GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Perhaps we can say now that football season is fully underway. It is, after all, Aug. 15.

The NFL has played a full week of exhibition games (the Carolina Panthers won on a last-tick kick but were outshined by former North Carolina QB Sam Howell).

The high school football season begins this Friday (game-week touts are flying across social media).

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) warms ups before the start of a game against Auburn last season. Alabama is No. 1 in the preseason AP Top 25. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

And college football, where a game won’t be played for 12 more days, has kicked off officially because The Associated Press on Monday released its preseason poll of the top 25 teams.

And this is a particularly glorious day for our friends in the Atlantic Coast Conference, where discussions about the league’s dissolution are officially on the shelf for a while because of mention among the papyrus princes in this first poll.

Now, you might argue that the top 25 for the preseason should be the same 25 ranked at the end of the prior season (read on for more insights about that), but it doesn’t work that way. On paper in this case means more than on the field.

Georgia players celebrate after the College Football Playoff championship football game against Alabama Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, in Indianapolis. Georgia won 33-18. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

That explains why Georgia, which won the big-school title last January, is only No. 3 in this poll. Alabama, the team the Bulldogs routed in that 2021 finale, is No. 1 now.

But the ACC is happy with the way the voting goes. The conference had five schools ranked among the elite. That’s just one team fewer than a conference some say soon might bite from the ACC’s apple, the vaunted Alabama-Georgia-SEC, and one more than the other one who might try to break up the league, the storied Big 10 (which actually is 14 schools and counting).

The ACC also could claim a sixth school because Notre Dame, a member in all its sports BUT football, is ranked, too. (And be sure that it is powerhouse Notre Dame that will decide which conferences live and die anyway.)

But don’t worry about that. Take a moment to celebrate the two ACC schools from North Carolina that made noteworthy entries into the preseason two-dozen-plus-one.

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman plays against North Carolina State in November. Both teams are ranked in the AP Top 25. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)

North Carolina State is ranked in the preseason for the first time since 2003, polling at No. 13, which ties 1975 for the highest the Wolfpack have has been ranked in a preseason poll.

Wake Forest is ranked No. 22, likewise its loftiest rank. That is even though star quarterback Sam Hartman is out for a medical malady unrelated to football. That’s the Deacons’ first preseason ranking since 2008.

These two also are examples of how that end-of-last-season-poll argument gets a test. Wake (11-3) finished last season at No. 15, and NC State (9-3 and COVID-hosed out of a Holiday Bowl game) finished at No. 20. Now they have swapped positions with no games having been played.

That sort of stuff is why this poll always makes for good water-cooler fodder (or social media fodder), which is the first true game of any season. So we thought we might toss you five bits of trivia to drop on the slurper next to you.


1. Two more from NC abide

North Carolina running back D.J. Jones (26) runs the ball while Western Carolina linebacker Curtis Roach (33) and safety A.J. Rogers (4) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

NC State and Wake weren’t the only schools from the state to get love from voters. Two more were CONSIDERED for the top 25 and listed by The AP as among those having gotten votes: North Carolina got nine points to rank No. 39, and Appalachian State got four points and was No. 42. That “others-receiving-votes” list wasn’t a list of paupers, either. It included Tennessee, Texas, Penn State, LSU, Auburn and Florida, all of whom have finished No. 1 at one time or another (and some more than once).

2. The top 5 seldom change

Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson and Notre Dame always seem to be in the poll, for sure, and frequently form the top 5, as they do this year. The AP says that Ohio State is ranked for the 34th consecutive season, which is a record. Previously the Buckeyes had shared that mark with Nebraska (1970-2002) and Penn State (1968-2000).

3. The great unranked

Texas A&M Coach Jimbo Fisher speaks during Southeastern Conference Media Days. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

So Texas A&M, which is known for having perhaps the nation’s greatest recruiting class, ranked No. 6 after a season when the Aggies finished outside the rankings (that argument again). AP says only 1972 Ohio State was ranked higher after having finished the previous season not ranked at all. Notre Dame was No. 6 in 1983, too. But there are three other teams in this year’s poll that weren’t ranked at the end of last season: No. 14 Southern Cal, No. 16 Miami and No. 18 Wisconsin. Miami fans might be smiling because neither Florida nor Florida State is in the Top 25, which hasn’t happened since 1974. Kentucky also is ranked in the preseason for the first time since Jimmy Carter was president (1978).

4. But they were ranked

Looking at those final top 25 teams from last season, there were two teams from the top 10 that didn’t make the preseason list: No. 16 Louisiana, No. 23 Iowa, No. 24 Utah State and No. 25 San Diego State. They were a collective 46-10 last year. Iowa and San Diego State did “also get votes” today. But not to be ranked? They must have “lost” their spring games.

5. New on the bench

Sportsradar.com says that five of these ranked teams have new coaches: No. 6 Notre Dame (Marcus Freeman), No. 9 Oklahoma (Brent Venables), No. 11 Oregon (Dan Lanning), No. 14 USC (Lincoln Riley) and No. 16 Miami (Mario Cristobal). That also happened in 2018. In 1990, there were six ranked schools with new coaches. But the more interesting part of that is that all six of those schools – Michigan, Clemson, Alabama, Arkansas, Pittsburgh and Houston – are ranked in this year’s Top 25, too. Or again. Or forever.