Immediate Reactions to College Football's 2022 AP Preseason Poll
The college football calendar hit another landmark Monday with the unveiling of the preseason AP Top 25.
As most everyone expected, Alabama landed the No. 1 ranking in the initial poll for the 2022 season. Rounding out the top five are Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson and Notre Dame.
For many reasons, emotions should be tempered about which program is where. Wins and losses will change the order in just a couple of weeks, and the poll itself will undergo a reset as the sample size builds. Don't worry if your favorite team is underrated or a rival school is overrated.
We can, however, acknowledge some notable parts in level-headed fashion with a handful of quick takeaways from the AP Top 25 release.
No Surprises at the Top
Not only did a consensus build that Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia would form the Tier 1 group, but that order also became the expectation.
And the votes came through exactly that way.
Alabama received 54 of the 63 votes for No. 1, followed by Ohio State's six and Georgia's three. The totals also showed a clear structure, with approximately 50-60 voting points separating Alabama (1,566) from Ohio State (1,506) and the Buckeyes from UGA (1,455).
Behind them, there was a sizable gap before Clemson (1,292) led a tight collection of Tier 2 teams.
Clemson Headlines Tier 2
While this section played out mostly as anticipated, it certainly ended as a cramped group.
Clemson (1,292) managed a little breathing room from Notre Dame (1,242), and the Fighting Irish kept Texas A&M (1,212) at a fair distance.
After those three, though, the decisions of a few voters could have impacted the poll in a substantial way.
Texas A&M finished just three points clear of Utah (1,209), and six points separated the Utes from Michigan (1,203). In short: Two heavier Michigan leans and softer Texas A&M outlooks would have flipped the teams.
None of the programs in this quintet were in danger of anything below eighth, though. Michigan had a staggering 247-point cushion over ninth-ranked Oklahoma.
Big 12, Pac-12 Caught in the Middle
Given that we spend all offseason looking ahead to the fall, we're not necessarily learning anything new about the teams. However, the AP poll confirmed what we anticipated the voting body tends to believe.
And it's a bit of a "good news, bad news" situation.
Though the Pac-12 has Utah in Tier 2, the rest of the conference is extremely thin on perceived Top 25 teams. Oregon (11th) and USC (14th) are the only other ranked teams, and UCLA—which had just two voting points—was the only other team that mustered a spot on a ballot.
Also, the Big 12 has three Top 12 teams, which is excellent. Yet each one—Oklahoma (ninth), Baylor (10th) and Oklahoma State (12th)—is viewed in Tier 3. Texas effectively landed 27th, and Kansas State picked up some scattered votes, too.
Those conferences have an uphill climb if they want to join the expected top contenders for the College Football Playoff.
New Records for Trio
Let's remember the obvious point: The poll is guaranteed to change. Perceptions will be different soon.
Still, lifting a program to new heights is a true accomplishment worth celebrating. Golf claps are in order for Utah, North Carolina State and Wake Forest.
Utah had never ranked above 14th in previous AP preseason polls, but it shattered the mark at No. 7 here. North Carolina State matched its previous high at 13th, and Wake Forest checked in 22nd to clip its record of 23rd.
Sure, it won't matter in a month or dramatically affect late-season polls, but it's a neat achievement.
Group of 5 Takeaways
It's normal to see a Group of Five program or two within the 20s. Last season, for example, Coastal Carolina (22nd) and Louisiana-Lafayette (23rd) landed in the back end of the AP poll representing the Sun Belt.
History nearly repeated itself this year, as a different conference got two teams into the poll. This time it was the American Athletic Conference getting some love in the poll, as Cincinnati settled in at No. 23, just ahead of its prime challenger, Houston (24th).
For good measure, independent BYU (25th) rounded out the poll.
One interesting note from outside the Top 25 is the Mountain West had five programs receive votes. Fresno State (32) garnered the most points, while Boise State (five), Air Force (four), San Diego State (two) and Utah State (two) were also on the radar. That championship race could be a wild one.