Week 1 of the 2014 college football season continues Wednesday when Abilene Christian squares off against Georgia State on ESPNU, but fans are already studying the preseason NCAA rankings and polls to determine this year’s contenders and pretenders.
The release of the Amway Coaches and the Associated Press Top 25 polls has college football fans ready for the beginning of the season, and the wait is almost over. For the hardcore fans who have been yearning for the sport all year, it’s good to finally have excitement on Saturday again.
Here are the preseason polls and full analysis of the teams to watch.
|Preseason Amway and AP Top 25 Rankings|
|Rank||Associated Press Top 25||Amway Top 25|
|1||Florida State Seminoles||Florida State Seminoles|
|2||Alabama Crimson Tide||Alabama Crimson Tide|
|3||Oregon Ducks||Oklahoma Sooners|
|4||Oklahoma Sooners||Oregon Ducks|
|5||Ohio State Buckeyes||Auburn Tigers|
|6||Auburn Tigers||Ohio State Buckeyes|
|7||UCLA Bruins||UCLA Bruins|
|8||Michigan State Spartans||Michigan State Spartans|
|9||South Carolina Gamecocks||South Carolina Gamecocks|
|10||Baylor Bears||Baylor Bears|
|11||Stanford Cardinal||Stanford Cardinal|
|12||Georgia Bulldogs||Georgia Bulldogs|
|13||LSU Tigers||LSU Tigers|
|14||Wisconsin Badgers||Wisconsin Badgers|
|15||USC Trojans||USC Trojans|
|16||Clemson Tigers||Clemson Tigers|
|17||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||Notre Dame Fighting Irish|
|18||Mississippi Rebels||Arizona State Sun Devils|
|19||Arizona State Sun Devils||Mississippi Rebels|
|20||Kansas State Wildcats||Texas A&M Aggies|
|21||Texas A&M Aggies||Kansas State Wildcats|
|22||Nebraska Cornhuskers||Nebraska Cornhuskers|
|23||North Carolina Tar Heels||North Carolina Tar Heels|
|24||Missouri Tigers||Texas Longhorns|
|25||Washington Huskies||Washington Huskies|
|Source: USAToday.com and Associated Press.|
Breaking Down the Top 25
The top team in both polls is the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles, and the program deserves the honor. With Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston looking to improve in his sophomore season, Florida State could be even more dangerous this season, despite losing several key players to the NFL.
The Seminoles may be the consensus No. 1 overall team in the rankings, but the Alabama Crimson Tide have crashed the party and sit at No. 2. With a long track record of success and national titles in three of the past five seasons, Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide will look to take advantage of the College Football Playoff and bring another title back to Tuscaloosa.
Both the AP and Amway Coaches polls have the Oregon Ducks and Oklahoma Sooners ranked in the Top Four, but Oregon is No. 3 in the AP Poll and Oklahoma is No. 3 in the Amway Coaches Poll. While the two voting processes couldn’t agree, both teams deserve the honor of being in the Top Five and will have to earn the right to move up through elite play on the field.
One program in serious trouble is Ohio State. The school was considered a potential national championship contender by both rankings, but a season-ending injury to star quarterback Braxton Miller, via Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com, will likely have the Buckeyes sliding out of contention within a few weeks.
While both polls have differing opinions on Ohio State and Auburn (fifth in the Amway Coaches Poll and sixth in the AP Poll), the two lists are identical from UCLA at No. 7 to Notre Dame at No. 17. The teams with the most potential in this span are the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans, No. 11 Stanford Cardinal and No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers.
The two polls are very similar in the final eight positions as well. While the order is a bit different, each lists top programs such as Mississippi (No. 18 in AP and No. 19 in Amway), Texas A&M (No. 21 in AP and No. 20 in Amway) and Arizona State (No. 19 in AP and No. 18 in Amway) in its latter ranks.
The only real discrepancy is at No. 24. While the AP has Missouri there, the Amway Coaches Poll has given Texas the benefit of the doubt and slipped them in ahead of Washington.
With plenty of elite teams in the hunt to make the College Football Playoff (and several unranked programs like the Florida Gators looking to prove doubters wrong), the 2014 season looks to be one of the most exciting in years.
*Stats via CFBStats.com.