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2014 preseason Coaches' Poll released; MSU comes in at 29th

The preseason coaches poll, now sponsored by Amway, was unveiled earlier today. The SEC was well represented, and MSU narrowly missed the cut.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The first preseason coaches poll of 2014 came out today, and while the Bulldogs did not make the cut, they did receive 74 votes. That would place them at #29 if it expanded that far. The defending national champion, Florida State, starts off where they finished last year at #1. Surprisingly, only one SEC team received a first place vote: South Carolina. The SEC placed seven teams in the top 25, including three in the top 10. Other SEC teams joining the Bulldogs in the receiving votes category include Missouri, Florida, and Arkansas (laughs out loud). The full list is below.

1 Florida State Seminoles 14-0 1543 56 NR
2 Alabama Crimson Tide 11-2 1455 NR
3 Oklahoma Sooners 11-2 1382 3 NR
4 Oregon Ducks 11-2 1314 1 NR
5 Auburn Tigers 12-2 1271 NR
6 Ohio State Buckeyes 12-2 1267 1 NR
7 UCLA Bruins 10-3 1085 NR
8 Michigan State Spartans 13-1 1050 NR
9 South Carolina Gamecocks 11-2 1009 1 NR
10 Baylor Bears 11-2 965 NR
11 Stanford Cardinal 11-3 955 NR
12 Georgia Bulldogs 8-5 905 NR
13 LSU Tigers 10-3 833 NR
14 Wisconsin Badgers 9-4 654 NR
15 USC Trojans 10-4 627 NR
16 Clemson Tigers 11-2 535 NR
17 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 9-4 509 NR
18 Arizona State Sun Devils 10-4 358 NR
19 Mississippi Rebels 8-5 346 NR
20 Texas A&M Aggies 9-4 266 NR
21 Kansas State Wildcats 8-5 257 NR
22 Nebraska Cornhuskers 9-4 228 NR
23 North Carolina Tar Heels 7-6 175 NR
24 Texas Longhorns 8-5 143 NR
25 Washington Huskies 9-4 142 NR
Others Receiving Votes:
Missouri 126; Florida 122; Central Florida 102; Mississippi State 74; Oklahoma State 56; TCU 54; Michigan 53; Iowa 49; Miami (Fla.) 45; Duke 41; Louisville 32; Marshall 27; Brigham Young 18; Boise State 13; Louisiana-Lafayette 12; Virginia Tech 12; Texas Tech 8; Minnesota 6; Cincinnati 6; Northwestern 5; Oregon State 4; Fresno State 4; GeorgiaTech 2; Houston 2; Arkansas 1; Arizona 1; Northern Illinois 1.

Overall thoughts

Some teams benefited from name recognition alone, much like they do every year in preseason polls. Is Texas really a top 25 team? Come on. All five of their losses last season were by 20 points or more. USC had a good finish to the season but #15 is way too high. Missouri may have lost a lot but still deserves to be in over Washington. Texas A&M in over Missouri AND Mississippi State? Now it's just getting a little comical. Their defense ranked dead last in the SEC in several statistical categories. With Manziel and Evans gone, that offense will not be winning shootouts the way they were able to the last two years. There's no way they finish in the top 25. Several teams could and should be shuffled around in this poll.

Conference breakdown

The debate every year is whether the SEC or Pac-12 is the best conference in college football. Well, the SEC trumps all conferences in the first poll with seven teams, though the Pac-12 is right on their heels with six. The Big 12 and B1G each landed four. The ACC rounds out the bottom with three teams, and the lone independent team in the top 25 is Notre Dame. With only one first place vote among the SEC, it doesn't look like there is much faith in another national championship streak starting anytime soon. Don't worry, all doubts will be put to rest soon. It's only a matter of time.

MSU vs. top 25

The Bulldogs' schedule features 5 teams in the preseason top 25, all of which come from the SEC west. They should be 3-0 when they head to #13 LSU on September 20th. There's a good chance they will move up four spots by then and crack the top 25 rankings. If so, that LSU game could end up as the National CBS game and garner plenty of national attention. Following a bye week, MSU will face #20 Texas A&M and #5 Auburn at home in back to back weeks, respectively. A trip to #2 Alabama on November 15th looks to easily be the hardest game on the schedule. State rounds out the season two weeks later when they go to Oxford for a heated matchup with #19 Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl.

The big picture

Different season, same story. Mississippi State has the privilege of playing in what is without question the toughest division in college football. The SEC west is once again stacked. It's a division in which you can finish fourth and maybe even fifth this year and still be a top 15 team nationally. It's an up-hill climb to the top, but with a difficult road comes great opportunity. There will be several chances to knock off highly ranked teams, and Dan Mullen would love nothing more than to get that monkey off his back. You know seeing their rival that they beat ranked 10 spots ahead of them will light a fire under these players.

In the end, what do these polls really mean? Not much of anything. When the BCS still existed, these polls were used as 2/3 of the formula that determined the BCS rankings. With the new playoff system in place, the top four teams will now be chosen by a selection committee. Furthermore, where you start doesn't have any effect on where you finish. Auburn and Missouri started off unranked in 2013 and met each other for the SEC championship game. Auburn came up just shy of winning a national title only one year after going 0-8 in conference play. We don't really know what to expect until we kick it off. I think I speak for all fans when I say forget the polls, the recruiting rankings, the off-season smack talk, and let's play some football!