The number one ranking in the AP Preseason Top 25 will be a close call between USC and LSU. The Trojans have received a good deal of off-season media hype (number one in ESPN poll) and their recent acquisition of Penn State transfer Silas Redd has kept the program in the news as of late. I previously stated that LSU would most likely be the preseason number one, but I now believe Redd may have tilted the voters just enough in favor of the Trojans. However, I would not be too surprised to see the Bayou Bengals at the top of the rankings.
LSU is the USA Today Coaches Top 25 Preseason number one team, but barely. The Tigers edged out Alabama by only four points for the top slot and just 15 ahead of number three USC. The Crimson Tide actually received the most number one votes, but will probably be third in the AP since I expect USC and LSU to receive the most top votes. Of Georgia, Florida State, Oklahoma, and Oregon, I am sure that two of the four teams will make up the rest of the AP top five with Oregon the most definitive.
Of the teams projected in the top 10, Arkansas, Michigan, and South Carolina are the teams that could fall outside of it. West Virginia could make it, but other than the possibility of them, it should be the same teams as the top 10 of the Coaches Poll just in different order. Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith is also the Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year according to media that cover the conference. Wisconsin may have a longshot chance to break the top ten, but I doubt they will with the negative publicity recently involving the attack on Montee Ball. They will probably be ranked around 12 like in the Coaches Poll and will definitely be in the top 15.
For other projections, Kansas State should get slightly more credit in the AP than the Coaches and fall at least in the top 20. Texas will also be ranked somewhere in the top 20. Florida and Notre Dame are both on the bubble for the top 25. They each are very well known programs, but both also loom with uncertainty at quarterback going into the 2012 season. Auburn is another team on the bubble to break the rankings.
Last season, I did ranking projections on Saturday nights/ Sunday mornings between midnight and 2 a.m. CST for weeks 5 through 14. Most of the time, I projected the top five teams or close to it with other predictions for teams in top 25 rankings (projected BCS weeks 10 through 14). I correctly projected teams to be ranked in the top five 94 percent of the time and was correct 95 percent on other projections. I was also correct 81 percent of the time on the exact team rankings predicted in the top five (projected rankings here).
Here is the top 10 for the USA Today Coaches Poll and projections from other sites earlier this year:
USA Today Coaches Poll
1. LSU (18)
2. Alabama (20)
3. USC (19)
7. Florida State
9. South Carolina
PhilSteele.com AP Projection
9. Florida State
10. South Carolina
7. Florida State
10. West Virginia