With a preseason Top 25 poll always comes the exciting debates over who’s ranked too high, who’s ranked too low, and who doesn’t belong. Analyzing the entire field, we’ve put together the Top 5 teams who were underrated by the Amway Coaches Poll, which was released Thursday.
It’s hard to sell the idea that the No. 5 team in the country is underrated, and truth be told, I’m not sure they should be that high from a pure talent perspective.
But how could a team that was one win away from a national championship and returns 15 starters the next year, including its quarterback, not receive any first place votes? Florida State received almost all of the first place votes, and that’s fair. But how does Oklahoma receive three first place votes, and then Oregon, Ohio State, and South Carolina each receive one first place vote while the national championship runner-up receives none?
Auburn has earned the right to have a little bit more respect coming into the year, even if they don’t live up to what happened last year
and fall flat on their face.
This team luckily now has extra motivation going into the season, as if it needed any more. I don’t see how anybody can be so quick to count the Tigers out with Gus Malzahn’s brilliant system. I understand they were very lucky last year to even be in the championship game, and that luck should run out eventually. But name me somebody who made it out of he SEC without a little luck.
Alabama was considered by far the best team in college football last year, and Auburn dethroned them, regardless of how lucky they were. The Tigers were also the only team not to be destroyed by FSU. Perhaps the luck runs out, but maybe a team that was good enough to play like that against the two best teams in the country will also be even better this year with so much talent returning. They deserve at least one first-place vote.
I might be the only college football analyst who believes that Stanford never gets the respect it deserves.
The defending two-time Pac 12 champions have to sit behind two other teams in their own conference with this preseason poll and outside of the Top 10. Should we forget that the Rose Bowl game with Michigan State could’ve gone either way last year, and the Cardinal easily could’ve finished as a Top 5 team?
This year, David Shaw’s squad loses a good bit of talent but still returns 12 starters, including quarterback Kevin Hogan. This is not to
say that the Cardinal will automatically run away with the Pac 12 title, but based on the way Coaches Poll rankings are usually done, they belong in the Top 10.
Three straight seasons with BCS Bowl appearances should be enough to earn the Cardinal a consistent Top 10 ranking, especially as they enter the year with a senior quarterback who has already started for two years. It seems like Stanford as a perennial Top 10 team still looks weird to voters.
But they’ve earned the respect that they don’t get with what Jim Harbaugh and Shaw have built there. It’s time we give it to them.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
I get that Oklahoma State is completely starting over, but how do they fall out of the preseason Top 25 after a 10-3 season?
The Cowboys have clearly proven themselves to be a product of Mike Gundy’s system, and while they may be rebuilding, they didn’t deserve to fall completely out of the rankings. There is still some good returning talent to the program, and Clint Chelf never came across as a quarterback who would be severely missed anyway.
Again, this isn’t to say that the Cowboys will finish the season in the Top 25. But they should have earned the right not to fall out of the preseason Top 25 under Gundy until it actually happens. We shouldn’t forget that they blew out Big 12 champion Baylor last year and were in contention for the Big 12 championship throughout the season.
Since 2010, Gundy’s only team to put up less than 10 wins was in 2012, when they had to replace a superstar college combination from Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon. That team still went 8-5.
Despite what Les Miles built and Gundy took to the next level, it appears Oklahoma State will never be respected with the big boys. But don’t feel too bad. T. Boone Pickens could aways purchase a Top 25 ranking.
Duke Blue Devils
Let me get this straight. David Cutcliffe’s Duke Blue Devils win the ACC Coastal, finish the year in the Top 25, return 14 starters, including quarterback Anthony Boone, and they don’t deserve a ranking this year?
Clearly coaches think last year’s incredible run was a fluke. But how? Duke blew out teams on its schedule and nearly beat a Johnny Manziel-led TexasA&M Aggies team in its bowl game. What have they done to not warrant a spot in the Coaches Poll?
Perhaps coaches resent Cutcliffe for doing something none of them could have done. Okay, that was an unfair dig, but it’s also an unfair dig to leave the Blue Devils out of the Top 25. If you look at the way the team has improved over the last three years, you would see that
last year was definitely not a fluke but a culmination of what Cutcliffe spent years building.
With what we know is great coaching and lots of returning talent to a team that finished in the Top 25 last year, what evidence is there to suggest that Duke won’t do the same thing this year? I was thinking they would actually be better this year, possibly winning their bowl game and reaching 11 or 12 wins. But this could be classic prisoner of the moment with the way the Blue Devils got blown out in the ACC championship game and then blew a huge lead against Texas A&M.
However, that’s no indication of a possible fall-off this year. Duke got robbed. Duke plays football now. Duke deserves respect.
This might be the biggest preseason snub in college football history.
The Missouri Tigers finished the season last year at No. 5, and their only two losses were to South Carolina, who finished the year at No. 4, and Auburn in the SEC Championship Game, who finished the year at No. 2. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, but voters decided that Gary Pinkel’s team this year doesn’t belong in the Top 25.
Based on what? The Tigers did lose quarterback James Franklin, but are we going to ignore the fact that Maty Mauk took the Tigers on a 3-1 stretch filling in for Franklin when he was injured last year? That only loss was an overtime loss to South Carolina, and Mauk finished the year with 11 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
So with Mauk expected to start the season at quarterback, bumping Missouri from the No. 5 spot to all the way out of the Top 25 seems pretty baseless. They lost a lot of talent at other positions, but there are 12 guys back who had starting experience last year. This isn’t to say they belong in the Top 10.
But how in the world could you leave them out of the Top 25 altogether? This is definitely the biggest preseason snub I’ve ever seen in college football.