Texas A&M and South Carolina both will play Clemson, Alabama and Georgia which are the top-three ranked preseason collegiate football teams by AP and the coaches.
This will be only the fourth and fifth time for teams to play the nation’s three top-ranked preseason teams. The others went 1-8.
•In 1968, Northwestern faced Purdue, USC and Notre Dame and went 0-3.
•In 1972, Minnesota faced Nebraska, Colorado and Ohio State and went 0-3.
•In 1975, Missouri faced Oklahoma, Alabama and Michigan and went 1-2, beating No. 2 Alabama to open the season.
Here’s the deal, those were two bad teams and an above average team.
•Northwestern in ’68 was 1-9, going 1-6 in the Big Ten. Northwestern scored a touchdown or less in six games. Northwestern also was coming off a 3-7 season (1-5 in the Big Ten).
•Minnesota in ’72 was 4-7, going 4-4 in the Big Ten. The Gophers were 4-7 the previous year, going 3-5 in the Big Ten. So again, big deal. Minnesota was a bad team.
•Missouri in ’75, though, was 6-5, including 3-4 in the Big Eight, respectable considering the Tigers played six ranked teams, going 2-4. Unranked Missouri opened the season with a 20-7 victory over No. 2 Alabama in Birmingham, allowing the Tigers to jump to No. 5 in the rankings. Missouri stayed at No. 5 during a 3-0 start with victories over Illinois and Wisconsin before a 31-7 loss at No. 12 Michigan knocked the Tigers to 12th. Missouri followed with a 41-14 victory over No. 14 Oklahoma State. Two weeks later, a 30-7 loss to No. 3 Nebraska dropped Missouri to 19th in the rankings. A 28-27 loss in two weeks to No. 6 Oklahoma kept Missouri in the poll at No. 18. But a 42-24 loss the following week to unranked Kansas in the regular-season finale ended the Tigers’ season, knocking them out of the rankings.
Missouri ended up playing four teams ranked in the final Top 20 that season: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 3 Alabama, No. 8 Michigan and No. 9 Nebraska. That’s a tough schedule.
It’s interesting that Missouri would have been ranked had it beaten Kansas, which was 6-5 heading into the regular-season finale.