The wait for college football is close to a conclusion, as the season kicks off this Wednesday. Until fans are given actual games to scrutinize, tearing apart the preseason AP poll will have to do.
Surely, the rankings will change frequently during the season. Last season, Florida State started with a No. 11 rank before climbing up the ladder and defeating Auburn in the BCS Championship Game.
The newly instituted College Football Playoff will add a new dose of intrigue to the procedures while stripping the AP rankings of some of their power. Nevertheless, the AP Top 25 provides a benchmark for appraising some of the nation's premier squads entering the season, even if they disprove those thoughts along the way.
Some of these early slot choices will seem foreign as soon a week from now. A few schools will receive tough litmus tests the second class comes back in session. Should they fail, the AP poll will undergo a facelift heading into Week 2.
Preseason AP Top 25
|RANK||TEAM||POINTS||WEEK 1 OPPONENT|
|1||Florida State (57)||1,496||Oklahoma State|
|2||Alabama (1)||1,361||West Virginia|
|3||Oregon (1)||1,334||South Dakota|
|4||Oklahoma (1)||1,324||Louisiana Tech|
|8||Michigan State||1,080||Jacksonville State|
|9||South Carolina||1,015||No. 21 Texas A&M|
|12||Georgia||843||No. 16 Clemson|
|13||LSU||776||No. 14 Wisconsin|
|14||Wisconsin||637||No. 13 LSU|
|16||Clemson||536||No. 12 Georgia|
|19||Arizona State||357||Weber State|
|20||Kansas State||242||Stephen F. Austin|
|21||Texas A&M||238||No. 9 South Carolina|
|24||Missouri||134||South Dakota State|
Week 2 Projections
Top Game to Watch: No. 9 South Carolina vs. No. 21 Texas A&M
An early SEC bout between Texas A&M and South Carolina will set the table for each ranked squad.
Both schools watched major stars graduate to the pro level. Former South Carolina sack monster Jadeveon Clowney got selected first in the NFL draft, while the Aggies' elite passing duo of Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans also earned first-round nods.
Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks are ranked No. 9 after completing yet another 11-win season. The famed head coach relishes heading into the campaign as the top-tabbed SEC East squad.
"I think it's nice to be picked a little bit," Spurrier told The Associated Press' Pete Iacobelli. "People think we've got a chance to be pretty good, maybe that tells your players, 'Hey, we got a chance to be pretty good.'"
With senior Dylan Thompson taking the helm under center after predominantly coming off the bench, South Carolina will rely on a heavy dose of ground work. That amplifies the need for running back Mike Davis, who is questionable with a rib injury, to suit up Thursday night.
For what it's worth, the Gamecocks' leading rusher is confident he'll play:
On the other side, sophomore Kenny Hill will take over for former Heisman winner Manziel. B/R's Barrett Sallee labeled him a long shot to follow in the previous signal-caller's footsteps:
As I wrote last week, Sumlin's teams have finished in the top 11 nationally in total offense in each of the last six seasons and tops in the country twice during his time as the head coach of Houston (2008-2011) and Texas A&M (2012-present). The offense has the weapons around Hill both up front and at the skill positions for him to step in and shine from the moment toe meets leather.
Defense, however, is a bigger concern for the Aggies. They surrendered 475.8 yards per game last year, and they can't expect Hill to win a shootout against an SEC powerhouse in his first starting foray.
Look for South Carolina to humble Texas A&M and put its Top 25 standing in jeopardy. Barring a major upset to a top team, Spurrier's squad may have to wait a little longer to climb up the Top 10.
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