Winners and Losers of 2013 AP Preseason Top 25 Poll

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2013

Winners and Losers of 2013 AP Preseason Top 25 Poll

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    The first edition of the AP poll was released on Saturday, and unlike most years, there wasn't much deviation between its appearance and that of the coaches poll.

    All 25 teams ranked in the former were also ranked in the latter, and almost in the same, identical order. Only six teams received different rankings from one to the other, showing a rare lack of dissent between voting coaches and voting writers.

    But there were still some people who made out better (and some who made out worse) than they expected.

Winner: Louisville

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    If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: How is Louisville a top-10 team?

    Voters (and the masses), apparently, only watched the Cardinals play one game last season—an admittedly impressive Sugar Bowl romp over Florida. But the rest of their season left something to be desired.

    Louisville lost to 5-7 Connecticut at home, got spanked (by 19 points) at Syracuse, barely beat 3-9 South Florida and Cincinnati in Louisville and needed a late fourth-quarter score to beat 0-12 Southern Mississippi. If any other team had that dismal body of work, would it have been rewarded with a top-10 ranking?

    The Cardinals continue to outkick their coverage.

Loser: Notre Dame

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    Notre Dame was disappointed but not incensed with its No. 11 ranking in the coaches poll. It seemed a little low for a 12-1 team that returns 13 starters, but not overly so.

    The AP's ranking, on the other hand, is a downright affront. The Irish dropped all the way down to No. 14, not just falling to pass Florida or Louisville but falling behind Florida State, LSU and Oklahoma State.

    Even without Manti Te'o and Everett Golson wearing Golden Domes this season, the Irish bring back more talent than most teams could dream of. Falling to the bottom half of the poll seems like a little much.

Winner: Pac-12 Football

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    The Pac-12 benefited, more than any other conference, from the identical AP and coaches polls.

    With all 25 teams from one appearing in the other, the Pac-12 again had five members (or 20 percent) of the ranked teams. That ties it with the Big Ten for second-most behind the SEC.

    It also, once again, placed Oregon and Stanford in the top four—the only conference, SEC included, to place two teams that high. Georgia may have received an anomalous first-place vote (more on that to come), but the Cardinal still managed to finish ahead of them in consensus.

    The Pac-12 didn't finish better in the AP than it did in the coaches, but it didn't need to. Just maintaining that success is enough to keep it in the winner's circle.

Loser: Miami

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    The Hurricanes still don't get no respect.

    Even with almost every starter returning, and even with the All-American hype surrounding QB Stephen Morris and RB Duke Johnson, Miami found itself merely "receiving votes" for the second straight poll.

    It's not that hard to understand why. The 'Canes went just 7-5 last year, including ugly losses to Kansas State (52-13) and Notre Dame (41-3). The image of those routs might be hard to wipe from voters' minds.

    Still, Miami showed enough promise and returned enough talent to probably merit inclusion on the list. But I guess that's why they play the games?

Winner: Texas A&M

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    Johnny Manziel's season is in doubt, looking more and more like he'll be deemed ineligible with each passing day. So it seemed downright inevitable that the Aggies would drop from No. 6 in the coaches poll.

    The question was only how far.

    But what could have turned into a massive backslide amounted to one measly spot. Texas A&M—quarterback questions and all—still churned out a No. 7 ranking and earned the praise of AP voters, which came as a minor shock.

    Now there's a new question: Was A&M voted this high because people believe Manziel will play? Or was this a statement about how the Aggies might fare without him?

Loser: Kansas State

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    Kansas State was a shocking near-inclusion in the coaches poll, finishing just outside the rankings at No. 26. But it deserved to be ranked that high: The Wildcats made last year's Fiesta Bowl, return eight offensive starters and have high-upside quarterback options in Jake Waters and Daniel Sams.

    They took a dive in the AP poll, though, plummeting from No. 26 to No. 31. And even though drops in the "Others Receiving Votes" section often go less-noticed (for obvious reasons), that doesn't make them unimportant.

    The media has far less faith in Bill Snyder than his coaching peers. But really, come to think of it, that doesn't come as much of a surprise.

Winner: The USA Today Coaches Poll

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    The USA Today Coaches Poll has the unenviable task of coming out first. It's the first tangible ranking of the season and is thus, predictably, the subject of much criticism.

    But on Saturday, it received minor vindication. The AP poll ranked exactly the same 25 teams in nearly the same order. 19 teams received the exact same rankings in each poll including every team between 15 and 25.

    Does that, necessarily, make the coaches poll right about anything? Heck no. But now there appears to be a consensus on America's 25 best teams—and that should protect both polls from individual criticism.

Loser(s): Glenn Guilbeau and Bob Asmussen

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    Guilbeau and Asmussen were the two AP voters who didn't vote Alabama No. 1, keeping the Tide from outright breaking the record for highest percentage of first-place votes in the preseason poll.

    It's okay for Guilbeau and Asmussen to vote with their heart and cast off the spell of groupthink. It's actually commendable. But their heart in this case is hard to reconcile. Alabama is the two-time defending champion, returns 13 quality starters and might does have the best offense of Nick Saban's tenure.

    The Tide aren't shoo-ins to win the title, but they should have been for the No. 1 spot.