College football season is now over, basketball season is underway, and baseball season is, believe it or not, just around the corner. A cold, wet corner, but its just 6 weeks until the surprises start in Surprise.
And so we have all kinds of polls to talk about!
Alabama won the national championship again, but since the southeast had the top spot sewn up after New Year's eve, the release of the final top 25 poll of the season held more meaning for most of the country, especially including we in the Pac-12 region, a little further down.
The outcome of the National Championship game wasn't determined until Clemson's attempt at an onside kick with 12 seconds left didn't go quite as well as Alabama's had earlier in the 4th quarter, so the answer to the next big question, would Stanford move past the loser to #2, was no. Clemson matched Alabama with a 14-1 record, and a good effort in the Championship game, so the Tigers finished second over the Cardinal, and their 12-2 record, even despite the fact that Stanford blew out Iowa 45-16, in a Rose Bowl that wasn't really that close.
The season opening loss at Northwestern on that Saturday morning before Labor Day cost Stanford a spot in the playoffs, and the #2 spot in the final AP & Coaches polls. Still, one thing not heard when Nick Saban was accepting the trophy last night was "This is nice, but why don't you hold on to it, and we'll play Stanford next weekend to really decide things." That Cardinal line of NFL players with Christian McCaffrey isn't anything 'Bama really wants to deal with.
But beyond the Cardinal. the Pac-12 took some tumbles down the stretch, capped by both their biggest market teams, USC & UCLA, losing their bowl games against underdog B1G Ten teams, and their brand name team, Oregon, blowing a 31-0 halftime lead, and losing to TCU.
Besides Stanford, only Utah, who came in at 17 in the final AP poll, and 16 in the coaches' poll, and Oregon, which wound up at 19 & 20, finished in the top 25. Washington State wound up 27th in the AP top 25, with the second highest point total of the others receiving votes. USC also garnered some votes, in acknowledgement of winning the Pac-12 South.
This after 3/4 of the conference were in the top 25 conversation at some point in the season, and on more than one occasion, 5 teams were ranked. Relative quarterback inexperience, injuries, and the brutal in-conference battling that is the trademark of the Pac-12 all were factors in it. So was the relative exposure problem the Pac-12 continues to struggle with.
As a result, the strong at the top, but soft at the bottom B1G Ten wound up with 6 teams in the top 25. The SEC had 5, though the coaches threw in a 6th, opting to overlook the reality of 12 win Western Kentucky. That will matter come time to schedule games times and television coverage for next September.
Boise St., whom the Beavers will face in the preseason, and BYU, now coached by former Oregon State DC Kalani Sitake, were the only other teams from the west to get votes.
We'll have our final BTD Top 25 of the season out as soon as everyone gets done figuring out what they want to do with a lot of teams, given that 7 of the top 10, and 10 of the top 15, in the last AP poll all lost in the bowl season. Though, 7 of those 10 losses were guaranteed, given the matchups.
Oregon State & the Pac-12 strong in WBB Poll
The Oregon State women continue to be right in the thick of things in the women's basketball poll, along with a lot of others from the brutally difficult Pac-12. Arizona State leads the pack (and the Pac), at #10, but Stanford, who will be in town this coming Sunday, is right behind, at 11, and Oregon State is 12.
UCLA, having beat Oregon State, isn't far behind, at #17, and USC broke into the poll, debuting at 25th. California and Utah also got votes.
Connecticut and their WNBA roster remain the unanimous #1, with Notre Dame, whom the Beavers lost to by 1 point, at #3. Tennessee is still right behind Oregon State, at #13, despite having the 3 point head-to-head win.
Even the Oregon State men's team still got a votes, even though they were upset by Stanford last week. But their bounce back win over California kept them in the conversation, and in third place in the Pac-12, as they head for the Rocky Mountains for this week's games at Colorado Wednesday, and Utah Sunday.
Casey Ball In Top 5
The best poll news for Beaver fans, as is usually the case, comes in baseball. The d1baseball.com preseason top 25 is out, and Oregon State leads a stacked Pac-12 contingent. After sliding to 23rd following their losses in the Dallas Regional in last year's end of season poll, the Beavers, led by KJ Harrison, who was named yesterday to the perfectgame.com/Rawlings pre-season All-America team, bounced right back up to #5 in this year's preseason rankings.
That leads a group of 5 Pac-12 teams in the top 14, with California in at #9, highest of any team not ranked at the end of last year, with UCLA close behind in 11th, and USC right behind the Bruins, in 12th. Oregon rounds out the Pac-12 contingent, at #14, 1 spot behind defending National Champion Virginia, who slid to 13th in recognition of the talent they lost.
Florida is the preseason #1, with Louisville 2nd, and last year's runner up Vanderbilt, in at #3.
Cal-State Fullerton is the only other ranked team from the west, in at #21.