to beat in the Pac-12. Oregon will likely get two chances to unseat the Trojans this season (November 3 at USC and possibly the Pac-12 title game).

Oregon has won the conference for three straight years, so they deserve respect from the voters.

Despite losing quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James, the Ducks will still be a dangerous offense.

De'Anthony Thomas was an explosive player as a freshman last season, and he will be in the race for the Heisman Trophy in 2012. He had seven touchdowns on the ground, nine receiving and two returns for scores. Thomas will become the star of this fast-paced offense.

The quarterback position is up for grabs. Bryan Bennett and Marcus Mariota are competing for the job, and Bennett played well in limited action last year.

Bennett is a dual-threat quarterback and has experience in the offense. He also took care of the ball when he played, so the coaching staff has confidence in his decision making.

The offense will continue to put up points, and the defense continues to improve. Even though USC will be ranked above Oregon, coach Chip Kelly and the Ducks should not be overlooked by fans.


University of Wisconsin

The Badgers are replacing several offensive weapons, but a Heisman Trophy finalist returns on offense. 

With Montee Ball running the football, it will be difficult to stop this team. 

Quarterback Russell Wilson and receiver Nick Toon are now in the NFL, so the team will need to replace them in the passing game. The team also lost offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler and Peter Konz to the draft. 

The team is one of the most explosive offenses in the Big Ten, and Ball will continue to put up big numbers. After rushing for nearly 2,000 yards and scoring 39 total touchdowns last season, he established himself as the conference's best running back.

Danny O'Brien transferred from Maryland and will quarterback this team. The 6'3" quarterback will play with one of the nation's best running backs and offensive lines.

While last season will be hard to repeat, Wisconsin is the team to beat in the Big Ten. Michigan will receive national attention because of senior quarterback Denard Robinson. The Wolverines failed to reach last year's conference title game, and the Badgers still have a very talented team.

Last year's offense was among the nation's best, and the defense was also one of the best at keeping teams out of the end zone. 

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