Tag:Alabama
Posted on: December 20, 2010 7:42 am
Edited on: December 24, 2010 11:29 am
 

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

By taking a look at the AP poll from 2005-now, we can look at the five most overrated and underrated teams when it comes to preseason polls. Some schools continue to be ranked high in the preseason AP poll, only to finish nowhere near where they started.

12/24/10 Edit:  Adding additional links to the entire list since some people didn't see it at the end and didn't understand how the rankings were calculated.  Click the link for the full list:   THE OVERRATED – UNDERRATED LIST.


Five Most Overrated Teams

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners are the most overrated team over the last five years, and as you might expect, it comes from having a strong, long-term reputation and high expectations.  It was their 2009 season that cemented their place at the top.  They started 2009 at No. 3 and dropped completely out of the polls by season’s end.  They were overrated four of the last five years, but two of those (2008 and 2006) were very minor, one-spot changes.   On the other hand, 2005 was another year of unmet expectations with the Sooners dropping from No. 7 in the preseason to No. 22 in the final.  In the last five preseasons, Oklahoma has never been underestimated. 

2010 Prognosis:  The Sooners started the 2010 preseason ranked No. 7, which was the largest jump for an unranked team in the 2009 final poll.  In the 2010 pre-bowl poll, Oklahoma is ranked No. 9.  Not bad work by the voters, but the Sooners will need to win their bowl game to avoid staying on the list another year.

2. California: 
 Voters want to keep believing in Cal.  This is another team that hasn’t been under-ranked in the last five years.  In 2008 they started the season unranked and ended there.  Every other season was a disappointment.  The worst examples are 2009 and 2007, where the Golden Bears started the season at No. 12 and finished unranked.

2010 Prognosis:  The Golden Bears started 2010 the same way they ended:  unranked.  So they won’t be making too big of a jump in either direction on the list.  However, Oklahoma will likely drop at least one spot, and California could slide into the top spot on the overrated list.

3. Florida State: The Seminoles hold the AP record for the most consecutive top-five finishes (1987 – 2000).  While they haven’t touched the top five in the last five years, it seems the voters still give the Seminoles the benefit of the doubt.  They were only under-ranked once (2006) when they started unranked and finished No. 21.  The other four years, FSU was overrated.  The worst case was 2006, when they dropped from No. 11 in the preseason to unranked in the end. 

2010 Prognosis:  FSU was ranked No. 20 in the preseason and currently sit at No. 23.  Like Oklahoma, the Seminoles must win their bowl game to start working their way off this list.

4. Tennessee: The Volunteers have lost some respect over the last two years.  They finished unranked in 2008, and they started and finished unranked in 2009.  However, in 2005, they plummeted all the way from No. 3 in the preseason to unranked by season’s end.  This 23-place drop is tied with Oklahoma’s 2009 drop for the largest over the last five years.  In 2005 they effectively swapped places with Penn State, who went from unranked to No. 3 in the final poll.

2010 Prognosis:  Tennessee received absolutely no votes in the current poll or the preseason poll.  Even Middle Tennessee received some votes in the preseason poll.  However, with their 2005 results getting dropped from the calculation next year, the Volunteers are going to escape this list.

5. Michigan: The last five years haven’t been kind to the storied program of Michigan.  They started and finished 2008 and 2009 unranked.  In 2006 they actually improved from No. 14 to No. 8 by the end of the season, but they made this list mostly because of the 2007 and 2005 seasons.  The Wolverines dropped from No. 5 to No. 18, and No. 4 to unranked, respectively. 

2010 Prognosis:  Michigan was making a run up the polls earlier in the season, but it didn’t last.  The Wolverines started and ended the season unranked.  However, they should still get bumped off this list next year by a couple of new entries:  Southern Cal and Texas.  The Trojans dropped from No. 14 in the preseason to unranked, and the Longhorns dropped from No. 5 to unranked.  With no chance to improve their rankings (being bowl ineligible), they will enter next year’s list for sure.

