Breaking Down Auburn's Exclusion in the AP Preseason College Football Poll
The Associate Press preseason college football poll was released this past weekend with few surprises taking center stage. Auburn was left out of the poll which came to the surprise of many, but breaking down the perception that led to the exclusion brings some light to the decision.
Auburn has a number of questions that remain in the air for 2012 on the national level—most notably the quarterback race—but Tigers fans can point to all the reasons why Auburn should have made the cut.
The bottom fifth of the poll is always a bit of a crap shoot when it comes to preseason college football predictions. Here is the breakdown that led to Auburn’s exclusion and reasons why the media may have gotten it wrong.
Auburn Starts AP Unranked
The Auburn Tigers landed at the very bottom of the USA Today Coaches’ Poll early this month at the No. 25 position. The assumption was that the Tigers would likely grace the AP Top 25, but the Tigers fell short of making the cut.
Auburn drew 53 votes—the third most among non-ranked teams—but it was not enough to land a ranking in the poll.
Six SEC teams made the Top 25 and five teams received votes—including Auburn. That is 11 of 14 SEC teams that were voted on to be placed in the preseason college football poll by the media. There is no denying the strength of the conference heading into the 2012 season.
Why the Tigers Didn’t Make the Cut
Auburn has more than enough questions heading into the 2012 that caused the Tigers to fall short of a Top-25 ranking in the first AP poll release.
The most glaring question heading into the season is the quarterback quandary that appears to be on the Plains. Kiehl Frazier has been the assumed starter since the conclusion of spring, but Gene Chizik insists that the race is still ongoing.
Keep in mind that Clint Moseley has been virtually unable to perform due to a nagging shoulder injury.
This weekend head coach Gene Chizik remained vague on the race, telling the media via AL.com that "Today was a day where it wasn't a great opportunity for them…No one has separated himself.” Chizik went on to say that a starter would be named prior to game week, but no movement at the position has led to concern for the Tigers' future.
The other most glaring issue is the offensive line. The Tigers return three starters from a year ago, but the other two positions will likely be filled by freshmen. The Tigers have a ton of talent at the position, but a lack of experience is tough to hide upfront.
Why the Tigers Should Have Made the Cut
Auburn didn’t pass the muster to make it into the AP preseason college football poll, but there are glaring strengths on the Tigers roster that should have brought them over the hill and into the preseason poll.
The most glaring strength that gives Auburn an edge this season is the defensive line. The Tigers return every starter on the line and have four defensive ends that could play for any team in the country led by Corey Lemonier.
The Tigers also return three of four starters in the secondary and will have three players with starting experience filling the linebacker corps. Daren Bates is the leader for the Tigers at linebacker, starting virtually every game of his career at either safety or linebacker since his freshman season.
Running back is another point of depth for the Tigers. With the shift the Tigers took this spring offensively, no other position will be as vital to the Auburn offense as running back.
Auburn is stacked with talent,and will field one of the most talented groups of running backs in the country in 2012.
Teams Auburn Should Have Jumped in the Preseason
Auburn has taken a back seat to a number of teams in the initial Top 25 rankings, and looking at a few of the teams that are ahead of them it leads to a lot of shaking heads among the Auburn fanbase.
The Tigers took a back seat to the likes of Boise State—who is replacing its own offensive coordinator and stud quarterback Kellen Moore. They also fall behind fellow SEC team Florida—a that is in a worse situation at quarterback and have no proven answers in at key positions like running back and receiver.
Stanford even took a jump into the Top 25 at No. 21—another team that Auburn would match up very well against in a head-to-head this season.
The Tigers are in no way a Top-15 team entering the season, but they are good enough to jump into the bottom fifth of the Top 25 and surpass some teams that are currently found in the bottom of the AP Top 25.
How Quickly Can They Climb?
The Tigers start the season in Atlanta, Ga. in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic against No. 14 Clemson.
A win in week one would easily push the Tigers into the Top 25 in the AP and push them into the upper fifth of the USA Today Top 25 selections. The Tigers then face Mississippi State—a game that most predict the Tigers will lose—which would help Auburn gain ground.
The biggest jump for the Tigers could happen in week four when they face off with the LSU Tigers at home. If Auburn can pull off the upset, or simply play the Bayou Bengals close, Auburn will see its stock rise.
With five of Auburn’s regular season opponents landing in the Top 15—four of which are in the Top 10—the Tigers could jump substantially in the polls by season's end.