2011 Preseason Coaches Poll - Analysis
Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles
Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles
Posted Aug 4, 2011

The 2011 Preseason Coaches' Poll was released. What does it all mean? Who was ranked too high, too low, and who got no love whatsoever? How will the poll affect the national title chase? Oklahoma might be No. 1, but there were other big winners. Pete Fiutak breaks down the rankings that truly matter.

2011 Preseason Coaches' Poll

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By Pete Fiutak


Preseason Coaches' Top 25
1. Oklahoma
2. Alabama
3. Oregon
4. LSU
5. Florida State
6. Stanford
7. Boise State
8. Oklahoma State
9. Texas A&M
10. Wisconsin
11. Nebraska
12. South Carolina
13. Virginia Tech
14. Arkansas
15. TCU
16. Ohio State
17. Michigan State
18. Notre Dame
19. Auburn
20. Mississippi State
21. Missouri
22. Georgia
23. Florida
24. Texas
25. Penn State
When looking at the USA Today Coaches' Poll, you have to keep in mind that (i) the people voting in this poll don't really know any of the teams or any of the players (do you think any non-Mountain West coach has a clue who the TCU starting quarterback is?), (ii) the voters aren't always the coaches, and (iii) it's the poll that actually matters.

The AP poll is irrelevant and the Harris Poll doesn't come out until October, when the first BCS rankings are released. The USA Today Coaches' Poll means almost everything to the national title chase, so if No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Alabama go unbeaten, they'll be playing for the national championship no matter what anyone else does.

It's a little bit of a surprise that Oklahoma got 42 first place votes and Alabama received only 13, but it doesn't really matter; there's no way, no how an unbeaten SEC champion doesn't play for the national title, and in this race, all that matters is finishing in the top two.

One of the big overall winners is Florida State, who starts out in a terrific No. 5 spot and in a prime position to pounce and move up into a key national title position. No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 LSU have to play each other, and No. 3 Oregon faces LSU on the opening weekend, so the Noles will almost certainly move into the top four right out of the gate.

Stanford gets a ton of respect at No. 6, and like Florida State, is set up perfectly to fly up the rankings if and when the top five teams start to fall. However, the new Pac-12 didn't get any respect with Oregon at No. 3 and Stanford at No. 6 the only teams in the top 25. Arizona State is technically 26th under the Others Receiving Votes category, Utah is 28th and Arizona is 32nd.

The opening weekend of the Big Ten season shapes up to be even more special with No. 11 Nebraska at No. 10 Wisconsin, but the big story in the new league is Ohio State, down to No. 16 after all the turmoil and all the craziness.

The SEC, as expected, dominated with Alabama at No. 2, LSU No. 4, South Carolina No. 12, Arkansas at No. 14, Auburn at No. 19, Mississippi State at No. 20, Georgia at No. 22, and Florida at No. 23. Only Tennessee - No. 40 - Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Ole Miss didn't make the top 25.

But overall the big winner might turn out to be Boise State, who gets an extremely respectful No. 7 ranking, while Mountain West newcomer TCU is No. 15. If the Broncos can beat Georgia in the opening weekend, it's smooth sailing with just one game against a preseason top 25 team - TCU - the rest of the way. In other words, if you have no interest in another year of talk about whether or not Boise State is worthy of playing in the BCS Championship, get your Bulldog red and black pom-poms out.

Five Key Overranked Teams
- No. 4 LSU (Based on how good the team is going into the season and not where it'll likely end up.)  
- No. 7 Boise State
- No. 11 Nebraska
- No. 17 Michigan State
- No. 19 Auburn 

Five Key Underranked Teams
- No. 21 Missouri  ... (Based on how good the team is going into the season and not where it'll likely end up.) 
- No. 29 Miami
- No. 34 Michigan
- No. 40 Clemson

- No. 43 BYU

What Have You Done For Me Lately?
Teams that didn't get much respect for a strong 2010
- No. 19 Auburn 
- No. 15 TCU 
- No. 16 Ohio State 
- No. 20 Mississippi State
- No. 49 Nevada

No, Really, What Have You Done For Me Lately?
Name programs that got no love whatsoever.
- Texas Tech ... no votes
- Georgia Tech ... one vote

- UCLA ... no votes
- Washington ... three votes
- Boston College ... no votes
- Oregon State ... four votes

No, REALLY, What Have You Done For Me Lately?
Some bowl teams of last year that didn't get a sniff, and will probably be in the top 25 at some point this season
No votes for Boston College, Illinois, Navy, Northern Illinois, Texas Tech, Tulsa

Five Teams Outside of the Top 25 That'll Finish In
- No. 27 West Virginia
- No. 28 Utah
- No. 30 Iowa
- No. 34 Michigan
- No. 37 Houston

By Richard Cirminiello

Though the Tide is the better of the pair, Oklahoma and Alabama in the first two spots, respectively, sounds about right a month before the start of the season. No other program can boast the Sooners' prolific offense or ‘Bama's championship-caliber D.

