Georgia sits atop the pre-season college football polls but history isn't in their favor to stay there.
Looking over the last 35 football seasons (i chose that number because it includes every football season of my wife's lifetime) the pre-season number one has not fared well when it comes time to taking home a title.
For this column I am using statistics gathered from AP Polls from 1973 to 1993 and a compilation of ranking from most all of the major ranking publications for the most recent fifteen years. The views expressed are not my own, they are simply fact.
And here are some of the facts:
* In the last 20 years only three teams have been a preseason number one and ultimately claimed the title. (USC in 2004, Florida State in 1999, and Florida State in 1993)
* Since 1980 seven teams have started number one and finished the season as champions. (USC in 2004, Florida State in 1999, Florida State in 1993, Oklahoma in 1985, Alabama in 1978, Oklahoma in 1975 and 1974).
*Oklahoma has done it most often with three times.
*Teams ranked first in the pre-season have finished third as often as they have finished first (7 times). The preseason favorite has finished second five times.
*The average starting rank for the eventual champion during the past fifteen years is 6th place, the position currently occupied by Missouri.
*The last time Georgia won a National Championship (1980) Ohio State was the pre-season favorite. Georgia was ranked 16th in the AP poll and Ohio State finished 15th.
*This season marks the first time in the last 35 years Georgia has even been ranked number one in the preseason. The only other team to have been chosen only once in the past 35 years is Pittsburgh (1982) when they finished in 10th place.
* The average finishing position for the preseason favorite over the past fifteen years is 4th.
*Three teams won the national title and were not even in the AP preseason top 20. (BYU in 1984, Miami in 1983, and Clemson in 1981)
* The team most often picked number one in the preseason since the 1980s is Florida State with 6 times. (1999,1995,1994,1993,1991,1988). The Seminoles played in five national championship games during that period and won only two of them. (This will be the topic of my next column)
*USC has been picked five times and has won only once (they have won two national championships but were ranked 11th in preseason for one of those)
*The team that won the national title most often was Miami with 5 titles. They were NEVER ranked pre-season #1 in any of those years. Miami was ranked #1 in the preseason in 1990 and finished 3rd.
Here are the statistics going back to 1973
year preseason #1 (final rank) Actual Champion (pre-season rank)
2007 USC (3) LSU (2)
2006 Ohio State (2) Florida (6)
2005 USC (2) Texas (2)
2004 USC (1) USC (1)
2003 Oklahoma (3) USC (11)
2002 Oklahoma (5) Ohio State (11)
2001 Florida (2) Miami (2)
2000 Nebraska (8) Oklahoma (21)
1999 Florida State(1) Florida State (1)
1998 Ohio State (2) Tennessee (9)
1997 Florida (4) Michigan (13)
1996 Nebraska (6) Florida (4)
1995 Florida State (4) Nebraska (2)
1994 Florida State (4) Nebraska (2)
1993 Florida State (1) Florida State (1)
1992 Miami (3) Alabama (9)
1991 Florida State (5) Miami (3)
1990 Miami (3) Colorado(5)
1989 Michigan (7) Miami (4)
1988 Florida State (3) Notre Dame (13)
1987 Oklahoma(3) Miami (10th)
1986 Oklahoma (3) Penn State (6)
1985 Oklahoma (1) Oklahoma(1)
1984 Auburn (14) BYU (not in AP pre-season top 20)
1983 Nebraska (2) Miami (not in AP pre-season top 20)
1982 Pittsburgh (10th) Penn State (8)
1981 Michigan (12th) Clemson (not in AP pre-season top 20)
1980 Ohio State (15) Georgia (16)
1979 USC (2) Alabama (2)
1978 Alabama (1) Alabama (1)
1977 Oklahoma (7) Notre Dame (3)
1976 Nebraska(9) Pittsburgh (9)
1975 Oklahoma(1) Oklahoma(1)
1974 Oklahoma (1) Oklahoma(1)
1973 USC (8) Notre Dame (8)
Statistical source HTTP://www.appollarchive.com/football/ap/seasons.cfm?seasonid=1980