To very little surprise, the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes have been selected #1 in the Associated Press Top 25 pre-season poll.
Ohio State, which open the season at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech on Monday Sept. 7, peaked a year earlier than most projections and the goal this season will be to battle over confidence.
Stacked on both sides of the ball, the Buckeyes’ biggest challenge should come from Michigan State, which was ranked #5 in the AP poll behind TCU, Alabama and Baylor.
AP Top 25 Poll
(Graphic from ESPN.com)
With Auburn in sixth place, it guarantees that the pre-season top six will all play at least one of the other top-ranked sides during the regular campaign.
Ohio State is 7:2 to win the NCAAF Championship on the Bet365 NCAA football odds, with Michigan State 20:1 and Baylor 22:1.
TCU and Baylor both paid the price last season for the lack of a Big 12 Conference championship game and the Conference has tweaked the title criteria so there will be no co-champion controversy this season.
A lack of a decent non-conference schedule will hamper the Horned Frogs and the Bears. Minnesota, Stephen F Austin and SMU are on TCU’s slate, and SMU, Lamar and Rice are on Baylor’s dance card.
Oregon and USC are seventh and eighth in somewhat of a surprise as one or the other is expected to be in the national title mix as the Pac-12 placed six teams in the pre-season poll.
Only the SEC, with eight, was better and in a balanced year overall the biggest issue in each conference is the likelihood that the favorites will be upset.
Still it is hard to see anything other than the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten and the Big-12 title winner moving on to the college football playoff this year, with the ACC on the outside looking in.
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