Breaking down my Preseason Top 25 ballot

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AP top 25

Is it officially the end of talking season today?

After all, it is game week for teams like UMass, Colorado State, Rice and New Mexico State. And whether you think it matters or not, The Associated Press poll comes out Monday at noon.

Those who complain about preseason polls also think you should pull your pants up, quit looking at your phone and never try alternate uniforms. The poll is harmless fun, no matter what UCF fans want to think.

It’s simply a gauge for what some of the most brilliant minds in college football are thinking. Did I say that out loud? Because I am again a voter.

Here is my poll in pieces because it’s too much to take in without a breath between fivesomes. I kid, of course, because I saw a comedy show in Las Vegas on vacation and I’m honing my skills.

(If toast always lands butter-side down and cats always land on their feet, what happens if you strap toast to the back of a cat and drop it? I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.)

(Actually, I stole that from Stephen Wright).

But I digress.

Top five at five (or whenever you are reading this):

1. Clemson; 2. Alabama; 3. Wisconsin; 4. Penn State; 5. Washington.

Burning question: Why Penn State?

Even without Saquon Barkley and Joe Moorhead, this is going to be an awesome offense. And the Nittanies play Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin at home. Beaver Stadium is underrated (especially by us SEC snobs) as one of the toughest environments in college football.

6. Miami; 7. Georgia; 8. Ohio State; 9. Auburn; 10. Notre Dame.

Burning question: Isn’t Ohio State a little low?

Well, I’m going with the theory that no matter what happens this week, this has to be a team that has to be a little distracted. And I also worry that if the Buckeyes win it all, every coach will want to shut down all preseason interviews.

11. Oklahoma; 12. Stanford; 13. Michigan; 14. TCU; 15. Southern Cal.

Burning question: Why are you so high on teams who had so many losses last year?

Well, the last four teams in this fivesome lost a combined 16 games last year, but I think they will all be a little better this year. Not a lot better, but a little better. I was very tempted to pick Stanford higher and they will have that chance to move up when they take on USC in the second week of the season. Of course, so will the Trojans.

16. Michigan State; 17. South Carolina; 18. Texas A&M; 19. West Virginia; 20. Mississippi State.

Burning question: Did you get your check from the SEC?

The answer is no. And, as you know, my vote doesn’t give the SEC any more cache. I think all three of these teams have a shot at 10 wins. I also think they also could be tremendous disappointments. But no team is disappointing in August.

21. Oklahoma State; 22. Texas; 23. UCF; 24. Florida; 25. Kentucky.

Burning question: Why don’t you ever learn?

Yeah, I ranked Kentucky in the preseason last year as well. The Wildcats are so close to being a Top-25 team (even if the coaches ranked them 41st), losing three games by a total of five points last year. The Kitties aren’t ready to play with the big boys, but I see them being a 9-3 type team.

One more burning question: Didn’t you forget some teams?

Like FSU and Virginia Tech? Not big on either team, but the winner of their opening weekend matchup will almost certainly be in my second poll.

Or LSU? It just feels like a disaster brewing in Baton Rouge.

Or Boise State? Sorry. I can’t hear you.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

44 COMMENTS

  1. Well, like Florida vs. Michigan (in Dallas) last year for us Gator fans, some of Pat’s ”AP Top 25” teams are going to get the wind taken right out of their sails opening weekend. Like Pat’s #9 Auburn vs. #5 Washington, #10 Notre Dame vs. #13 Michigan, and L.S.U. vs. Pat’s #6 team, Miami in Dallas. And I am O.K. with it, more wind for Florida Football! Go Gators!

    • Word.

      So even tho this won’t reflect on the actual poll — or maybe it will by end of the actual Week 1 after all the above has happened — 24 Florida vs 25 Kentucky. Hmmmm. I wasn’t expecting that, were you?

