That likely won’t be the case in 2015.
Going into the offseason, the collection of way-too-early polls published by college football experts around the nation expects Ohio State to be the national favorite come the start of the 2015 season.
Of course, that will happen after winning the national championship, especially when you return three decorated quarterbacks and a bevy of talented underclassmen that has your team described as “loaded” going into the offseason.
So as is now tradition, BuckeyeSports.com compiles our consensus poll of national college football writers and their way-too-early thoughts on the upcoming campaign. Sometimes these polls are right on – last year’s version had playoff teams Florida State, Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State ranked first, second, third and sixth – and sometimes they’re not. But it’s fun nonetheless to get a look at how things are set as we go into the offseason.
This year’s polls include those published by Fox Sports (Stewart Mandel), ESPN (Mark Schlabach), USA Today (Paul Myerberg), CBS Sports (Dennis Dodd), Sports on Earth (Matt Brown), the Big Lead (Ty Duffy) as well as Athlon, NationalChamps.net, The San Diego Union-Tribune and Bleacher Report.
So without further ado, here’s the way-too-early consensus top 25.
1. Ohio State (8 first-place votes)
2. TCU (2)
6. Florida State
7. Michigan State
9. Ole Miss
13. Arizona State
15. Notre Dame
18. Boise State
20 (tie). Missouri
20 (tie). Mississippi State
23. Georgia Tech
24. Texas A&M
A few observations:
- The Big Ten gets a solid but not spectacular result here. Ohio State obviously leads the way with Michigan State seventh and Wisconsin 19th, while Minnesota, Nebraska and Michigan (!) also received votes. Having two Big Ten teams above the second SEC team is a nice touch, and Wisconsin is getting some nice respect despite the coaching change. The way Michigan State ended the year with the Cotton Bowl comeback, coupled with Connor Cook and Shilique Calhoun coming back, leads to a nice bit of offseason respect for Sparty. That showdown in Columbus in the penultimate game of the year looms large.
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- The SEC, meanwhile, isn’t quite as represented at the top as in the past. Only one team in the top eight is from the SEC, but the depth is there with eight more teams in the top 25. When in doubt, the writers say, just put an SEC team in the mix.
- All five power conferences are represented in the top six. One thing we’re learning in the playoff is that it’s going to be tough to get multiple teams from one conference in, so it makes sense to have diversity at the top.
- Some praise for OSU: “As talented as the Buckeyes proved to be in winning the College Football Playoff national championship, they'll be even more stacked in 2015.” – Mandel. “There's an embarrassment of riches across the board, from quarterback through the secondary.” – Myerberg. “Projecting to 2015 is scary.” – Duffy.
- The teams to appear in every poll: Ohio State, TCU, Baylor, Oregon, FSU, Auburn, Bama, MSU, USC, Ole Miss, Arizona State, LSU, UCLA, Georgia and Arizona. Nine of 10: Notre Dame, Boise State, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Wisconsin.
- The polls to put TCU ahead of the Buckeyes: Schlabach’s, which has OSU second, and NationalChamps.net, which placed OSU fourth behind TCU, Oregon and FSU.
- Experts are split on a few teams such as Stanford, which appears fourth in one poll but is unranked six of the 10. Texas A&M is placed as high as 10th but is unranked in four polls. Mississippi State really confounds the experts, as four pollsters rank the Bulldogs between 12th and 14th and the other six don’t have them ranked at all.
- Some other teams with major discrepancies in the rankings include the Seminoles (as high as third, as low as 19th), Auburn (as high as second, as low as 23rd), Notre Dame (eighth in one poll, unranked in another) and LSU (anywhere from eighth to 25th).
- The early Vegas Insider odds also like Ohio State, with the site putting the Buckeyes at 9/2 with TCU next at 7/1 and Alabama at 8/1. Oklahoma, which didn’t even make the consensus top 25, is in the mix at 12/1, while other Big Ten teams checking in include MSU (20/1), Wisconsin (60/1) and Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, Iowa and Minnesota all at 100/1. You know, for entertainment purposes.
- Florida and Michigan received votes -- five points for Florida and one for U-M. Hey, anything is possible...
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