The 2014 NCAA college football season is approaching fast, but many fans have already turned their attention to the preseason Top 25 rankings and where their respective favorite teams sit in the standings.
The frenzy around the sport was already amped up with the release of the preseason Amway coaches poll, but Sunday’s release of the Associated Press Top 25 has further fueled the anticipation for Week 1 of the college football regular season.
Here are the full AP and Amway Top 25 polls and a breakdown of what to expect this season.
|Preseason Amway and AP Top 25 Rankings|
|Rank||Associated Press Top 25||Amway Top 25|
|1||Florida State Seminoles||Florida State Seminoles|
|2||Alabama Crimson Tide||Alabama Crimson Tide|
|3||Oregon Ducks||Oklahoma Sooners|
|4||Oklahoma Sooners||Oregon Ducks|
|5||Ohio State Buckeyes||Auburn Tigers|
|6||Auburn Tigers||Ohio State Buckeyes|
|7||UCLA Bruins||UCLA Bruins|
|8||Michigan State Spartans||Michigan State Spartans|
|9||South Carolina Gamecocks||South Carolina Gamecocks|
|10||Baylor Bears||Baylor Bears|
|11||Stanford Cardinal||Stanford Cardinal|
|12||Georgia Bulldogs||Georgia Bulldogs|
|13||LSU Tigers||LSU Tigers|
|14||Wisconsin Badgers||Wisconsin Badgers|
|15||USC Trojans||USC Trojans|
|16||Clemson Tigers||Clemson Tigers|
|17||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||Notre Dame Fighting Irish|
|18||Mississippi Rebels||Arizona State Sun Devils|
|19||Arizona State Sun Devils||Mississippi Rebels|
|20||Kansas State Wildcats||Texas A&M Aggies|
|21||Texas A&M Aggies||Kansas State Wildcats|
|22||Nebraska Cornhuskers||Nebraska Cornhuskers|
|23||North Carolina Tar Heels||North Carolina Tar Heels|
|24||Missouri Tigers||Texas Longhorns|
|25||Washington Huskies||Washington Huskies|
|Source: USAToday.com and Associated Press.|
Breaking Down the Top Championship Contenders
The addition of a new playoff system has many college football fans relieved to see the outdated BCS Championship eliminated. Now the best teams in the country will have to prove their worth in a more traditional single-elimination postseason format.
Before we get to the new playoffs, there is a full regular season that must take place. College football fans love Saturdays due to the vast number of games that take place, and the long-term goal of making the postseason adds a new wrinkle to the sport.
Florida State was lucky enough to earn the No. 1 overall spot in both the Amway poll and the AP poll. Led by Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, the Seminoles have every intention of repeating as national champions with or without a playoff system.
Back-to-back championships may be the goal for Florida State, but there are several legitimate contenders who firmly believe they will finish the season in the No. 1 overall spot. With the Alabama Crimson Tide (second in both the Amway and AP polls) returning many of the program’s top players, the Seminoles' run to another title won’t be easy.
Alabama may be the program many fans consider the most likely to unseat the Seminoles, but losses to the Oklahoma Sooners (third in the Amway poll and fourth in the AP poll) and Auburn Tigers (fifth in the Amway poll and sixth in the AP poll) make the Crimson Tide look more vulnerable than at any other time over the last five years.
Another program that is always in contention is the Oregon Ducks (fourth in the Amway poll and third in the AP poll). Despite losing offensive genius Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2012 season, Oregon still possesses the same high-powered offense and unique game plan.
The strongest conference in college football has been the Southeastern Conference, but there are many SEC teams rated lower than expected. The South Carolina Gamecocks are ranked No. 9 overall in both the Amway and AP polls, the Georgia Bulldogs are 12th and the LSU Tigers are 13th.
The conference also has the Mississippi Rebels and the Texas A&M Aggies ranked in the Top 25.
While the perennial contenders will be fighting for top spots once again this season, there are also unheralded teams with deep rosters that could make a serious splash in the new College Football Playoff system.
Whether it’s the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans, the No. 16 Clemson Tigers or the No. 22 Nebraska Cornhuskers (all rankings via both Amway and AP polls), fans of the sport will be focused on the potential upsets and Cinderella teams looking to make a splash this season.
*Stats via CFBStats.com.