Preseason College Football Rankings 2012: Teams Sure to Prove Voters Wrong

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2012

For the most part, preseason college football rankings are, well, kind of pointless.

With no actual play to base the rankings on, it's a glorified popularity contest with some teams ranked where they are—or not ranked at all—because of the name on front of their jersey and not because of the talent they have on the field.

Thankfully, the start of the college season is less than a week away, and the predictions and conjecture will give way to real games to base the rankings on.

As the action gets underway in earnest, look for these teams to prove voters wrong—either in their placement among the Top 25, or with their inclusion in the rankings at all.

No. 25: Louisville Cardinals

As someone who grew up a Big East fan, it's nice to see a team from the conference enter the season in the Top 25. But there isn't a team in the conference that deserves to be ranked.

While Louisville returns 10 starters on a defense that ranked 23rd in the nation last season and eight starters on offense, this is a team that won only seven games in 2011.

Sure, quarterback Terry Bridgewater will be talked about as a sleeper candidate for Heisman consideration, but between playing a weak schedule—they don't play anyone from the preseason Top 25, and only North Carolina and Cincinnati are teams on Cardinals' calendar who even received votes—it's hard to not only justify their inclusion in the Top 25, but also virtually impossible to see how they remain a ranked team.

No. 15: Texas Longhorns

Remember that I mentioned teams being ranked because of the name on the front of their jersey?

Such is the case with the Texas Longhorns, no longer the powerhouse program that they once were.

While coach Mack Brown has tabbed David Ash the starting quarterback, co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin told reporters that both Ash and Chase McCoy would see playing time in the season opener against Wyoming on Sept. 1, doing nothing to put questions about the position to rest (h/t CBS Sports).

Behind a young, inexperienced offensive line lie two excellent running backs in Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown, but if Ash and McCoy aren't able to keep defenses honest with the passing game, the duo will find a crowded box and little room to make plays.

The Longhorns remain an excellent unit on defense with safety Kenny Vaccaro and linemen Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor leading the way, but that doesn't do anything to alleviate concerns on the other side of the ball.

Inconsistency is what plagues Texas on offense, and with so many question marks at nearly every position except running back, it's difficult to see the Longhorns remaining a Top 15 team for long.

No. 10: Arkansas Razorbacks

While Texas deals with an excellent defense but questionable offense, Arkansas is the complete opposite.

With an explosive offense led by quarterback Tyler Wilson and a trio of talented running backs in Knile Davis, Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo Jr., the Razorbacks don't figure to deviate much from their SEC-leading 36.8 points-per-game in 2011.

Unfortunately for Arkansas, offense isn't what typically wins SEC Championships.

Even with new defensive coordinator Paul Haynes on board, the Razorbacks' defense is shaky at best.

Linebacker Alonzo Highsmith will be looked at to lead the unit, and freshman Otha Peters will see plenty of playing time next to him—but this is a defense that allowed more than 400 yards to opposing offenses four times last season.

Playing in the SEC, Arkansas' defensive woes will cost them dearly. The Razorbacks are certainly a Top 25 team based on their offensive production alone, but the chances of them sticking in the Top 10 are slim unless Haynes is able to perform miracles.

AP Top 25 Poll

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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