The Preseason AP Poll was released today. As in the Coaches' Poll, we came in at number nine. As I've said before, I find it intriguing that we're sporting our highest preseason ranking ever this season, yet there seemed to be so much more fanfare, both nationally and locally, heading into last season. Whether it's because the charm of USC finally being good has worn off a little bit, because last year's team won a lot of games with a fairly flash-less style, or because Stephen Garcia isn't around to drum up drama any longer, this year's team is only very quietly projected to be our best ever. I'll have to admit that I kind of like that. We thrived last year after the noise subsided. Hopefully that trend of workman-like superiority will continue this year.
In non-USC-related news, the most notable thing about this poll is that LSU comes in at third after being the top team in the Coaches' Poll. (Southern Cal is one, 'Bama two.) This, apparently, occurred because voters lack confidence in LSU sans Tyrann Mathieu. As I've indicated before, I'm not sure I believe Mathieu's departure will have a truly profound impact on LSU's season. He's an explosive return man and a good corner with a nose for big plays, but, really, these things are a dime-a-dozen at LSU. Whereas the voters suggest that LSU will drop at least one additional game due to his departure, I expect the Tigers to replace Mathieu without skipping a beat and still be the SEC's and probably the nation's best team. Maybe I'm wrong; time will tell. But I think the voters are overreacting to a player whose myth is a bit bigger than the reality.
There's not too much else in there that I have strong feelings about. I may be biased, but I'm doubtful that Clemson is the fourteenth-best team in the country considering the significant rumblings about their offensive line that are coming out of fall camp, but they're almost certain to win eight or nine games with their schedule (I see them losing to Auburn, FSU, and us, with maybe one more in there somewhere to a team like GT or NCSU), so the ranking is probably a fair reflection of where they'll end up, even if they'd likely be eaten alive in all conferences other than the ACC or Big East. I was a bit surprised to see Texas at 15; I'll buy the argument that they're too talented to keep sucking for long, but based on that argument, I'd put them at the bottom of the top 25, along with Florida. Other than that, most of these projections were to be expected.