The first Associated Press poll of the season was released, and the 2023 college football season is set to begin. While the season’s first poll is merely a guiding marker for the beginning of the campaign, it is still important, providing an opportunity to evaluate which teams might be a bit overvalued heading into the season’s first weeks. Back-to-back national champion Georgia begins its quest for a three-peat as the No. 1 team in the country with 60 of the 63 first-place votes.
Which teams might be overrated in the first 2023 Associated Press College Football Poll?
Alabama – 4th
The Crimson Tide open the 2023 season ranked fourth, behind only Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio State (all of which received at least one first-place vote). It seems strange to list Alabama as an overrated squad, but they should not be fourth. Tyler Buchner, Jalen Milroe, and Ty Simpson are competing for the starting quarterback position, and the trio has a combined four starts. The offensive line does not appear to be one of the country’s best; they lack difference-makers at wide receiver, and they lost defensive star Tim Anderson, so the Crimson Tide should not be No. 4. Alabama will be an excellent team in 2023. Still, the top-ranked team in the SEC is too high.
Tennessee – 12th
The Tennessee Volunteers had a terrific season in 2022, but Hendon Hooker is gone. Several excellent offensive weapons departed with him, including one of the best wide receivers in Jalin Hyatt. Joe Milton will be the new starting quarterback, a position he lost at Michigan and once before at Tennessee. Milton still has not shown he can be a consistently accurate passer, and the bar is incredibly high at the position. In addition, two long-time starters on the offensive line are gone. The more significant issue is a pass defense that ranked 127th in the country in 2022. The Vols added a few transfers to address the problem but are unlikely to improve the team substantially. If the offense takes a minor step back, something expected with the departures, Tennessee will not be a top-ten team.
Utah – 14th
Listing Utah as over-ranked is entirely based on two of the team’s most important players: quarterback Cameron Rising and tight end Brant Kuithe. Rising is returning from a torn ACL. He suffered the injury in the Rose Bowl, giving the sixth-year player less than nine months to fully recover before opening the season against Florida. Kuithe is also recovering from a torn ACL. His was earlier in the 2022 season, so he has had more time to recover. Still, that is a challenging task. The defense will be stout under Kyle Whittingham, but they must replace All-American cornerback Clark Phillips III. The Utes will be tough, and this ranking is justified if Rising proves to be 100% healthy at the start of the season. However, that doesn’t seem likely based on the history of that injury and how much he’ll need to trust his knee.
TCU – 17th
Yes, the Texas Christian Horned Frogs made the National Championship Game in 2022. Yes, Sonny Dykes is a terrific coach, and the Horned Frogs return eight starters on defense. That said, this ranking is giving TCU too much benefit of the doubt. TCU returns barely anyone on offense, which was the strength of the 2022 squad. They must also break in a new quarterback (Chandler Morris), their top two rushers, and top three receivers. Plus, offensive coordinator Garrett Riley is now working at Clemson. The Horned Frogs should improve on defense, but it still won’t be a dominant unit, and regression to 7-5 or 8-4 seems far more likely than another double-digit win season.
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