Personally, I think preseason polls are meaningless and actually counterproductive in the grand scheme of trying to rank teams as the season goes forward. Meaningless because it's just a guess. Every team has questions, and plus, there's a few idiots around there who think that because Team X finished last season #1, they should begin the next season #1 because nobody has beaten them. Nobody in the AP poll did that, probably because they didn't want to get the "Cam Newton is in Charlotte, dumba*" response...but I'm sure somebody gave it serious thought.
It's also counterproductive because, right-or-wrong, these preseason rankings become the baseline for the first week's rankings and then every week after that. So right now, I'm thinking about abstaining from the preseason BlogPoll for this season. But that doesn't change the fact that the AP poll came out yesterday with Nebraska at #10. Some people think that's too high. I'm not sure I see that, mostly because rankings are not something that you can look at abstractly. Rankings are relative based on the other teams they are being ranked with.
If Nebraska is ranked "too high" at #10, I'd like to know who should be ranked ahead of Nebraska. Looking over the rankings, I'm struggling to find too many teams in the second ten that should get moved against Nebraska. Wisconsin is the obvious candidate; and if I were submitting a ballot, I'd probably list them ahead of Nebraska. But anybody else? Virginia Tech and TCU are breaking in new quarterbacks. Notre Dame? Really? South Carolina? They certainly got thumped badly at the end of last season.
And frankly, I've got a few issues with some teams ahead of Nebraska. Texas A&M ranked eighth? C'mon. Nebraska played horrible that night last season in College Station, and even A&M fans recognize that Nebraska got hozed in that game. Oklahoma State ranked ninth? Florida State ranked sixth? Stanford ranked seventh with a new coach and only 11 returning starters? I think you can make a better case that Nebraska is ranked too low than too high.
Did Nebraska finish the season on a two game losing streak? Yes..but let's not forget that one of those losses was to Oklahoma...and oh, look. Guess who's #1. With an injured freshman quarterback, Nebraska couldn't hold onto a 17-0 lead. But some will point out how poorly that quarterback played under pressure late in the season. Good point, but let's remember another freshman quarterback from, oh, say 2009. Came into Lincoln and threw FIVE interceptions. That Landry Jones, what a bum, right? Um...er... now he's a consensus Heisman candidate.
Is Nebraska a top ten team? I don't know, but in August 2011, they look more like a top ten team than a lot of other teams. It really doesn't matter, because these rankings are based on pure speculation. We're less than two weeks away from real football, and we finally can set aside speculation and look at real performance on the field. Once that happens, we'll have a better idea if Nebraska is a contender, pretender, or a fraud.