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Preseason College Football Rankings 2021: Predicting AP Top 25 After Coaches Poll

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 10, 2021

Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks to reporters during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days Wednesday, July 21, 2021, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

The first preseason college football poll for the 2021 season debuted on Tuesday afternoon. 

To no one's surprise, the Alabama Crimson Tide sit on top of the Amway Coaches Poll with the Clemson Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners and Ohio State Buckeyes directly beneath them in that order. 

The first Coaches poll of the season gives us a good idea of which teams will land at the top of the AP Preseason Top 25, which will debut in a week's time. 

Two years ago, the two polls produced the same top 10 teams. The variance came at the back end of the polls and that should be the same for the pair of August rankings. 

      

Amway Coaches Preseason Poll

Brett McMurphy @Brett_McMurphy

Coaches preseason Top 25 poll 1-Bama 2-Clemson 3-OU 4-OhioSt 5-Georgia 6-A&M 7-NDame 8-IowaSt 9-UNC 10-Cincinnati 11-Florida 12-Oregon 13-LSU 14-USC 15-Wisconsin 16-Miami 17-Indiana 18-Iowa 19-Texas 20-PennSt 21-Washington 22-OklaSt 23-Louisiana 24-Coastal Carolina 25-OleMiss

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AP Top 25 Prediction

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Oklahoma

4. Ohio State 

5. Georgia

6. Texas A&M

7. Notre Dame

8. Iowa State

9. North Carolina

10. Florida

11. Oregon

12. Cincinnati

13. LSU

14. USC

15. Miami

16. Wisconsin

17. Indiana

18. Iowa

19. Penn State

20. Texas

21. Oklahoma State

22. Washington

23. Arizona State

24. Louisiana

25. Coastal Carolina

   

There will not be much change at the top between the two preseason polls. 

Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Ohio State are the four favored sides to reach the College Football Playoff. 

The next tier of programs in the rankings should possess the Georgia Bulldogs and Texas A&M Aggies, who are expected to be the two best teams underneath Alabama in the SEC.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish's ranking will not be affected by their move out of the ACC and back to an independent schedule. 

The Iowa State Cyclones and North Carolina Tar Heels have some of the best returning skill players in the nation and could be surprise playoff contenders if everything goes in their favor. 

Iowa State and UNC will most likely be two of the top contenders for the New Years' Six bowls and they will draw attention each week because of Cyclones running back Breece Hall and Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell. 

Howell could be in contention for the Heisman Trophy and he should generate plenty of NFL attention during his third year inside the UNC offense. 

The Florida Gators have a case to be at the back end of the Top 10 over the Cincinnati Bearcats because of their spot in the SEC.

Dan Mullen's side should be the second-best team in the SEC East and could be the fourth-best side in the entire conference, which is still a better position to be in compared to the best team in the American Athletic Conference. 

There could be some hesitancy to place Florida that high because it has to replace Kyle Trask, but Emory Jones has been in the system for quite some time and could make a smooth transition to the starting quarterback. 

The bottom section of the rankings is where the most intrigue resides. The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns and Coastal Carolina Chanticleers represented the Sun Belt and Group of Five at Nos. 23 and 24, while the Ole Miss Rebels snuck in at No. 25. 

Ole Miss might have been the biggest surprise inclusion because of how poorly its defense played in Lane Kiffin's first season in charge. 

A more stable program, like the Utah Utes, or a promising squad with loads of talent, like the Arizona State Sun Devils, might have been better choices to start out the campaign. 

In 2019, the AP and Coaches poll differed on one team in the bottom five. The AP placed the Nebraska Cornhuskers at No. 24 and the Coaches poll put the Northwestern Wildcats in at No. 25. Both teams were out of the polls from the last full college football season within two weeks. 

If there is any difference in teams, it will come at the bottom. Arizona State should challenge the USC Trojans for the Pac-12 South title and it was third in the other receiving votes column in the Coaches Poll. 

Utah, Northwestern and the Auburn Tigers are the other candidates that could land in the bottom part of the preseason AP Top 25. 

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