College Football

Which Teams Will Outperform Or Underperform Their Preseason AP Rank?

The AP Top 25 is out, which signifies that the start of 2015 college football season is almost here. Just like they did last year, the AP rankings snubbed your team, and only your team. The release of the AP Top 25 spurs debates on which teams are overranked or underappreciated, so here’s a No Coast Bias’s take at who the preseason polls got wrong, and why.

 

Riding Last Season’s Success A Little Too Much

Baylor #4: I’m basing this off of the ruling in the Sam Ukwuachu case. Ukwuachu was sentenced to 180 days in prison, 10 years of felony probation, and 400 hours of community service for committing sexual assault against a female Baylor student. Prior to arriving in Waco, Ukwuachu had been a member of the Boise State football team; before being dismissed for violence against his girlfriend. Art Briles said he had no knowledge of Ukwuachu’s past, which is being disputed by Ukwuachu’s former coach, Chris Petersen. Also recently published, was a former Florida employee saying that former Florida head coach Will Muschamp wouldn’t “touch him” because of Ukwuachu’s past. I find it hard to believe that Muschamp (who wouldn’t even recruit Ukwuachu), was in the know on this and Briles wasn’t. If Briles knowingly brought a sexual predator onto the Baylor campus, his head coaching career could be over.

Florida State #10: The Seminoles lost eleven players to the NFL Draft, including Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Jameis Winston. Also departed are both starting cornerbacks, their top two receiving targets, and a quartet dominant linemen, with a pair from both sides of the ball. FSU brings in the second-ranked recruiting class, so they’ll be able reload, but the ACC will be extremely competitive this year. Clemson is a contender for to make the College Football Playoff, and Georgia Tech will compete for the division title again. FSU will finish the season ranked, but not as a top-ten team.

Ole Miss #17: Their defense will good again, and they have a pair of blue-chippers in wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and tackle Laremy Tunsil on offense, but losing quarterback Bo Wallace is a big blow to the program. When your head coach has to decide his starting quarterback off a “gut feeling”, you know that’s never a great sign. Besides their questions on offense, the main reason I think they’re ranked too high is because of their schedule. The Rebels have to play Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, and LSU this season, all of which are ranked within the top twenty in the poll. They also have to play Texas A&M, who could end up as a top-fifteen team by the end of the year. That’s a lot of quality teams to play against, especially some high-powered offenses. The Rebels will have the defense to hang with those teams, but I doubt they put up the points necessary to come away with more than two wins against those five teams. Ole Miss looks more like a weak eight-win team this year, and being at #17 is too high for a team with some glaring weaknesses.

 

Tigers Seem To Never Get Any Respect

Clemson #12: Clemson is a legitimate contender to make the College Football Playoff and somehow they’re ranked outside the top ten. Deshaun Watson vies for title of “most dynamic quarterback in the ACC”, and will get help in the form of his top two receivers and starting running back returning from last year. Cornerback Mackensie Alexander is primed for a breakout sophomore season, after being named a first-team freshman All-American by FWAA. The Tigers play three ranked teams this season, against Notre Dame, Florida State, and Georgia Tech, but if Watson stays healthy they could beat all three. Clemson will have a chip on their shoulder all season, and will be playing with some fire to prove teams wrong. That talent/chip-on-shoulder combination is the one of the oldest cliches in sports, but more often than not it leads to positive results.

Missouri #24: The reigning back-to-back SEC East champs come in at 24th. Why? Well, they lost both defensive ends, including the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Shane Ray, they have a glaring lack of experience at wide receiver, and quarterback Maty Mauk can be erratic at times. However, their defense, especially their front seven, will be a solid, veteran unit. Also returning is 1000-yard rusher Russell Hansbrough, as well as All-SEC talent, center Evan Boehm. Missouri started the 2014 with the same questions and began the season ranked 24th, but finished the season with eleven wins and a final ranking of 16th. Don’t be surprised if Mizzou ends the season in 12-18 range again.

Texas A&M – unranked: If Kevin Sumlin had to dream up what he would consider a perfect offseason, this past offseason might be it. He signed five-star quarterback Kyler Murray AND stole John Chavis away from LSU to be his defensive coordinator. Bring in a blue-chip talent at a premium position and hire a guy who change what has been a historically bad defense? Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty good. True sophomore Kyle Allen will be the starting quarterback to begin the season, and will have the benefit of throwing to Ricky Seals-Jones and Josh Reynolds, who are listed as 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-4, respectively. On the other side of the ball, defensive end Myles Garrett, who set the SEC freshman sack record with 11.5, has the potential to be even better with another year of experience and conditioning. That defensive line also adds another potential superstar, Daylon Mack, a five-star defensive tackle out of Gladewater, Texas. While the secondary and linebackers won’t be great, they also aren’t devoid of talent. If Chavis can mold something that at least looks respectable, A&M could add another win or two to their regular season record. I understand there’s a fine line between first and last in SEC West, but with the collection of talent in College Station, it’s a snub that the Aggies will be unranked to start the year.

featured image: tigernet.com

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