Preseason AP Top 25: Takeaways from first 2016 poll

Who got snubbed, who's overrated, who's the 'darling' pick and more quick thoughts on the AP Poll.

The preseason AP Top 25 rankings were released on Sunday morning, with plenty of familiar faces at the top. Last year's College Football Playoff National Championship Game contenders - Alabama and Clemson - begin where they left off, at No. 1 and 2 respectively. Beyond that, five of the top six teams in this year's preseason poll have been a part of the CFP since its inception two years ago.

Here are some instant takeaways from the preseason AP Top 25.

When in doubt, go with the champ

There's no clear-cut favorite heading into this season, so when all else fails slate last year's best two teams atop the poll.

While at first glance, seeing yet another Alabama team ranked No. 1 seems commonplace, it's hard not to feel that this ranking is due somewhat to the Nick Saban bump. The Tide are replacing their starting quarterback, top two running backs - one of whom won the Heisman Trophy - the nation's best center, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and arguably the best run stuffer from a year ago. Alabama is talented, but that's a lot of question marks for a preseason No. 1. 

Pac-12 North

Look at Washington sliding in at No. 14. The Huskies are a bit of a darling pick heading into Chris Petersen's third year in Seattle. With them ranking well higher than No. 24 Oregon, expect plenty of trash talk and remembrances of Kenny Wheaton and the The Pick from Ducks fans on October 8.

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Baylor ranked

Given everything that occured this offseason, it's a minor miracle that the Bears are ranked in the preseason AP Top 25. Art Briles ammassed talent, and had everything been on the up-and-up Baylor certainly would've been in title contention discussions at some point this year. Still, with a new coach, the exodus of several recruits and the backup quarterback, and then the general cloud of unease over the program, if No. 23 Baylor can at least finish where it begins then consider this a successful season.

No Texas or Miami

Is this the year Charlie Strong gets critics off his back? Is a refreshed Mark Richt ready to turn around his downtrodden alma mater? Maybe so, but don't tell the voters as much. Former national powerhouses Texas and Miami are nowhere to be seen in the preseason AP Top 25 rankings.

The Hurricanes and Longhorns carry enough clout that one signature victory - say Week 1 for Texas against Notre Dame - or a string of early blowouts - Miami's first three weeks - will vault them into the AP Poll. For now, though, they must prove themselves to the voters.

Overrated/Underrated

With every poll, there's that one team ranked far too low, and that one set up for failure thanks to a high preseason ranking.

For the overlooked team, let's go with America's underdog, Michigan State. Despite reaching the CFP last year and winning the Big Ten in two of the past three years, Sparty is ranked No. 12 in the preseason AP Top 25. That's too low for the defending conference champion - especially when Ohio State and Michigan are No. 6 and 7, respectively.

As for the overvalued team, let's go with Tennessee here. Every year it seems as though there's this groundswell for the Vols making it over the hump. This year is no different. We'll know by the Third Saturday in October whether Butch Jones' team is for real. By that Alabama game, Tennessee will have played both Florida and Georgia, as well as the quirky neutral game against Virginia Tech. The Vols could be anywhere from sitting in the SEC East catbird seat to well out of the AP Top 25 rankings before the leaves even change.


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