Looking Back: Stanford, Texas, And Florida Show Why Preseason Polls Gotta Go

It has been over three months since the AP Preseason Top 25 poll was released.

For years, skeptics around the country have discussed the downside and inaccurate nature of releasing a poll before games have even been played.

Once again in 2010, the predictions are a far cry of the current polls we see today. Here is a comparison of the preseason Top 25 and where we can find those teams today.

25. West Virginia

Current Rank: # 23

Normally led by an explosive offensive, this season the Mountaineer defense has been exceptional. The defense is second nationally in points allowed, and their worst performance was giving up 21 points to Marshall early in the season.

Senior running back Noel Devine has yet to reach 1,000 yards heading into this Saturday’s game against Rutgers.

West Virginia is 8-3 on the season, and stands in a logjam atop the Big East conference with Connecticut and Pittsburgh.

AP Preseason Grade: A

24. Oregon State

Current Rank: N/R

The Beavers may look back at their 2010 non-conference schedule wishing they had faced a few more cupcakes.

In recent years, Mike Riley has shown a knack for getting his players to finish strong after slow starts. James Rodgers suffered a season-ending injury halfway through the season, and the Beavers have struggled ever since.

At 5-6, Oregon State must knock off Oregon in the Civil War to become bowl-eligible.

AP Preseason Grade: C+

23. Georgia

Current Rank: N/R

A four-game losing streak before the middle of October is never a good sign. The Bulldogs opened the season 1-4, after defeating Louisiana-Lafayette in the opener.

Quarterback Aaron Murray showed immense progress in leading his squad to five wins in their last seven games of the season.

Georgia is 0-3 against ranked opponents on the season. At 6-6, they now await their lower-tier bowl destination.

AP Preseason Grade: D

22. Auburn

Current Rank: #2

Possibly the biggest surprise this season has the been this preseason middle-of-the pack SEC squad making a run at a BCS national title.

With the support of an average defense, the Tiger offense led by Cameron Newton has the ability to score lots of points at the opportune time. In 2010, Auburn has defeated LSU, Alabama, Arkansas and South Carolina.

With a victory over the Gamecocks on Saturday, the Tigers will play in the BCS Championship game in early January.

AP Preseason Grade: B

21. LSU

Current Rank: #11

Playing a relatively strong schedule, it is safe to say the Tigers have met their preseason expectations.

The SEC team is ninth nationally in points allowed at 17.8 per game, and holds victories over Alabama, North Carolina, Florida and West Virginia. A victory over Arkansas most likely would have placed LSU in a BCS bowl game.

The Tigers are currently 10-2 and await their future bowl destination.

AP Preseason Grade: A-

20. Florida State

Current Rank: #20

In the first season of the post-Bobby Bowden era, the Seminoles have been rather consistent other than a beat down from Oklahoma early in the season. The offense is averaging 31.7 points per game, and the defense has been solid, only allowing 17.8 points per game.

Florida State defeated both in-state rivals (Miami, Florida), and is 9-3 heading into the ACC Championship game against Virginia Tech.

AP Preseason Grade: A

19. Penn State

Current Rank: N/R

The Nittany Lions are 7-5, and have looked the part of a very average team this season.

The offense is 81st nationally in points per game at 24.6, and the defense ranks 41st nationally with 22.6 points allowed per game.

Penn State failed to show up against the best in comprising an 0-4 mark against ranked opponents.

AP Preseason Grade: C

18. North Carolina

Current Rank: N/R

Suspensions, accusations, and turmoil have surrounded the Tar Heel program for the past five months.

Starting rosters have been inconsistent, giving rise to a mediocre season.  The team opened with tough losses to LSU and Georgia Tech, only to win seven of their last 10 games.

Both the defense and offense have not lived up to expectations, and the Tar Heels are 7-5 and awaiting their bowl destination.

AP Preseason Grade: C+

17. Arkansas

Current Rank: #8

The Razorbacks have put together an exciting, solid season with both of their defeats at the hands of top 10 SEC teams (at the time).

Quarterback Ryan Mallett has met preseason expectations with 30 touchdown passes, and nearly 3,600 yards throwing.

Arkansas has won six straight games, sitting at 10-2 heading into postseason play.

