Breaking Down LSU's Ranking in the Associated Press Preseason College Poll

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03:  Morris Claiborne #17 and Derrick Bryant #36 of the LSU Tigers against the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2011 SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Associated Press preseason college football poll has finally showed its face, and the LSU Tigers are ranked No. 3 in the nation.

Of course, this is a slap in the face compared to the Tigers' No.1 ranking in the initial USA Today poll. But after the team's top playmaker and former Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu was dismissed from the team earlier this month, this had to be expected.

When looking at the AP Top 25 poll, USC is slotted at the No. 1 spot with defending national champion Alabama holding down the No. 2 ranking.

The Trojans received 1,445 points towards the No. 1 ranking while Alabama came in second with 1,411 and LSU just behind the Tide with 1,402 points.

The bottom line here is that preseason polls shouldn't hold much meaning for any team, regardless of ranking. USC, Alabama and LSU are all loaded with talent and each one of those teams is expected to have a legitimate shot at winning a national championship.

But in reality, no one will know how to properly sort out those rankings until we see these teams play on the football field.

Sure, USC, Alabama and LSU all return a ton of talent, but each team also has the challenge of replacing a ton of talent as well.

In LSU's case, the Tigers must find a way to replace three starters in their secondary, including Morris Claiborne and Brandon Taylor, who are both playing on Sundays now.

But having a dominant rushing attack and a relentless defensive line, both of which are considered to be among the best units in all of college football, is why this LSU team is ranked No. 3 in this AP preseason poll.

It's understandable why LSU fans might be upset that the Tigers' dropped down from No. 1 in the USA Today poll to No. 3 in the AP rankings, but if the Tigers take care of business and can find a way to get some redemption on the Tide after that embarrassing 21-0 shutout loss in last year's national title Game, then these preseason rankings will be a distant afterthought.

There's no doubt about it.