Christian McCaffrey #5 of the Stanford Cardinal runs past Joshua Jackson #15 of the Iowa Hawkeyes in the second half of the 102nd Rose Bowl Game on January 1, 2016 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

BEVO BEAT Football

Previewing the American-Statesman’s Top 25 football poll

Posted July 6th, 2016

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Fourth of July is in the rearview mirror, college preview magazines are hitting the newsstands and the countdown to kickoff will last for a mere eight more weeks.

In Texas, we don’t need an excuse to start talking football, but the American-Statesman is set to crank up the hype with our eighth annual Top 25 series. We will preview one school per day, starting with No. 25 Wednesday and building to No. 1 on Sunday, July 31, just days before the Longhorns report for preseason camp.

We won’t kill the suspense, but here are some points to ponder:

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  • Star power matters. Last season, the three leading Heisman Trophy vote-getters directed their teams to the top three spots in the final polls compiled by the coaches and The Associated Press, and Baker Mayfield, who finished fourth in the Heisman balloting, guided Oklahoma into the four-team playoff.

This year’s preseason Heisman odds out of Las Vegas show three players bundled at the top: Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (3½-1), LSU running back Leonard Fournette (4-1) and Stanford all-purpose back Christian McCaffrey (6-1). Mayfield (12-1), the Lake Travis High School alum, is tied for the fifth-best odds, behind Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett.

That didn’t escape our panel of 11 voters, and we can tell you that all five of those teams are safely in our top 10.

  • There is no top-heavy favorite as in recent years, when Alabama or Ohio State led the polls. In fact, five teams received first-place votes, and our top three were separated by just 16 points.
  • The SEC isn’t quite the juggernaut it was. Five SEC teams landed in the Statesman Top 25 — but five Pac-12 teams made it as well. The Big 12, Big Ten and ACC each placed four teams among our Top 25.
  • Tennessee, Michigan and Washington were our most upwardly mobile teams this year. Moving in the wrong direction: Michigan State, Iowa, Utah and Navy.
  • In regard to Baylor, voting was all over the map. The Bears, dealing with a far-reaching sexual assault scandal on campus, received top-15 votes from five voters and absolutely no notice from three other staffers.
  • Almost nobody views Houston as a mirage. Tom Herman’s second edition of the Cougars might not lag far behind last year’s 13-1 team.
  • Four teams — LSU, Kent State, Louisville and Wyoming — return a national-high 18 starters apiece. Here’s a softball question: Which two do not belong in this picture?
  • Ohio State, which had nine early entrees into the NFL draft, has the fewest returning starters (six) in the country. TCU, Baylor, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ole Miss all have just 10 starters back.
  • Thirty-seven teams received votes. Our average over the past three years is 34, so more teams than ever rate a long look.

2015 Statesman preseason poll

Our Top 25, with their final rankings and overall records in 2015
Pos.Team2015W-L
1Ohio State412-1
2TCU711-2
3Alabama114-1
4Baylor1310-3
5Oregon199-4
6Michigan St.612-2
7AuburnNR7-6
8Florida St.1410-3
9Southern CalNR8-6
10Notre Dame1110-3
11UCLANR8-5
12LSU169-3
13Clemson214-1
14GeorgiaNR10-3
15ArkansasNR8-5
16Ole Miss1010-3
17Arizona St.NR6-7
18Georgia TechNR3-9
19ArizonaNR7-6
20Boise St.NR9-4
21Miss. St.NR9-4
22Wisconsin2210-3
23Texas A&MNR8-5
24Oklahoma511-2
25MissouriNR5-7

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