Winners and Losers of the Associated Press 2012 Preseason College Football Poll
The Associated Press Top 25 preseason poll has been released. In a surprising shift, the USC Trojans take the top spot in today’s poll, and a number of winners and losers have come to light with the poll's release.
The remainder of the poll is very similar to the USA Today coaches’ poll that was released earlier this month, but some minor tweaks to the bottom and top of the poll separate the voters' thoughts on which teams are tops in the country before the 2012 season kicks off.
Taking a look at the rankings, here are the winners and losers from today’s release.
Texas Longhorns: Winners
The Texas Longhorns are receiving a lot of love in the first set of preseason polls for the 2012 season.
After a mediocre finish to the 2011 season, the Longhorns are a team that is drawing a lot of attention—for better and for worse. The Texas defense is set to be one of the best in the country, but lingering questions on offense should have the country a bit timid when looking in the direction of Austin, Texas, for instant success.
The voters don’t appear worried. The Longhorns land at the No. 15 spot in the poll, solidifying the notion that name recognition may be more important to the voters in the preseason than the experience that fills the roster.
Kansas State Wildcats: Loser
Kansas State had a phenomenal season in 2011 led by returning quarterback Collin Klein. The Wildcats have hit the Top 25 for the second time this preseason, but the Kansas State team is not getting a lot of love.
The Wildcats finished the 2011 season with a 10-3 record and return the majority of their roster this fall. Despite that, they come in at the No. 22 position in the AP poll.
Kansas State will have this season to prove if it belongs in the top-tier discussion with games against Miami (Fla.) and Oklahoma in the month of September.
Florida State: Winner
Florida State started the season in the Top Five during preseason voting last season only to fall to a 9-4 record by season's end. This year, the AP places the Seminoles at the No. 7 position heading into 2012—another lofty expectation.
E.J. Manuel returns at quarterback, and the running back position is solid, but the offensive line is very young and must improve dramatically over a year ago.
The Seminoles are getting a lot of early love in the polls, but Seminoles fans should temper those expectations until they can prove that they belong in the national discussion.
Louisville Cardinals: Loser
The Louisville Cardinals have been virtually ignored in most of the preseason discussion heading into the 2012 season.
Blame it on the conference—they play in the Big East—or blame it on the lack of tradition, but Teddy Bridgewater and his host of talented receivers will argue the Cardinals need more love.
The Cardinals defense will be much improved over a year ago, and Louisville is poised for a great conference title run and BCS appearance this winter. Why they barely crack the Top 25 at No. 25 is a bit confusing.
Florida Gators: Winner
The Florida Gators return one of the best defenses in the SEC heading into the 2012 season. That about covers the positive for the Gators, but as big as it is, it isn’t enough for a No. 23 ranking.
Florida has a quarterback battle ongoing between two quarterbacks that have not been very good in their first seasons in Gainesville, Fla. The running back position also has questions heading into the new year despite a listed starter in Mike Gillislee.
The Gators will have a tough hill to climb in the SEC East, but right now they are a winner in the preseason AP poll.
LSU Tigers: Loser
At this point, the Top Five rankings in the preseason polls are virtually interchangeable, but LSU pulling in at No. 3 is a bit of a surprise.
The Tigers have the most talented roster in the country and have a ton of returning experience on both sides of the ball. The Tigers did lose playmaker Tyrann Mathieu to suspension for the season, but he won’t be missed that much.
The Tigers are the best team in the country heading into the 2012 season; falling from No. 1 was a surprise in the AP preseason poll.
USC Trojans: Winner
USC is mandated to have 10 fewer scholarships than every other team in major college football this season. Playing with 75 roster members opposed to 85 doesn’t seem like much, but it is when you are talking the top talent in the country.
The Trojans are the favorite to win the Pac-12 and are layered with talent at the skill positions on offense, but they are not quite at the level of LSU or Alabama heading into the 2012 season.
Landing at No. 1 makes the Southern Cal Trojans an easy winner in today’s poll release.
West Virginia Mountaineers: Loser
Did the AP voters miss the offensive explosion that destroyed the Clemson Tigers last season in the Orange Bowl? I have to assume they did considering the No. 11 ranking for the Mountaineers heading into 2012.
Geno Smith is leading one of the most talented offenses in the country, and the West Virginia defense is just as strong as its counterpart heading into the new year.
Yes, the Mountaineers are heading into the Big 12 for the first season in school history, which will increase competition, but West Virginia should fall in the Top 10 during the preseason.
Boise State Broncos: Winner
Boise State is one of the most blessed teams heading into the new season. It falls into the AP preseason poll at the No. 24 position.
Boise State loses its longtime starting quarterback Kellen Moore and offensive coordinator and guru Brent Pease to Florida.
Boise State may be able to continue with its past success, but being in the Top 25 appears to be a gift.
Virginia Tech Hokies: Loser
Virginia Tech pulls into the preseason AP poll at the No. 16 position. The Hokies are coming off an 11-3 year and look to improve upon that record this season.
Logan Thomas leads the offensive charge from quarterback for the Hokies and will look to have the Virginia Tech offense at the top of the ACC this season.
Defensively the Hokies are always solid, and nothing leads to any other conclusion heading into the new year. Tech hosts Georgia Tech in the first game of the season but has a relatively easy road before Clemson on October 20.
The Hokies should have early success and climb the polls quickly.