One thing that marks the beginning of college football is one of the dumbest traditions in the sport, the release of the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll. Nothing screams college football quite like taking the same regular 20-30 programs, tossing them on a board, and putting out rankings without seeing any of them take a single snap.
Personally, I prefer the way the College Football Playoff Committee does it where they do not release rankings until later in the season, but here we are.
To start, you have the same four blue bloods that make up the top four nearly every season in Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Ohio State. Chalk! After that, you’ve got the trendy second-tier teams in the conferences with Georgia, Texas A&M, Iowa State and North Carolina.
Wait a minute, I almost forgot one! No preseason top ten would be complete without Notre Dame who starts at No. 7 (!!). Rounding out the top ten is the dark horse Group of Five team that people have their eye on in the Cincinnati Bearcats.
After that, you have five teams who seemingly occupy this range every single year in Florida, Oregon, LSU, USC and Wisconsin. Ahh yes, the Badgers coming into the season ranking somewhere between 14-19. A bold prediction by the Coaches Poll. Personally, I prefer Wisconsin be in that range as it tends to workout alright, and we’ve seen what can happen when the hype gets too big early on.
The Wisconsin Badgers on the cover of Sports Illustrated?— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) August 7, 2018
Big if true...
It’s true. It’s big (literally). #OnWisconsin pic.twitter.com/y5ed24IOUx
A couple of opponents for Wisconsin also crack the rankings as Iowa comes in at No. 18, while Penn State comes in at No. 20 making the season opener a crucial Top 25 matchup. One other Big Ten team is in this group as Indiana comes in No. 17. A few Big Ten teams received votes with Northwestern (120) and Michigan (30). One laughable point is Stanford, who received a vote, despite their season win total being projected at a whopping four by the oddsmakers. THOSE guys have the numbers you should pay attention to.
Overall, these rankings mean absolutely nothing if you win your football games ahead of you. Will a team come from nowhere and make these look foolish? Absolutely. Will a team benefit from being ranked higher than they should later on the season? Probably. But that is how this game works, and I cannot wait.
This dumb and wacky sport is the best.