Summer remains in full swing around the United States, but football season is right around the corner. And of the first harbingers of college football's return, the Coaches Poll Top 25 rankings, is finally here.
In no surprise, 2021 college football national champion Alabama tops the list of programs expected to contend for a championship this season, earning 63 of 65 first-place votes. Clemson at No. 2, Oklahoma at No. 3, Ohio State at No. 4 and Georgia at No. 5 won't shock anyone.
In fact, those teams have landed in the top five in some order in four of the last five preseason polls.
But there are some fresh-faced challengers hoping to dismantle the power structure of college football. Iowa State, at No. 8, earned its highest position on the list since 1991.
Cincinnati, which finished last season ranked No. 8, rounds out the Top 10. Two of its nonconference opponents, Notre Dame and Indiana, also fall within the Top 20.
Indiana, No. 17, appears on the preseason Top 25 for the first time.
It's an interesting poll that (hopefully) promises an interesting season ahead. Let's take a look at what college football experts think about the rankings.
Expert Reactions to Top 25
While the balance of power at the top of college football is largely undisturbed, talent can be found in more unexpected places throughout the list as a whole.
As The Athletic's Chris Vannini points out, there are three Group of Five teams in the poll: Cincinnati (10th), Louisiana (23rd) and Coastal Carolina (24th). It's the most in the College Football Playoff era.
There were some surprising omissions from the rankings. As Chris Fallica pointed out, Arizona State fell outside of the Top 25, though it did receive 90 votes, the third-most of the teams that didn't make the list. (Utah was first, at 145; Northwestern was next at 120.)
Michigan and Auburn also landed outside the Top 25 for the first time since 2015 and 2016, respectively.
The Sun Belt Conference deserves a shoutout as well, as the league got its first team ranked in the preseason this year—actually, two: No. 23 Louisiana-Lafayette and No. 24 Coastal Carolina.
As might be expected, the SEC is the conference with the most programs in the preseason poll, with six. The Big Ten has five teams, the Big 12 has four, and the ACC and Pac-12 both have three.
At the end of the day, it's important to remember that everyone, even FBS coaches, is still just making their best educated guess.
To wit, never forget that Dabo Swinney ranked Ohio State, which would beat Clemson 49-28 in the College Football Playoff, 11th in his final Coaches Poll last season.