AP Preseason Grade: B+

16. Georgia Tech

Current Rank: N/R

Despite leading the nation in rushing (327 yards per game), the Yellow Jacket defense provided little support in allowing an average of 26.2 points per game.

Joshua Nesbitt fell below preseason expectations, and the team struggled down the stretch. Sitting at 5-2 in the middle of October, the Yellow Jackets have lost four of their last five games.

At 6-6, Georgia Tech waits their lower-tier bowl destination.

AP Preseason Grade: D-

15. Pittsburgh

Current Rank: N/R

After stellar seasons in 2009, the Panthers offense expected big things from Jonathan Baldwin, and Dion Lewis in 2010.

With lofty expectations unreached, coach Dave Wannstedt and the 69th nationally ranked offense sit disappointed at 6-5.  The team has struggled against quality opponents with losses to West Virginia, Utah, Notre Dame, Connecticut and Miami.

Pittsburgh is bowl-eligible heading into this Saturday’s match-up with Cincinnati.

AP Preseason Grade: C-

14. Southern Cal

Current Rank: N/R

Despite being placed on probation, many (including myself) expected the Trojans to dominate the 2010 season.

The program is stacked with talent, the schedule was right, and Lane Kiffin would arrive with a new found level of enthusiasm. Looking back through 12 games, the defense is below average, and the team is generally uninspired.

The Trojans began the season 4-0, only to lose five of their last eight heading into this weekends rivalry game against UCLA.

AP Preseason Grade: F+

13. Miami (Florida)

Current Rank: N/R

The Hurricanes entered the 2010 season with expectations of an ACC title run, and a potential BCS bowl berth.  Stocked with talent, and a young vibrant head coach, the sky was the limit.

Fast forward three months later, and the “U” is reeling in disappointment. Gone is Randy Shannon, the Canes got blasted by rival Florida State at home in early October, and the word “Heisman” is far from Jacory Harris’ name.

The Hurricanes are 7-5, and will enter 2011 still searching for an ACC title.

AP Preseason Grade: D+

12. Wisconsin

Current Ranking: #4

The Badgers have been very impressive this season. The offense is balanced and explosive, averaging 43.3 points per game.

Following an early October road loss to Michigan State, the team rebounded with solid victories over Ohio State and Iowa. Wisconsin has won seven straight, including drubbings of Indiana and Northwestern.

Sitting at 11-1 and tied atop the conference standings, the Badgers will most likely be representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl.

AP Preseason Grade: A-

11. Oregon

Current Ranking: #1

High expectations turned to uncertainty when Jeremiah Masoli was given the Chip Kelly boot in the 2010 off-season. Oregon returned the talent, speed, and senior leadership to make a title run this year. The only question was quarterback play.

Sophomore Darron Thomas is now regarded as one of the best in the conference, LaMichael James is a Heisman hopeful, and the defense is often forgotten.

The Ducks stand 11-0, and 3-0 against ranked opponents this season. They meet Oregon State in the Civil War this Saturday.

AP Preseason Grade: B+

10. Virginia Tech

Current Rank: #12

Once again in 2010, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer has proved why he is one of the best in college football. The nation gasped as the Hokies began the season 0-2, including a stunning home loss to James Madison.

Currently riding a 10-game winning streak, the Hokies will take their potent offense (34,8 points per game) against Florida State in the ACC Championship game this Saturday.

Beamer is on the verge of taking his program to yet another BCS bowl game.

9. Iowa

Current Rank: N/R

Many in Iowa City believed this was the year for the Hawkeyes to return to Pasadena.

The defense proved solid yet inconsistent, and the offense failed to show up down the stretch. Behind Ricky Stanzi and Marvin McNutt, the Hawkeyes stood at 7-2 in early November.

After three straight defeats to end the season, the Iowa faithful look back at what could have been. The team is now 7-5, and awaiting their postseason destination.

AP Preseason Grade: D-

8. Nebraska

Current Rank: #13

Heading into a Big 12 Championship fight against Oklahoma, the preseason pollsters weren’t too far off the mark. The Cornhuskers suffered a home loss to an average Texas squad in October, and a 9-6 defeat in College Station.

