USA Today has just released the preseason version of the 2014 College Football (Amway) Coaches Poll. At the top, Florida State has been tabbed as the heavy favorite to repeat their 2013 championship run, with Alabama right behind. Another notable takeaway is that the coaches also see the Bruins primed for a run, as UCLA Football has its highest preseason ranking and I believe first preseason top-10 ranking since the nearly-magical season of 1998, coming in this morning at #7.
With the introduction of a 4-team playoff into the top-tier of college football this season, the role of the poll and rankings have changed somewhat. The Coaches poll no longer directly affects which teams play in the national championship game or playoff, but may be used by the football playoff committee as a piece of information in their decision-making. Per SBNation, the end of season Coaches Poll will still determine which team gets the crystal national championship trophy that had previously gone to the winner of the BCS Championship Game, giving voters the chance to give the SEC the two national championships in one year that folks down there probably feel entitled to.
Consistent with the Pac-12's Media poll and much offseason chatter, the Oregon Ducks are the the top rated team in the conference, coming in at #4 overall. Elsewhere in the conference, Stanford falls into place at #11, while his fellow coaches believe that Seven-Win Sark can boost his results a bit at Southern Cal with a #15 preseason ranking. ASU's killer offense but rebuilding defense is enough for them to appear at #18, while Chris Petersen's major conference debut sees Washington round out the poll at #25. Oregon State and Arizona also received top-25 votes from the coaches.
Overall, that is six Pac-12 teams in the preseason top-25, and two additional teams receiving top-25 consideration from at least one voting coach. All of the above teams except Oregon State are on our schedule this fall, while non-conference opponent Texas was voted in at #24. Half of the Bruin schedule this fall is against preseason top-25 opponents - there is no doubt that the team is going to be tested over the next few months, but with this strength of schedule, there is no way that the team will be left out of this season's playoff debut.
Here is the full table of the top-25 teams along with those programs also receiving votes. Andy Hutchins has listed all of the voters (but not the SID/staff members many of them have delegated their votes to) in this year's edition of the poll for SBN.
|RANK||TEAM||RECORD||POINTS||FIRST PLACE VOTES||PREVIOUS RANK|
|1||Florida State Seminoles||14-0||1543||56||NR|
|2||Alabama Crimson Tide||11-2||1455||NR|
|6||Ohio State Buckeyes||12-2||1267||1||NR|
|8||Michigan State Spartans||13-1||1050||NR|
|9||South Carolina Gamecocks||11-2||1009||1||NR|
|17||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||9-4||509||NR|
|18||Arizona State Sun Devils||10-4||358||NR|
|20||Texas A&M Aggies||9-4||266||NR|
|21||Kansas State Wildcats||8-5||257||NR|
|23||North Carolina Tar Heels||7-6||175||NR|
Others Receiving Votes:
Missouri 126; Florida 122; Central Florida 102; Mississippi State 74; Oklahoma State 56; TCU 54; Michigan 53; Iowa 49; Miami (Fla.) 45; Duke 41; Louisville 32; Marshall 27; Brigham Young 18; Boise State 13; Louisiana-Lafayette 12; Virginia Tech 12; Texas Tech 8; Minnesota 6; Cincinnati 6; Northwestern 5; Oregon State 4; Fresno State 4; GeorgiaTech 2; Houston 2; Arkansas 1; Arizona 1; Northern Illinois 1.