After all the hype that comes with the release of the preseason rankings, college football finally returns on Thursday night. The first full slate of games takes place on Saturday, and with it comes a mountain of expectations for everyone in the Top 25.
One of the problems associated with preseason rankings is it puts unfair pressure on the shoulders of the teams who have that little number next to their name. It should be something you earn, not just get because a group of writers decides you are worthy.
Using the Associated Press rankings, here are the teams in the preseason rankings that will have a hard time living up to their expectations.
No. 1 USC Trojans
We all expected the Trojans to be near the top of the rankings when they were released, but to see them back in the No. 1 spot right out of the gate was a big shock, and a testament to the job Lane Kiffin has done recruiting for this program.
Of course, everything starts with Matt Barkley. He is going to be this year's Andrew Luck; the preseason favorite to win the Heisman who will have every little thing he does scrutinized.
Being ranked No. 1 obviously comes with a lot of pressure, especially when you see those SEC powerhouse teams Alabama and LSU directly behind USC. There is no margin for error with the Trojans, though as things stand right now, they are looking very good to the voting populace.
No. 15 Texas Longhorns
Almost any preseason ranking you see, especially in football and basketball, will be based on past reputation as much as the current level of talent and expectations for the season.
Just based on recent history, the Longhorns are not one of the 15 best teams in the country. Having said that, they did rebound after a poor 2010 season that saw them win just five games to get back to bowl eligibility with eight wins.
That is a respectable total for most programs, but not Texas. Mack Brown is still doing a great job of recruiting talent, he just hasn't seen the results on the field.
To me, the No. 15 ranking for the Longhorns is a good-faith showing in the eyes of the voters. They know what Texas can be—it is just on the coaching staff and players to get them to that level.
No. 24 Boise State Broncos
Speaking of good-faith rankings, the Broncos are getting a lot of love from the voters because they are replacing so many pieces of the puzzle that helped lead the program to at least 12 wins every year since 2008.
That streak will, in all likelihood, end this year. Chris Petersen is going with a very young, inexperienced team that has the potential to be great down the line, though it would be a long shot to see it happen in 2012.
Even with all the new talent that will contribute, including at least four true freshman, the job Petersen has done with this program has certainly struck a chord with the pollsters. He could get this team to exceed any and all expectations this season because he is such a great coach.
Just finishing in the Top 25 when all is said and done will be a great accomplishment.
|AP TOP 25 POLL|
|7. Florida State|
|9. South Carolina|
|11. West Virginia|
|13. Michigan State|
|16. Virginia Tech|
|18. Ohio State|
|19. Oklahoma State|
|22. Kansas State|
|24. Boise State|