Florida State wasn’t even supposed to be here.
Auburn? Not even on the radar.
Says who? Well, everyone.
Before every season, we at Buckeye Sports Bulletin put together a consensus poll of the top 25 prognostications made by reputable college football writers from around the country. The list includes the AP and USA Today coaches’ polls as well as rankings put together by various newspapers, websites, computers and preseason annuals.
This year, we had 17 polls involved, and not a single one of them had Florida State ranked at the top before the campaign. In fact, just five had the Seminoles as a top-10 team, though two sources came the closest to forecasting the team’s rise – College Football News had the team at No. 2, while Phil Steele (as you might have suspected, given his guru status) had the Noles ranked third.
Overall, though, that sentiment was not a popular one. The Seminoles checked in 12th overall in our preseason poll, one spot below Florida. Yes, that Florida, which finished 4-8 and did not go to a bowl.
Of course, people were much closer on Florida State than they were Auburn. Not one of the polls we used even gave Auburn a single top-25 vote, something that made sense given the fact the team had a first-year head coach in Gus Malzahn and was coming off a forgettable 3-9 campaign.
That makes the second straight year a team that wasn’t even in our consensus poll top 24 made the national title game. Last year, Notre Dame began the season ranked 25th in our combined poll before completing an undefeated regular season and losing to Alabama (which entered third) in the title game.
So what have we learned? Preseason polls, of course, are part of the fun of college football. You just might not want to put a lot of money on what you find.
For fun’s sake, here’s a look at our consensus poll top 10 and where each team finished at the end of the season (we’ll use the AP poll for that):
1. Alabama – finished 7th
2. Ohio State – finished 12th
3. Oregon – finished 9th
4. Stanford – finished 11th
5. Texas A&M – finished 18th
6. Georgia – finished unranked
7. South Carolina – finished 4th
8. Clemson – finished 8th
9. Louisville – finished 15th
10. LSU – finished 14th
Looking at it another way, here’s how the final AP top 10 was ranked in our consensus poll was ranked at the start of the year:
1. Florida State – started 12th
2. Auburn – started unranked
3. Michigan State – started unranked
4. South Carolina – started 7th
5. Missouri – started unranked
6. Oklahoma – started 15th
7. Alabama – started 1st
8. Clemson – started 8th
9. Oregon – started 3rd
10. UCF – started unranked