Outlooks for the preseason Amway Coaches Poll top 25 – USA TODAY
USA TODAY Sports’ Erick Smith reveals the top 25 in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll.
USA TODAY Sports
The preseason Amway Coaches Poll, with outlooks for the top 25:
1. Alabama (14-1)
Points: 1,585 (55 first-place votes). Previous ranking: 1. Opens: Sept. 3 vs. No. 17Â Southern California in Arlington, Texas (ABC, 8). Outlook: The defending champs will have a lot of new faces, and the defense is under new management with long-time coordinator Kirby Smart off to Georgia.
2. Clemson (14-1)
Points: 1,524 (7). Previous ranking: 2. Opens: Sept. 3 at Auburn (ESPN, 9). Outlook: The 2015 national runner-up Tigers have a lot of pieces back; QB Deshaun Watson enters 2016 as the Heisman frontrunner.
3. Oklahoma (11-2)
Points: 1,398. Previous ranking: 5. Opens: Sept. 3 at No. 13 Houston (ABC, noon). Outlook: Baker Mayfield looks to lead Sooners to another Big 12 title and back to the playoff.
TOP 25:Â Â Preseason Amway Coaches Poll
4. Florida State (10-3)
Points: 1,351 (1). Previous ranking: 14. Opens: Sept. 5 vs. No. 12 Mississippi in Orlando (ESPN, 8). Outlook: The Seminoles look to reclaim the ACC throne; there are a lot of playmakers on offense, but there could be QB competition in camp.
5. Ohio State (12-1)
Points: 1,321. Previous ranking: 4. Opens: Sept. 3 vs. Bowling Green (BTN, noon). Outlook: J.T. Barrett won’t have many experienced hands around him as he directs the offense, but thereâs a whole lot of talent that could gel quickly.
6. LSU (9-3)
Points: 1,241. Previous ranking: 17. Opens: Sept. 3 vs. Wisconsin in Green Bay, Wis. (ABC, 3:30). Outlook: The Tigers should again excel both generating and preventing rush yards, but they’ll still need some plays from the QB position to win the rugged SEC West.
7. Stanford (12-2)
Points: 1,149. Previous ranking: 3. Opens: Sept. 2 vs. Kansas State (FS1, 9:30). Outlook: Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champion Cardinal will revolve around Heisman finalist Christian McCaffrey and youthful but talented defensive front.
8. Michigan (10-3)
Points: 1,062. Previous ranking: 11. Opens: Sept. 3 vs. Hawaii (ESPN, noon). Outlook: The Wolverines need to choose a starting QB, but LB Jabrill Peppers will lead a stout defense.
9. Notre Dame (10-3)
Points: 1,034. Previous ranking: 12. Opens: Sept. 4 at Texas (ABC, 7:30). Outlook: A pair of experienced QBs lead a veteran group that should have the Fighting Irish poised for another campaign of double-digit wins, but 12-0 might be required to crack playoff lineup.
10. Tennessee (9-4)
Points: 960 (1). Previous ranking: 23. Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Appalachian State (SEC, 7:30). Outlook: A trendy pick to win the SEC East thanks mostly to veteran QB Josh Dobbs, the Volunteers must nevertheless prove they’ve learned to finish.
11. Michigan State (12-2)
Points: 901. Previous ranking: 6. Opens: Sept. 2 vs. Furman (BTN, 7). Outlook: The Spartans won’t be flashy and might have the longest odds of making it back to the playoff among last year’s quartet, but the defense should still be formidable.
12. Mississippi (10-3)
Points: 792. Previous ranking: 9. Opens: Sept. 5 vs. No. 4 Florida State in Orlando (ESPN, 8). Outlook: QB Chad Kelly is still in Oxford, but the Rebels lost a lot of next-level talent, and there’s that NCAA investigation.
13. Houston (13-1)
Points: 668. Previous ranking: 8. Opens: Sept. 3 vs. No. 3 Oklahoma at NRG Stadium (ABC, noon). Outlook: The Cougars won’t surprise anybody this year in Tom Hermanâs second season at the helm, but a dark-horse playoff push isn’t out of the question with chances for splashy wins.
14. TCU (11-2)
Points: 649. Previous ranking: 7. Opens: Sept. 3 vs. South Dakota State (FSN, 8). Outlook: The Horned Frogs’Â offense must be almost entirely rebuilt, so defense must carry team early.
