courtesy of ESPN
For the first time in its history, the Associated Press has released a preseason football poll.
A preseason poll is purely subjective. It is based on the perceived strength or weakness of a schedule, the team's number of returning starters, expectations, coaching staff and yes, a team's pedigree.
In other words, a poll is a stab in the dark.
In 2016, only six teams ranked in the AP's Top 10 preseason poll actually finished in the Top 10 final poll: Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Florida State and Michigan.
USC was preseason ranked No. 20 (finished No. 3), Washington was preseason ranked No. 14 (finished No. 4), Penn State and Wisconsin were unranked in the preseason poll but finished No. 7 and No. 9, respectively.
Two teams ranked in the preseason Top 10—Tennessee and Notre Dame—finished the season unranked.
The preseason unranked teams also made noise.
Western Michigan, Virginia Tech, Colorado, West Virginia, South Florida and Miami (FL) joined previously mentioned Penn State and Wisconsin as the unheralded who overcame poll obscurity and climbed into the Top 25.
So what we have here is a dartboard, a magnificent one at that. And pollsters are throwing darts, hoping most of them stick.
I'm doing the same.
Here is the 2017 AP preseason poll with my comments in bold.
Sure, why not? This season head coach Nick Saban has the luxury of a returning quarterback. [gulp]
2- Ohio State
Yup, the Buckeyes have a cupcake schedule so they will anchor this spot for awhile.
3- Florida State
Too high. The Seminoles will start the season 1-2
About right for now. If USC starts out 3-0, the Trojans should jump Alabama due to quality wins and "East Coast bias" accusations.
Too high. Come on... no Deshaun Watson, et al
6- Penn State
Too low. Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley are the Dynamic Duo.
Too high. The absence of Bob Stoops cannot be stressed enough.
Too high. Washington was exposed against USC and Alabama and the Huskies have to replace receiver John Ross' shoes.
Too low. Badgers avoided drawing Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State from the East. Also, head coach Paul Chryst is in his third year-- three's a charm.
10- Oklahoma State
Probably too high. Quarterback Mason Rudolph is the real deal but the Pokes' defense is still a huge question mark. An early nonconference game at Pitt looks daunting.
Too low. Yes, only a handful of starters return, but head coach Jim Harbaugh is in his third year...
Too high. I'm not very high on the SEC in general. And Auburn, when highly-ranked, usually disappoints.
About right. Running back Derrius Grice is getting a lot of preseason hype but the Tigers' quarterback play is what determines how well they do in the SEC West.
Too low. Stanford consistently overachieves and David Shaw is one of the five best coaches in the country.
Too high. The Dawgs have consistently underachieved despite playing in a very weak division.
Too low. Heisman winning quarterback Lamar Jackson is back. And the Cardinals' schedule is full of cupcakes.
Too low. The Gators' offense looks for real. Unfortunately, seven players (including Antonio Callaway) were suspended for the Michigan opener.
18- Miami (FL)
Too low. The Hurricanes are flying way below the radar while everyone drools over Clemson and Florida State.
19- South Florida
Too high. Look, I love seeing a Group of Five team ranked highly but should the Bulls be rewarded for playing a schedule ranked No. 110 by Phil Steele?
20- Kansas State
Too low. In fact, use "Too low" as an evergreen meme. Bill Snyder-coached teams always overachieve.
21- Virginia Tech
Too low. I respect the ACC—it looked like the top conference last season. The Hokies will continue to bolster support for repeating as the best football conference.
22- West Virginia
About right. The Mountaineers only return eight starters. We will know everything we need to know in week one when West Virginia and Virginia Tech square off in Landover, MD, on September 3.
Too high. It's too early to be high on the Longhorns under new head coach Tom Herman.
24- Washington State
On the fence. The Cougars have dropped two consecutive season openers to FCS schools. This year's opener is against Montana State. If Washington State wins, the ranking is too low.
About right. The SEC East is a dumpster fire and the Vols have continued to underachieve despite producing some nail-biting games last season. Butch Jones' hot seat is scorching considering how wide open the East is.