The AP released their official pre-season Top 25 this morning and the Pac 12 is well represented across the board. In all, the P12 comprises 20% of the entire poll, including two teams in the top four, and three teams in the "receiving votes" section. The SEC was most represented in the top 25 with six teams while the Pac 12 and Big 10 each had five. In all, the presence of eight P12 teams across the survey was the most of any conference, SEC included, and speaks to the overall depth of the conference and its increasing reputation as a viable alternative to the hegemony of the SEC, at least among the pollsters.
Of course, readers of this blog know my feelings about pre-season polls. The very publication of them creates a bias in the system that puts a burden on lower ranked teams to "prove it" in order to break into the BCS race, even if the teams ahead of them are less qualified. In addition, the presence of two such pre-season polls lends itself to the ultimate form of group think. In fact, if you look at the AP poll and compare it to the USA Today pre-season Coaches' Poll, you will find that the lists contain the exact same 25 teams with very little difference in the slotting of those teams. This implies that there is a clear and absolute separation between the top 25 teams in the nation and everybody else ... before we've even completed the first half of fall camp.
Still, there is little to be done about it. The popularity of college football coupled with the ubiquitous presence of all forms of media means that there will be insatiable demand for such prognostication. Fans simply can't help but to have these debates throughout the off-season and there will always be parties willing to seed them with their lists and polls. The implementation of a playoff system next year, while not perfect, should help to reduce the influence of the pre-season polls on the slotting of bowls and the National Championship by introducing a committee of (hopefully) knowledgeable parties into the selection process.
As for the Huskies, their presence in the "others receiving votes" section is a pretty favorable position given how poorly they ended last season. A win over #19 Boise State will put them immediately into the Top 25, perhaps at the expense of their opponent, and gives them an opportunity to build to a 3-0. When they open up P12 play against Arizona, they could be in a position to put themselves in the Top 15 with a win. This would make for some interesting storylines going into their next two games at Stanford (a winnable game for UW) and vs Oregon.
So the table is set. What the Huskies do for dinner is up to them.
The AP Pre-Season Top 25 (8/17/13)
|2||Ohio State (1)||0-0||1,365||NR|
|Others Receiving Votes: Michigan State 95, Baylor 92, Virginia Tech 86, Miami (FL) 85, Arizona State 53, Kansas State 43, Fresno State 36, Vanderbilt 19, Washington 17, Northern Illinois 16, Mississippi 11, Utah State 8, Georgia Tech 6, North Carolina 3, Arizona 3, Cincinnati 3, Penn State 2, Brigham Young 1|