NCF Nation: AP poll
With the Honey Badger returning punts and kickoffs and wreaking havoc on defense, LSU was considered the No. 1 team in the country.
Without cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who was kicked off the team Aug. 10 after failing multiple drug tests, LSU is only the third-best team in the country, if you believe the Associated Press Top 25 preseason college football poll, which was released on Saturday morning.
USC, which was ineligible to play in a bowl game each of the past two seasons because of NCAA sanctions, was ranked No. 1, followed by Alabama and LSU. The Trojans received 25 of 60 first-place votes; Alabama had 17 first-place votes and LSU got 16.
Oklahoma was ranked fourth, followed by No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Georgia, No. 7 Florida State, No. 8 Michigan, No. 9 South Carolina and No. 10 Arkansas.
LSU was ranked No. 1 in the USA Today coaches' Top 25 poll, which was released earlier this month. No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 USC each actually had more first-place votes than the Tigers in that preseason poll.
USC, buoyed by the return of quarterback Matt Barkley this season, has been ranked No. 1 in the AP preseason poll six times, most recently in 2007, when it finished No. 3 in the country in the final rankings. The Trojans also were ranked No. 1 in 1963, ’73, ’79, 2004, ’05 and ’07.
It’s also the first time the Pac-12 has had two teams ranked in the top five of the preseason AP poll.
The SEC, which has won each of the past six BCS national championships, had five teams ranked in the top 10, the first time that’s happened in the 62-year history of the preseason poll. In 1959, the Big Ten had five teams ranked in the top 11.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, since 1976 only five teams that began the year No. 1 finished the year No. 1 in the AP poll. The 2004 USC team, led by quarterback Matt Leinart and tailback Reggie Bush, was the last squad to go wire-to-wire at No. 1. Of course, the Trojans later were forced to vacate that championship because of NCAA rules violations.
Each of the past five teams ranked No. 1 in the preseason didn’t finish higher than third in the final rankings: Oklahoma was No. 16 in 2011; Alabama was No. 10 in ’10; Florida was No. 3 in ’09; Georgia was No. 13 in ’08 and USC was No. 3 in ’07.
After a thrilling 33-30 win over Virginia Tech, Boise State jumped two spots to No. 3 in the coaches' poll and picked up seven-first place votes in the AP poll. The Broncos are ranked third behind No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Ohio State in both polls, but they are just 93 points behind the Buckeyes in the coaches' poll.
In the AP poll, Boise State received a total of eight No. 1 votes and 1,399 points -- just 13 behind the Buckeyes.
TCU inched up two spots to No. 5 in the coaches poll and No. 4 in the AP poll, setting up one of the most intriguing storylines of the young season as two non-AQ teams jockey for position in the national title hunt. The question, of course, is whether the teams can get themselves into the top 2 at the end of the season should they continue to win. Nothing is a given of course, and there are potential roadblocks ahead for Boise State.
The coaches' poll is the only one of these that counts toward the BCS standings. The other components are the Harris poll and computer average. The computers do take into account strength of schedule, so it would benefit both teams if their opponents keep winning. That means Boise State should now root for Virginia Tech.
Among the other non-AQs, Utah is No. 20 in both polls, and BYU entered the coaches' poll at No. 24.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The Big Ten presence in this week's polls played out mostly as expected.
USC's impressive showing bumped Ohio State down a spot in the AP Poll, and concerns about Beanie Wells' health make it hard to put the Buckeyes higher. Georgia has more injury issues than Ohio State but none that quite match the magnitude of Wells'. If the Bulldogs struggle Saturday against Central Michigan, they could swap places with the Buckeyes. Fortunately for Ohio State, it has a chance to claim the No. 1 ranking -- possibly for good -- with a win against USC in Week 3.
Wisconsin's move to No. 11 in both polls stemmed more from Clemson's disaster than anything the Badgers did against Akron. I had the Badgers at No. 14 in my latest power rankings more because of lingering injury problems. Don't underestimate the loss of defensive end Kirk DeCremer. He was a young playmaker who provided depth on a defensive line filled with guys coming off major injuries. The Badgers really need linebacker Jonathan Casillas on the field next week at Fresno State.
Penn State's move up to 19th also looks about right. This isn't a reward for beating Coastal Carolina but an acknowledgment that the Nittany Lions could be a force in the Big Ten this season. They have a ton of weapons on the offensive side, and if quarterback Daryll Clark limits mistakes, there's no reason to think the unit won't average 30-35 points a game. A win against Oregon State should keep Penn State in the 15-20 range in the rankings.