    • Actually it was fan day and then a night scrimmage. This is the scrimmage that Mullen wanted to have a starting QB in mind afterwards, unfortunately though he won’t be making that news public and only keeping it to himself. Going to be interesting to see what’s reported on this situation, to have somewhat of an idea who it’s going to be.

  2. Not a bad Pat’s Top 25 … has as much value as bitcoin and Tesla these days. I have Florida ranked in my top 15. Florida is going to be a leaner, stronger, more physical team in 2018 than they were under McElwain. Mullen knows how to win, expecially at Florida. If Florida stays healthy, they have a very good chance at winning their first seven games. A bye week, then its Georgia. Last year is not indicative of this year’s team. I still favor the Dawgs to beat the Gators, but it will be very close. And if by chance, they upset Georgia, then I see them possibly running the table. Is it possible? Yes! But the Gators have to stay healthy, committed and focused to do so. My prediction is 10-2 but the Gators will send out a strong signal, the future will be painted Orange and Blue!

  3. Looks like UGA’s luck might be running out. They didn’t have a single significant injury last season and now they’ve already got a huge one. #1 RB recruit Zamir White tore his ACL covering a punt in the scrimmage on Saturday. Tough news for White, but I guess the injury luck was bound to run out sooner or later.

    • Joe. Georgia, like Florida, is loaded with RB talent. White was going to likely be 4th or 5th string on Georgia’s RB depth chart this year behind Swift, Holyfield, Herron, and Cook. But, clearly, it hurts their special teams not having someone that fast and that big covering kicks.

  4. In Taggart, fsu hired their McElwain, and being that I live up here near Tally and still have a couple of people within the UAA there that I can rely on, I’ve heard that Taggart is driving the nolie players crazy with Muschamp-esque emotional outbursts and just recently publicly said his team has “embraced the suck”.

    Never knew what the attraction to Taggart was. A career losing record, only had any real success in his last year at USF because of QB Flowers (who never made an NFL roster as a QB), didn’t do squat at Oregon, ticked off a lot of recruits after he left there after one year, and has no real loyalty to anyone.

    As for LSU, I find it i9nteresting that they get a transfer kid from Ohio State and then two QB’s jump ship? Ouch, and I agree with Dooley, there’s something brewing down there just below the surface. Orgeron will eventually turn that program upside-down with his decisions.

    • Interesting take on Free Shoes U. I truly hope you are 100% correct and maybe the tide is turning. I’m so tired of losing to them. Coach Taggart does not have the track record to make you believe he is in the upper strata of college football coaches. I’m glad he’s in Tallahassee 🙂

      LSU ….. is going to (already does?) regret Alleva’s decision to dump Miles and bring in Orgeron. I thought that from day one. I’m not sold that Miles is Saban-esque in any way, but somehow, that man won a lot of football games.

      • I’m going to take a dare, or a risk, and attempt to post part of what I posted 2 hours ago, which was deleted presumably by the troll catching program because I mentioned a broadcast network. Or alternatively, because the program is itself a troll and deletes any content not highly praising FSU?

        SO HERE IT IS/WAS: A poll of coaches, made by an unmentioned broadcast organization, revealed that the “most over-rated” coach in college football is Willie Taggart. To verify, you can go directly to that organization’s website, but I can’t tell you what it is since Big Brother may be watching and take offense. But their initials are charlie-bravo-sierra.

    • LSU got lucky and won a few games last season in a very down year for the SEC, which led to a 9 win season. I mean he only beat one of the worst Gator teams in history by 1 point. Other than last year winning with Miles’ players, he hasn’t won more than 6 games in any season he was head coach. I don’t see that changing any time soon. LSU fans will be calling for his head mid season. Probably after the Georgia game when they’ll be 3-4.