The defense has been solid, and the running game has been productive. Nebraska is 10-2 and very close to a BCS bowl berth.

AP Preseason Grade: A-

7. Oklahoma

Current Rank: #10

The Sooner offense, led by Landry Jones, has scored at least 27 points in every game this season. Jones has thrown for nearly 4,000 yards, and 34 touchdowns through 12 games.

Other then road losses at Texas A&M and Missouri, the Sooners have looked the part of a very solid team this season.

Oklahoma is 10-2, and somehow managed to squeeze their way into a meeting with Nebraska this Saturday for the Big 12 Championship.

AP Preseason Grade: A-

6. Texas Christian

Current Rank: #3

The Horned Frogs have done all they can on the field. Much like Boise State, TCU falls victim to playing a weak conference schedule. The team has dominated Utah, Brigham Young, Baylor, Air Force, and Oregon State.

Led by Andy Dalton, the Horned Frogs are fourth nationally in points per game, and the defense is first in the nation in allowing only 11.4 points per game.

One of only three undefeated teams, the Horned Frogs are 12-0 and awaiting their BCS bowl destination.

AP Preseason Grade: A

5. Texas

Current Rank: N/R

To think that Texas was playing for a BCS national title only last January.

The offensive has been downright depressing in averaging only 23.8 points per game. Mack Brown’s squad opened the season 3-0, only to lose seven of their next nine games.

One of the strongest programs of the past decade, the Longhorns could be considered this year’s biggest disappointment.

Currently they sit at 5-7, and can only wait for 2011 to redeem their status.

AP Preseason Grade: F-

4. Florida

Current Rank: N/R

The Gators fell back with a season of mediocre play following the departure of Tim Tebow. The team is 0-4 against ranked squads on the season, and 3-5 since Oct. 2.

Florida is loaded with young talent, and will need improved quarterback play to succeed in 2011.

Florida sits at 7-5 awaiting their post-season bowl destination.

AP Preseason Grade: F

3.  Boise State

Current Rank: #9

Before the season, many assumed if the Broncos could get past Oregon State and Virginia Tech, they would be primed for a BCS Championship appearance.

Returning a wealth of talent and leadership, Boise State was given their highest preseason ranking ever. Quarterback Kellen Moore has led the offense to a 46.4 points per game average, and the defense is fourth nationally allowing 13.5 points per game.

After a late-November overtime loss to a ranked Nevada squad, the Broncos are on the outside looking in at a BCS bowl game.

2. Ohio State

Current Rank: #6

In order to meet very high preseason expectations, this was a season the Buckeyes couldn’t afford to lose any games.

The team has been solid and impressive all-around. The offense is 10th nationally in points scored per game, the defense is third nationally in points allowed, and Terrelle Pryor has been a leader on the field.

Ohio State suffered their lone defeat in a tough battle at Wisconsin during the middle of October. The Buckeyes are 11-1 on the season, and still stand a good chance of playing in a BCS bowl game.

1. Alabama

Current Rank: #17

The defending national champions, have arguably played the nation’s most difficult schedule in 2010. The Crimson Tide have played seven ranked opponents this season.

A Heisman winner a year ago, Mark Ingram currently sits at 816 yards rushing, and quarterback Greg McElroy suffered the first defeats of this college career this season.

At 9-3 on the season, Alabama will miss a BCS bowl game for the first time since 2007.

AP Preseason Grade: C

Pleasant Surprises

Notable Current AP Ranked Teams

#5. Stanford – Behind Jim Harbaugh, and Andrew Luck, the Cardinal are 11-1 and well-positioned to play in a BCS bowl game. They began the season unranked.

#7. Michigan State – Sparty has shown up big in 2010. Michigan State is 11-1, and co-champions of the Big Ten. They began the season receiving zero votes in the AP poll.

#16. Oklahoma State – The Cowboy offense has been explosive all season long. Their two defeats came to ranked Nebraska and Oklahoma squads. Now 10-2, they began the season unranked.

#15. Missouri – At 10-2, the Tigers play great defense and are 2-1 against ranked teams. Missouri began the season unranked.

#18. South Carolina – The Gamecocks (9-3) have spent the majority of the season ranked, and now face Auburn in the SEC championship game.

~ by philip d. on December 2, 2010.

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