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Preseason College Football Rankings 2014: Major Differences in Amway, AP Polls

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Preseason College Football Rankings 2014: Major Differences in Amway, AP Polls
Eric Gay/Associated Press

There was just a bit of disparity between the 2014 Amway Coaches Poll and the Associated Press preseason poll.

Florida State earned the top position in each poll, however, further establishing itself as the premier team in the nation for the upcoming season. With kickoff just a few weeks away, teams will be scrambling to finalize their depth charts in hopes of catching the Seminoles by season's end.

These polls no longer matter for the playoff system now in place, but they serve as a good benchmark to tell which teams are playing well and which teams are spiraling downward. For now, the rankings stand as such:

2014 College Football Preseason Polls
AP Poll Ranking Team Amway Poll Rank Team
1 Florida State 1 Florida State
2 Alabama 2 Alabama
3 Oregon 3 Oklahoma
4 Oklahoma 4 Oregon
5 Ohio State 5 Auburn
6 Auburn 6 Ohio State
7 UCLA 7 UCLA
8 Michigan State 8 Michigan State
9 South Carolina 9 South Carolina
10 Baylor 10 Baylor
11 Stanford 11 Stanford
12 Georgia 12 Georgia
13 LSU 13 LSU
14 Wisconsin 14 Wisconsin
15 USC 15 USC
16 Clemson 16 Clemson
17 Notre Dame 17 Notre Dame
18 Ole Miss 18 Arizona State
19 Arizona State 19 Ole Miss
20 Kansas State 20 Texas A&M
21 Texas A&M 21 Kansas State
22 Nebraska 22 Nebraska
23 North Carolina 23 North Carolina
24 Missouri 24 Texas
25 Washington 25 Washington

Associated Press, USA Today

You'll notice a few differences between the two lists. You'll find a breakdown of three of the most noticeable differences below.

 

Missouri

Tim Sharp/Associated Press

Maty Mauk may not have a clear reserve behind him, but that shouldn't scare people away from the Missouri Tigers. If Mauk suffers an injury, then this team might be doomed. With him under center, they'll be just fine.

The Amway poll didn't trust the Tigers, as they didn't even rank on the list. The AP had enough confidence in Mizzou to place them 24th, however, there's a good chance they finish even higher than that very safe ranking.

Mauk is enough to keep this team in the top 25 all by himself. After taking over as the starter last October, the signal-caller never looked back. He'll have plenty of help behind him in 2014, as junior running back Russell Hansbrough is a proven commodity.

Marcus Murphy will also get touches at tailback, but the senior has served primarily as a slot receiver in training camp this year.

Lucas Vincent leads a very strong defensive line. Vincent is actually a player to keep an eye on this season, and Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch already outlined his goals for 2014, via NCAA.com:

"He's playing at a different level than he's ever played,"[head coach Gary] Pinkel said after Tuesday's scrimmage, when Vincent was the most disruptive lineman from a front four that camped in the backfield all day.

Missouri has developed a reputation for churning out NFL-ready defensive linemen, with eight D-linemen from the Pinkel years currently in NFL training camps. Senior defensive end Markus Golden is widely considered the next elite pro prospect, but for now, Vincent has more immediate goals.

"I want to be All-SEC and All-American," he said.

While neither poll placed Mizzou particularly high, the AP poll was a bit more accurate in its assessment of the Tigers' talent.

 

Texas

Uncredited/Associated Press

It's rare to see the Texas Longhorns not in the discussion as one of the top 25 teams in college football. Amway liked Texas at No. 24, but the AP wanted nothing to do with the Longhorns. They failed to crack the list altogether.

One of the most important positions on the field is running back. A dynamic back can dictate the pace of a game and the overall explosiveness of an offense.

The Longhorns were deep at the position in 2013, but all of that has changed heading into this season.

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Jonathan Gray's Achilles injury puts his status in jeopardy for 2014. Even if he is healthy, no one knows how he'll be able to produce when on the field. Joe Bergeron was dismissed from the team at the end of July, leaving Malcolm Brown as really the only viable option at the position.

This is certainly enough to make fans wary, so it's not a surprise to see the AP poll keep Texas out of the top 25.

That said, preseason polls only mean so much. It's impossible to quantify the impact of rookies, transfers and unknowns prior to the start of the regular season. Training camp and practices are good indicators, but anything can happen on the field.

Texas could very well sneak into the top 25 in a few weeks, but the running back depth could ultimately keep this team from finishing better than 7-5.

 

Oregon

Eric Gay/Associated Press

The Oregon Ducks ranked No. 4 in the Amway poll and No. 3 in the AP poll. That's not a huge discrepancy, but it will be up to Marcus Mariota to prove that his team is even better than either poll has suggested.

The junior is one of the favorites to go No. 1 overall in the 2015 NFL draft (should he choose to leave school). He threw just four interceptions last season, though his completion percentage of 63.5 needs a little work.

Regardless, the pundits are in his corner. ESPN College Football predicted that he would win the Heisman Trophy over defending champ Jameis Winston:

The outcome of the 2014 season for Oregon is entirely up to Mariota. Two losses in November derailed the team's hopes at a trip to the national championship game last season, and consistency must be key for this explosive offense moving forward.

All the defense has to do is play well enough to keep their team in the lead. You never want to see a defense allow 30 points per game, but this Ducks offense can easily outproduce that.

Oregon could finish anywhere from No. 1 to No. 10, given how difficult it is to rely on an explosive offense to drop 45-plus points every game.

 

Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR

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