The preseason Coaches Poll top 25, which is an important milestone in the college football calendar. Not because the poll really means anything but because it means we're close enough to the start of the season that we need a preseason poll.
It also means it's time to bust out one of the most popular Friday Fives I do every year. It's time to rank the most overrated teams in the preseason Coaches Poll!
Now, preseason polls might seem pointless to you, and that's because they are. But they aren't meaningless. Preseason polls have no impact on what happens on the field during the season, but they set the tone for our perception of teams.
For instance, a team that starts the season in the top 10 is going to get a greater benefit of the doubt from pollsters, fans and, yes, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee than a team that begins the season unranked.
If the No. 4 team starts the season 0-1, it's because they had a bad day. If an unranked team starts the season 0-1, it's because they aren't very good.
So polls do matter, and therefore, I must let the entire world know what the coaches voting in the Coaches Poll have wrong. I don't do it because I think I'm more important than I am. I do it for the greater good of society!
5. No. 7 Michigan: Listen, I am fully on board with Michigan heading into the regular season. I think this is the season that the Wolverines and Jim Harbaugh will get over the hump, beat Ohio State and win the Big Ten. Because, seriously, if not now, when?
All that said, it'd be dishonest of me while writing a post like this to ignore that Michigan is slightly overrated to start the season. The Wolverines will start at No. 7 while Florida, the team that beat them 41-15 in the Peach Bowl in December, starts at No. 8. Does that seem right to you? Plus, during Harbaugh's tenure with the Wolverines, they're 1-9 against top 10 teams. So while I believe Michigan is going to finish in the top five and possibly reach the CFP, I have a hard time putting it this high when it has performed so poorly against teams of this caliber in recent years.
4. No. 3 Georgia: Georgia is in a somewhat similar position as Michigan here. For the most part, I believe the Coaches Poll got the top 15 right. Sure, I'd move a couple teams up or down a spot or two, but there's nothing egregiously wrong with it. One of the bigger of their small mistakes, in my mind, is having Georgia at No. 3 ahead of Oklahoma at No. 4. Georgia is talented and good enough to win the SEC and get to the playoff. But should it start the season ranked ahead of an Oklahoma team that has won 46 games the last four seasons, at least 10 games in 16 of the last 19 seasons, and been selected for the last two College Football Playoffs (and three of the last four)?
No, it shouldn't. Particularly when you consider that last we saw the Bulldogs, they were losing to Texas in the Sugar Bowl. And spare me all the excuses about Georgia not caring about the game because they felt they should be in the playoff. That's an excuse for losers, and this Georgia team isn't full of losers.
3. No. 21 Washington State: Mike Leach is an outstanding coach who is fully capable of making me look foolish for including the Cougars on this list. Particularly in yet another season when the Pac-12 looks to be wide open. I mean, the reason there are five Pac-12 teams in this poll isn't because everybody thinks the Pac-12 is good as much as a result of the coaches all thinking "well I have to put a Pac-12 team somewhere, but which one?" When it comes to Wazzu, though, I can't help but feel like the Cougars are going to take a step back in 2019.
This team has to replace so much production on both sides of the ball. Leach's offenses have always tended to be plug-and-play, but I worry about the defense. Wazzu's defense has played a major role in winning 20 games the last two seasons, and it loses a few key parts from that unit heading into 2019, including most of its secondary. While most of that was expected, Jalen Thompson's departure at the end of June wasn't. I don't think the Cougars fall off a cliff or anything, but this could be an 8-5 team, and I'm not sure an 8-5 Wazzu finishes the season ranked.
2. No. 23 Stanford: When I mentioned the voters realizing they had to pick a Pac-12 school at some point, I would bet Stanford was a "well they're usually good" choice on a lot of ballots. And Stanford usually is! I just don't know how good it will be this season. While the Cardinal get K.J. Costello back at quarterback, they lose a lot of production elsewhere and are especially hit hard at receiver and on the offensive line. What further complicates matters is that Stanford's last couple of recruiting classes haven't quite been up to its recent standards, so I'm not sure there are ready-made replacements around to step right in and pick up the slack.
Then there's the schedule, which sees the Cardinal starting the season with Northwestern, USC, UCF and Oregon. That's not an easy start, particularly with both USC and UCF on the road. Then, after a brief respite against Oregon State (also on the road), the Cardinal play Washington. Things get easier from there, but not as easy as you might think, as there's still a road trip to Wazzu and the regular-season finale against Notre Dame. This is a Stanford team that finished 9-4 last season and was unranked in 2018. I think it'll have a much more difficult time getting to nine wins again this season, so it's hard to envision this team finishing where the Coaches Poll has it starting.
1. No. 20 Michigan State: I get it, but I don't get it. We've seen Michigan State do this plenty of times before. In 2012, it went 7-6 and followed it up with a 13-1 season in 2013. Then it went 3-9 in 2016 before going 10-3 in 2017. Now it's coming off a 7-6 season after starting last year ranked at No. 11. So it looks like we're in line for another Sparty bounce-back season. If it happens, it wouldn't be all that shocking.
Or would it?
You see, I can't get past last season. The Spartans have a lot of returning production from 2018's offense, but did you see the 2018 Michigan State offense? It wasn't very good! This is an offense that averaged 18.7 points per game and scored 14 points or fewer in six of its 13 contests. Furthermore, Michigan State is still in one of the more difficult divisions in college football and has to play Northwestern, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan all on the road. There are also challenging home dates with Arizona State and Penn State. If this team wins 10 games again, it will have earned them, but I have a difficult time believing that's going to be the case. I don't know that Michigan State will be a top 40 team in 2019, let alone a top 20 team.
Honorable Mention: Ohio State, Texas