Preseason College Football Rankings 2012: Teams Starting Too Low in AP Poll

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 03:  Montee Ball #28 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs the ball in the fourth quarter against the Michigan State Spartans during the Big 10 Conference Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The voters in the AP poll for college football have some explaining to do if they want to be taken seriously.

It is near impossible to predict what will happen in a season before it even starts, but the current rankings have some questionable placements.

These teams have more talent than the polls give them credit for, and they will prove to voters sooner than later how good they can be.

LSU (No. 3)

It is difficult to be underrated as the No. 3 team in the country, but LSU should be on top of the polls all season long.

The team no longer has playmaker Tyrann Mathieu, but most of the second-ranked defense from 2011 returns. Safety Eric Reid can handle the secondary, while Barkevious Mingo will be a force as a pass-rusher.

LSU also returns a quartet of running backs that led the offense to the BCS Championship Game. Alfred Blue, Spencer Ware, Michael Ford and Kenny Hilliard combined for 2,338 yards and 30 touchdowns last season and will be difficult for anyone to stop.

USC and Alabama have very good teams heading into the season, but LSU has the talent and plenty of experience to run the table and bring home another championship to Baton Rouge. 

Wisconsin (No. 12)

The Badgers lost some talent from last season, but they are still good enough to reach the Rose Bowl for the third straight year.

Peter Konz and Kevin Zeitler are gone from the offensive line and quarterback Russell Wilson is in the NFL, but newcomer Danny O'Brien might be the perfect player to lead Wisconsin in 2012.

O'Brien was part of an awful year at Maryland last season, but a lot of it had to do with problems with the coaching staff and in the locker room. Two years ago, he was selected to the freshman All-American team after throwing 22 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.

He should be able to do enough to keep the pressure off Heisman contender Montee Ball at running back, who led the nation in rushing yards and touchdowns last season. The two should help the offense be among the best in the Big Ten and even the country.

Clemson (No. 14)

Last season, Clemson was too young to stay consistent and become a legitimate contender. After starting 8-0, the Tigers lost four of their final six games. 

Fortunately, they are returning some of the most dynamic offensive players in the country this year.

Receiver Sammy Watkins was one of the most exciting players in football as a freshman last season. He scored 12 receiving touchdowns and added one more on special teams to go along with his 1,450 yards from scrimmage.

Throwing him the ball will be Tajh Boyd, who finished in the top 10 in the nation in passing yards and touchdowns as only a sophomore.

If new defensive coordinator Brent Venables can help his unit improve just a little, Clemson will be a dangerous team this season.

Ohio State (No. 18)

Say what you want about Urban Meyer, but he wins wherever he goes.

The new coach of the Buckeyes has won two national championships, reached 12 wins in four different years and never had fewer than eight wins in a season. 

In his first offseason, Meyer brought in the No. 4 recruiting class in the country, according to While he might take a few years to get his team to the top of the rankings, there is little chance the team repeats its 6-7 performance from last season.

Full AP Top 25 (via ESPN)

1 USC (25)
2 Alabama (17)
3 LSU (16)
4 Oklahoma (1)
5 Oregon
6 Georgia
7 Florida State
8 Michigan (1)
9 South Carolina
10 Arkansas
11 West Virginia
12 Wisconsin
13 Michigan State
14 Clemson
15 Texas
16 Virginia Tech
17 Nebraska
18 Ohio State
19 Oklahoma State
20 TCU
21 Stanford
22 Kansas State
23 Florida
24 Boise State
25 Louisville


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