5 teams that are listed as overrated in the preseason USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll – Hawkeyes Wire

The preseason edition of the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll was released today. Iowa just missed out on making it into the preseason top 25. In fact, the Hawkeyes were quite literally the first team on the outside looking in.
USA TODAY Sports’ Scooby Axson listed the Iowa Hawkeyes among his five teams that got snubbed. What about the teams that flat-out got too much love? USA TODAY Sports’ Erick Smith took a look at five overrated teams.
AP Photo/Jeff Dean, File
No love for last season’s Group of Five Cinderella. Cincinnati starts out at No. 22 in the Coaches Poll but is replacing star quarterback Desmond Ridder after crashing the College Football Playoff party last season.
The Bearcats still have a great head coach in Luke Fickell, but it’s easy to see where Cincinnati takes a serious step back from last year’s greatness ahead of its upcoming move to the Big 12. Smith didn’t mince words on that exact possibility and discussed how the defensive defections were perhaps even more impactful.
The hits were more extensive on defense with Ahmad Gardner among six NFL draft picks from that side of the ball. It should still be a good unit but it will be more giving than last year’s elite group. With Houston and possibly Central Florida as threats in the American Athletic plus a non-conference game against Arkansas opening the season, it’s more likely Cincinnati is fighting to stay in the rankings than returning to the playoff. – Smith, USA TODAY Sports.
Even after a 5-7 finish in 2021, Texas finds its way into the preseason top 25. There’s reasons for optimism. See wide receiver Xavier Worthy, running back Bijan Robinson and Ohio State transfer quarterback Quinn Ewers for reasons why folks in Austin, Texas, are excited about the possibility of a breakthrough season in Steve Sarkisian’s second season atop the helm.
The Longhorns have retooled with some key transfers, including heralded QB Quinn Ewers from Ohio State and WR Isaiah Naylor from Wyoming. Ewers, a five-star prospect who reclassified last year and saw no meaningful time with the Buckeyes, is expected to eventually win the starting job despite competition from last year’s backup, Hudson Card. Asking him to be the savior this season – even with RB Bijon Robinson and WR Xavier Worthy being two elite skill guys – is a tall order. His arrival also doesn’t fix concerns about an offensive line that struggled last year and a defense that lacked toughness up front. – Smith, USA TODAY Sports.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
After Kenny Pickett starred for Pittsburgh last season, enter USC transfer Kedon Slovis for the Panthers. Smith notes that avoiding Clemson and North Carolina State is a positive for Pittsburgh, but he’s not ready to sign up for another top 15 finish or conference championship for the Panthers.
The belief that the Panthers are poised to possibly repeat their ACC title seems to rest on the expectation that Southern California transfer Kedon Slovis will seamlessly transition in as the starting quarterback after Kenny Pickett’s departure. Slovis had an outstanding freshman season in 2019, but two disappointing campaigns with the Trojans should temper optimism. The unexpected departure of wide receiver Jordan Addison (1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns) after winning the Biletnikoff Award could be equally damaging to an offense that changes offensive coordinators. Up front, the defense looks solid, but how the back seven comes together will decide how well the group performs. – Smith, USA TODAY Sports.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Lincoln Riley rocked college football when he left Oklahoma for USC last November. In the months since, Riley has been busy stockpiling skill talent and adding former five-star quarterback Caleb Williams to the Trojans’ roster in Los Angeles.
USC starts out at No. 15. Smith is like most analysts and fans nationally. He sees Riley having success at USC, but finishing as one of the nation’s top 15 is a step too far.
That said, the idea that one offseason is going to change the Trojans into Pac-12 contenders and potential College Football Playoff participants is overly optimistic. Yes, Caleb Williams brings excitement at quarterback after following his former coach at Oklahoma. Just don’t overlook how much he struggled against Baylor and Oklahoma State last year. There’s talent at the receiver position. Points will be scored. That alone doesn’t win games. The offensive line has to get better, and the defense has holes throughout. A host of transfers were brought in to address these concerns. Molding the pieces together won’t be easy for Riley, who is starting from scratch – unlike his situation with the Sooners. It’s going to take time to be title contenders and it won’t happen this year. – Smith, USA TODAY Sports.
Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Texas A&M checked in all the way up at No. 7 in the preseason USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll. There’s plenty that see the Aggies as a legitimate threat to Alabama and Georgia in the SEC.
Smith points out that A&M doesn’t exactly have a history of winning double-digit games on the regular or contending for conference championships.
Optimism that “this” is the year A&M breaks through and contends for the SEC title is built on some fantastic recruiting classes that Jimbo Fisher put together. However, it’s play on the field that matters and until expectations meet reality there are going to be doubters. The biggest question mark is at quarterback where only LSU transfer Max Johnson has significant experience. There’s talent on the line of scrimmage, but it is young and how the grind of the SEC impacts those groups is unknown. The Aggies will be good. But being top-10 good seems a stretch given their difficult schedule and still green group of talented underclassmen. – Smith, USA TODAY Sports.
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