12/24/10 Edit:  Adding additional links to the entire list since some people didn't see it at the end and didn't understand how the rankings were calculated.  Click the link for the full list:   THE OVERRATED – UNDERRATED LIST.


Five Most Underrated Teams

1. TCU: TCU is exactly the type of team you would expect to be the most underrated.  They are a Mountain West school that has been getting the job done on the field for years, but rarely getting respect in the preseason poll.  Three really good years made them the under-appreciation champion.  In 2005, then went from unranked in the preseason to No. 11 in the final poll.   In 2008, they went from unranked to No 7, and in 2009 they climbed from No. 17 to No. 6.  

2010 Prognosis:  No. 6 is where the Horned Frogs started the 2010 season. So while their lack of respect may finally be coming to an end, they currently sit at No. 3 and will likely continue to remain on the Underrated list next year (though not at No. 1).  Hopefully TCU’s pending move to the Big East will help them to continue building their credibility.

2. Alabama:  The Crimson Tide are the type of team you wouldn’t expect to find high on the underrated list.  Alabama is a historical national power oozing with respect.  However, they were in a serious slump before Nick Saban took over in 2007 and nobody expected he could turn the Tide (so to speak) so quickly.  2008 and 2009 were great years for Alabama, but they also had an unexpectedly good year in 2005, going from unranked to No. 8.  In 2008, they went from No 24 to No. 6, and had a very modest climb in 2009 from No. 5 to No. 1.  Of course, they couldn’t go any higher that year. 

2010 Prognosis:  With a preseason ranking of No. 1 in 2010, the Crimson Tide can only drop on the list next year.  Under Saban, we predict Alabama won’t be climbing the underrated list any time soon.  In fact, Alabama most likely drops off the list completely next year.

3. Cincinnati:
 The Bearcats have at least one thing in common with the Crimson Tide; they haven’t been overrated once in the last five years.  Cincinnati has started each of the last three seasons unranked.  However, they ended 2007 and 2008 at No. 17, and 2009 at No. 8 and Big East Champion.

2010 Prognosis:  While Cincinnati wasn’t ranked in the preseason, they still didn’t live up to expectations.  They just missed the preseason poll at No. 26, but the Bearcats ended 2010 with zero votes and bowl ineligible at 4-8.  So, due to lowered expectations in 2010 (partly due to losing their coach to Notre Dame), Cincinnati will certainly be on the underrated list for another year.

4. Boise State:  Boise State may be who most fans think of when they think of underrated teams.  The Broncos are definitely in the mix.  However, they don’t get top honors because they have also been overrated two times – in 2005 and 2007 the voters ranked them in the preseason, but they fell out of the rankings by season’s end.  The other three years, Boise State climbed.  They climbed as high as No. 4 in 2009.  

2010 Prognosis:  The Broncos may have finally broken through to mainstream respectability.  The start of the 2010 season had them ranked No. 3, and as a bonus, they announced their move from the WAC to the Mountain West.  They currently sit at No. 10, and even though they were overrated this year, they will likely remain high on the 5-year underrated list.

5. Oregon: This is another well-respected team that seems like an odd-duck on this list.   Yet, these Ducks haven’t been getting the respect they deserve lately.  In 2005 and 2007, they started out unranked, but didn’t end that way.  In 2008, they rose from No. 21 to No. 10, and in 2009 they climbed five spots from No. 16 to No. 11. 

2010 Prognosis:  The Ducks are currently No. 2 in the AP Poll with a chance to become No. 1 with a victory in the BCS Championship Game against Auburn.  Even so, there are a few teams on the cusp of the list that could knock them off next year if the Ducks don’t win.

12/24/10 Edit:  Adding additional links to the entire list since some people didn't see it at the end and didn't understand how the rankings were calculated.  Click the link for the full list:   THE OVERRATED – UNDERRATED LIST.


Methodology

Pollspeak.com used a simple method for determining overrating and underrating in the AP Poll.

An overrated team is one whose final poll ranking is worse than its preseason ranking.  An underrated team is one whose final poll ranking is better than its preseason ranking.  Different results could be obtained by tracking every week individually during the season.  "Final poll" means the poll released after the bowl games.

