Preseason College Football Rankings 2012: Biggest Surprises in First AP Poll

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 23, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 3: Head Coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs disputes a call against the LSU Tigers during the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on December 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

That feeling in the air is college football getting ready to start. We are just over one week away from the first full slate of games taking place, and there are a lot of questions that need answered before the end of the year. 

While we have to wait nearly four months to get all the answers, we can look at the first Associated Press poll that was released and some of the more questionable teams in the top 25. 

Here are the teams whose rankings were the most surprising to us. 

No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs 

I can understand why the voters are going to put a lot more faith in the SEC than other conferences throughout the country. It gets the most talent every single year, and is by far the most physical conference. 

That said, the Georgia Bulldogs strike me as a huge outlier in the top 10. Mark Richt is a great recruiter of talent, but I don't know how well he maximizes that talent as a head coach. 

Whenever the Bulldogs enter a season with high expectations, as they do this year, they often start the season with a loss or two against a team that they should blow out of the water. 

An easy non-conference schedule will make things easy at the start, but I still don't trust them in the SEC. Their defense was overrated last year because they played a soft schedule, so they can be exposed against the right opponent. 

The offense, led by quarterback Aaron Murray, has to find more consistency if they hope to compete for a conference championship. 

No. 13 Michigan State Spartans

Unlike the Bulldogs, I think Mark Dantonio actually does a great job of getting the most out of all his players. Kirk Cousins wasn't a great quarterback, but he did a lot of little things and was very smart in the pocket. 

This year, though, the Spartans have to deal with a brutal schedule and the loss of Cousins, B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin. They do have a lot of talent of defense, which will help keep them in games, but when push comes to shove, can they score enough?

That schedule, which includes Boise State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska, is going to be brutal. I love what Dantonio has done with this program, but this looks like a transition year instead of a Rose Bowl season. 

No. 15 Texas Longhorns

At what point do you stop looking at the name of the front of the jersey and start paying attention to the results on the field?

Texas is a football state. Most of the best high school players that teams recruit will end up coming from the state, with the Longhorns doing their best to keep them close to home. 

Even with the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, according to, the Longhorns have done nothing on the field to warrant a top-15 ranking. They have won 13 games the last two seasons combined, which is hardly what you expect to see from Texas. 

Like Michigan State, Texas' schedule does not do it many favors. There is a three-week stretch in September and October with games against Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Oklahoma. That will be a good gauge to tell us where this program is right now. 

 1. USC
 2. Alabama
 3. LSU
 4. Oklahoma
 5. Oregon
 6. Georgia
 7. Florida State
 8. Michigan 
 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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