What if, in January 2020, someone had told you that when the AP NCAA Top 25 poll was released in the fall, Ohio State would come in at No. 2 in the preseason poll but would drop out of the Top 25 altogether the next week?
It would have seemed more than far-fetched, but given the unusual way the college football season is unfolding during the COVID-19 pandemic, that's exactly what will happen—not only to Ohio State, but to all programs from the Big Ten and Pac-12 currently ranked.
The Associated Press asked its panel of 62 voters to consider all Division I programs when filling out their ballots for the Week 1 poll, even those that play in conferences that have canceled their college football seasons. According to the NCAA, "67 out of 130 Bowl Subdivision teams, including those from the ACC, Big 12 and SEC, are still planning a fall football season."
After play actually begins this season, voters will rank only teams that are scheduled to play.
Needless to say, college football Twitter was tickled by this entire concept—while many who think moving ahead with any kind of NCAA season is irresponsible in the current circumstances are downright irked. We've collected some of the top takes in the wake of the poll's release here.
First, for your convenience, here is the entirety of the preseason poll.
AP NCAA Top 25 Poll
2. Ohio St
10. Notre Dame
13. Texas A&M
15. Oklahoma State
23. Iowa State
There will be plenty of movement from the preseason iteration of the poll to the next after games are played. Nine programs that have already canceled their seasons were included: No. 2 Ohio State, No. 7 Penn State, No. 9 Oregon, No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 16 Michigan, No. 17 USC, No. 19 Minnesota, No. 22 Utah and No. 24 Iowa.
ESPN sideline reporter Molly McGrath voiced the thoughts that are surely on the minds of many Buckeyes fans. Ranked four spots ahead of national champion, with quarterback Justin Fields returning to play behind a veteran offensive line, the college football world knew Ohio State would have had a special season.
Indeed, much of the Twitter chatter on Monday afternoon fell into one of two categories: Buckeyes fans mourning what could have been and college football analysts imagining how much Buckeyes fans must be mourning what could have been.
In happier news, UCF fans had something to celebrate Monday: their team became the only one in Florida (yes, not even...Florida) to rank in the preseason AP Top 25 for three consecutive years.
It's something of the opposite for Texas. As Blinkin Riley pointed out, the preseason hype for Texas historically tends to outweigh its actual performance:
The Athletic's Oklahoma football writer Jason Kersey pointed out a similar trend for A&M. Ah, tradition.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 teams that won't play this year weren't the only thing on people's minds. Arkansas fans had some jokes at the expense of their strength of schedule this season:
No hyperbole here; Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek, in a statement, called Arkansas' schedule "the most challenging schedule in the history of college football."
Meanwhile, there's an independent program that rhymes with Schmotre Schmame included in the top 10 that has not yet canceled its season, and yet plenty of college football fans on Twitter think it doesn't belong at all:
CFB Home took the liberty of creating the Top 25 poll for only the teams who currently plan to move ahead with their seasons by using the "others receiving votes" list AP includes at the bottom of the poll:
That list looks like: Memphis 86, Virginia Tech 85, Boise State 68, Arizona State 66, Miami (FL) 42, Louisville 32, Appalachian State 26, Washington 21, Kentucky 20, Indiana 19, Baylor 15, California 11, TCU 9, Virginia 7, Navy 6, Florida State 6, SMU 3, Mississippi State 3, Air Force 3, Northwestern 1, UAB 1.
This preseason will surely go down as the one that bore out the strangest AP Top 25 poll in history. While there were jokes, statistical nuggets and hopefulness, CJ perhaps summed up most of college football Twitter's feelings on the matter:
Frankly, that sentiment holds true in a pandemic season or not.