The last five years for this list are the 2005 – 2009 seasons, inclusive.

We only counted teams listed in the top 25 during those years (53 teams in total).  When a team isn’t listed in the top 25, it is considered unranked and given a value of 26.  We could have ranked teams further by counting all teams that received votes, and that certainly would have changed the results.  For example, a team could have dropped to a theoretical No. 27 (receiving 50 votes), which would be better than a theoretical No. 49 (receiving one vote).  However, for simplicity’s sake, anything beyond 25 is unranked.  This also entirely weeds out teams typically considered unranked that qualify for the list by jumping from No. 49 to No. 26 (or vice-versa) in a given year.

Each team’s final ranking is subtracted from its preseason ranking to determine its over/under-rating for each year.  Then all five years are added together to determine each team’s “Points” and place on the list.  Ties are broken by taking into account the number of years being overrated vs. underrated.

Again, a more complex formula could be used and could certainly change the results, but we’re keeping it simple and straight-forward. 
You can find the entire list of teams sorted from most overrated to most underrated here: 
THE OVERRATED – UNDERRATED LIST.

Posted on: December 20, 2010 7:23 am
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Posted on: October 17, 2010 10:55 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2010 3:33 pm
 

You Can't Spell BCS Without CBS





Note
:  Clicking a team link in this blog will show you how everyone voted for that team.  Clicking a voter name link will show you their ballot.

The first BCS Standings of the season are out.   For those who have only been using Pollstalker to check out the AP ballots up till now, let me direct you to the BCS+AP Report.  Each week, you can also use Pollstalker to compare how each component of the BCS (plus the AP Poll) ranks each team.  For example, you can easily see that Alabama is ranked lower by Sagarin than any other component, or that Florida is ranked highest by Billingsley at No. 20, or you could compare Boise State’s rankings to Oregon’s in the ten different systems.

As for the AP, Pollstalker tells us that Jon Wilner is the most extreme voter this week.  Nothing new there, but he outdid himself this week with 14 extreme votes and 5 near-extremes.  That means he only had 6 teams on his ballot that are generally in line with the other voters.  His bottom five teams (No. 21 – No. 25) are all lowest in the nation, in order:  Utah, Nebraska, Missouri, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State.  Sometimes being extreme can mean the voter is thinking more like the computers, without all the pre-season baggage that often comes with voters.  However, a quick check of the same teams in the BCS+AP report (Utah, Nebraska, Missouri, West Virginia and Oklahoma State) shows that Wilner would also be a very extreme computer.

Another AP trend this week shows a lot more teams getting a few votes.  Last week it looked like the top 25 might be getting more focused with only 32 teams getting any votes.  However, with all of the recent upsets, the voters are once again struggling to fill the bottom of their ballots, and 40 teams received votes this week.  12 of those teams only received one to four votes, including some of the upset-ers like Hawaii, Kentucky, East Carolina and Washington.

The Albuquerque Journal’s Greg Archuleta has been replaced this week in the AP Poll.  Rick Wright from the same newspaper is the new voter.   Archuleta was at the center of the issue a few weeks ago where a technical glitch caused the AP to count his previous week’s ballot by mistake.  According to the AP, that has nothing to do with the change of voters this week, which was made by the Albuquerque Journal itself.

Head-to-Head lines:

I’ll keep the Arizona over Iowa watch going, although it seems to be a stalemate.   37 of 60 voters still have Iowa over Arizona.  The worst offender is now Kirk Herbstreit who has BOTH Iowa highest at No. 6 and Arizona lowest at No. 21.  I can understand why a voter might have the two teams ranked closely in either direction.  After all, Arizona lost to Oregon State who just lost again on Saturday.  So maybe the Wildcats should be ranked lower.  However, Iowa hasn’t beaten a quality opponent yet, whereas Arizona beat…Iowa.  So, to me, as long as they both have one loss, Arizona should be ranked over Iowa, and if you don’t think much of Arizona…why would you think more of Iowa?  The Hawkeyes haven’t beaten a currently ranked team.  Again, to add some objectivity, 4 of the 5 unbiased (meaning, not including Billingsley yet) computers rank Arizona better, which I also take into account.  However, I put more emphasis on the head-to-head result because the computers don’t.  Even so, they still generally think Arizona is a better team regardless of the head-to-head result.

