Five teams overrated in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll
Clemson overrated at No. 1? Not likely. There may be a case for Ohio State to lead the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, but the Tigers have won at least 14 games in four of the past five seasons and return a generational talent in quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
To find teams that may be overrated in this year's debut poll, you have to go beyond the clear-cut top six to find teams that may struggle against the conference-only schedules in place with several Power Five leagues.
In the SEC and Big Ten, for example, the easier non-conference games have been replaced by added games against conference opponents. For the Pac-12, eliminating non-league games may come at the cost of conference prestige — an Oregon win against Ohio State in a game since canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic would have dramatically boosted the league's national reputation.
As we prepare for an atypical season, these five teams could struggle to match their place in the preseason Coaches Poll:
No. 11 Auburn
It doesn't seem probable that Auburn could land just outside the top 10 in the preseason with a schedule that includes No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Georgia and No. 5 LSU, unless the Tigers find a way to beat one or more of those opponents currently pegged as the best in the SEC and lose no more than once, if at all, against the rest of the SEC West and the Tigers' crossover opponents from the East. QB Bo Nix is going to have to take a giant step forward to justify this ranking.
TIGERS ON TOP: Clemson picked No. 1 in preseason poll
LOOKING AHEAD: Outlooks for the Top 25 teams in the preseason poll
OVERLOOKED: Five teams snubbed by this year's preseason Amway Coaches Poll
No. 13 Texas A&M
The Aggies' offseason hype was built around a projected schedule that was easy by SEC standards, with a series of easy non-conference tuneups followed by a conference slate that ended with Alabama and LSU. The schedule is no longer an asset in the Aggies' corner: A&M will now play 10 SEC games, removing those four non-league wins and adding another pair of opponents from the East division.
No. 14 Texas
Texas is hoping new coordinators on both sides of the ball sparks a leap back into national contention. While the names are impressive — Mike Yurcich on offense and Chris Ash on defense — there is no team in recent history that pulled off a similar two-coordinator change and saw any drastic change in fortune. For Texas, the elimination of the non-conference game against LSU is one fewer opportunity to impress.
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger is sacked by Oklahoma's Kenneth Murray and Jon-Michael Terry during the first half of their 2019 game at the Cotton Bowl. (Photo: Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports)
No. 18 Minnesota
The Golden Gophers are down some significant star power, most recently with wide receiver Rashod Bateman opting to forego the season and prepare for the 2021 NFL draft. The trajectory of the program suggests another year in the College Football Playoff chase — in his three seasons, coach P.J. Fleck has gone from five to seven to 11 wins. But Minnesota seems unlikely to match last year's success.
No. 20 Utah
Longtime coach Kyle Whittingham has the built-in credibility that comes with being one of the longest-tenured head coaches in the country. Throughout his tenure, Utah has typically exceeded expectations and managed to paper over any question marks that may exist during the preseason. But the Utes have a substantial number of holes to fill, including replacing a wildly underrated starter at quarterback, and will suffer for not having a traditional offseason to fully evaluate these position battles.
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