We're inching ever closer to real football returning to our lives. First it was the virtually endless stream of watch list announcements. Then it was conference Media Days. And now we have the first official preseason poll, from the coaches:
|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.
Notably absent from that top 25 rankings? Our very own Iowa Hawkeyes. They weren't exactly just knocking at the door, either -- they received 49 points in the Others Receiving Votes category, good for 33rd place if the poll extended out that far. That's behind a pair of teams that finished 4-8 a year ago (Florida and TCU) and a few teams that suffered significant NFL-related attrition (Missouri, Central Florida), which is a little curious considering how much Iowa returns from a team that finished 8-5 a year ago and ended the regular season on a three-game winning streak. Certainly, the absences of James Morris, Christian Kirksey, and Anthony Hitchens is a big blow, but it's no more (and much less) than several teams other teams in this top 25. Perhaps if Jake Rudock had a splashier debut season or if there were some flashier skill players for voters to focus on.
But whether or not Iowa "should" have been ranked in the preseason top 25 (again, it's a preseason top 25 -- it's an inherently silly exercise), it puts Iowa in a position where they've proven to be very comfortable under Ferentz: just under the radar and primed to exceed expectations. If they take advantage of their favorable schedule, they'll be ranked in the in-season top 25 polls before too long.
Speaking of that schedule... just two of Iowa's 12 opponents in 2014 are ranked in this current poll, #14 Wisconsin and #22 Nebreaska. There are only four total Big Ten teams ranked (#6 Ohio State and #9 Michigan State are the other representatives), which is tied for the third-best total (with the Big XII) among conferences (behind six for the Pac-12 and seven for the SEC). Unless someone like Maryland or Northwestern has an unexpectedly brilliant season, it's difficult to imagine any other opponents being ranked when Iowa plays them, either (and it's certainly no guarantee that either Wisconsin or Nebraska will be ranked when they play Iowa, since those games occur deep in November). For Iowa to get ranked -- or to get much acclaim, period -- it's probably going to come from an a simple accumulation of wins, rather than any particularly impressive showcase wins.
What do you make of this preseason top 25? Anyone stand out as way too high or way too low?