This past weekend the Associated Press released its College Football Preseason Top 25. Oklahoma was selected as the #1 team. I thought it would be fun to look back ten years and see what kind of season a preseason #1 experienced.
2001 – Florida Gators: The Gators lost their second SEC game at Auburn. They also stumbled during their final game of the season in Gainesville against Tennessee. Note the Tennessee game was a moved to December because of the September 11th Terrorist attacks. They destroyed Maryland in the Orange Bowl. Final AP Rank: #3.
2002 – Miami Hurricanes: The Hurricanes went 12-0 maintaining their #1 ranking through out the season. Their bid for the BCS Title fell short on a controversial call in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State. Final AP Ranking: #2
2003 – Oklahoma Sooners: This Sooner team was branded by some “The Greatest College Football Team of all time” shortly after their 77-0 beat down of Texas A&M. The Sooners maintained their ranking until they got destroyed by Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game. I was fortunate enough to be at Arrowhead that evening. They made the BCS Title Game (Sugar Bowl) as the #2, and lost to LSU. Final AP Ranking: #3, an undefeated USC finished #2. Good thing there was a playoff to sort that out
2004 – USC Trojans: Possibly one of the most boring college football seasons in recent memory. USC ran the table, and beat Oklahoma in the BCS Title Game (Orange Bowl). Final AP Rank: #1.*
2005 – USC Trojans: USC rolled through the season. Their closest game was a 50-42 win against Fresno State. However, they lost the BCS Title Game (Rose Bowl) to Texas. Final AP Rank: #2.*
*=Apperantly we’re not supposed to remember that. These wins have been “vacated”
2006 – Ohio State Buckeyes: Ohio State followed a familiar script. The Buckeyes ran through the regular season. Even though they ran the opening kickoff of the BCS Title Game (not the Fiesta Bowl, but it was in Glendale) back for a Touchdown, there were pounded by Florida 41-14. Final AP Rank: #2.
2007 – USC Trojans: The Trojans lost a close game at home to Stanford, and then lost at Oregon. Finishing 11-2, they eventually beat Illinois in the Rose Bowl. Final AP Rank: #3.
2008 – Georgia Bulldogs: Georgia’s 2008 season might be the biggest preseason #1 bust of the early 2000’s. They lost two conference games against Alabama and Florida, and finished up their regular season losing to Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs beat Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl. Final AP Rank: #13.
2009 – Florida Gators: The Gators rolled along until meeting the Crimson Tide in the SEC Title Game where they got throttled 32-13. That was enough to keep them out of the BCS Title Game. They finished by beating Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl. Final AP Rank: #3
2010 – Alabama Crimson Tide: Alabama lost three SEC games. Including a devastating loss to rival Auburn in which they allowed the Tigers to score 24 unanswered points. They finished the season by beating Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl. Final AP Rank: #10.
The only team on this list to finish the season ranked #1 is the 2004 USC Trojans.* This statistic by itself is mis-leading. It would lead one to think that being a preseason #1 is something you don’t want. Consider these numbers. 8 of the 10 made a BCS Bowl. 5 of the 10 made the BCS Title Game. The average final rank is 4.2. The lowest final rank is #13. The worst any of them did was the Capital One Bowl. While it’s not a flashy BCS Bowl it’s a New Years Day Bowl. Only one team at the end of the season will be ranked #1. Being the preseason #1 doesn’t indicate a championship season, but it’s a good sign that a team will have an excellent season. Have fun Sooner fans.