Air Force and its Mountain West brethren were shut out of The Associated Press preseason top 25 poll, which was released Monday.
This marks the fourth time in six years the Colorado Springs-headquartered conference hasn’t been represented in the AP’s preseason football poll after missing out just four times over the league’s first 16 years of existence.
Clemson, which went 15-0 last season, topped the preseason poll for the first time.
Air Force, coming off consecutive 5-7 seasons but armed with an experienced roster, did not receive a vote.
Army missed a spot in the Top 25 by two spots, while Falcons opponents Boise State, Fresno State and Utah State also received votes in the poll.
Army, Fresno State and Utah State visit Falcon Stadium this season.
“Our schedule this year is probably harder than an Air Force Academy team has ever played,” said Air Force coach Troy Calhoun at Mountain West media days in July.
One Falcons opponent did appear in a preseason poll, as Colgate was ranked 14th in the Football Championship Subdivision preseason coaches’ poll that was also revealed Monday.
The Raiders went 10-2 last year, beating James Madison 23-20 with a field goal as time expired in the first round of the FCS playoffs. They were then eliminated by eventual national champion North Dakota State in a game in which they trailed by two touchdowns in the second half before the Bison pulled away for a 35-0 victory.
Calhoun said Air Force would begin preparing for Colgate this week.
“As good as they are, we have to,” he said. “They were one of the five best FCS teams last year; beat James Madison in the playoffs. They were hands down North Dakota State’s toughest game in the playoffs when they came to Fargo. Excellent football team. And an athletic department that’s committed to all athletics.”
Calhoun pointed to a first-round NCAA basketball tournament scare 15th-seeded Colgate gave to No. 2 Tennessee as evidence of the program’s strength in athletics. The Raiders trailed by three points with 45 seconds remaining before back-to-back Tennessee 3-pointers provided a cushion in the 77-70 win.
Colgate — located in Hamilton, N.Y. — opens its season Saturday against Villanova (10 a.m. on CBS Sports Network) before traveling to Air Force on Aug. 31.