    • Todd. Taggert took a horrible Western Kentucky football program and turned it into a winning football program, leading to him getting the South Florida job. He then turned around a struggling USF program and Charlie Strong benefited from the talent Taggert left him there, including the exceptionally talented spread option QB (Flowers) that Muschamp did not deem good enough to merit a Florida offer. And he then took over a down Oregon program last year and won, I think, 7 games his first year and was recruiting like crazy for them (the current coach is benefiting from that). I would not project Taggert like you do. He is a hell of a recruiter and is recruiting well for FSU already. He has also put together a very good assistant coaching staff over there. I think he will eventually do better than Fisher there and he and Mullen will compete big time in the future for state rule.

  5. Whoa there cowboy! I love your enthusiasm. 🙂

    I agree in that I believe this team has talent and much improved coaching and if they ended up with 10+ wins, I wouldn’t be surprised. But, I don’t think this team knows “how” to win and truly what it takes and that only comes with the cultural shift now taking place. I see an vast improvement over 4-7 but there will be hiccups along the way. I look for an 8-4 season.

    • Well, we’re all saying basically the same thing, I had it at 8-4, now at 9-3, but let’s be honest. There’s a lot of “hope” in there, and while a necessary ingredient to a happy life, hope is decidedly not a strategy. The actual strategy lies with Dan Mullen, and like the time leading up to D-Day and the invasion of Europe, we only know bits and pieces. The thing that keeps me confident as doubt creeps in, is concordance with some excellent football minds — Rog, 65, GI…GOP and a whole lot more — we can’t all be wrong, can we? So as to me, I’m stickin’ with 9-3, a good bowl win for 10-3, and some high class recruiting for 2019.

      By the way, just saw a CBS poll among FBS coaches, small sample size at 20% that doesn’t approach the central limits theory, but who do you think the MOST OVER-RATED COACH turned out to be? Wait for it….wait for it….OK, Willie Taggart.

  6. GOP- there is a different feel this year. I am with you that we can surprise in # of wins. Gator 6 talked about overachievers before and the logic behind that word. I do however think the team is going to perform above the expectations of the analysts and a lot of the fans. T o steal something from a tv commercial on the HU or human element we are talented and as Rog said we need to learn how to win. Mullen know how to win. As to our ranking in Pat’s poll. I think we may be better than 24 BUT we haven’t earned it yet and I wouldn’t have been upset if we weren’t there at all. I think we will be there solidly in a short time. Meyer’s with Mullen went 9-3, 13-1,9-3 in his first three years. Just a hunch GOP you are on to something. While it is possible they could run t he table I think 9 wins and a real chance at 10 is not unrealistic. Now the doubters are going to say not (and we have been painfully let down for far too long. but this fan thinks we have the right coach for now and the future.

  7. Running some SEC Championship results.
    east
    UF has been there 12 times and won 7
    UGA 6 won 3
    UT 5 won 2
    on the west
    Ala 11 won 7
    AUB 6 won 3
    LSU 5 won 4
    26 Years of SEC championship games UF and ALA own the majority of attendance. LSU wins more if they make it. UGA longest streak of attendance is two. Not really relevant to the poll but going into the season it looks like we have history on our side.

    • Gator65. History is history in football. History means nothing as far as how teams will do this year. But stats from historical records are always fun to research. The only history in college football that really matters is recruiting history for the last three to five years. Now, that history matters if you have a head coach with a good history of coaching well. Florida finally now does after not having that with the last two hired. Go Gators.

      • Tampa I agree. I think the teams do like to have streaks and trends continue in their favor. Playing in almost 50% of the series means the program is or has been above average. With UF and AL holding the majority of the games it says a lot of the programs.

  8. Here’s the Florida 2018 schedule results: UF 35, CS, 10. UF 17, Kentucky, 19. Florida 24, CSU, 17. UF 29, UT, 16. UF 13, MSU 27. UF 17, LSU, 10. UF 27, Vandy, 13. UF, 23, UGA 51. UF 20, MIZZU, 19. UF 23, USC, 20. UF 31, Idaho, 17. UF 27, FSU, 19. That’s 9-3 with a win over FSU, who’s hired a great recruiter but a horrible head coach. Georgia is the team to beat without question, and, without question, Florida is nowhere near their talent level. (or coaching level for that matter) Kentucky will end the streak on some fluke play, Mississippi State show us what true want to and determination really are, and Georgia will just show us how far we have left to go as a program. But, who doesn’t want wins over Tennessee, LSU, and FSU?? That’s the prediction. We’ll see how it plays out.

