Dooley: Picking Ohio State to top preseason Associated Press poll

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AP top 25

My first Associated Press ballot of the season was submitted a couple of weeks ago. It has been awhile since I have been a voter so it was different doing it online rather than phoning it in at 2 a.m. (never a good idea).
When you see it, there are enough surprising picks some of you may think the summer of Rainsville has gotten to me.
But I take voting seriously, whether it’s for President or Heisman or Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame. All of those other doodlings were just for fun. This is serious.
I spent a month thinking about my first ballot and studied all of the schedules because I am a person who believes in factoring in who you play along with how you play or, at least, how we expect you to play.
And for the record, I voted before the coaches/SID’s poll that came out so if there are any similarities, it is a coincidence.
So here is my Top 25. Let the gnashing of teeth begin.
1. Ohio State: So much talent returning and the coach is pretty good at this whole football thing.
2. Oklahoma State: Don’t freak out. Not only are the Cowboys loaded, but I believe the Bob Stoops retirement was a confidence builder for the program.That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
3. Florida State: The Seminoles lose once, but that’s it. No way they aren’t in the playoff this year. I guarantee it. (How’s that for a reverse jinx?)
4. Alabama: I’m not as sold on the Tide as some people, but I am sold on Nick Saban enough to put him in the playoff.
5. Penn State: James Franklin is getting it done in Happy Valley. You don’t have to like him, but you have to respect his coaching chops.
6. Southern Cal: A year ago the Trojans opened up with Alabama. This year they open up with Western Michigan. Fight on.
7. Auburn: It might make sense to scalp Iron Bowl tickets now and see how much you can get for them in November.
8. Stanford: That game the second week vs. USC should be a doozy.
9. Michigan: People act like Jim Harbaugh has lost so many seniors and NFL-ready juniors that he has no talent remaining. Wrong. And his schedule is set up perfectly with bookend big games.
10. Oklahoma: Lincoln Riley, welcome to big-time head coaching where 10th in the country isn’t good enough.
11. Clemson: The Tigers have to fall off a little don’t they? Just because Deshaun Watson is gone, right?
12. LSU: You look at the schedule and it’s hard to see a lot of teams who have a chance to beat the Tigers.
13. Florida:This is a fragile defensive roster and the suspensions don’t help. The Gators need to stay healthy in some key spots. But I still think this is Jim McElwain’s best UF team with a schedule that is home-friendly.
14. Houston: You think the Cougars are going to struggle under Major Applewhite. Go look at the schedule and get back to me.
15. Louisville: Lamar Jackson will not win the Heisman again. That is the lock of the year.
16. Washington: You may think this is a little low, but I think it is different to be the hunted, especially with a brand new secondary.
17. South Florida: Charlie Strong walked into a really good situation. He may have the state’s best quarterback.
18. Wisconsin: Don’t the Badgers just feel like a 9-3 team?
19. Georgia: The sample size on Kirby Smart, the head coach, is still very small.
20. Utah: Don’t you just love those late night games from Rice-Eccles Stadium?
21. Miami: Mark Richt has a ceiling. Of that I am convinced.
22. West Virginia: They love them some Will Grier up in Morgantown. How bitter would Gator fans be if he won the Heisman Trophy?
23. Kentucky: I’m bullish on the Wildcats, but they have to be more consistent with the passing game to make some noise.
24. Washington State: Darkhorse contender in the Pac-12.
25. Pittsburgh:Just look at the schedule and who the Panthers don’t play.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.