College Football AP Preseason Poll: A Complete Conference Breakdown

James WalkerAnalyst IIAugust 22, 2010

College Football AP Preseason Poll: A Complete Conference Breakdown

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    Nick Saban At Alabama's 2010 Spring GameDave Martin/Getty Images

    The 2010 AP Preseason College Football Poll has been released, and, as always, compelling scenarios and stories abound.  Not unlike the preceding USA Today Coaches Poll, the AP Poll has presented the college football landscape with story lines to carry us into the beginning of the season.

    As expected, the AP writers have voted Alabama into the No. 1 spot with 54 first place votes.  Not so surprising is Ohio State's No. 2 ranking and three first place votes followed by Boise State, Florida, and Texas to round out the top five.

    The aforementioned Broncos and Longhorns received one first place vote as did No. 7 Oklahoma.

    Let's take a look at each conference that is represented in the AP Poll along with any non-BCS conferences and schools and uncover any underlying controversies that may exist.

The SEC

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    The SEC is well represented with six teams in the top 25.  Again, Alabama is ranked No. 1 followed by No. 4 Florida, No. 17 Arkansas, No. 21 LSU, No. 22 Auburn, and No. 23 Georgia.

    Did the SEC command too much respect from the AP writers, or is the attention well-deserved?

    The BCS has been owned by SEC schools for the last four seasons, and the possibility of the streak increasing to five is strong. 

    According to Phil Steele's College Football Preview, the aforementioned teams' strength of schedules are: Alabama - No. 15, Florida - No. 18, Arkansas - No. 33, LSU - No. 10, Auburn - No. 19, and Georgia - No. 44.

    Clearly, Alabama and Florida are the frontrunners to represent the SEC in the BCS, but do not count out Arkansas.  The Razorbacks will be led by junior QB Ryan Mallett, a Heisman Trophy candidate and surefire future first-round NFL draft pick.  The Crimson Tide must travel to Fayetteville to face the Razorbacks one week prior to Alabama's showdown with Florida in Tuscaloosa.

    The SEC West is the tougher division with four of the six top 25 teams.  Georgia may be in a position to battle Florida for the SEC Eastern Division title, but has only won three times since 1990.  Keep an eye on unranked South Carolina; they may quietly contend as well, but having the second toughest schedule in the country may be too much to overcome.

The ACC

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    This just in—the AP voted five ACC schools into the top 25.  Arguably one of the weakest BCS conferences, does the ACC deserve this much consideration?

    It's obviously too early to tell.

    The five schools are No. 10 Virginia Tech, No. 13 Miami (FL), No. 16 Georgia Tech, No. 18 North Carolina, and No. 20 Florida State.

    The Hokies kick off their season against No. 3 Boise State in Landover, Maryland in FedEx Stadium, and this game will have huge ramifications on how the BCS plays out for the rest of the season.  Many people who feel that non-BCS schools do not deserve national championship consideration will become Virginia Tech fans for that game.

    Miami, Georgia Tech, and FSU are perennial ACC powerhouses, but North Carolina will face a tough test their first game when they meet LSU in Atlanta for the Chik-Fil-A Kickoff.

    Here are the SOS for each team: Virginia Tech - No. 47, Miami - No. 8, Georgia Tech - No. 27, North Carolina - No. 24, and FSU - No. 11.

    Perhaps the ACC deserved the rankings they were given by the AP writers, but can they contend with the other BCS conferences?  Virginia Tech could be the team from the ACC to watch followed by Miami.  FSU has the strength of schedule to compete, but it may be too much to ask with first year coach Jimbo Fisher at the helm.

The Big Ten Conference

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    Coming in third place regarding number of teams in the AP top 25 is the Big Ten conference. 

    Right behind Alabama is No. 2 Ohio State, and they received three first place votes.  The Buckeyes have won or shared the Big Ten title for five straight years, and are poised to make it six in a row.  Right behind Ohio State is No. 9 Iowa, No. 12 Wisconsin, and No. 19 Penn State.

    Iowa may very well be in a position to take down the Buckeyes especially since they come calling in Iowa City on November 20.

    The strength of schedule is as follows: Ohio St. - No. 61, Iowa - No. 35, Wisconsin - No. 85, and Penn St. - No. 16.

    The Buckeyes are the early favorite to face Alabama for the BCS Championship.  Other than their normal Big Ten opponents, the Buckeyes face the Miami Hurricanes in week two, and that game may quickly determine the fate of Ohio State's season.

    It could get interesting for the Big Ten if Penn State defeats Alabama in Tuscaloosa the same weekend as the Ohio St./Miami game.  Wisconsin, based on SOS, has an easier path to the championship.  All in all, all four teams could be serious contenders for the BCS title. 

The Big 12 Conference

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    The conference that almost disappeared.  After Texas flexed their muscles and scared everyone in the conference, and the defections of Colorado to the future Pac-12 and Nebraska to the latest version of the Big Ten, the Big 12 conference survived and now only has 10 members as of 2011.

    For the 2010 season, the Big 12 is represented in the preseason AP Poll by three teams: No. 5 Texas, No. 7 Oklahoma, and No. 8 Nebraska.

    SOS for each team: Texas - No. 62, Oklahoma - No. 22, and Nebraska - No. 76.

    According to Phil Steele, the Sooners have the tougher road ahead of them.  It will be quite interesting to watch Nebraska play their last season as a member of the Big 12.

    If Texas makes the necessary adjustments and survives undefeated or with one loss, they could be back in the BCS title game.

The Pac-10 Conference

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    The soon to be Pac-12 conference will welcome Colorado and Utah in 2011, but for 2010 they have three teams represented in the AP preseason poll: No. 11 Oregon, No. 14 USC, and No. 24 Oregon State.

    USC must be giddy getting votes from the AP writers.  Due to NCAA penalties, they are not eligible to play in a bowl game for two seasons.  Technically, USC could win the AP national championship if they ran the table and other things fell into place.

    The state of Oregon is well represented with the Ducks and Beavers.  Perhaps the voters forgot that QB Jeremiah Masoli is now an Ole Miss Rebel and no longer with Oregon.

    The SOS is as follows: Oregon - No. 55, USC - No. 45, and Oregon State - No. 6.

    Don't expect the Pac-10 to play for the BCS championship this season.

The Big East Conference

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    The Big East has two teams in the AP Top 25—No. 15 Pitt and No. 25 West Virginia.

    Don't count on either team making a run at the BCS championship.  However, with Cincinnati in total rebuild mode, and UConn curiously missing from the list, one of the two top 25 teams should win the conference title.

    The SOS: Pitt - No. 28 and West Virginia - No. 70.  Perhaps West Virginia has the easier road to the title.

Non-BCS Conferences

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    And then there are No. 3 Boise State and No. 7 TCU.  The Broncos and Horned Frogs are the relatives no one wants to show up at the family reunion.  Just like the inevitable arrival, both teams plan on sticking it to those that didn't want them there.

    Boise State arguably has one, possibly two games to negotiate in order to get to the BCS title game—the opener against No. 10 Virginia Tech, and No. 24 Oregon State two weeks later in Boise City.  If the Broncos get to 3-0, then their ticket for Glendale should be ordered.

    TCU, on the other hand, has a different path to take.  They have three games to be concerned that include Oregon State in Arlington on opening week, BYU on October 16, and at Utah on November 6.  If they survive those three games, they too can be in the hunt for the BCS championship.

    SOS: Boise State - No. 87 and TCU - No. 93. 

    Don't be surprised if either one of these schools are in the BCS title game.