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NCAA Football Preseason Rankings 2011: Breaking Down Every Team in Coaches' Poll

T.J. McaloonContributorAugust 5, 2011

NCAA Football Preseason Rankings 2011: Breaking Down Every Team in Coaches' Poll

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    Today is a great day for the college football world. Not because it is less than a month before the first game of the new season begins. No, it is the day when the USA Coaches Top 25 Poll is released giving people like you and me something new to complain about.

    Here we will take a look at where the coaches in college football placed as the top 25 teams heading into Week 1 of the new season. We will decide if they are overrated or underrated. We will decide where they will finish at the end of the season in the USA Today Coaches Poll. And we will hopefully have enough discussion points from this list to last us until that first week in September.

    All-in-all this piece should fire up you the reader and hopefully will get some good banter going on in the bottom.

    Give it a click through these 25 slides and see if your team (if they made the Top 25) is over- or underrated and where they are going to finish at in the end of the year.

25. Penn State Nittany Lions

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: NR

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 25

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: NR

    Over/Under Rated: Over

    This team is like a lot in our opening poll from the coaches. They have a new quarterback leading their offense. They are a team that was un-ranked at the end of last year, and they are a team that will have a good season with four or five losses but end up un-ranked at the end of the year.

24. Texas Longhorns

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: NR

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 24

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: NR

    Over/Under Rated: Over

    This is the only team that finished last season with a losing record, but open this year in the Coaches Preseason Poll. They are all about the hype, as they had another great recruiting year. This year is all on the arm of Garrett Gilbert. He has the talented Malcolm Brown at running back to help this year. If Brown can live up to the preseason hype and Gilbert still has a season like last year, then he will be viewed as one of the worst quarterbacks to ever put on a Longhorns uniform.

23. Florida Gators

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: NR

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 23

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 18

    Over/Under Rated: Under

    The team last year struggled in their first season without Tim Tebow. This year the offense should be better as they are entering into their second year with quarterback John Brantley. Also this year the defense gets the best defensive coach in the game as their new head coach in Will Muschamp.

    Will they win the SEC East? Probably not, but they'll still have a very successful year.

22. Georgia Bulldogs

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: NR

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 22

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 22

    Over/Under Rated: Push

    Why push, you say? Well, because this Georgia team will be better than last year, but still not be the best team in the SEC East (that team later on in this piece).

    They are like Florida in that they're coming into a second year quarterback, so the offense should be better. But Georgia lost AJ Green to the NFL thus losing their best offensive player. They'll lose their annual game.

21. Missouri Tigers

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 18

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 21

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: NR

    Over/Under Rated: Over

    This Missouri football team has spent the last decade and a half playing in the easier of the two Big XII divisions, the Big XII North. Not this year though as the conference is rid of the divisions and now one big conference. No longer can Missouri beat on their own division while playing the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

20. Missippi State Bull Dogs

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 17

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 20

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 25

    Over/Under Rated: Over

    This is the forgotten team of the SEC West. They have to play in the same division as such SEC National Champions: LSU, Alabama, and Auburn, and those are teams that have won it all in the last six years.

    If this MSU team played in the Big XII or Big Ten or any other conference, they'd have as good of a BCS shot as anyone else in their league. But they are stuck in the SEC West and thus will be lucky to hang onto a top 25 finish at the end of the year.

19. Auburn Tigers

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 1

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 19

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 15

    Over/Under Rated: Under

    Question: Has there ever been a defending champion that has opened the following year's poll as far away from the top spot? Was Cam Newton the whole reason why this team won it all last year?

    Apparently the coaches think so and that's why they dropped them to 19.

18. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: NR

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 18

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: NR

    Over/Under Rated: Over

    Okay Notre Dame fans tell me why I'm wrong. Tell me why Dayne Crist and Michael Floyd is going to lead this Irish team back to a BCS Bowl Game. Tell me why in their second year, the Notre Dame coaching staff has fixed everything from the last staff. Tell me why please because this team once again has preseason hype all around them.

17. Michigan State Spartains

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 14

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 17

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 8

    Over/Under Rated: Under

    The Michigan State program always seems to have a team that is up there with the elite Big Ten programs like Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin. But, they cannot find a way to break through in the games that they need to win against said teams. This year, with the new divisions, and most of the teams on a down swing, we could see Sparty as the first Big Ten Championship game winner.

16. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 5

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 16

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 10

    Over/Under Rated: Under

    Who knows what this team may have been ranked if the scandal that hit them this offseason did not result in the resignation of their head coach Jim Tressel and losing their quarterback in Terrell Pryor. Maybe this team would have been No. 1 on this preseason list?

    But to be No. 16 is a bit of a surprise for this Ohio State team. They are still Ohio State, and they still have as much talent as any of the teams higher than them.

15. TCU Horned Frogs

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 2

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 15

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 19

    Over/Under Rated: Over

    TCU was a great story last year. They were the 1-B to Bosie State in the non-BCS school who could end up in the title game. But without their leader in Andy Dalton where does this team go? Sure the saying is "defense wins championships" but you cannot win a game by scoring zero points.

    A 8-3, 9-2 season would be nice, but it won't get them anywhere near a BCS game.

14. Arkansas Razorbacks

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 12

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 14

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 12

    Over/Under Rated: Under

    This Arkansas team is another one of those SEC teams that if they play in any other conference they're the best team in that conference. But because they have to deal with that brutal SEC schedule they're either destined for a national title game, or an 8-4 season.

    This year, with the loss of Ryan Mallett, it's on the defense to keep this Razorback team in the SEC West race. They could end this season either way below the No. 12 ranking, or somewhere in the Top 5.

13. Virginia Tech Hokies

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 15

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 13

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 16

    Over/Under Rated: Over

    Really, this rating for Virgina Tech could be considered a push. They'll start their season off like they do almost every year, in that they'll lose one if not two of their first three games. Then they'll start their ACC conference play and dominate that, thus giving them their usual 9-10 wins to end the season.

    So they could end up in a BCS game and a higher ranking at the end of the season.

12. South Carolina Gamecocks

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 22

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 12

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 5

    Over/Under Rated: Under

    You maybe are looking at the BCS National Championship Game runner-up. They will win the SEC East division. They will avenge their SEC Title Game loss from last year by winning it this year. But, they will not continue the streak for the SEC of winning the BCS National Title Game.

    Or quarterback Stephan Garcia could go catatonic thus forcing the Gamecocks into a tail spin and running their best chance ever in the school's history of a national championship.

11. Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 19

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 11

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 7

    Over/Under Rated: Under

    Let's see how the Nebraska Cornhuskers transition to the ground and pound style of play in the Big Ten. They had a great last two years in the Big XII, but can they continue the success in the first year of the Big Ten?

    The defense lost its best player to the draft and the offense is heavily reliant on the legs of their quarterback in Taylor Martinez. The question for Nebraska this year is, have they found a second option for this offense when/if a defense shuts down his scrambling option. Last year they didn't have another option, as it showed in their losses.

10. Wisconsin Badgers

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 8

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 10

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 9

    Over/Under Rated: Under

    This team, much like Michigan State, has always been on the cusp of greatness in the Big Ten. Unlike Michigan State, they have had their share of Big Ten titles and Rose Bowl games. This year their isn't a clear cut Big Ten front-runner. This year the Wisconsin Badgers could take control of the Big Ten and play in the Rose Bowl.

9. Texas A&M Aggies

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 21

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 9

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 4

    Over/Under Rated: Under

    The "12th Man" will finally get a team that they can really "whoooop" over. Did you miss that last reference? Okay let's try again. The "12th Man" will finally get a team that they can really "gig" over.

    Yeah that one doesn't work as well since both of those references describe the cheers from College Station at Kyle Field. 

    Anyway even with the loss of A&M's defensive superstar, Von Miller, this is the best Aggie team in the history of the program. Unlike last year, this team should live up to the preseason hype and not only be the best team in the state of Texas, but be the best team in the Big 12. 

8. Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 10

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 8

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 17

    Over/Under Rated: Over

    Is this the year that Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy finally takes his Oklahoma State team to their first Big XII championship? Not only that, but is this the first year that he takes his program to a BCS game as well? 

    It seems that Gundy and his coaching staff find great talent the likes that Oklahoma and Texas have seemed to over look. But for some reason that talent is never able to beat both Oklahoma and Texas in the same year. 

