Ballots for preseason college football polls are little more than throwing darts at a board, a reflection of past work and the promise of a new season.
Given the state of affairs in 2020, that is the case more than ever. Some teams will play. Others plan to sit out the fall in this COVID-19 pandemic-impacted season.
The Associated Press preseason poll is scheduled to be released on Aug. 24, a revised date, and again, I will be voting for a top-25 although it will likely be a ballot much different than the ones I have cast over the past two decades.
The preseason poll will include all teams, whether they will play this fall or have postponed the season in hopes of playing next spring. The ballot was due early this month and mine is a reflection of where things stood at that point in time.
From what the AP has decided, future ballots during the season will include only teams that are on the field this fall. Their plan at this point in time is to conduct a weekly spring season poll as well for the teams that are waiting to play.
So, three of the top-10 teams on my preseason ballot — No. 2 Ohio State, No. 7 Oregon and No. 8 Penn State — will as of right now vanish the next time I assemble a top 25.
Wisconsin, which I have at 12, Michigan at 15, Minnesota, Iowa and USC at the 18-19-20 spots as well as Utah at 22 will be off the table as well if current plans to forgo fall competition stand.
I have Clemson penciled in at No. 1, with Alabama, Oklahoma and Georgia rounding out my top 5 behind the Buckeyes. LSU at sixth, Notre Dame at ninth and Florida at 10th complete my top 10.
With Trevor Lawrence at quarterback and Travis Etienne in the backfield, the Tigers have plenty of experience at the skill positions although line development will likely dictate just how much success Clemson can have in 2020.
I have Iowa among six Big Ten teams on my ballot and at 24, Iowa State is among four Big 12 teams on my preseason list.
When and if the seasons begin, I see a lot of promise for both the Hawkeyes and Cyclones.
Defensive growth will be important for an Iowa team which returns plenty of talent at the offensive skill positions and the Cyclones have a solid blend of skill on offense and defensive experience to build around.
Both, at least at the onset of the season, to be among teams with a chance to make solid upward movements in the rankings as the season progresses.
The full AP poll will be released on Aug. 24 and beginning in September, it is scheduled to be released early Sunday afternoons although I’ll share my top-25 ballot at qctimes.com late Sunday morning each week.
The AP also will release a preseason all-American team on Aug. 25. All players who were initially expected to compete this fall, including those who have since opted out, were eligible for consideration.
I’ll share my vote for that as well here at qctimes.com once the team is announced.
Here is my preseason ballot for the 2020 AP college football poll:
2. Ohio State
8. Penn State
9. Notre Dame
11. Texas A&M
16. Oklahoma State
17. North Carolina
21. Miami (Fla.)
24. Iowa State
25. Virginia Tech
Get local news delivered to your inbox!