UConn football ranks ahead of fallen ACC powers in The Athletic’s preseason college football rankings

What does a seat at a power conference table get you?

Well if you’re Virginia Tech, it gets you three wins, nine losses, an offseason of ‘have they hit rock bottom?’ stories and a ranking two spots behind UConn in The Athletic’s preseason college football rankings. (Of course, it also gets you a boatload of money, but fans don’t see any of that).

The Athletic released its annual preseason ranking of every team in college football, and UConn came in at No. 86, ahead of the ACC also-ran Hokies, who coincidentally used to be a national powerhouse while playing in the Big East.

As many programs that jumped ship to join superconferences have found out, a big television contract payday often comes at the expense of success on the field.

Virginia Tech defected for the ACC in 2003, five years after playing for a national championship with Michael Vick under center while in the Big East in 1999-2000. The program continued its run of success under legendary head coach Frank Beamer through 2011, but has sputtered recently, with three straight losing seasons.

Now the Hokies, and ACC and in-state rival Virginia, both rank below UConn, which has been left out of the exclusive power conference club mainly because power players believe it can’t compete in football. Under Jim Mora, UConn went 6-7 last season, reached a bowl game and are in position to build on that with an improved roster and a schedule full of winnable games in 2023. One betting expert has the Huskies as one of the most “undervalued” teams in the nation. A look at the schedule and a reasonable football fan might expect that they could push for seven or eight wins.

The independent Huskies also rank ahead of Indiana (94), Stanford (95), Virginia (96) and Northwestern (99), and just a few spots below Colorado (84), West Virginia (83) and Georgia Tech (81). Boston College, which lost to UConn last year and finished 3-9, is in at No. 82.

UConn’s jump to No. 86 in these preseason rankings is significant considering the fact that it was tabbed 129th out of 131 teams in FBS by The Athletic coming into last season.

Whether or not UConn is eventually extended an invite to a power conference remains to be seen, but the Huskies seem to be slowly gaining more respect. They may not have a seat at the table like some of their ACC and Big Ten counterparts, but this year, they just may have a better football team.

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