We knew Illinois would drop after allowing 52 points to Missouri, but how far? The Illini barely remained in both polls -- I had them at No. 24 in my rankings -- and soon could be bumped by Cal and East Carolina. Looking at the overall talent, Illinois is clearly one of the nation's 25 best teams, but it can't afford fundamental breakdowns on defense like the ones last Saturday. Sure-fire wins against Eastern Illinois and Louisiana-Lafayette should keep Illinois in the polls before a Sept. 27 visit to Penn State.
Michigan dropped out of the coaches' poll after never deserving to be in there in the first place. Coach Rich Rodriguez acknowledged as much after the first preseason practice. The Wolverines shouldn't be worried about rankings right now, but they have a chance -- after the Miami (Ohio) game -- to get noticed with matchups against Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Illinois.
Michigan State should be back in the fringe soon, but the Spartans first have to correct some problems in crunch time.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Georgia has another preseason No. 1 to add to its collection. The Bulldogs will start atop the Associated Press preseason poll, which was released Saturday. They were also the No. 1 team in the coaches' preseason poll.
The Bulldogs have history working against them if they're going to win the national title this season. The only SEC teams to be ranked No. 1 in the AP's preseason poll and then go onto win the national title were Tennessee in 1951 and Alabama in 1978.
Three other SEC teams are ranked in the Top 10 of the AP's preseason poll. Florida is No. 5, LSU No. 6 and Auburn No. 10. Tennessee is No. 18 and Alabama slips in at No. 24.
I thought South Carolina might crack the Top 25, although the Gamecocks were the top team receiving votes. If I had to guess, I'd say the Gamecocks will be there at the end of the season.
Check back a little bit later, and I'll have a two-part Q&A up with Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt. Had a chance to sit down with Nutt on Saturday morning in his office, and of particular note to Ole Miss fans, it appears that star defensive end Greg Hardy might be back earlier than originally thought from a stress fracture in his foot. Nutt said he hopes to get Hardy back in time for the SEC opener against Vanderbilt on Sept. 20.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
I cut short my morning lawn-mowing expedition to check on how Big 12's teams fared in the Associated Press rankings. I wasn't surprised.
Much like the coaches before them, media members are buying the Big 12's strength at the top with five teams ranked among the nation's top 14 teams. No other conference can make that claim.
Oklahoma checks in at No. 4, Missouri at No. 6, Texas at No. 11, Texas Tech at No. 12 and Kansas at No. 14.
It marks the fifth time in the conference's history that five Big 12 teams have been ranked in the AP's preseason poll. The other years were in 2002, 2000, 1999 and 1996.
It's also the first time that five Big 12 teams have been ranked in the top 14 in the preseason poll. Other notable power showings for the Big 12 included four teams in the top 10 in 2002 and four among the top 13 teams in 2001.
And in the interest of full disclosure, I voted in the AP poll for nine seasons before my superiors at my old newspaper decided we didn't need to vote before last season. I was ambivalent at the time, but always found that voting made me follow games more closely. And in the end, I thought it made me follow the sport more closely.
We've got an ESPN Power Poll which I think will rank right up there with the AP poll. I've always thought the media poll is a little bit more creditable than the coaches, mainly because I know that we media members didn't have any sports information directors either voting for us or helping us with our picks. And also, the polls are public record each week at the AP's website. I don't see the coaches doing that until the end of the season.
Here are a few notes I came up with that marks the history-making nature for several schools.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
The AP poll was released Saturday, and there's nothing dramatic to report in terms of the placement of Pac-10 teams.
USC, which got 12 No. 1 votes, is No. 3 (No. 2 in the coaches poll), Arizona State is No. 15 (16) and Oregon is No. 21 (20).
California got 59 votes, which translates to 28th.
UCLA, Oregon State, Arizona and -- huh? -- Washington each got votes.
Georgia is No. 1, though it only got one more No. 1 vote (22) than No. 2 Ohio State, which is 22 points behind.
There's very little variation in the polls, other than the coaches putting Michigan and Fresno State at Nos. 24 and 25, respectively, and the AP voters putting Alabama and Pittsburgh in those two slots.
Isn't there a rule if you lose at home to Louisiana-Monroe, your team loses its right to be ranked for a calendar year?
No? Well, there should be.