Preseason polls are like a good pep rally — they get the juices going and the conversation flowing.
Really, though, they have nothing to do with how the games unfold. We saw that in Week 1 all over college football, when seven AP Top 25 teams — including a pair of top-five squads and No. 10 Notre Dame — went down.
Not surprisingly, the first in-season Top 25 looks very different. It still reflects a lot of guesswork — how much do we really know about teams that have played one game? — but at least it’s based in part on actual on-field results.
Five observations on the new rankings:
1. Poll vaulting: Wisconsin went from unranked to No. 10 — the biggest Week 1 jump for an unranked team in history — after upsetting LSU in Green Bay. Texas went from unranked to No. 11 after upsetting Notre Dame in Austin.
Are the Badgers really one of the 10 best teams in the land? Doubtful, but we can talk about it again after they face Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa in succession starting in Week 4. Goodness gracious, that’s going to be a brutal stretch.
Texas’ positioning seems like an overreaction among voters to the Longhorns’ thriller against the Irish. That game had the Sunday-night stage and captivated everyone who watched, but the Longhorns are still only 12-14 under Charlie Strong. More proof, please.
2. Oh, contrarians: So … defending national champion Alabama beats USC 52-6 yet isn’t your No. 1? That’s rich.
Six of 60 poll voters chose to roll with someone other than the Tide, who staged a devastatingly good performance at Jerry World in Arlington, Texas. The 54 first-place votes is, at least, a big jump from the 33 Alabama received in the preseason poll.
3. No shame, Notre Dame: Somehow, the Irish plummeted eight spots to No. 18 despite going on the road and taking the 11th-best team in the country to double-overtime. You see how these poll details often don’t add up?
In truth, though, 18 makes pretty good sense for Notre Dame, which clearly has some work to do on defense and needs to continue to develop pass-catchers for terrific quarterback DeShone Kizer.
4. Tennessee silliness: Because of the bottomless supply of SEC bias among a certain sect of voters, the Vols — despite not having a double-digit-win season since 2007 — began the season at No. 9. Now at No. 17, they’re still getting a lot of love. Sure, whatever.
In case you missed it: Vols 20, Appalachian State 13 (OT) was the score Thursday night in Knoxville. No disrespect to the Angry Apps, but let’s be real — not impressive.
5. Uh-oh, Illini: Out of the Top 25 after a hard-fought loss is North Carolina, which had a 24-14 lead on new No. 9 Georgia in Atlanta before falling 33-24.
The Tar Heels are a talented bunch, especially at the offensive skill positions, as Illinois fans remember from last season’s 48-14 wipeout in Chapel Hill. Getting kicked to the curb by pollsters could have the Heels extra motivated for Saturday’s rematch with the Illini in Champaign.
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