The Associated Press issued its first Top 25 poll of the season this morning. Not surprisingly, last year’s national champion Alabama retained the No. 1 spot, receiving 33 first-place votes. Clemson, which finished as runner up to the Crimson Tide in the national title game, earned the No. 2 spot with 16 first-place votes. Oklahoma (four first place votes), Florida State (five) and LSU (one) round out the top five. Ohio State and Michigan, ranked No. 6 and No. 7, respectively, each received a first-place vote as well. Houston was the only team from the American Athletic Conference to be included, starting the year at No. 15 after finishing last season at No. 8.
Obviously, the Cincinnati Bearcats were not on this preseason ranking. Its tough to be upset about that. UC was expected to win the American Athletic Conference last season and still didn’t earn a spot in the AP’s preseason poll. That was followed by a season of coming up short, so the Bearcats didn’t crash the party at any point in 2015 either. It marked the third-straight season they have gone without being nationally ranked. In fact, in the Tommy Tuberville era, the Bearcats have never been ranked. That also has coincided with the team’s membership in the AAC.
Prior to Tuberville’s arrival, the Bearcats enjoyed a stretch in which they made it into the AP poll at least once during a season five times in six years. That included a program-best No. 4 ranking during the 2009 season when Brian Kelly was still at the helm. The last time they were ranked was in 2012 (during Butch Jones’ tenure) when the Bearcats rose to No. 21 after a 5-0 start. A 29-23 loss to Toledo pushed them out and they’ve been on the outside looking in ever since. Prior to that they had been ranked only two times since 1954.
In 2016, UC’s chances of breaking its drought aren’t super high, as it faces just one ranked team on the schedule, matching up against Houston on Sept. 15 in the third game of the season. However, with winnable games in the first two weeks of the season (Tennessee-Martin, at Purdue), if the Bearcats were able to knock off the Cougars, it would be tough to argue against them.