Tag:Top 25
Posted on: October 1, 2009 6:31 pm

Instability in the Polls

What does all the instability in the College Top 25 so far this year really mean?

I believe it shows us three main things.  First, assuming that we believe that the pollsters got it right this most recent poll, it means that we pretty much have no clue who the good teams are before the season or even in the first few weeks.  Houston and Iowa are good examples of teams that no one thought were even worthy of mention in the preseason, and most people didn't even give Iowa any votes at all until the last 2 weeks.  But all of a sudden, by virtue of a win over the #5 team at the time (Houston over then #5 Oklahoma State, and Iowa over then #5 Penn State), they jump way up on everyone's list.  Houston went from receiving only 1 25th place vote to being the number 21 school in the nation, and is now all the way up to number 12.  Iowa goes from 31 all the way up to 13.   With differences that large, it sure looks like the sportswriters don't know what they are talking about that early in the season.  This season is the perfect example why ranking should wait to start until at least the 4th week.

Second, regardless of whether the current polls are the 'correct' ones, pollsters are allowing their ideas of teams to be influenced way too much by the outcome of a single game. Florida State's swings in and out of the polls, Oregon's huge drop after losing to Boise State on the road, and subsequent huge jump back up after the win at home against Cal, are great examples of how people are easily swayed by the most recent outcome. The fact is, just because Oregon or Iowa or South Carolina had a good game last week and upset a highly ranked opponent, doesn't mean that they are now Top 15 or even Top 20 teams.  While all have good enough resumes to include them jumping up into the Top 25, especially since they were being mentioned prior to this week, in no way is anyone justified in having Iowa ranked 13th or higher, unless (which I highly doubt) they had them ranked at at least 20th last week. 

The last thing is that the coaches clearly understand how these things work much better than the media. All the numbers above were from the AP poll.  The coaches poll had the same faults, but nowhere near the level of the AP poll.  It started to mention Houston, but they didn't jump into the top 25 after they knocked off Oklahoma State, They ended up number 27.  People realized that while it was a good win, at least 8 times out of 10, Oklahoma State would have won the game.  Again, at this point, not to say that I don't think they should be ranked, since they do have one of the most impressive victories so far, but that victory was not so overwhelming that people had to think about putting Houston above Oklahoma State.  Similarly, Penn State, Cal, and Mississippi all stayed above the teams that they were beaten by, but not by much.  This accounts for the fact that most if not all of those teams had a bad game (which USC seems to have every year but gets a free pass for.) and not that they are all of a sudden horrible teams.  If they lose another game, then they will drop like a rock right out of the Top 25.  Until then, there is nothing to indicate that any of those teams don't deserve the ranking they have received, especially when you compare it to preseason expectations.

Posted on: September 28, 2009 1:00 am
Edited on: October 1, 2009 6:28 pm

College Football Top 25

Welcome to my first entry in my brand new blog.  I've been ranking teams for several years now on my own, always willing to share my ideas with my friends, but I finally decided it's time to put my own Top 25 up for all to see.  Check back each week to see how my take on the current best teams in college football.  Please feel free to comment on my picks, but please leave real comments, not just insults because I didn't rank your team where you want it.

Without further ado, my first posted top 25.

1. Florida - While I'm still not sure if they are the best team, that Kentucky win was pretty impressive.  Gators just better hope that Tebow is back before LSU on Oct. 10, or they are going to be in serious trouble.

2. Texas - With nothing else to separate these two teams, I'm just going to have to go with whichever had the most impressive win the week before.  In this case Kentucky on the road gives Florida the nod over Texas, but with the impressive play from both sides of the ball, it won't take much for me to put Texas in the top spot.

3. Alabama - Not overly impressed with this team, was planning on moving them down this week if any of the teams immediately behind them won, but with Mississippi, Penn State and Cal all losing, I have no one else I can justify putting here.

4. Virginia Tech - Jumping them up here after that impressive win against Miami, where they limited Heisman Hopeful Jacory Harris to only 150 yards and no TDs.  Add in the fact that they rushed for almost 300 yards, and you have a very good looking team in Blacksburg.

5. Boise State - Seems a little high to be putting them here, but with the impressive win against Oregon, and a big win at Fresno State, there doesn't seem to be a legitimate reason to keep them out of this spot.  Look for them to fall as other teams play tougher schedules in the near future, but without a loss, this will probably be a top 7 or 8 team all season.

6. LSU -  Another team that moves up only because everyone above them is moving down.  No impressive win on their resume yet, but they could really solidify this spot with games against Georgia and Florida coming up.

7.Oklahoma - Moving up slightly without having to do anything.  Even with Bradford back, this team is going to have problems if they can't get better play from the O-line.

8. Houston - Narrow escape that was against Texas Tech, but Houston still has a pretty impressive resume for this early in the season.  With no other team just jumping out at me (and refusing to buy in to the hype for USC until I see an impressive win), this is an easy pick.

9. Mississippi - Close loss, and the rally at the end, lead me to leave them in the top 10 for now, given that South Carolina figures to be at least a middle of the road team in the SEC.

10. Kansas - One of the few remaining solid undefeateds.  Playing some solid competition, KU gets the nod here over Cincinnati based on potential alone, since neither team has played spectacularly, but is still without a loss.

11. Cincinnati - Another undefeated team, playing some decent competition.  Nothing in the win to make me go crazy though.  The fact that they haven't lost gives them the nod over teams like USC and Ohio State.

12. TCU - The best chance the Mountain West has to break into the BCS, the Horned Frogs were pretty impressive in that come-from-behind win, with some good defense down the stretch.

13. Oklahoma State - Good win against Georgia, and close loss to Houston, gives OSU a good enough resume to be in this spot, even with the loss.

14. California - While they did get blown out, it was on the road to a team that was expected to be pretty good this year.  They better be ready for USC this week, or they may drop from the rankings completely.

15. Miami - That loss was ugly, and may have just knocked Jacory Harris out of contention for the Heisman. 

16 Brigham Young - Still have a bad taste in my mouth after that home blowout against Florida State.  It doesn't taste any better after Florida State lost to South Florida this week.

17. Penn State - While that loss was embarrasing, at least it was to a much improved Iowa team that has a decent shot in the Big Ten this year

18. USC - still not impressed by this team, can't justify putting them any higher than this. Name recognition is not a good reason.

19. Ohio State - nice win, but this team is not consistent enough to deserve any higher of a ranking. See USC comment, and include tradition in that note.

20. Oregon - Losing to Boise on the road is their only blemish, that thrashing of Cal was very impressive, even if it was at home.

21. Iowa - That was an impressive win, but I'm not quite sold that they are a true elite team.

22.Georgia - After that tough loss to Oklahoma State, they are playing much better.  Expect a jump if they can pull off a win against LSU this week.

23. Missouri - Solid games, good wins so far.  Probably should have won by more against Nevada, but the game was on the road, so I'll give them a break there.

24. Michigan - Good wins, especially that game against Notre Dame, cause me to bring Michigan in at the 24 spot.

25. Nebraska - That loss to Virginia Tech hurt, but not enough to keep them out of the rankings.

Next 5 (in no particular order):  Auburn, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, South Florida, Utah

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com