The Associated Press preseason Top 25 is out. Take a look at how the ballots break down, and find out what to watch for when the college football season begins this month:
’Noles Nation domination
Finish No. 1. Start No. 1. Even Bobby Bowden’s best Florida State teams never did that.
Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles will. Jameis Winston and the defending national champions are preseason No. 1 for the sixth time.
In two of the previous five seasons Florida State started No. 1, the ’Noles went on to finish No. 1, including a wire-to-wire title in 1999. But they never did start the following year top-ranked.
OK, the 2000 Seminoles were preseason No. 2, and after Bowden, the Hall of Fame coach whom Fisher replaced, won his first national championship in 1993, Florida State started 1995 ranked No. 3.
Fisher’s Seminoles have a long way to go to compare to Florida State’s unprecedented run of national championship contention, a string of 14 straight seasons during which the ’Noles finished the season ranked in the top five of the AP rankings.
Still, make no mistake: Florida State 2.0 is built to last.
“We’re the second-winningest team in the country the last four years, the winningest team the last two years and have had the most NFL players,” Fisher said. “We’ve recruited well, too. Recruited a lot of great young players we’ve been able to mentor and develop as we go, so we’re very comfortable with the guys who are replacing the guys that left.”
Do not think for a second that the end of the Southeastern Conference’s streak of national championships means the SEC is slipping.
The SEC begins the 2014 season with eight ranked teams, matching its own record for most teams from one conference in the preseason poll, set in 2011.
After Alabama and Auburn, South Carolina is No. 9, Georgia is 12, LSU is 13, Mississippi is 18, Texas A&M is 21 and Missouri is 24.
The Pac-12, which gave the SEC a good run as the nation’s best conference last year, has six ranked teams — No. 7 UCLA, No. 11 Stanford, No. 15 Southern California, No. 19 Arizona State and No. 25 Washington — the most ever for the league in the preseason.
From the archives
- No. 7 UCLA has its best preseason ranking since 1998, when the Bruins were also seventh.
- No. 8 Michigan State has its best preseason ranking since 1967, when the Spartans were No. 3.
- No. 10 Baylor is ranked in the preseason for the first time since 1986 and has its best preseason rankings since 1957, when the Bears were No. 7.
- No. 25 Washington, with new coach Chris Petersen, formerly of Boise State, is making its first preseason appearance since 2003.
Start to finish
Since the AP preseason poll debuted in 1950, Florida State in ‘99 and Southern California in 2004 are the only teams to start and end the season No. 1 in the AP poll. Eight other preseason No. 1s have also won the national championship.