It’s the first day of August, and that means two things. One: football will be played this month. The next month without some sort of football game will be March. We made it everyone.
Two: the USA Today Coaches Poll was released this afternoon, and it looks something like this:
|Rank||Team||Record||Points||First Place Votes||Previous Rank|
The “Previous Rank” category refers to that team’s rank at the conclusion of last season, after the BCS National Championship Game. By rule, all the Coaches must vote the winner of the BCS Championship Game #1.
But that doesn’t mean they have to name that same team #1 in the following season’s poll, but that’s exactly what they did. Alabama received 58 of the 62 first place votes, putting them in pole position for the Championship Game in Pasadena. All the Tide need to do is take care of the teams on their schedule, and they’ll play for their third consecutive National Championship and their fourth in five years. Regardless of the results of this season, it’s safe to say that Nick Saban has created a dynasty at Alabama, a feat damn near impossible since teams rotate through a whole new set of players every four years.
Coming off their undefeated 2012 season, the Ohio State Buckeyes are ranked #2. However, the pressure on them will be much more real this year compared to last season. Regardless of their record, the Buckeyes were ineligible for the B1G Championship Game and a bowl berth due to an NCAA investigation. This season, they are playing for something other than pride, and that makes the results of their games all the more real. Still, being ranked #2 has its perks. If they can take care of business, they’ll be playing for a National Title.
The teams ranked #3 and onwards are all playing catch-up; they need Alabama and/or Ohio State to fall if they want a chance to play for all the roses. Oregon, Stanford, and Georgia are each coming off a 12 win season and are ranked #3, #4, and #5, respectively. The bottom half of the top ten are each coming off 11 win seasons of their own: Texas A&M, South Carolina, Clemson, Louisville, and Florida are looking to make improvements and perhaps be included in the national title mix.
Of these ten teams, the one team that will have the hardest time making the argument that they should be in the mix will be Louisville. They still have one year left in the American Athletic Conference before they move to the ACC, and their schedule is, well…it’s not going to impress anyone. Never mind that none of the teams they play are currently ranked in the Top 25, none of the 12 teams on their schedule are among the 39 teams that received votes. If they even want to be included in the conversation, they have to be nearly perfect. Nothing less will suffice.
What can be gleaned from quickly glancing at the top half of the Top 25 is just how dominating the SEC is. Five of the top ten ranked teams are in the SEC, as are six of the top thirteen. Since Notre Dame doesn’t officially belong to a conference, the SEC has as many teams in the top 13 as the rest of the conferences COMBINED. That’s damn impressive.
But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here. This is just one poll, and there is plenty of football to be played. LSU was ranked #1 in last season’s preseason poll and lost to Clemson in the Chick-Fil-A (Peach) Bowl. Likewise, USC was ranked #3, and they ended up 7-6 and losing to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. The 2011 and 2010 preseason polls had Oklahoma and Alabama each ranked #1, and neither team ended up playing in that year’s national championship game. There’s a reason they play the games folks.
Still, after seven long months, football is finally on the horizon. Less than a month left.
Then, it’s game on.