15. Iowa (12-2)
Points: 579. Previous ranking: 10. This week: Sept. 3 vs. Miami (Ohio) (ESPNU, 3:30). Outlook: Rock-solid defense and incumbent QB C.J. Beathard could have Hawkeyes back atop Big Ten West.
16. Georgia (10-3)
Points: 525. Previous ranking: 24. Opens: Sept. 3 vs. No. 20 North Carolina in Atlanta (ESPN, 5:30). Outlook: New head coach Kirby Smart inherits Bulldogs’Â traditionally strong backfield; much could be asked of freshman QB Jacob Eason.
17. Southern California (8-6)
Points: 468. Previous ranking: not ranked. This week: Sept. 3 vs. No. 1 Alabama in Arlington, Texas (ABC, 8). Opens: There’s still a lot of talent on campus, but QB Cody Kessler is gone, which won’t help the Trojans shed their recent underachiever label.
18. Washington (7-6)
Points: 454. Previous ranking: not ranked. This week: Sept. 3 vs. Rutgers (Pac-12, 2). Outlook: Extremely young a season ago, the Huskies could be on the verge of a breakout 2016 campaign.
19. Oklahoma State (10-3)
Points: 426. Previous ranking: 19. Opens: Sept. 3 vs. Southeastern Louisiana (FSN, 3:30). Outlook: The top of the Big 12 is crowded, and the Cowboys’Â defense has to get better, but QB Mason Rudolph will lead an experienced attack.
20. North Carolina (11-3)
Points: 422. Previous ranking: 15. Opens: Sept. 3 vs. No. 16 Georgia in Atlanta (ESPN, 5:30). Outlook: The Tar Heels finished strong last season and now enter 2016 as the ACC Coastal favorites, but Mitch Trubisky must deliver as Marquise Williams’Â QB successor.
21. Baylor (10-3)
Points: 383. Previous ranking: 13. This week: Sept. 2 vs. Northwestern State (FSN, 7:30). Outlook: The product on the football field for the Bears has taken a back seat after a tumultuous offseason, with school officials now hoping new coach Jim Grobe can remake the team’s image.
22. Oregon (9-4)
Points: 361. Previous ranking: 20. This week: Sept. 3 vs. UC-Davis (Pac-12, 5). Outlook: This is a lower starting ranking than they’re accustomed to in Eugene, but the likes of Royce Freeman and Darren Carrington still give the Ducks a lot of speed.
23. Louisville (8-5)
Points: 331. Previous ranking: not ranked. Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Charlotte (Fox, 7). Opens: The ACC Atlantic is a tough neighborhood, but QB Lamar Jackson and the young Cardinals grew up quickly in 2015.
24. UCLA (8-5)
Points: 296. Previous ranking: not ranked. Opens: Sept. 3 at Texas A&M (CBS, 3:30). Outlook: QB Josh Rosen gives BruinsÂ fans reason for optimism, but the defense must make more stops for UCLA to contend in the Pac-12 South.
25. Florida (10-4)
Points: 245. Previous ranking: 25. Opens: Sept. 3 vs. Massachussets (SEC, 7:30). Outlook: The Gators stumbled to the finish line last year, but they’ll still have a terrific defense that should keep them in the SEC East mix.
Dropped out: No. 16 Utah (10-3), No. 18 Navy (11-2), No. 21 Wisconsin (10-3), No. 22 Northwestern (10-3).
Other receiving votes: Miami (Fla.) (8-5) 120; Wisconsin (10-3) 82; Boise State (9-4) 73; Utah (10-3) 73; Washington State (9-4) 47; Texas A&M (8-5) 37; Arkansas (8-5) 34; Texas (5-7) 34; Northwestern (10-3) 31; Navy (11-2) 30; Mississippi State (9-4) 19; San Diego State (11-3) 18; Auburn (7-6) 17; Nebraska (6-7) 17; Western Kentucky (12-2) 11; Pittsburgh (8-5) 8; Brigham Young (9-4) 6; Appalachian State (11-2) 4; Duke (8-5) 3; Arizona (7-6) 2; Marshall (10-3) 2; South Florida (8-5) 2; Toledo (10-2) 2; Indiana (6-7) 1; Memphis (9-4) 1; Northern Illinois (8-6) 1.
The Amway Board of Coaches is made up of 64 head coaches at Bowl Subdivision schools. All are members of the American Football Coaches Association.