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)
4. WISCONSIN (1)
5. OHIO STATE
10. PENN STATE
11. MICHIGAN STATE
12. NOTRE DAME
17. WEST VIRGINIA
18. MISSISSIPPI STATE
19. FLORIDA STATE
20. VIRGINIA TECH
22. BOISE STATE
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...
Alabama is number one in the preseason 2018 AP poll & has now been number one in at least one poll in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, & 2018. This is by far the longest stretch of consecutive number one years in CFB history. https://t.co/KGRjFblBaS— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) August 20, 2018
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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.....
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