The Complete Associated Press Top 25 Preseason Poll

Rich ThomaselliSenior Writer IAugust 20, 2011

The Complete Associated Press Top 25 Preseason Poll

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    The Associated Press Poll is out with the preseason Top 25 rankings, and the Oklahoma Sooners have checked in at No. 1, just as they did two weeks ago in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll.

    The Sooners received 36 of a possible 60 first-place votes.

    There were few, if any, surprises in the AP rankings, though there were some notable additions and subtractions from the Coaches' Poll. Texas and Penn State, both in the USA Today/ESPN rankings, are unranked in the AP poll. USC and West Virginia, both unranked in the Coaches' Poll, are ranked in the Associated Press poll (though, to be fair, with USC on probation it is ineligible to be ranked in the Coaches' Poll).

    Here's a quick trip through the Associated Press Top 25 and a short breakdown of each team ranked in the first poll.

Southern California

1 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 25

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: Unranked

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 8-5

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: Talent. Lots of it. To be sure, Pete Carroll left a mess here with the Trojans on probation, but this is still USC and quarterback Matt Barkley is an outside candidate for the Heisman Trophy Award.

West Virginia

2 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 24

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: Unranked

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 9-4

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: Perhaps the voters in the AP poll felt bad that the Big East didn't get any love in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll. But the Mountaineers have a nice little team, and they should be the favorites to win the conference (which isn't saying much) and go to a BCS bowl game.

Auburn

3 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 23

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 19

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 14-0

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: They're defending national champions but are without the services of No. 1 overall NFL draft pick QB Cam Newton, as well as defensive stud Nick Fairley. Their ranking still might be a tad too low for a defending national champ, but it could have been worse.

Florida

4 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 22

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 23

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 8-5

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: The Gators had a sub-par season—for them, anyway—in what turned out to be Urban Meyer’s last season at the helm of the Florida program. Will Muschamp is a fine replacement, but QB John Brantley has to step up as the team's schedule is killer, with games this year against Alabama, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State.

Missouri

5 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 21

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 21

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 10-3

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: The Tigers had a terrific season last year, including a big victory over then No. 1-ranked Oklahoma. Mizzou has lost quarterback Blaine Gabbert to the NFL, but it has 15 starters returning for coach Gary Pinkel and could be a Cinderella team this season.

Mississippi State

6 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 20

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 20

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 9-4

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: Did you see what they did to Michigan in the bowl game?? Chris Relf is fairly solid at quarterback and this is an up-and-coming program. Great. Just what the world needs—another strong SEC team.

Georgia

7 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 19

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 22

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 6-7

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: A disappointing season was capped by a loss to UCF in the Liberty Bowl. The problem with Georgia is getting coach Mark Richt to utilize the plethora of talent on this team. The Bulldogs have been out of the Top 25 on some preseason magazine polls, and as high as No. 9 in the country in Phil Steele’s annual publication.

Ohio State

8 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 18

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 16

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 12-1

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: This is a team that might have started the season in the Top Five. Of course, cheaters never prosper and the Buckeyes lost coach Jim Tressel and quarterback Terrelle Pryor over Tattoo-Gate. New, interim head coach Luke Fickell has great resources, though.

Michigan State

9 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 17

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 17

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 11-2

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: They probably would have been ranked higher but the defending Big Ten co-champions with Ohio State and Wisconsin were absolutely waxed by Alabama in the bowl game last year. Wasn’t even close. We’ll probably know more about this team when Sparty plays Ohio State.

Notre Dame

10 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: 16

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 18

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 8-5

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: Ugh. We do this song and dance every year. The poll voters rank the Irish in the preseason polls, the media talks about how Notre Dame is “back,” and then we get 8-5. Or worse. If Notre Dame can get settled at quarterback, it could be a nice year. IF it gets settled at QB.

Arkansas

11 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 15

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 14

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 10-3

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: Ryan Mallett is gone, but Tyler Wilson is solid and will grow into the quarterback position as the season progresses. Knile Davis will be a big loss but the Razorbacks believe they have depth at the skill positions.