      • Yeah, if UK couldn’t win that game last season they’re definitely not winning it this season. Last year was their best chance at ending the streak and they blew it. I don’t agree with Florida being nowhere near UGA’s coaching level either. I mean lets be real, I’m pretty sure any coach could’ve stepped in and handed the ball off 90% of the time and won just like Smart did. That’s like saying Larry Coker is an amazing coach cause he won a title his first season with the greatest team of all time. Smart couldn’t have been handed a more ready to win team. I wasn’t impressed with his coaching abilities in the games he couldn’t win just by running the ball. He failed miserably in making in game adjustments and lost both games. Grump E. do you seriously believe Smart could’ve taken over the the 4 win MSU team Mullen took over in 2009 and brought them to 9 wins in 2 seasons and the #1 ranking in 5? It’s easy to recruit to UGA, not so much at MSU. Mullen has clearly proven he’s capable of getting the most out of the talent he could get to that program. 9 years of being highly competitive with teams he had half the talent of. Smart has 1 good season winning with a bunch of upperclass studs that he didn’t even recruit.

        • When I look at Dan Mullen’s head coaching record, I see in 2009 a 5-7 record, in 2010, a 9-4 record with a win over Florida, in 2011, a 7-6 record, in 2012, a 8-5 record, in 2013, a 7-6 record, in 2014, an impressive 10-3 record with no championship, in 2015, 9-4, in 2016, 6-7, with a bowl game win(??), and in 2017, 8-4. Those are hardly numbers (with the exception of 10-3) that we aspire to here at Florida. He was 33-39 in the conference. They say history repeats itself, and football is cyclical, or runs in cycles. I wonder: have we at Florida decided to accept a head coach who comes in with such high expectations, but with….well….Doug Dickey type results? The numbers don’t lie, the records are there, and, well, even Spurrier won at Duke, and whether you like it or whether you don’t, Urban Meyer won at Bowling Green and Utah. Good coaches win, where other coaches don’t. We’ll see, won’t we?

    • Sorry Grumpy but the leg humper’s coaching staff aint better than Mullen and company, not even close. Why do you think MSU is so highly regarded? Heck even you have them beating the Gators. The answer is Dan Mullen and his staff, they are the only reason MSU has had any success and the only reason they have a good team right now.

      • “Leg Humpers”. CO, I’ve been around SEC football most of my life, and I’ve never heard Georgia referred to by that term. I ❤ it!

        You must have been at the Georgia-Florida game that year that they ran UGA out to the 50 yard line at halftime, and right there he lay down and began licking himself on national TV. I was sitting next to Earl and Bubba — Bubba says, “Man, I wish I could do that!”, to which Earl replies, “That dog would bite youuuu!”. Badda bing, badda bong, but you reminded me of that with “leg humpers”…..😁

    • Grump, I can dig it. While UGA has a head start we have in the past risen to the occasion and beat a better (at least on paper) team. Regardless of how the season washes out it will be better than last year. Hope you’re wrong on Kentucky but all streaks end eventually even if we are on the side that wants to continue.

    • Grump. No way Georgia scores 51 points on Florida’s defense. Not with what is going to be a much improved Florida offense this year. That game is going to be very close in Jacksonville this October and could go either way if the Florida QB is playing well. Big IF right now, though. And no way Kentucky is going to beat Florida in The Swamp. I do not see that happening.

  9. I feel Florida will finish higher, but I bet Mullen sends Pat a thank you card for the low pick as it is much better to be the underdog right now.

