Dissecting the 2016 Preseason AP Poll

The first AP top 25 poll came out this morning and has Michigan starting the season ranked at No. 7. Rankings are great for conversation and drama, but do not really mean anything more than that.

Starting at No. 1 does not always correlate with a national championship, in fact, the last team to win the national championship after starting the season ranked No. 1 in the AP poll was USC in the 2004 season.

This year’s No. 1, Alabama, started last season at No. 3 and did not hold a No. 1 ranking at any point during the regular season. The Crimson Tide had to wait until the postseason AP poll after defeating Clemson in the College Football Playoff (CFP) national championship game to be ranked No. 1.

As for Michigan, they will start at No. 7, a fairly respectable preseason ranking. Heck, they even got one vote as the No. 1 team. They are ranked behind Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Florida State, LSU, and Ohio State; all teams that are definitely loaded this season.

If these were the initial CFP playoff rankings, Michigan would be in a good position to make a playoff run. Starting the season at No. 7 allows the Wolverines to slowly move up in the polls when top six teams lose and they win. However, any loss after mid-October would drop them and if Alabama, Clemson/Florida State, and Oklahoma run the table, that would leave only one playoff position open.

Most Overrated: LSU starts at No. 5 without a quarterback and was extremely one dimensional a year ago. Though their defense is extraordinary, Leonard Fournette can’t run for 4,000 yards in twelve games.

Most Underrated: Not one word has been said about Washington all offseason. The Huskies return the No. 1 PAC 12 defense with Greg Gaines, Azeem Victor, and Budda Baker all back from playing significant roles last year. On top of that, Jake Browning has all the marks of a tradition Chris Peterson quarterback that just gets the job done without credit. Also, Washington’s two toughest opponents, Stanford and USC, are at home.

Best chance to finish above where they are ranked: Notre Dame, starting at No. 10, has the players and the schedule to make a run at a playoff berth. Assuming they get by Texas and Michigan State early, they will host Stanford and Miami in the middle of the season once they find their stride. A showdown with USC in the finale at the Coliseum could determine the Irish’s playoff fate.

Best chance to finish below where they are ranked: Tennessee always seems to be in the national title talk in August, but come December, they aren’t in the top 10. The Volunteers start the season at No. 9 and have firepower on offense with Jalen Hurd, but a defense filled with unknowns. Tennessee starts the season with one automatic loss to Alabama.

Team in top 25 that will finish outside top 25: Oregon begin the season ranked No. 24, their lowest preseason ranking since being unranked in 2007. Although they have brought in Brady Hoke as defensive coordinator, the players will have to make the adjustment from 3-4 to 4-3. Offensively, Dakota Prukup is the projected starter, a transfer from FCS’s Montana State. The FCS quarterback transfer thing did not work out as well as expected a year ago with ultra-athletic, Vernon Adams. Also, the Ducks have to rebuild their offensive line.

Team outside top 25 with chance to make playoff: Miami should be ranked in the top 20 because of Brad Kaaya and Chad Thomas alone. Kaaya is arguably the top quarterback in the country and besides showcase games against Florida State and at Notre Dame, the Hurricanes have all winnable games.

Team outside top 25 that will finish in top 25: Navy seems to be solid every year with a formula for success surrounded by their old school, flexbone offense. Sure they have to replace Keenan Reynolds at quarterback as well as their running backs from last year, but their schedule is beyond favorable with two showcase games against Houston (at home) and Notre Dame in Jacksonville, FL.

What did you think about the preseason AP poll? Who is your answer for every section above? Let us know in the comment section below!

Photo Credit: Betting News

Evan Paputa