Last season was a good reminder that preseason rankings can look pretty silly by the end of the season. Four teams that finished in final top 10 last season (No. 2 Auburn, No. 3 Michigan State, No. 5 Missouri and No. 10 UCF) were unranked to start the season. Throw in No. 13 Baylor, No. 20 Arizona State and No. 23 Duke, and seven of the teams that either won or played for the championship in the six conferences with BCS automatic-qualifying status began 2013 unranked.
Expect surprises, though coming up with a scenario in which Florida State is not part of college football's first final four is difficult.
More info on the poll methodology: The AP Top 25 is determined by a simple points system based on how each voter ranks college football's best teams. A team receives 25 points for each first place vote, 24 for second place and so on through to the 25th team, which receives one point. The rankings are set by listing the teams' point totals from highest to lowest. The mathematical formula is the same as the one used for the AP Pro 32 rankings and the AP Top 25 rankings for men's and women's basketball.
History of the AP poll: The Associated Press began its college football poll on Oct. 19, 1936, and it is now the longest-running poll of those that award national titles at the end of the season. The preseason poll was started in 1950. A panel of 60 sports writers and broadcasters from around the country votes on the poll weekly. All of the voters have an extensive background in covering college football. Alabama, last season's champion, and Notre Dame are tied for the most AP national titles with eight. Oklahoma has seven, while Miami and Southern California have five each. Beginning on Sept. 4, the AP Top 25 will be updated each week.