It’s the day college football fans have been waiting for. No, we’re not the first kickoff of the season, but instead the release of the first AP Poll of the 2012 campaign!
Gentlemen, let the asinine and ill-informed arguments begin!
That’s right, a few weeks after the “coaches” released their poll, the Associated Press released their own today, with most of the top teams falling pretty much where we expected them to. USC came in at No. 1 with 25 first place votes, followed by Alabama at No. 2, LSU at No. 3 and Oklahoma and Oregon rounding out the Top 5. The poll looked eerily similar to the one the coaches released earlier this month, with the only difference between the top five coming at No.’s 1 and 3, where LSU and USC were flipped. That was of course, thanks in large part to Tyrann Mathieu being on the Tigers roster at the time.
So with that, what are some of our initial thoughts?
As usual the media did themselves pretty well, with no major, egregious mistakes sticking out that we can see. It’s certainly better than the effort put out by the coaches a few weeks ago in their poll; you know, the one that had Notre Dame starting in the Top 25.
Again though, it wouldn’t be fun if we didn’t throw out our opinions on the poll.
Here are some initial thoughts, with five teams ranked too high, and five teams too low.
Ranked Too High:
Georgia (No. 6): If Georgia had their entire team ready for the opening weekend, this would be a totally justifiable spot. A case could probably be made that they should be ranked higher.
But with four defensive starters suspended anywhere from two to four games to start the season, it wouldn’t surprise to anyone if this team struggled early. Like Week 2 at Missouri, for example.
West Virginia (No. 11): I mean seriously, am I the only one who watched West Virginia last season prior to the Orange Bowl?
For all the excitement over the 70 points they put up in Miami, apparently everyone else has forgotten that prior to that, the Mountaineers won their last three regular season games by a combined seven points. Even afterward, they needed a million tiny breaks just to be crowned the Big East champs and earn the trip to Miami in the first place.
Add in a much tougher schedule (with the move from the Big East to the Big XII) and a change of defensive philosophy with Jeff Casteel now at Arizona, and expectations seem to be a little too high in Morgantown.
Virginia Tech (No. 16): Like Georgia, you could probably make the case that the Hokies could be ranked higher in this poll. If only because no matter how many guys they lose from year-to-year, they always seem to finish with 10 wins and in the ACC title hunt.
But with only two starters back on offense, will this team put up enough points to beat the ACC’s best?
Kansas State (No. 22): Nobody loves Bill Synder more than I do (and by “love” what I actually mean is “absolutely mortified by”). Nobody.
At the same time, this is a team that won eight of their 10 games by a touchdown or less last year. Can they continue to pull out the close ones like that in 2012?
Florida (No. 23): Until someone shows me proof that the Gators are going to get any kind of competent quarterback play, I simply don’t see this as a Top 25 team.
This team could have two or three losses by the end of September. Think about that for a second.
Teams That Are Ranked Too Low:
Arkansas (No. 10): Had all the Bobby Petrino stuff not happened, a compelling case could’ve been made that the Hogs were one of the best half dozen teams in college football. Now they’re barely ranked inside the Top 10.
Simply put, this a team with Top 5 talent. Whether they’ll play like it or not is another story all together.
Michigan State (No. 13): To start the year, Michigan State seems to be appropriately ranked at No. 13. But with a strong running game led by Le’Veon Bell and four returning offensive linemen (not to mention the Big Ten’s best defense), expect this club to spend most of the year in the Top 10.
Louisville (No. 25): The talent is there, the coaching is there, and so too is the schedule. Louisville doesn’t play a single team that started the season ranked in the preseason Top 25.
Utah (NR): There’s a lot of buzz around the Utes entering this year, and given that they may have the best defensive line in the country, it’s easy to see why. Add in returning starters at quarterback (Jordan Wynn), running back (John White IV) and wide receiver (DeVonte Christopher) this team should score points too.
Basically what we’re trying to say is that we fully expect the Utes to spend most of the season in the Top 25. And if we were the USC Trojans, we’d be very afraid about a Thursday night trip to Rice-Eccles Stadium in early October.
NC State/Tennessee (NR): The two play to open the season on Friday August 31. The winner will start the next week in the Top 25. The loser will have some explainin’ to do.
For all his opinion, analysis and articles on college football, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.