LSU will wind up being overrated at No. 4. I'm not buying into the offense, especially with Jordan Jefferson at quarterback and Steve Kragthorpe calling plays. The Tigers will have a good team, but not an elite one.

As it stands now, September will feature a pair of games between top 5 teams, No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 5 Florida State and No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 4 LSU. If you can only watch one, which do you choose? I'd take the Sooners in Tallahassee, as the ‘Noles attempt to make that long-awaited return to the national title discussion.

The demise of the Big 12 has been greatly exaggerated. The once-teetering conference has half of its 10 members in the Top 25, including three among the first nine programs.

South Carolina at No. 12 seems a few spots too high. The Gamecocks will finish the season closer to last year's No. 22 ranking.

Opening at No. 16 puts even more pressure on interim Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell. In light of the situation he's inheriting, Jim Tressel current successor might have preferred more modest expectations.

And the Big East still has an automatic BCS bowl bid? The league has houses just one of the top 35 teams—No. 27 West Virginia. No. 15 TCU, which becomes the ninth member in 2012, cannot arrive soon enough.

The Cam Newton factor: Auburn opens the season at No. 19, but might have been top-ranked had the superstar returned for his senior year.

Mississippi State is No. 20 after finishing the season No. 17. Head coach Dan Mullen is a magician, who'll outgrow Starkville real soon if the Bulldogs can match their opening ranking.

Notre Dame, Georgia, Florida, Texas and Penn State are the five programs to travel from unranked to ranked since the end of the bowl season. While talent is a factor, tradition and reputation factor heavily into preseason rankings.

Despite all of the fresh faces—on the sidelines and the depth chart—the Gators are capable of blowing past No. 23. The schedule is brutal, but look out if the young kids get some confidence in September.

Look out for BYU. Unranked in August, the Cougars could be in the top 15 by December.

Arizona State is not the nation's 26th best program. The fact that the Sun Devils came so close to being ranked has as much to do with offseason hype as anything else.

By Russ Mitchell
Follow me on Twitter @russmitchellcfb

That the SEC has eight teams overall in the Top 25 is impressive enough. Still more impressive is that no other conference has more teams than the SEC West.

That's five teams in the Top 20 for the SEC West... How is that even possible when they all play each other?

What that is is a heavy dose of R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

For everyone hanging on by a thread in the Big 12, here's the good news: the conference led the way with three Top Ten selections...

...now the bad news: If Oklahoma, OSU and A&M all move to the SEC, as has been recently rumored, there go your three Top Ten teams. Heavens to Betsy.

Couldn't disagree with Rich more on this one... If I've got to choose between LSU/Oregon and Oklahoma/FSU, I'm taking the former. First, there's great drama in the revenge factor for Oregon against another SEC team. There's the Pac-12/SEC tension (really not a lot of Big 12/ACC angst). There's how LSU will respond to the Kragthorpe news. There's a neutral site in one of our nation's more exciting venues. And we all know everything is bigger in Texas. Finally, the teams are more evenly matched. Sorry Jimbo, but we're not buying the Seminole hype, not yet. There were too many close calls last year, not to mention that thirty point thrashing in Norman (47-17), a game where Stoops and Co. appeared to let up on the gas (they led 44-7 heading into the fourth quarter). Sure, FSU is improved, but so is Oklahoma. If that wasn't enough, the Sooners actually have the bye week to prepare, after a reasonably competitive game against Tulsa. If this game were anywhere other than Tallahassee, it'd be another Oklahoma blow-out. As it is, the Sooners will win by more than a touchdown.

Why does the Big East still get an automatic BCS birth? Seriously. Zero teams in the Top 25. Where's Bill Hancock to extoll the hollow virtues of a soulless BCS now?

Texas squeaks into the dance at 24. Sadly, that may even be a gift. You think the boys in Provo saw that?

Think about this - the five Big 12 teams in the Top 25 are, in order: Oklahoma, OSU, A&M, Missouri and Texas. All five of which have expressed interest in, or been rumored to be, leaving the conference.

Oh, and don't forget the recently departed Nebraska Cornhuskers...also in the Top 20.

Wow. That's a hell of a conference. If it all falls apart, file the Big 12 under "lost opportunity". That or "poor TV markets".

Thank goodness for Whisky squeaking in at #10, or the Big 10 would have been shut out of...the Big 10.