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College Football Poll Watch: Iowa Disrespected Early, Oklahoma and Utah Underrated

Author:
Kirk Ferentz

Kirk Ferentz

The first AP Top 25 Poll of the 2016 college football season was released on Sunday.

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Everything went basically as planned in the top 10, with Alabama and Clemson landing in the top two spots based on the accomplishments of their 2015 rosters, Tennessee cracking the first 10 based on the "this is their year" hype bump, and Notre Dame landing in the top 10 because, well — they're Notre Dame.

There were a few teams, however, that I felt were disrespected and subsequently ranked lower than they should have been — for whatever reason.

Oklahoma

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The Sooners made it to the College Football Playoff last year, are the prohibitive favorites to repeat as Big 12 champions, return more starters and impact players (including a Heisman Trophy favorite) than the two teams (Clemson and Alabama) ranked ahead of them, and have arguably an easier road to a conference title than any other Power Five conference favorite. If you could somehow strip away the names on the uniforms and rosters and look only at returning talent, it would be tough to argue against the Sooners as the top team in the land. Four of the AP voters agree with me.

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Iowa

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After running the table in the regular season and coming within a forearm's length of punching a ticket to the College Football Playoff in 2015, the Hawkeyes return the core of their roster. They have C.J. Beathard — widely considered the catalyst for Iowa's 12-0 campaign — back under center, a offensive line that has been called "the best in the nation," and a defense that returns nine starters, including the reigning Thorpe Award winner. Despite that, the AP voters ranked them at No. 17 and collectively decided that a UCLA team that lost half of its starters from last season (including the Pac-12's best overall player) deserved to start the season ranked higher than the Hawkeyes. The Washington Huskies also were ranked above Iowa, despite finishing 2015 7-6 and outside of the AP's Top 25.

Utah

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The Utes finished 10-3 a season ago, including a win against Michigan — 2016 offseason darling. They return their entire starting offensive line and both starting cornerbacks. Another reason to like Utah is experince — the Utes are very upperclassmen-heavy on both sides of the ball. They also have finished in the Top 25 of either the AP or Coaches Poll in five of the last eight years. If Alabama and Clemson get the benefit of the doubt based on recent history, I don't understand why Utah would not.

Alone in their thoughts

Each of the teams in the top seven teams earned at least one first-place vote. LSU, Ohio State and Michigan each received exactly one. Omaha World-Herald writer Sam McKewon voted LSU as the top team, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner had the Buckeyes in the top spot and Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News gave Michigan his No. 1 vote. For better or worse, nobody can point to those voters and claim hometown bias had anything to do with how they voted.

I'll be keeping a close eye on all of the polls all season. Come back each week to see what I find.

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.