Preseason Coaches' Poll: Penn State Ranked #25

If the first day of Penn State fall practices wasn't enough to convince you that the 2011 college football season is upon us, maybe the first edition of the USATODAY Coaches' Poll will convince you:

 

Rank
Team (first-place votes)
2010 record
Points
Final 2010 ranking
1.
Oklahoma (42)
12-2
1,454
6
2.
Alabama (13)
10-3
1,414
11
3.
Oregon (2)
12-1
1,309
3
4.
LSU (2)
11-2
1,296
8t
5.
Florida State
10-4
1,116
16
6.
Stanford
12-1
1,101
4
7.
Boise State
12-1
1,065
7
8.
Oklahoma State
11-2
933
10
9.
Texas A&M
9-4
885
21
10.
Wisconsin
11-2
829
8t
11.
Nebraska
10-4
814
19
12.
South Carolina
9-5
779
22
13.
Virginia Tech
11-3
767
15
14.
Arkansas
10-3
750
12
15.
TCU
13-0
687
2
16.
Ohio State
12-1
631
5
17.
Michigan State
11-2
536
14
18.
Notre Dame
8-5
440
NR
19.
Auburn
14-0
329
1
20.
Mississippi State
9-4
301
17
21.
Missouri
10-3
266
18
22.
Georgia
6-7
260
NR
23.
Florida
8-5
240
NR
24.
Texas
5-7
162
NR
25.
Penn State
7-6
161
NR

 

As you can see, the Big Ten represented are Wisconsin (#10), Nebraska (#11), Ohio State (#16), Michigan State (#17), and Penn State (#25).  Iowa (41 pts.), Northwestern (30), and Michigan (19) fall into the Also Receiving Votes category.

Does Penn State start in a fair position? Probably. They sneak ahead of Arizona State by three points, are just behind Florida, and frankly have a lot of questions to answer before anyone can say for certain that they'll more than just slightly outperform last year's team.

They play every conference colleague in both the Top 25 and Others Receiving except Michigan State and barely-included Michigan. Minnesota is the other team missing, and they might be the worst squad in the conference. It's not an easy slate for Paterno, but then again it's not really an easy slate for anyone at this point with Nebraska joining and a potential championship game to play.

Some interesting new additions to the voter pool: Golden is included at Miami; Big Ten newcomers Hoke and Indiana's Wilson both get votes as well. Paterno is still absent after resigning in protest several years ago over wanting to give Auburn a share, however other conference voters include Bielema, Dantonio, Pelini and Zook.

The SEC is sure to boast again, getting eight teams ranked, including (as we suspected based on the odds) Happy Valley visitor Alabama at #2 and a strong LSU team at #4. I can't help but think there's a bigger gap this year than in the past from top to middle, and four of those eight teams are strangely clustered right at the end of the list.

And then there is the Big East: Pittsburgh and the rest of the crew are completely absent from the list, with West Virginia ("#27") the highest vote getter. West Virginia starts with Marshall; South Florida could probably become the first in the league to get into the Top 25 with a win at Notre Dame on opening Saturday.

So the poll positions have been set. Penn State has a foot in the door, if just barely, and like we talked about yesterday: plenty of runway for takeoff and two great opportunities at the end of the season to make some noise.

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