    Maybe, just maybe, this year is the year.

7. Boise State Broncos

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 7

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 7

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 2

    Over/Under Rated: Under

    The BCS party crasher gets another year ranked in the preseason Top 10. It will be another full year of hearing how the Boise State Broncos could play in the BCS Championship game. Yes, another full year of an undefeated Boise State team having to answer questions of why they are more deserving of playing in the title game over any of the one-loss teams in the country. 

    Except this year they'll come up short again to an undefeated South Carolina team and another team featured later in this slide show. 

6. Stanford Cardinal

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 4

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 6

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 1

    Over/Under Rated: Under

    Here you go ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 College Football BCS Champions. 

    This year Andrew Luck is on a mission to prove that he made the right decision to stay his senior year, get his college degree, and win the BCS National Championship. Under Luck, this Stanford program has not seen success since the days of John Elway. 

    With Luck, they are going to be the best team in college football this year. 

5. Florida State Seminoles

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 16

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 5

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 14

    Over/Under Rated: Over

    First off, where in the bleep did this team come from? If the polls are going to drop the defending national champion Auburn all the way down to 18 then how do the ration Florida State as a Top Five team? 

    Both schools are coming into a year with a new starting quarterback. Both schools are in divisions that have teams that are way better than they are. But yet one team is rewarded with a Top Five ranking and the other is barley in the Top 20.

    Maybe the coaches know that Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher has built a great team in his short time as the leader of the program. 

4. LSU Tigers

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 8

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 4

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 13

    Over/Under Rated: Over

    A lot like these other teams in the Top 10 on this list LSU always finds themselves right up there in the BCS discussion for the title game. Every year people wonder how LSU head coach Les Miles is able to win games that seem his team is out played in. 

    Maybe this year all of the good luck and good bounces will not fall Les's way and the LSU Tigers will have just a mediocre season in the SEC going 9-3 or 8-4. Their offense is the same as last year and the defense lost its best player in corner back Patrick Peterson to the NFL. 

3. Oregon Ducks

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 3

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 3

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 3

    Over/Under Rated: Push

    Could this Oregon team make a trip back to the BCS this year? Yes, they can. But, this year it will not be the championship game, but the Rose Bowl. 

    Coach Kelly will have this offense scoring touchdowns in the bunches this year just like last year. This team will be making that poor student in the Duck mascot costume doing push-up after push-up after push-up this year. 

    But, the game against Stanford in November will not end in a victory like last year. 

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 11

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 2

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 6

    Over/Under Rated: Over

    I'm going to take a lot of heat over this one from the Alabama faithful. I'm just glad that y'all don't know where I live so that one of your fanatics can't come and poison one of my trees. 

    Too soon?

    Anyway back to football. Bama, like many other teams here, lost just to much in the offseason to the NFL. Gone is starting running back and wide reciver Mark Ingram and Julio Jones. Ingram a former Heisman Trophy winner and if not for a injury plagued 2010 season could have been the first back-to-back winner of the trophy since 1976-77.

    They're a good team, but are they national championship good? In one word, no. 

1. Oklahoma Sooners

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    2010 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 6

    2011 USA Today Preseason Poll: 1

    Predicted 2011 USA Today Final Poll Ranking: 11

    Over/Under Rated: Over

    First off this team is not overrated due to myself being a Texas Featured Columnist. So if you're racing down to the comment section to write that, stop right there. 

    The reason this team will not reach the BCS Championship game in Januaray is because their division is just to tough this year. The parody in the conference is up there with the SEC, Pac 12, and ACC. Oklahoma isn't just the clear cut  number one in the country, they're not even the clear cut No. 1 in their conference.

    It's asking a lot for Landry Jones and the Oklahoma team to get past road games at No. 5 Florida State, No. 23 Texas (Neutral Field Game), and No. 8 Oklahoma State. 

    Love it or hate it you have your own opinions and we always welcome them in the comment section.

    Don't forget to follow me on Twitter:@tjmcaloon

    Also don't forget to check out these other great stories in B/R about the USA Today Poll: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/791920-preseason-college-football-rankings-2011-complete-usa-today-coaches-top-25

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