Coaches Poll top 25 reactions

Oklahoma and Tennessee are underrated while Texas is overrated

It’s nice to be angry about rankings again

If I’ve learned anything during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that I need to take care of myself mentally. Being penned up indoors without sports to watch for a while did a number on me. At times, I even found myself reading about current events and politics.

It was horrific. If you think rival fans of college football teams hate each other, you should check out Democrats and Republicans.

Thankfully, lately, there’s been a slight return to normalcy in college football, as schedules have been released. As if that wasn’t enough, we even have a preseason Coaches Poll top 25 now, and while some people seek therapy to soothe their minds, nothing does the trick for me as well as claiming teams are overrated or underrated. Being angry about polls is my zen garden, so allow me to start raking the proverbial sand.

No. 19 North Carolina — Overrated

Listen, there’s a lot of hype surrounding North Carolina right now, and for good reason. I just think the hype is a bit too much. This is a team that went 7-6 overall last year and 4-4 in a mediocre ACC. Its best moment was a 21-20 loss to No. 1 Clemson. Its FBS wins came against South Carolina (4-8), Miami (6-7), Georgia Tech (3-9), Duke (5-7), NC State (4-8) and Temple (8-5).

Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons for optimism. Sam Howell looks to be one of the best young quarterbacks in the country, and UNC’s six losses came by a total of 26 points, two in overtime. Still, I think putting them at No. 19 to start the year is a bit aggressive. I’d have been fine with them in that 20-to-25 range, but while there’s plenty of reason to believe this program is headed in the right direction, I think 2021 will be a bigger year than 2020.

No. 6 Oklahoma — Underrated

Only three programs have been selected to the College Football Playoff four times, and Oklahoma is one of them. Of course, Oklahoma is 0-4 in the CFP, and that’s used against it, but should it be? Is it better to lose four CFP games or never play in one at all? We’re dealing with a program that has gone 58-10 the last five years while winning five Big 12 titles. It’s the heavy favorite to win the Big 12 again this year and return to the College Football Playoff for the fifth time.

Granted, I understand why Oklahoma is ranked behind the five teams ahead of it. But if recent history is any indication, Oklahoma will finish the season as one of the top four teams. It deserves more respect than it’s getting here, and I can’t help but believe its CFP results are a reason why.

No. 13 Texas A&M — Overrated

I am on the record as believing in Texas A&M in 2020, but No. 13? Are you sure? The Aggies are coming off an 8-5 season and went 4-4 in the SEC. They were outscored 224-202 in SEC play as well. Their losses to Alabama and LSU came by a combined 62 points. Nothing that they did last season impressed pollsters anywhere to rank the Aggies at the end of the season, so a jump up to No. 13 to start 2020 seems aggressive.

Now, I should point out that A&M’s five losses came to Clemson, AuburnGeorgia, LSU and Alabama. Most teams are losing those five games, so they were better than that 8-5 record suggests, but it’s not like they were running roughshod over everybody else. Arkansas and Mississippi combined to go 2-14 in the SEC last year, and the Aggies beat them by 11 points combined.

Nov 4, 2017; Stillwater, OK, USA; The AFCA Coaches Trophy presented by Amway, outside Boone Pickens Stadium prior to the Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys game. The Waterford Crystal Football will be presented to the No. 1 team in the Amway Coaches Poll and national champion at the end of the season. It has been awarded to the Coaches National Champion since 1986 and made available to all Coaches Poll winners since 1950. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

I could live with the Aggies being as high as No. 15. I think you’d be pushing the boundaries of good taste, but it’d be defensible. But the only reason I can think to have them at No. 13 at this point is the SEC shine.

Unranked Tennessee — Underrated

From one SEC team getting a bit too much love to another not getting enough. The Vols finished just outside the top 25 in the Others Receiving Votes category, but I would have had them in the 20-to-25 range. I like to look at how teams finish a season to gauge how they might perform heading into the next year, and the Vols finished strong.

Their last loss came to Alabama in mid-October. The Tide won that game 35-13, but you might remember that Tennessee was very much threatening in that game until a Jarrett Guarantano fumble at the goal line was taken back the other way for a touchdown. The Vols would recover from that loss by winning their final six games.

Granted, none of those six wins came against world-beaters, but the Vols had the look of a team that’s ready to take a step forward in 2020. I think there’s a good argument they’re more deserving of a spot than Iowa State (another team I like!).

No. 14 Texas — Overrated

It wouldn’t be a preseason poll if Texas wasn’t being overrated, would it? Last year the Longhorns began the season in the top 10 and finished unranked in the Coaches Poll and No. 25 in the AP Top 25 poll. I don’t think they’ll finish that poorly in 2020. In fact, there’s a real good chance they’ll finish higher than No. 14. But, again, this is a preseason poll, and saying Texas is overrated is tradition.

Plus, if I called the Aggies overrated in this story and didn’t say the same thing about Texas, I’d be eaten alive by a bunch of angry Aggies, and like I said at the top, it’s all about taking care of yourself mentally these days.

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