With South Carolina losing, it has straightened out the whole Auburn over South Carolina over Alabama conundrum.  Although, Bob Hammond is the only voter who still ranks Alabama over undefeated Auburn.

Enough old news… this week, 10 voters still rank Ohio State over Wisconsin after the Badger’s weekend win.  Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal is the worst of the group with a ten-place differential.  Being from Vegas, Anderson should certainly know that the 13-point Wisconsin victory more than accounts for the typical 3-point advantage given to the home team.  In fact, he didn’t even drop Ohio State from his previous ranking of No. 7 after the loss.  I wonder what needed to happen for Anderson to rank Wisconsin higher.  To the credit of the AP, they barely have Wisconsin over Ohio State in the overall poll, but the two other human polls (the ones used by the BCS) don’t.  If only we could get our hands on those ballots.  In the meantime, we’ll have to assume that there are even more Coaches and Harris voters who secretly voted Ohio State over Wisconsin.

Posted on: October 11, 2010 10:24 am
Edited on: October 18, 2010 8:47 am
 

Head-to-Head-to-Head Comes to a Head





Note
:  Clicking a team link in this blog will show you how everyone voted for that team.  Clicking a voter name link will show you their ballot.

The first Harris Interactive College Football Poll of the season was released this week, which means we’re just a week away from the first official BCS rankings.  The Harris Interactive Poll is pretty similar in content this week to both the Coaches and AP Poll.  It does place Arizona lowest of any BCS component at No. 21.

For reference, here is a list of all of the voter changes in the Harris Interactive Poll from 2009 to 2010.  There were only 12 people replaced from what is the largest voter pool of any poll (114).  Compared to the AP Poll and Coaches’ Poll, which has replaced about 50% of their voters over the last two years, the Harris Interactive number seems very small.  Is that an issue?  Probably not, but it is something to keep an eye on.  One reason is that voter turnover helps prevent corruption.    In other words, if 90% of the voters are going to stay the same from year to year, it makes it a lot easier to “fix” the polls.  No amount of change can completely prevent corruption, but there is no sense it making it easier.

With the BCS looming, let’s take a quick look at how humans and computers disagree on No.1 and No. 2.  The humans are currently on board with an Ohio State vs. Oregon title game.  However, if you look at the computers, they tend to favor LSU, Boise State or Oklahoma in the top two spots.  Sagarin does have TCU at No. 2 right now.  The Horned Frogs do have a couple of good opponents remaining in Air Force and Utah, but they aren’t likely good enough to make up for the strength of schedule of the other teams.

In the AP, we have a tie for the most extreme voter this week, but we’ll give a shout out to Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal since he is an extreme noob.   He has ten extreme rankings and four near the extreme this week.   While his ballot isn’t 100% clear-cut, the reason he got there was due to a general trend of downgrading the SEC (Alabama, South Carolina and Arkansas) while showing favor to the Big 12, including highest ranks to:  Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Kansas State.  However, he did rank Auburn highest in the nation at No. 3 and Nebraska near-lowest at No. 8.

Head-to-Head lines:

It was predictable that Arizona’s loss to Oregon State was going to make the situation between Arizona and Iowa worse.  Now 37 of the 60 voters rank Iowa over Arizona even though both teams have one loss and Arizona beat Iowa.  For some reason Craig James doesn’t even rank Arizona, while he ranks Iowa No. 16.  You would think that if their opinion of Arizona dropped so much after their loss, the loss would also affect their opinion of Iowa, whom the Wildcats beat.  Note that the four released BCS computers (without preseason bias, i.e. not Billingsley) all still rank Arizona over Iowa.    Of course, if Arizona loses again, all bets are off, and I would expect that the voters and the computers would likely rank Iowa over Arizona.

