The Top 25 reasons college football’s early-season polls are a waste of time

Plus: Baseball’s Hall of Fame inductions, the U.S. Open finals and Week 1 of the NFL season all arrive this week. This You Gotta See.

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Iowa v Iowa State

Iowa State’s Brock Purdy might be the man, but he has yet to beat the Hawkeyes.

Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Here’s what we know about college football’s next AP Top 25 poll, which won’t come out until Tuesday: After delivering the goods in Week 1, Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State will be the top three.

And also this: Early-season polls remain — how to put this delicately? — kind of stupid.

Oklahoma, which started the season No. 2, will still be in the top five even though it was vastly outplayed for much of a 40-35 win against 21-point underdog Tulane. Clemson will be somewhere near the middle of the top 10 despite mustering all of three points in a loss to Georgia.

And bank on this: Iowa State, which needed a late interception to survive little ol’ Northern Iowa, will remain higher-ranked than big ol’ Iowa — its next opponent — which destroyed Indiana. Why? Because the Cyclones were 11 spots higher than the Hawkeyes in the preseason poll, that’s why.

It’s not that I mind these polls. They give us something to chew on and argue about — good, clean fun — until the initial College Football Playoff rankings drop in November. That’s the only poll that actually matters anymore.

Until then — especially early on — the polls are much more predictive than reflective, and that’s somewhat useless. Generally speaking, yes, we know the dominant few in college football belong at the top of the rankings now because they almost unfailingly end up there. But the rest of the Top 25 will end up looking nothing like what it does now, and that’s a promise. It never plays out any other way.

Here’s what’s happening:


Reds at Cubs (1:20 p.m., Marquee)

The last time these teams met at Wrigley Field was July 29 — the final day for Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez and Kris Bryant in Cubs uniforms (also known as the day before the onset of Schwindelmania).


The B1G Story: George Taliaferro (7 p.m., BTN)

If you don’t know, do yourself a favor and learn about the life of a three-time All-American at Indiana who overcame blatant racism and discrimination — on his own campus — to become the African American drafted into the NFL, by the Bears in 1949.

White Sox at A’s (8:40 p.m., NBCSCH)

The A’s — fading fast in the wild-card race — are practically begging to be put out of their misery by the team they knocked out of last year’s playoffs.


Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony (12:30 p.m., MLB)

Finally, the Class of 2020 — Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller — has its day in the sun. And that’s a good thing considering not one guy on the ballot got elected in 2021.


White Sox at A’s (2:37 p.m., NBCSCH)

If Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez isn’t careful, he might work his way on to the playoff roster with all this excellent pitching he’s doing.

Cowboys at Buccaneers (7:20 p.m., Ch. 5)

And so begins the NFL’s 102nd season, which also happens to be Bucs quarterback Tom Brady’s 22nd season. Or is it the other way around?

FRI 10

Giants at Cubs (1:20 p.m., Marquee)

Today, Wrigley is jam-packed with emotion for the return of an all-time great and one of the most beloved Cubs ever. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the Giants’ Tommy La Stella.

New York Mets v San Francisco Giants

Wait, this guy doesn’t look like Tommy La Stella.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Red Sox at White Sox (7:10 p.m., NBCSCH)

A possible ALCS preview? It would be the first Sox-Sox postseason action since way back in 2005, when Chris Sale was just a high school junior who didn’t even realize he hated throwback jerseys.

SAT 11

Illinois at Virginia (10 a.m., ACC)

Man, that’s an early kickoff. Do the Illini at least get to eat breakfast first?

Oregon vs. Ohio State (11 a.m., Fox-32)

The favorites of the Pac-12 and Big Ten get after it with a hint of “Granddaddy” in the air. Then again, neither team aims to end up at the Rose Bowl this season because that would mean missing the playoff.

Indiana State at Northwestern (11 a.m., BTN)

After their Game 1 clunker, the Wildcats need an opponent they can beat up on. Enter the Sycamores.

U.S Open women’s singles final (3 p.m., ESPN)

This event has become so unpredictable. Time for a sixth first-time champion since Serena Williams 2012-14 three-peat?

Iowa at Iowa State (3:30 p.m., Ch. 7)

It’ll be pressure-packed, brutally physical and emotionally excruciating — and that’s just for the extra-large fans trying to squeeze into their gameday overalls.

SUN 12

Vikings at Bengals (noon, Fox-32)

After taking a public beating for opting against COVID-19 vaccination, Vikes QB Kirk Cousins tries to avoid something even more shameful — a public beating from the Bengals.

U.S Open men’s singles final (3 p.m., ESPN)

An American hasn’t won the Open since Andy Roddick in 2003 or even reached the final since Roddick in 2006. Maybe it’s time to rename this thing?

Packers at Saints (3:25 p.m., Fox-32)

After an offseason of petulant drama, Aaron Rodgers deigns to take the field again as a Packer and do what he was put on Earth to do — beat the Bears. Oops, forget that last part.

Bears at Rams (7:20 p.m., Ch. 5)

Look, let’s cut it out already with the Andy Dalton-or-Justin Fields nonsense and focus on what really matters: making new Rams QB Matthew Stafford feel like he never left Detroit. 

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