The College Football Playoff selection committee will probably ignore the AP Top 25 Preseason Poll, but it’s still a fun thing for fans to obsess over. The poll, which was released over the weekend, had Florida State receiving 57 of the possible 60 first-place votes.
The Seminoles will look to repeat as national champions. That’s good for the ACC, but the conference only had two others teams in the poll. The SEC led the way with an obnoxious eight teams. Alabama checks in at No. 2 despite losing in the Sugar Bowl to Oklahoma to finish the 2013 season. The Sooners show up at No. 4 in the AP poll. They received one first-place vote. OU has a very favorable conference schedule that will see them host Baylor in what could be the game of the season. A lot will hinge on whether quarterback Trevor Knight can build on his breakout performance against the Crimson Tide. He was featured on a regional cover of Sports Illustrated and has been mentioned as a Heisman candidate. This of course is the same quarterback who struggled mightily against a bad West Virginia team and lost the starting job to Blake Bell at one point last season.
It’s remarkable how last season’s bowl games seem to factor into these rankings. Baylor is the next Big 12 team in the poll at No. 10. A win over Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl would’ve likely meant the Bears showing up closer to No. 5. Bryce Petty will have plenty of firepower at running back and wide receiver. The Bears will also have a massive offensive line anchored by left tackle Spencer Drango. The biggest questions are on the defensive side of the ball, where there will be a lot of inexperience in the secondary. However, the defensive line should be loaded.
Kansas State is ranked No. 20 in the AP poll. The Wildcats have a lot of confidence in quarterback Jake Waters, and he’ll have plenty of targets. Kansas State should also have a much-improved defense.
The University of Texas cracked the USA Today coaches’ poll, but the Horns were not in the AP Top 25. They finished 28th in the poll, which is understandable when you factor in all the changes that have taken place. I don’t trust David Ash to make it through the season given his injury history, but Texas does have a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball. This will be a transition season for the Longhorns, but they could still pull a couple of upsets. I’m not sure why everyone thinks the Sooners will roll over them this season when you factor in what happened last October.
Oklahoma State and TCU check in at No. 33 and No. 35 respectively. The Cowboys have one of the great home-field advantages in the country, as Baylor found out last season. I think the Horned Frogs are one of the most dangerous teams in the conference. Even with the loss of Devonte Fields, TCU is loaded on defense. I think the Frogs could give OU some trouble in Fort Worth. Gary Patterson’s biggest problem will be on the offensive side of the ball. He’s probably shown too much loyalty to quarterback Trevone Boykin. With former Texas A&M backup Matt Joeckel in the fold, it makes sense to play Boykin at wide receiver. He has the best hands on the team. Patterson plans to play both quarterbacks early in the season, and I think that’s a mistake. With all due respect, you don’t need to worry about keeping Samford in the dark.
Texas Tech was ranked 37th. Davis Webb could emerge as one of the best quarterbacks in the conference. I just don’t know if the Red Raiders can stop anyone on defense. The one thing I really like is their willingness to try and get bigger up the middle. Junior-college transfer Rika Levi (348 pounds) could be force at defensive tackle. He has been working with the second-team, but he’ll force his way into the rotation eventually.