We finally have a great three-way head-to-head-to-head situation to discuss:  Auburn over South Carolina over Alabama.  The Tigers are undefeated and beat South Carolina (one loss) who beat Alabama (one loss).  So you would think that is the order they would all be ranked on people’s ballots.  However, six voters have South Carolina ranked over Auburn, a team they lost to.  The Gamecocks pulled off an amazing upset of Alabama, but Auburn is undefeated and already proved they could beat South Carolina; they may be able to beat the Crimson Tide as well.  Voters could at least give the Tigers the benefit of the doubt until Iron Bowl at the end of the year. 

19 of the 60 voters still rank Alabama over South Carolina, and the following 17 voters rank Alabama over undefeated Auburn, who beat South Carolina, who beat Alabama.  These are people who obviously would not be able to abide by the difficult and final decisions handed down by playoff games.  To them, the results on the field don’t matter nearly as much as their own opinions about some other hypothetical game that may (but likely won’t) happen in the future. 

Oh and as an SEC on ESPN bonus, Craig James is the only voter to rank Arkansas over Alabama.



Note to voters:  ranking people in the proper order this week doesn’t mean that the teams have to finish that way.  Some of those teams are bound to have other losses.  However, based on what you have seen on the field, and in line with AP guidelines, teams should be ranked based on their head-to-head results when all else is equal.  You can always change the rankings again next week when you have more information to go on.  As an added bonus, obvious biases (preseason or otherwise) and/or lack of effort won’t be so obvious during the course of the year.

Posted on: October 3, 2010 7:57 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2010 8:48 am
 

Ghosts of Weeks Past





Note
:  Clicking a team link in this blog will show you how everyone voted for that team.  Clicking a voter name link will show you their ballot.

In the Coaches Poll, there was one less voter this week because Arizona coach Mike Stoops couldn’t be reached.  The Wildcats had a bye week so maybe Stoops went on vacation and forgot that the rest of the teams continue to play without them.  It’s too bad because at No. 11, Arizona is ranked lower in the Coaches Poll than any other BCS component or the AP.

The past is coming back to haunt a couple of teams. 
Oregon jumped over Boise State to claim the No. 3 spot in both polls.  Boise State might feel cheated, but the feeling will likely get worse over the coming weeks.  There are currently 16 undefeated teams in the top 25 (and a few still unranked).  Any of those teams has a chance to push past the Broncos depending on their strength of schedule.  If Virginia Tech wouldn’t have lost that week-two game to James Madison, Boise State would have had a shot, but now there isn’t much the Broncos can do except hope for other teams to lose.

Also haunted by their past, Texas dropped out of the top 25 after their loss to Oklahoma.  However, the drop was caused more by the loss to UCLA the previous week.  There are currently no teams with two losses in the polls.  Even Penn State received only one point in the AP Poll, and their two losses came from No. 1 Alabama and No. 15 Iowa.  So other two-loss teams shouldn’t expect better treatment.

However, Texas actually received 33 points, and all 10 of the voters who ranked the two-loss Longhorns neglected to rank the two-loss Bruins who beat them two weeks ago.  On the other hand, the five people who ranked UCLA, correctly left Texas off their ballots (going by head-to-head results).  Which brings us to…

Head-to-Head lines:

While everybody now believes that both Iowa and Arizona are ranked teams, we’re down to three who still put Iowa over Arizona.  Lisa Byington is still the leader in that category, with a six-place spread.  I can only scratch my head at her reasoning.    Maybe she is still waiting for Arizona to have an impressive win…like maybe over…Iowa?  Hopefully that isn’t her reasoning, or it won’t likely change until either one of the teams lose or November rolls around and Arizona plays Stanford or USC.



Michigan State upset Wisconsin last Saturday.   The Spartans won by ten points at home, and while the game was closer than the score, you would think it would be obvious to place Michigan State over the Badgers… especially considering the absence of the Spartans’ head coach.  Not the case for David Jones of Florida Today and Bob Hammond of the Laramie Daily Boomerang. They were the only two voters to rank the Badgers over the undefeated Spartans.  Was this a case of them being able to “slide” the teams only so far on their ballots, or intentionally ignoring the results on the field, or just not paying attention?  All three are bad, but I’m not sure which is worse.

