Who Is Overrated and Underrated in AP Poll

Tom PerryCorrespondent IAugust 21, 2011

Who Is Overrated and Underrated in AP Poll

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    Florida is used to beginning the season in the Top 25, but usually a lot higher than No. 22.

    But do the Gators deserve the ranking?

    Now take another look at The Associated Press preseason rankings and try to find anyone who is underrated.

    If you asked an Alabama fan they’d tell you the Tide are underrated at No. 2 (and they feel that way every year, unless ‘Bama is on top).

    Let’s take a closer look at the rankings that were released Saturday and see the five teams who are overrated—and the five who are underrated.

Overrated: No. 21 Missouri

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    Missouri may be the fourth-best team in the Big 12, but if Texas returns to form the Tigers will finish fifth.

    That’s not good enough to be considered a Top 25 team.

    The Tigers return a lot of talent on offense, including All-American tight end Michael Egnew and one of the best offensive lines in the nation.

    But Missouri has tough road games with Arizona State (Sept. 10), Oklahoma (Sept. 24), Texas A&M (Oct. 29) and Baylor (Nov. 5). Each one is a potential loss.

Underrated: No. 25 USC

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    The Pac-12 focus is on the one-two punch of No. 3 Oregon and No. 7 Stanford.

    However, it wasn’t that long ago that USC was the cream of the league, and with one year left on its NCAA sanctions the Trojans are ready for a return to greatness.

    In Lane Kiffin’s second season the Trojans should improve on last year’s pedestrian 8-5 season.

    It starts with junior quarterback Matt Barkley, who is likely playing his last season in Los Angeles. He has a great target in sophomore receiver Robert Woods.

    USC is going to rely on a number or runners this fall, including Marc Tyler, Dillon Baxter and Curtis McNeal.

    The biggest improvement should be seen on defense, where there is more depth.

Overrated: No. 19 Georgia

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    Georgia and Texas were the two big-name programs that really struggled last season.

    Georgia is ranked and Texas is not.

    You could argue the Longhorns have more talent than the Bulldogs. So why is Georgia ranked? Don’t the voters remember that this is a team that lost to Colorado last year?

    So it appears the voters believe last year was more of a blip than a trend. With Aaron Murray at quarterback it’s easy to see why they feel that way.

    But the high expectations could be dashed right away, as Georgia opens against No. 5 Boise State in Atlanta and then returns to Athens to face SEC East favorite and 12th-ranked South Carolina.

    Opening 0-2 is a distinct possibility.

Underrated: No. 14 TCU

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    TCU may be without quarterback Andy Dalton, its emotional leader the past few seasons, but TCU still has plenty of talent to repeat as Mountain West champs.

    There is no way the Horned Frogs or Gary Patterson will be happy with everyone thinking Boise State is going to step in and cruise through the MWC.

    The offense will be just fine with Ed Wesley at running back and Josh Boyce and Antoine Hicks at receiver.

    The defense is going to be one of the best in the conference again, as linebacker Tank Carder returns.

Overrated: No. 8 Texas A&M

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    Texas A&M may have enjoyed a breakout season last year, but opening the season in the Top 10 is a bit premature.

    How quickly we all forget that performance against LSU in the Cotton Bowl.

    The Aggies are talented and it could be a magical season, but the reality is Mike Sherman’s team could easily lose three regular season games and be outside of the Top 10.

    It could still be a successful season for the Aggies, but three of the first four games are all potential losses. If it doesn’t start well, the season could go downhill quickly.

Underrated: No. 20 Mississippi State

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    In three short seasons, Dan Mullen has made Mississippi State football relevant again.

    Opening the season in the Top 25 should be enough.

    But Mullen and the Bulldogs want to start competing for the SEC championship. It’s never easy in the SEC West, but MSU went 9-4 last year—including the State’s most impressive offensive performance in a 51-14 victory over Michigan in the Gator Bowl.

    Now the Bulldogs are thinking Top 10, and with Chris Relf at quarterback and a formidable defensive line this should be the year.

Overrated: No. 7 Stanford

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    It’s easy to understand why Stanford is getting so much love this preseason.

    The Cardinals caught a huge break when Heisman candidate Andrew Luck chose to return instead of being the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

    Luck is enough to think Stanford could win the Pac-12, but the offensive line must replace three starters, and the defensive line is a big question mark.

    Stanford looked so good in last year’s whipping of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl that the image stuck with voters.

    What they seem to forget is Stanford lost its biggest star—Jim Harbaugh—to the NFL.

Underrated: No. 24 West Virginia

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    If you look at WVU’s schedule objectively it is easy to see 10 or 11 victories. The only game the Mountaineers shouldn’t be favored to win is the home date with No. 4 LSU on Sept. 24.

    So if they win the games they are supposed to, West Virginia should be a Top 10 team. It’s easy to see there’s a bias against the Big East.

    WVU is led by junior quarterback Geno Smith, who could have a major breakout season in Dana Holgorsen’s offense.

    There are those who are questioning whether the defense can live up to the standard set by Jeff Casteel’s group last year. There’s enough there to be close, especially with defensive end Bruce Irvin and corner Keith Tandy.

Overrated: No. 22 Florida

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    Florida is ranked on history more than performance. OK, you can also add in the past few recruiting classes.

    But the Gators were an undisciplined team last year, and John Brantley was one of the biggest underachievers of 2010.

    Now there’s a new coach and offensive scheme in Gainesville, and we’re supposed to believe Florida is going to rebound this season?

    Sorry, I’m not buying it.

    This isn’t a referendum against Will Muschamp or Charlie Weis. It’s more about taking a realistic look at a Florida team that lacks experience at almost every position.

Underrated: No. 9 Oklahoma State

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    Oklahoma State is coming off its most successful season in school history, and a large part of that talent returns again.

    Yes, a preseason ranking of ninth is impressive. But this Cowboys team is primed for another big season and it could mean a spot in a BCS Bowl.

    Oklahoma State is hungry, too.

    With talent like Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and a huge offensive line, the Cowboys will contend with No. 1 Oklahoma for the Big 12 title and also a spot in the BCS Championship.

    Oklahoma State gets an early test from eighth-ranked Texas A&M, but there’s a good chance the Cowboys will be 11-0 entering the season finale with Oklahoma.

    How crazy will Boone Pickens Stadium be if both are undefeated on Nov. 26?