The Associated Press released its first poll of the 2015 college football season Sunday, and to little surprise, Ohio State was unanimously voted the preseason No. 1 team in the nation.
But hey, who cares about all those voters and their Power Five bias? I only kid, of course, but outside of who fell where in the initial AP poll of this season, the one thing that stood out to me was the domination of the Power Five.
Just one Group of Five team was voted into the top 25 and that being Boise State of the Mountain West Conference, which landed the No. 23 slot. Bravo Broncos, you have the inside route to the access bowl bid.
Just to tally the total number of teams from each Power Five conference represented in the top 25, the SEC leads with eight, followed by the Pac-12 with six, and then the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC all with three each.
So, what does that mean for the non-AQ conferences and programs? It means that the AP voters believe there are exactly 22 Power Five teams better than the best projected champion of a Group of Five conference. When you look at it that way, it seems even crazier, doesn’t it?
But, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s evidence of the state of conferences like the AAC. It’s a small sample, but in last season’s bowl games, the AAC finished 2-3 as Memphis and Houston beat BYU and Pitt, respectively, in a couple of thrillers. The three losses? Cincinnati fell to a middling Virginia Tech team; ECU lost to an offensively inept Florida squad; and UCF got behind NC State — which had a losing record within the ACC — early and couldn’t recover. So the cream of the AAC crop barely eked out two victories against average opponents, and lost three other games against teams who didn’t crack this year’s first AP poll.
If the bowl games alone aren’t enough evidence for you, maybe this stat can convince you of the harsh reality the American faces: the AAC was 4-22 against Power Five opponents in 2014.
Digging deeper into this, Memphis, which finished ranked at 25 in the final AP poll last season, failed to garner a single vote in this season’s preseason poll. As I’m sure most could guess, Cincinnati was the only vote getter from the AAC, as it received eight. That would make the Bearcats the second “highest-ranked” Group of Five team, behind those guys that play on a blue field.
Obviously, this is merely a preseason poll, and the final rankings will not look like this. Did anyone even cast a vote for Memphis last year? I looked, and the answer would be a resounding no.
However, it is hard to ignore the lack of representation of the Group of Five at the top of college football. It takes just one hand to count the number of programs from those conferences who received at least one vote in the poll: Boise State, Cincinnati, BYU, Northern Illinois and Western Kentucky.
Is the gap really so wide these days that the projected AAC champion, Cincinnati, is estimated to be worse than the 10th SEC team (Texas A&M), seventh Pac-12 team (Utah), fifth ACC team (Louisville), fourth Big Ten team (Penn State) and fourth Big 12 team (Oklahoma State)?
If you’re a fan of teams like Boise State, Cincinnati, BYU and the like, it may be hard to swallow, but the Power Five is king, whether it is by reality or perception. The scariest part for the Group of Five is that it may be both.