Posted on: September 26, 2010 6:21 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2010 8:49 am
 

Running Out of Ballot Space

 

 


Note
:  Clicking a team link in this blog will show you how everyone voted for that team.  Clicking a voter name link will show you their ballot.

Let’s start out with hearty congratulations to
Nevada who earned their first AP Ranking (No. 25) since they climbed as high as No. 10 in 1948!  They also sit at No. 25 in the Coaches’ Poll.  Nevada deserves it for reaching 4-0 while beating teams like California and BYU.  Meanwhile, with its third loss, it looks like BYU picked the wrong week to go independent.

So much for the computer’s high expectations of Texas.  Last week two of them had Texas pegged as No.  1.  After their stunning home loss to UCLA, the Longhorns have dropped this week as low as No. 28 in the Colley Matrix.  That isn’t much worse than the AP, who dropped Texas all the way from No. 7 last week to No. 21.  Fourteen spots is an exceptionally large single-week drop.  Of course, it still doesn’t compare to Michigan’s infamous 2007 drop from No. 5 to unranked after the Appalachian State loss.

There are still lots of undefeated and once-beaten (or more) teams out there with top-25 potential.  There are 36 teams getting votes in the AP this week, but there’s only room for 25 on a single ballot.  Typically the teams that voters made room for this week were Nevada and North Carolina State.  Therefore, voters also needed to drop a team or two, and that lead to some tough choices.

For example, Desmond Conner of the Hartford Courant has undefeated Arizona unranked, but has a team they beat, Iowa, at No. 15.  In place of the Wildcats, Conner gives one-loss Houston their only vote.   Of course, that loss came from a now impressive looking UCLA team.

Ray Ratto is the only voter to leave either Iowa or Miami off his ballot, let alone leaving them both off.   Ratto not only made room for Nevada and N.C. State, he also added Kansas State to his ballot.

Rob Long was the only voter to drop Arkansas off his ballot after the Razorbacks nearly pulled the upset over No. 1, Alabama.  Bob Condotta and Mark Anderson dropped South Carolina after their loss to Auburn.

Scott Wolf and Jon Wilner left out both Michigan and Wisconsin.  Wilner was one of three to also drop USC, and in his case, replace the Trojans with Kansas State, Oregon State, Air Force,  Missouri or UCLA.  If you couldn’t tell already, Pollstalker tagged Wilner as the most-extreme voter of the week.  It is odd that the top-three most extreme voters are the three from California.  Does the Golden State have a Conventional Voting Tax to go along with their Junk Food Tax?

In the Coaches’ Poll, Big 12 members, Missouri and Oklahoma State take the place of USC and N.C. State in the top 25.

Head-to-Head lines:

There are still 8 people voting Iowa over Arizona.  That’s down from ten last week, even though the Wildcats had a very narrow escape against unranked Cal.  As long as Arizona can keep winning, that trend should continue it its favor.  However, even a one-loss Arizona team should be ranked over Iowa except under extenuating circumstances.  As mentioned previously, Desmond Conner has the biggest gap in favor of the Hawkeyes.

 

 

Two-loss UCLA didn’t receive many votes, even after their upset of Texas.  However, most everybody who did cast a vote for the Bruins, remembered that Kansas State beat them in week one.  The only exception is Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News, who ranked UCLA highest at No. 22, but didn’t rank undefeated Kansas State.

Solomon and Jon Wilner were also the only voters to rank UCLA over Texas.  It’s hard to argue with that considering the game was at Texas and the outcome was decisive.  Also, Texas hasn’t had a signature win yet (although Texas Tech may turn out to be a ranked team down the road).  However, Pollspeak is generally an advocate of using head-to-head results when the winning team has the same or better record than the losing team.  In this case, Texas has one loss and UCLA has two.  So we also don’t begrudge any voters who rank Texas higher.

Note:  When the ballots were released on Sunday, Greg Archuleta's ballot was exactly the same this week as last week.  The AP reported that this was a technical glitch, and have since corrected it.

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