Where will the reigning national champions land in the preseason AP Top 25?David J. Phillip/Associated Press
After looking through the last few years of AP poll data, there are a number of trends that stand out when comparing the final Top 25 from one season to the preseason Top 25 of the next. Each of these trends was considered in projecting this top 25.
1. Pollsters don't like to pre-emptively dethrone the champ
More on this when we get to Clemson's slide, but the last time the reigning champs failed to open the following season at No. 1 in the AP poll was in 2012, when 2011 champion Alabama started the year at No. 2 with 17 first-place votes. Yet, most of the still-way-too-early top 25s floating around the web have Clemson in the No. 5-7 range.
2. Most of the teams will be the same
Where each team lands in the preseason poll may be significantly different from where it ended up in January, but at least 19 teams will remain in the Top 25. Last year was especially static, as the top 16 teams from the final 2015 AP poll were each in the top 23 of the 2016 preseason poll.
3. SEC will have the biggest riser, as well as a major "plummeter"
Georgia was the biggest jumper in the 2014 preseason poll, going from unranked to No. 12. Auburn made the biggest leap the following year (16 spots), and Tennessee had the most meteoric rise (13 spots) last fall. AP voters just love trying to find that one SEC team that might have the chops to challenge Alabama for conference supremacy.
But the SEC has simultaneously been on the other end of that coin. Prior to the 2014 season, Missouri dropped 19 spots. And in 2015, Mississippi State (15 spots) and Missouri (10 spots) were the two teams that fell the most over the summer.
4. USC is the exception to the rule that the Pac-12 gets no love
Utah, Stanford and Oregon were among the 11 teams that fell at least five spots last summer. The year before that, there were 13 teams that slipped at least three spots, and five of them (Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, UCLA and Utah) reside in the Pac-12. For some reason, AP voters become less enamored with most Pac-12 teams during the offseason.
But USC has been exempt from that treatment, jumping four, 12 and six spots, respectively, from 2014-16. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 2005-06 to find the last time that USC's preseason rank was worse than its previous postseason rank.
5. Group of Five gets no respect
Excluding Louisville's one year in the AAC, there were seven Group of Five teams that finished in the AP Top 25 in 2013, 2014 or 2015. Five of those seven teams—2013 UCF (10), 2014 Marshall (23), 2014 Memphis (25), 2015 Navy (18) and 2015 Western Kentucky (24)—were unranked the following August. The other two—2014 Boise State (16) and 2015 Houston (8)—each dropped seven spots.
And no unranked teams jumped into the poll during that time, so there has been an average of 0.67 Group of Five teams in the preseason top 25 over the last three years. South Florida should hold steady around No. 19, but if you're expecting to see Western Michigan or San Diego State in the preseason poll, think again.
6. At least one Top 10 team will drop at least eight spots
In each of the past five years (and possibly more), a season-ending Top 10 team fell at least eight spots before the following preseason. Iowa went from No. 9 to No. 17 last year. From 2014 to 2015, it was No. 8 Georgia Tech dropping to No. 16. And the year before that, both No. 5 Missouri and No. 10 UCF plummeted more than 15 spots.
Given the 2018 national championship odds, this trend doesn't seem likely to continue, but perhaps 2016 No. 9 Wisconsin or No. 10 Michigan will slide into the No. 17-20 range in the first AP poll of 2017.
Source : http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2723864-projecting-college-football-preseason-top-25-at-the-start-of-fall-camp