Overrated or Underrated: What’s Wrong With Week 4’s CFB Top 25
Every week of the college football season, two important Top 25 polls are released (the AP poll and the USA Today coaches’ poll). And every week of the season, some of the rankings make sense…and some do not. Without fail, a handful of teams will always be overrated or underrated, and we consider it our responsibility to set the record straight.
Here are three questions that jumped out at us from this week’s rankings.
1. Ohio State moved down?
The Ohio State Buckeyes were ranked 22nd in the AP poll last week heading into a home game against Kent State. The Buckeyes went on to win that game 66-0, so this week, they find themselves ranked…23rd.
Yes, that’s correct. Ohio State moved down in the polls after beating an FBS team 66 to nothing. Well, maybe it wasn’t a matter of voters penalizing OSU. Maybe other teams just got a bunch of extra votes this week. Let’s check.
Oops, no such luck. Ohio State got a total of 222 votes in the Week 3 AP poll, compared to only 204 this week. So something about a 66-0 win convinced the voters that Ohio State was too highly ranked. Was the nine-score margin of victory not large enough? Did J.T. Barrett under-achieve by only throwing six touchdown passes? Was the OSU defense supposed to allow less than zero points? Did it take some voter in the middle of nowhere a week longer than everyone else to get news of the Virginia Tech loss — by Pony Express or telegraph, perhaps? — and adjust his ballot accordingly?
We’ll never know.
2. Stanford over USC?
The Stanford Cardinal are 2-1. The USC Trojans are 2-1. The two teams played on September 6 — at Stanford — and USC came away with a 13-10 victory.
So, naturally, both polls have the Trojans looking up at Stanford this week, which makes absolutely no sense. We understand the desire for headline-grabbing climbs or drops in these rankings, really we do, but it would seem by now that the writers and coaches would know better than to overreact this drastically after an upset loss (like USC’s recent stumble at Boston College).
It’s simple: When two teams from the same conference have the same record, met on the field, and the visitors won, they probably deserve to be ranked a tiny bit higher. Just don’t tell the coaches, who think 2-1 Stanford’s resume (with a home loss to USC included) is six spots better than 2-1 USC’s (with a road win over Stanford included).
Sometimes, math is hard.
3. Florida got votes?
Now, to be clear, the Florida Gators aren’t actually in the Top 25 (yet). They merely appear in both polls under the ‘receiving votes’ section, but that is still an egregious enough issue for us to address here. If the coaches’ poll extended that far, the Gators would be considered the 29th-ranked team in the country.
What exactly about Saturday’s triple-overtime escape over Kentucky says to a poll voter, “Wow, that team really looks legit. They must be one of the best teams in the country, and I need to rank them accordingly!” Was it the 4th-and-7 desperation touchdown in overtime that came after the play clock had expired? Or allowing Wildcats quarterback Patrick Towles to repeatedly shred the defense for a career-high 369 passing yards? Maybe the element of history comes into play: Since the Gators have now beaten UK twenty-eight straight times, we can simply overlook the fact that the streak should have really ended at twenty-seven.
The bottom line: Nothing about Florida’s nail-biter home win says dominance. Nothing about Florida’s nail-biter home win says elite football program. Nothing about Florida’s nail-biter home win says Top 25 team…or Top 29, for that matter.