Sean Pendergast

Texas Opens Year Two Of Herman Era At Number 23 In AP Poll

Tom Herman has Texas back in the preseason AP Top 25.
Tom Herman has Texas back in the preseason AP Top 25. Photo courtesy of the University of Texas
The first Saturday of college football season is ten days away, and you can cut the anticipation in the air with a knife. In the state of Texas, the ante has now been sped to ridiculous levels in the coaching arms race, as Texas A&M has chased the University of Texas' signing Tom Herman in 2017 with the signing of head coach Jimbo Fisher here in 2018.

Combined, both head coaches will make about as much as the overall athletics budget at some Division 1 schools. Add in the always formidable TCU Horned Frogs, Texas Tech trying to save Kliff Kingsbury's job for another year, Matt Rhule trying to bounce back from a 1-11 debut at Baylor, and then locally, Major Applewhite and Ed Oliver trying to do big things at UH, and football in Texas should be, at the very least, intriguing.

The first step in any college football season is to shape the narrative out of the gate. While the college football championship is decided on the field, who gets to participate is still a beauty contest, in which perception matters. To that end, we got our first AP Top 25 of the 2018 season released on Monday, and here's how it goes....

1. ALABAMA (42)
2. CLEMSON (18)
3. GEORGIA
4. WISCONSIN (1)
5. OHIO STATE
6. WASHINGTON
7. OKLAHOMA
8. MIAMI
9. AUBURN
10. PENN STATE
11. MICHIGAN STATE
12. NOTRE DAME
13. STANFORD
14. MICHIGAN
15. USC
16. TCU
17. WEST VIRGINIA
18. MISSISSIPPI STATE
19. FLORIDA STATE
20. VIRGINIA TECH
21. UCF
22. BOISE STATE
23. TEXAS
24. OREGON
25. LSU


Others receiving votes: South Carolina 96, Florida 68, Utah 60, Oklahoma St. 51, FAU 38, Arizona 28, NC State 22, Texas A&M 21, Boston College 18, Northwestern 13, Kansas St. 10, Iowa St. 8, Houston 6, Memphis 3, Troy 2, Iowa 2, Kentucky 1, Arkansas St. 1, Fresno St. 1.

A few observations:

1. The conference breakdown of the Top 25 goes like this: SEC 5, Big Ten 5, ACC 4, Big XII 4, Pac-12 4, MWC 1, AAC 1, Independent 1. So the SEC and the Big Ten are tied with the most teams in the Top 25, but what is really interesting is that the five Big Ten teams are consolidated closer to the top of the poll, with five teams in the top 15. We know Alabama helps buy any "best conference" argument better than any other program, but could the Big Ten beat the SEC if you had those five schools square off against each other, in their respective orders?

Alabama vs Wisconsin
Georgia vs Ohio State
Auburn vs Penn State
Mississippi State vs Michigan State
LSU vs Michigan

I'd go Alabama and Georgia, for sure. I'd take Harbaugh over Orgeron. The other two are coin flippers, so probably SEC 3, Big Ten 2.

2. Four Texas schools garnered votes — 16. TCU, 23. Texas, and Texas A&M and Houston are also receiving votes. If I had to guess where these four teams finish relative to their preseason ranking, I'd go as follows — TCU higher, Texas higher, Texas A&M lower, Houston lower.

3. Alabama is absolutely incredible. How incredible? Check out these stats from Clay Travis...

4. As long as we are looking ahead to the first big Saturday of the college football season, here are the matchups involving two Top 25 teams:

#6 Washington vs #9 Auburn (in Atlanta), Sat 9/1, 2:30 p.m.
#14 Michigan at #12 Notre Dame, Sat 9/1, 6:30 p.m.
#8 Miami (FL) vs #25 LSU (in Arlington, TX), Sun 9/2, 6:30 p.m.
#20 Virginia Tech at #19 Florida State, Mon 9/3, 7:00 p.m.

Ten days away.....

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast