My preseason Associated Press Top 25 ballot: Done only because it was required

I picked Alabama No. 1 since it hasn't lost since winning the national-title

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Preseason rankings strike me as needless and absurd. It's like having pre-Oscars voting before any of the movies of that year have been seen. It's all on speculation and hype.

But as an Associated Press voter, I'm told to submit a preseason Top 25. Based on what? Besides speculation and hype, that is? Returning starters? I guess, if those starters are proven winners. But how do I know what about a cornerback from Clemson or a tackle from Texas Tech?

Nonetheless, I did my duty and voted, as unscientifically as anyone else on the panel. But I don't feel proud of it.

However, I looked at last year's preseason Top 25 and was surprised to learn it wasn't all that far off the final rankings.

OK, Oklahoma didn't live up to its No. 1 billing last August. It lost three games, and finished its season in the Insight Bowl against Iowa.

But eventual national-champ Alabama was the preseason No. 2, and preseason Nos. 3 and 4 Oregon and LSU finished fourth and second, respectively.

Preseason No. 7 Stanford finished seventh. Preseason No. 14 TCU finished 14th. Preseason No. 19 Georgia finished 19th.

Eighteen of the preseason Top 25 teams were in the final Top 25, and all of the preseason Top 10 finished in the rankings. That's pretty good.

But it doesn't justify having polls before teams have played four or five or six games. So, with great sheepishness, here is my preseason ballot:

1. Alabama. Just because it's the defending-champ.

2. Florida State

3. LSU

4. USC

5. Oregon

6. Georgia

7. Oklahoma

8. Arkansas

9. Florida. A leap, but I think the Gators will take a big step forward with an experienced team in Will Muschamp's second year as coach.

10. Wisconsin

11. Michigan

12. Nebraska. Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska are the class of the Big Ten (in August), but the order in which they should be ranked is coin-flip city. As defending Big Ten champion, I gave Wisconsin higher billing. By winning the Sugar Bowl, I put Michigan above Nebraska. That's the "unscientific" thing I was talking about.

13. South Carolina

14. Texas. Moving back into national prominence after two years of rust. Or not.

15. Oklahoma State

16. Michigan State

17. Clemson

18. West Virginia

19. Ohio State. I look for the Buckeyes to perhaps be as good as 9-1 after their first 10 games.

20. Virginia Tech

21. Stanford

22. Notre Dame

23. TCU

24. Central Florida

25. Louisiana Tech. I saved the bottom two spots for teams from Non-AQ conferences. Last year I was ahead of the curve when it came to Houston and Southern Mississippi. That and a dollar will buy you a cookie.

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