Some preseason poll factoids

…courtesy of USA Today:

  • The last five preseason No. 1 teams have reached the Bowl Championship Series title game. The flip side: Their combined record is 1-4, with Southern California getting the win at the end of the 2004 season.
  • USA TODAY took over administration of the Division I-A football coaches’ poll in 1991. The preseason No. 1s in that span are 10-6 in bowl games.
  • USC is opening No. 1 for the third time, all in the last four seasons. Florida State, with four, has the most preseason No. 1 appearances in the USA TODAY poll but none since 1999. USC started first and finished there in 2004. Florida State did the same in 1993 and ’99. Those are the only instances a preseason No. 1 became national champ.
  • The national champion has come from outside the preseason top 10 three times, all since the BCS began. Oklahoma started 20th in 2000, the lowest ever for an eventual title team. Ohio State was 12th in 2002, and LSU was 15th in 2003.
  • The lowest a preseason No. 1 has finished in the post-bowl rankings is seventh (Florida in 1994 and Nebraska in 2000).

So, in sixteen years, the preseason #1 has never finished lower than seventh in the final standings, and there’s less than a 20% chance that a team outside of the preseason top ten wins the MNC. Nah, that deck’s not stacked at all.


Filed under College Football

13 responses to “Some preseason poll factoids

  1. Playoffs. Then at least those ranked in the Top 10 would have a shot…. a much smaller stack, if you will.


  2. Shhh! Don’t you know that “playoffs” is a bad word around these parts. 😉


  3. kckd

    Seriously, can we actually talk any more about something that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

    If you finish undefeated you are going to go to the MNC game, whether you start at 52 or 1 provided only on other team is undefeated.

    As far as if they finish seventh, who the hell cares?

    Who exactly is arguing “Hey, what the hell. We finished eigth with one loss because we started 20th and they finished seventh because they started at one.”

    Senator, you have generally posted good articles on here and stuff worth discussing. But this is the lamest stuff you’ve ever come up with.

    And you still haven’t answered my question. When can you honestly say, not having a preseason poll would have made a huge difference in college football in terms of making things much, much better?

    That’s what you tend to suggest, but you have very little evidence to back you up.


  4. When can you honestly say, not having a preseason poll would have made a huge difference in college football in terms of making things much, much better?

    That’s what you tend to suggest, but you have very little evidence to back you up.

    I actually thought about going back and doing a massive amount of research to address your question, but pulled back. After all, that’s what I thought I was doing with my post about the polls in 2004 – you know, the one you dismissed because it was nothing but hindsight, that we don’t know what OU would have done (?), that if it had been OU that finished third, it would have been their fans complaining instead of Auburn’s, etc.

    Honestly, what kind of data would prove convincing to you, kckd?

    And here’s the thing you’re missing: if in fact D-1 does adopt a formal playoff system, whether it be four schools or eight, this issue becomes exacerbated. With an eight team playoff, we’ve pretty much guaranteed that a preseason #1 is going to be in it regardless of how deserving it may be versus other schools with similar records.

    The ironic thing here is that if you keep expanding the playoffs, the problem minimizes. After all, once you go to a thirty two school championship format, everybody in the top 25 gets to dance.


  5. kckd

    My point about the Auburn thing, is that if Oklahoma were locked out of it, and then won their bowl game, we’d still have the same debate.

    And you are right, there is no data to prove it. Because in college football, in regards to polls, really nothing much matters but who is number 1 at the end.

    And how much does having the preseason poll influence that? Not much.

    And there’s no way to prove it. But I doubt very seriously that Auburn would’ve replaced OU even if they did the poll halfway through. OU blew out virtually everyone they played, even if it wasn’t a tough schedule. There’s no way to know what they would’ve done if they had played a tougher one.

    Also, that very year the pollsters actually swapped OU and USC at least once if not twice. So it’s not like they were stuck on who should be no. 1 and no. 2.


  6. OU beat Bowling Green by 16, Texas Tech by 15 and Texas by 12, so I’m not sure I agree with your point that it “blew out virtually everyone they played”.

    Auburn had a better record by early October and had more wins over top 8 teams. So I disagree that OU would have been an easy pick for #2 with a first poll in October.

    And where did you get the idea that OU was ever ranked first in ’04? USC ran #1 wire to wire. But Auburn pretty much caught Oklahoma in Week 13. The Tigers never could get over the hump from there, though.


  7. kckd

    OU was ranked first one week in 2004. FSU is still the only team to run wire to wire for no. 1 in 1999.

    I assure you of that. I’ll find it, but this is one I know.


  8. You can check it at They have the polls listed week by week for that season.


  9. kckd

    Alright, I’ll eat my words, but in this confusing mess as it is. I can understand why I was confused.

    I don’t know for sure that they slipped in the coach’s poll to OU, but they did spend a week at no. 2 in the BCS rankings. Which is what I remembered.

    USC was no. 1 all the way in the AP.


  10. kckd

    FSU only ran wire to wire once. They’ve won it twice and in their first trip Nebraska was no. 1 going in. Notre Dame beat FSU earlier in the year.


  11. Wikipedia says USC ran wire to wire in the ’04 BCS rankings, as well.


  12. kckd

    Well, the only thing I can figure is I got my years mixed up. Maybe it was USC and Texas in 2005 I’m thinking about. Because I’m sure there was a flip flop at one and two somewhere along the line between two unbeatens that reverted back a week later.

    I was wrong. My mistake.


  13. kckd

    Yep, 2005 from wikipedia:

    “Texas also was ranked second in each week of the BCS rankings, except for one week where Texas took the top spot with USC falling to number 2”