    I hear Mullen speaking constantly about trying to coach the players on how they handle adversity. I think, based on the frequency he mentions it, that will be one of the big keys. How does this team react after giving up a big play, or a bad call, or a… fill in the blank. The great teams answer, while others often mope or start pointing fingers at each other. I also feel the ability of the team to finish will be a big factor. Do they hustle and run until the whistle blows? Do they finish plays, drives, tackles? Do they win third down?

    When I was young watching Pat Dooley’s Georgia teams, I could never understand how they were so “lucky.” It always seemed they were right there to recover a fumble, somehow make the pick or block the kick. I later learned that what i was seeing was not luck but just basic hustle. Guys were always running to the ball, even when it seemed like the play was over, and that’s why they were there to jump on the fumble. It was that simple.

    So, that’s what I am looking at: how do they handle adversity, how do they finish. I am thinking 9 wins.

    As for the other teams, I am not surprised at all that no one believes in Ogeron. He is a mush-mouthed whack job. However, I actually am starting to feel bad for him and the poor AD who must already be feeling the heat. So, due to everyone mocking him and predicting he will fail, I am now pulling for 8 wins and he shocks the world by beating Bama (not predicting this, but hoping for it).

    A believe South Carolina will under perform as the “new offense” will once again be just another stink bomb exploded in the faces of the fans. Mushbrain will have another lousy season and will proclaim at the end that he is once again going to install a new offense. It’s always the same with him. He actually proclaimed publicly he was going to have nothing to do with the offense this year, thinking that would make him seem like a better head coach. In fact, it reveals once again that he is and will always be a defensive coordinator.
    How does he think its helpful to tell the offensive players– I don’t even care about you at all and will pay no attention to what happens on that side of the ball?

    A lot of people are saying Michigan is poised to take a step forward, but no one knows about their QB, and we know their receivers will get no coaching from the Dorsal Fin Dandy.

    Okay. I clearly need the season to start. This post is way too long.

  10. No Gator fan should ever refer to Avella as “poor guy” and feel bad for that weasel. Remember he was the head cheerleader in the “Florida is afraid to play LSU” campaign after the game was canceled because of the hurricane. Low life weasel gets what he deserves.

  11. Grumpy, Here is the problem I’m having trouble with your prognostics … You have UF’s scoring an average of 21.92 points per game this year, which, is less than UF’s average points per game last year , which was 22.1 points per game…Believe me when I tell you this… UF will average scoring between 31 to 34 points per game…you have to remember Nuss is no longer calling the plays, Muller will be doing the play calling … I’ve been around the UF football program since Spurrier was the QB at UF and I believe this team has the ability to be very special from what I’ve seen so far…It is a completely different team, more so, than any gator team I’ve seen in the last 10 years… both offensively and defensively…this team has great talent…the defense will be great this year, but QB is my main concern…you look at Franks and he just looks like the QB you would want to start for your team… Franks is a QB that looks good at times, but, he is a QB that will get you beat…he is still making the same mistakes as last year but he is making more plays than last year and he really looks good at times…his main problem is he still holds on to the ball too long and gets sacked more so than Trask…What we need is a serviceable QB that doesn’t beat you by making dumb mistakes in critical situations … he may get the nod to start, but it will be because of experience only… and I’ll leave it at that… I do think Florida takes back the swamp this year and wins all of their home games … Mullen will be as successful as Spurrier his first year and wouldn’t surprise me if he went 12-0… the schedule is certainly on his side and very manageable. I do think Georgia and So. Carolina are over rated … I’m not sold on either of UG or SC defenses this year, but I am sold on UF defense…and this years UF’s offense can hold it’s own against both teams.

    • Thanks for the update, Cody…know you’re in a position to know what you’re talking about, but can’t tell everything you’re privy to. Just keep what you can coming for the next 10 days or so, it may settle a lot of last minute nerves!