The AP college football preseason rankings were released on Saturday, and to no one's surprise, the University of Alabama easily took the top spot, receiving 58 of the 60 first-place votes.
|Photo by: Rob Carr|
The Georgia Bulldogs, ranked No. 5 in the initial AP poll, could be one of the clubs that can give Nick Saban's bunch a run for their money. The Bulldogs finished last season with a 12-2 mark, and played the Crimson Tide extremely tough in the SEC Championship Game, dropping a close one, 32-28. Georgia has a difficult schedule early this season, facing the likes of Clemson, South Carolina and LSU. However, if they manage to survive the first month and a half of the season unscathed, look out.
Also from the SEC, the Johnny Manziel-led Texas A&M Aggies look to build off their stunning win over the Tide last year. The conference newcomers finished 11-2 last season, with 6 of those wins coming against SEC opponents. If "Johnny Football" can stay healthy (and eligible), the Aggies could once again knock Alabama from the ranks of the unbeaten when they hook up in College Station on September 14th.
The bowl ban is over in Ohio State, and the No. 2 ranked team in the country looks posed for a title run. Coach Urban Meyer led the Buckeyes to an undefeated 2012 campaign, the only team in college football to finish the season with an unblemished record. Ohio State has three preseason top 25 teams on their schedule, with their biggest challenge potentially being Michigan in Ann Arbor on November 30th.
Two Pac-12 squads start the year ranked in the top 5, with Oregon and Stanford checking in at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. Last season, the Ducks became only the fourth team ever to play in four-consecutive BCS games, and the Cardinals finished the year 12-2, knocking off Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, 20-14.
The loss of coach Chip Kelly will be a big hurdle for Oregon to overcome, but a stacked roster should make the transition a bit easier. Stanford has made the transition from coach Jim Harbaugh to David Shaw look easy, finishing the year ranked in the top 10 each of the last two seasons. The second-half of their schedule will likely determine if the Cardinals are legitimate threats to win it all, with games against the Ducks, USC and Notre Dame in November.
Can any of these teams prevent Alabama from winning a third-straight national championship? Certainly. Will any of them? That's the real question. And of course there's always the possibility of a sleeper team coming out of nowhere and making a run at the title. Don't forget, Notre Dame wasn't ranked at all in last year's preseason poll, and USC started the year at No.1.
How'd that turn out?
Buckle up. It's bound to be a wild ride.