The Associated Press released their top 25 football poll on Sunday, and it really didn’t seem to matter. But there’s a reason why it shouldn’t be completely avoided, and Oklahoma’s ranking of fourth is significant.
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With the sport finally going the way of the rest of college athletics and having a a group of people around a table picking the teams to play in the postseason, we finally don’t have polls and computers telling us what’s going on. But that doesn’t mean we just avoid reading polls — they still matter, and they might mean more than ever.
Just as it was in every year prior to this, preseason polls automatically set up positions. Here’s what’s engraved in people’s minds now that the AP preseason poll (and in late July the Coaches) is now released: the top four teams in the nation are Florida State, Alabama, Oregon, and Oklahoma.
Right now, those four teams control their own destiny — win out and they’re in. Ohio State has a lame duck schedule; their only challenge all season is a road date at Michigan State. As of now, that’s their only ranked team, so even if they do go undefeated, they’re not passing any of those top four.
Seriously, the Buckeyes don’t play Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Iowa (when do they play the Hawkeyes?). The Big Ten is garbage. What saves it from being a schedule equivalent to a MAC school is they have a chance to boost it with the conference championship game — unless someone like Purdue spoils the party.
All those other teams close up there would be eliminated with losses to one of the top four (UCLA and the other USC would be ousted in conference championships). That’s why it’s important for coaches and those voting from the AP to believe that Oklahoma is better than Ohio State at this time.
The Buckeyes don’t have enough ammunition on their own to convince those people otherwise, and if Oklahoma kills it in the Big 12, those in the College Football Playoff committee won’t see it either with wins over Baylor, Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma State, and TCU — all getting more votes than the second-toughest team on Ohio State’s schedule (Michigan).
Other Big 12 news
— Two other teams were in the AP poll — the Bears (10) and Wildcats (20) — while the Longhorns just missed the cut. Beaten by UCF and have just 15 more votes than Duke? What world do I live in?
— Is there a three-way battle for starting quarterback at Oklahoma State? Apparently J.W. Walsh hasn’t locked up the spot yet, although he’s looking like a Sam Richardson kind of front runner. The other quarterbacks in battle are Daxxxxx Garman and Mason Rudolph — man, I hope the former wins it.
— West Virginia’s football opponents from last season tell them why their defense sucked.