The official AP Poll has been released, and as usual, it has people up in arms already.
Alabama starts the season ranked number one for the third straight year, followed by Clemson and Georgia, two of last year’s College Football Playoff participants. The first surprise comes at number four, where the Wisconsin Badgers find themselves to start the season. After that, it’s debate-galore. Here are my initial reactions to the week one rankings.
Until they earn it on the field and resurrect the glory days, the Texas hype has to be put to rest. After a 5-7 season in 2016, including losing three straight to end the year, the Longhorns found themselves ranked 23 in the 2017 preseason AP Poll. They fared slightly better last season, finishing 7-6 with an Academy Sports + Outdoors Bowl win, but that hardly warrants yet another spot in the preseason poll at 23, especially when there are more deserving teams, a la South Carolina. If Texas can put together an 8 or 9-win season, then I’ll eat my words. But with a difficult schedule in front of them and lack of production in the past four years, I can’t hop on the bandwagon at this time.
Badgers match highest preseason ranking ever
It seems that voters believe the hype surrounding the Badgers this season, even if other people out there don’t–the Badgers don’t have the talent that the Clemson’s and Alabama’s of the world do, and it’s surprising that they’re above Ohio State. But if there was ever a year for Wisconsin to contend, this would be the year—they boast the best offensive line in the country, a Heisman candidate at running back, the best group of receivers in school history, and a strong defense once again. The one position not mentioned, and the one that will be key to earning this ranking—quarterback. If Hornibrook can match the level of play he had in the Orange Bowl and keep it consistent throughout the season, there’s no reason that the Badgers can’t be in the top four from start to finish this year. A stronger strength of schedule helps their cause as well, with road games in Ann Arbor and Happy Valley.
Big Ten and SEC rule
The Big Ten and SEC reign supreme once again, with five teams each in the top 25—in the SEC, Alabama (1) and Georgia (3) are in a class of their own, followed by Auburn (9), Mississippi State (18), and LSU (25). The five Big Ten teams are consolidated in the top 15, and like the SEC, have three teams in the top 10—Wisconsin (4), Ohio State (5), and Penn State (10). Michigan State (11) and Michigan (14) round out the rest. The difference in these two conferences—championships. The SEC is a regular contender for the title, while the Big Ten has won one championship in the last 15 years.
The uproar about UCF
There are a lot of people out there who are going to have a problem with UCF being ranked number 21, but it’s clear that they placed a heavy emphasis on the departure of Scott Frost, who took an 0-12 team and turned them into a 13-0 team in two years. The Knights lost several key players to the NFL this offseason, including Mike Hughes and Shaquem Griffin, but they return their most important piece in quarterback McKenzie Milton, who hopes to replicate his Heisman caliber numbers again this season. The Knights don’t have a ranked opponent on their schedule (yet), but no matter how they perform this season there will be controversy surrounding the self-proclaimed national champs of 2017.
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Michigan State
- Notre Dame
- West Virginia
- Mississippi State
- Florida State
- Virginia Tech
- Boise State