OU’s loss of star doesn’t hurt with AP

First of all, remember: The AP poll doesn’t matter anymore.

Ever since the 2003 season, when USC was the AP No. 1 team even though LSU won the BCS championship, the poll has been nothing more than an exercise and an addition to the most consistent ranking system in the history of college football polls. However, it’s still an interesting gauge on the pulse of the college football world.

The AP also likes to march to the beat of its own drummer, especially after 2003, but it usually falls in line with the Coaches Poll. The preseason rankings are no exception in the top four, with Oklahoma, Alabama, Oregon and LSU the same in each poll.

But overall, the star continues to be Oklahoma. The AP, like the coaches, didn’t seem to worry too much about the loss of star linebacker Travis Lewis for at least a few months. The margin between first-place votes — 36 to 17 in the AP, compared with 42 to 13 in the Coaches’ Poll — is still significant. Oregon and LSU didn’t get much first-place respect, with four votes and one, respectively.

The Sooners are loaded with experience, and there’s the perception that the Big 12 is down a bit with Texas coming off a bad year and with Nebraska leaving for the Big Ten. But there’s a nasty date looming at AP No. 6 Florida State on Sept. 17 that’ll show whether OU really deserves all the accolades.

The big winner in the AP poll is Boise State, which got two first-place votes — one more than LSU — to start out the season No. 5 (and No. 7 in the Coaches Poll). Florida State is the AP No. 6 team and Stanford No. 7, with the ‘Noles fifth in the Coaches Poll and the Cardinal sixth.

There’s a little bit of flip-flopping on some of the top Big Ten and Big 12 teams. Oklahoma State is ninth in the AP poll, but eighth in the Coaches Poll. Nebraska ranks 10th in the AP poll and Wisconsin is 11th, with the reverse in the Coaches Poll.

Arkansas, which lost star running back Knile Davis for the year, didn’t tumble much, starting out 15th in the AP after being ranked 14th in the Coaches.

But falling in line with the coaches, the AP has the same teams in the top 15 overall, even if there’s a little bit of shuffling, with Ohio State the big difference — coaches have the Buckeyes 16th and ahead of Michigan State, but the AP sinks Ohio State to 18th.

The two other big differences are West Virginia and USC. The Coaches Poll won’t rank USC because of probation, while the AP doesn’t worry about that and puts the Trojans 25th. West Virginia, ignored by the coaches and shoved in the Others Receiving Votes category, is 24th in the AP.

Defending national champion Auburn is 23rd, after being put 19th in the Coaches’ Poll.

Five Key Overranked Teams
– No. 4 LSU (Based on how good the team is going into the season and not where it’ll likely end up)
– No. 5 Boise State
– No. 10 Nebraska
– No. 17 Michigan State
– No. 23 Auburn

Five Key Underranked Teams
– No. 21 Missouri (Based on how good the team is going into the season and not where it’ll likely end up)
– No. 24 West Virginia
– No. 28 Arizona State
– No. 34 BYU
– No. 38 Michigan

What Have You Done For Me Lately?
Teams that didn’t get much respect for a strong 2010
– No Votes, Connecticut
– No. 23 Auburn
– No. 14 TCU
– No. 18 Ohio State
– No. 20 Mississippi State
– No. 47 Nevada

No, Really, What Have You Done For Me Lately?
Name programs that got no love whatsoever
– Texas Tech … no votes
– Georgia Tech … no votes
– UCLA … no votes
– Washington … one vote
– Boston College … no votes
– Oregon State … no votes

No, REALLY, What Have You Done For Me Lately?
Some bowl teams of last year that didn’t get a sniff of the top 25, and will probably be in at some point this season
No votes for Boston College, Illinois, Navy, Texas Tech, or Tulsa

Five Teams Outside of the Top 25 That’ll Finish In
– No. 27 Arizona State
– No. 30 Utah
– No. 31 Iowa
– No. 33 BYU
– No. 36 Houston