TCU

12 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 14

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 15

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 13-0

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: TCU had a rightful claim to the national title last year after finishing unbeaten with a victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. But the Frogs lost quarterback Andy Dalton and voters have yet to see the true capability of his replacement, Casey Paschall.

Virginia Tech

13 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 13

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 13

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 11-3

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: The Hokies had a nice comeback last year after stumbling out of the gate. Coach Frank Beamer always has a strong program and it's hard to believe Virginia Tech won't give Florida State a run for its money for the ACC crown.

South Carolina

14 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 12

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 12

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 9-5

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: The ol' ball coach has his hands full with trouble-prone quarterback Stephen Garcia, who makes headlines for all the wrong reasons. But if Garcia can keep his head on straight, the Gamecocks are a dangerous team.

Wisconsin

15 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 11

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 10

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 11-2

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: The Badgers were going to be here anyway. The program is that good, that solid. But then they got a nice surprise earlier this year when immediately-eligible quarterback Russell Wilson transferred in from North Carolina State. Niiiiiice.

Nebraska

16 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 10

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 11

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 10-4

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: Some are already calling the Cornhuskers the preseason favorite in their first year in the Big Ten. That's not entirely untrue, although Wisconsin and Ohio State might have something to say about it.

Oklahoma State

17 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 9

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 8

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 11-2

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: Oklahoma State possesses one of the most explosive, if not the most explosive, offenses in the country. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon just might be the best receiver in the country, and coach Mike Gundy has the Cowboys primed for another strong season—maybe even a BCS game this year.

Texas A&M

18 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 8

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 9

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 9-4

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: Some are calling the Aggies a sleeper pick for the national championship if they can get by Oklahoma. We'll have to wait and see on that but we do know this: A&M is good. Real good. This is going to be a nice season for The 12th Man.

Stanford

19 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 7

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 6

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 12-1

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: Coach Jim Harbaugh took off for the NFL after the greatest season in Stanford history culminated with an Orange Bowl victory. Heisman Trophy candidate Andrew Luck is back at quarterback, though, and the Cardinal is looking to knock off Oregon this time around.

Florida State

20 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 6

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 5

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 10-4

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: There's no question coach Jimbo Fisher has stepped in for the legendary Bobby Bowden and is returning the Seminoles to prominence. The big question this year is with all that talent, is this the season Fisher can lead FSU back to glory?

Boise State

21 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 5

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 7

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 12-1

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: The only thing separating Boise State from a perfect season last year—and a trip to a BCS game—was a last-second field goal by Nevada. This year, the Broncos get Georgia and TCU on the slate, and two wins there in the midst of an unbeaten season would surely put BSU in the BCS and maybe even the title game.

LSU

22 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 4

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 4

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 11-2

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: Les Miles can eat all the grass he wants if he can just get quarterback Jordan Jefferson to play with more consistency. This team is loaded, and the Week 1 game against No. 3 Oregon will certainly tell the tale for the rest of the season.

Oregon

23 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 3

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 3

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 12-1

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: Ugly uniforms. Great program. The Ducks came within a breath of the national championship last year before falling to Auburn 22-19. This year, Heisman candidate LaMichael James and company should still be putting 40-50 points on the board every game and rolling toward another Pac-12 title.

Alabama

24 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 2

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 2

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 10-3

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: The only thing not to like about this Alabama team is its egotistical, paranoid head coach. Otherwise, 'Bama has all the talent in the world to replace running back Mark Ingram and a defense that will give opposing teams fits. But the SEC is a rugged schedule.

Oklahoma

25 of 25

    ASSOCIATED PRESS RANKING: No. 1

    USA TODAY/ESPN RANKING: No. 1

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 12-2

    WHY THEY’RE HERE: Oklahoma are the preseason AP No. 1 for the 10th time in its illustrious history. OU returns Landry Jones and a plethora of dangerous options on offense, although the loss of Travis Lewis on defense will be tough. Still, this is the team to beat for now, although No. 6 Florida State will get the first real crack at the Sooners on Sept. 17 in Tallahassee.