The sportswriters who vote in the Associated Press' preseason Top 25 college football poll really like the SEC this year. A lot. Or they're as confused as the rest of us about who should be favored to do well or fall flat on their faces. Because for whatever reason, the SEC placed eight teams in the preseason ranking. That's more than half of the conference's 14 members -- and Florida very nearly made it nine.
|1||Florida State (57)||1,496|
|Others receiving votes: UCF 94, Florida 87, Texas 86, Duke 71, Iowa 68, Louisville 48, Marshall 41, Oklahoma State 37, Virginia Tech 26, TCU 23, Mississippi State 22, Michigan 19, Texas Tech 19, Miami (FL) 16, Cincinnati 15, Boise State 10, Oregon State 10, Northwestern 8, BYU 8, Penn State 5, Vanderbilt 2, Navy 2, Nevada 1, Louisiana-Lafayette 1, Utah State 1|
In case you were wondering, the eight teams in the preseason poll ties a record ... held by the SEC. Combined with the six teams from the Pac-12, there are 14 ranked teams from those two conferences. Next is the B1G with four, the ACC and Big 12 with three each, and Notre Dame with one. No team from outside the Power 5 is ranked.
When it comes to the teams from the SEC in the Top 10, the AP poll is nearly a mirror images of the USA Today coaches poll released last month: Alabama is No. 2; Auburn is No. 6, compared to No. 5 on the coaches' ballots; and South Carolina is at the same No. 9 as in the USA Today tally. And that flows throughout the rest of the Top 15 as well, with Georgia taking the same No. 12 ranking among AP voters that the coaches gave it and LSU coming in at No. 13 once again.
After that is where things differ a bit more. The AP has Ole Miss at No. 18, one spot higher than the coaches, and Texas A&M at No. 21, a place lower. The coaches stopped there, placing Missouri just outside of the ranks of the Top 25, but the AP puts Missouri in at No. 24. Florida remains at de facto No. 27, trailing No. 25 Washington by 43 points. Mississippi State and Vanderbilt also receive votes, but because Bret Bielema does not have a ballot in this poll, Arkansas does not.
Playing the imaginary "if the AP were the selection committee and nothing changed between now and the end of the year" game, Florida State would play Oklahoma in the semifinals and Alabama would play Oregon in the Ducks-vs.-Nick-Saban game that we've all wanted to see for a couple of years now. Those are the same four teams that the coaches poll had, only in a different order, so there are your favorites going into the college football season.