College Football

Reviewing the AP Top 25

Now that the NCAA football season is over, it’s time to take a final look at the AP “top 25” teams in the country.  “Top 25” is in quotes because one must remember that this poll is a popularity contest and nothing more.  Forget preseason rankings, and even rankings up to this point.  We’ll examine each top team individually to see if their ranking is justified.For reference, I will provide the team’s record, the team’s record against teams that were ranked at the time they played, and its record against teams that are ranked now at the end of the season (TRES).  At the conclusion, we’ll see how they should have been ranked.  But in AP order:

1. Florida (13-1, ranked 4-1, TRES 5-1)

I don’t think anyone would dare refute their dominance after the thrashing of (supposedly) #1 Ohio State.  Playing in arguably the toughest conference in the country and losing one game in a hostile environment to a decent Auburn team, Florida has cemented their status as the best team in the country.

2. Ohio State (12-1, ranked 4-1, TRES 3-1)

After the utter embarrassment at the hands of Florida, can a #2 ranking still be justified?  It’s hard to fault them for getting beaten by the best team in the country.  On the other hand can you really say a team that is in this position solely because of preseason rankings really belong here?  In the end, yes they do belong.  Aside from the final week, Ohio State did what it was supposed to in winning every game and beating the bad teams by embarrassingly large margins (with the exception of Illinois).  There is a certain undefeated team from Idaho that might argue differently.  More on that in a minute.

3. LSU (11-2, ranked 3-2, TRES 3-2)

This is a strange case.  All 4 of LSU’s games against ranked teams were against then top-10’s on the road.  Not your typical formula for success, especially in the toughest conference.  However, there are three teams behind LSU with better records, and LSU’s ranked wins are against three teams that have fallen off considerably in the last few weeks.  Also, LSU finished third in their division.  Not in their conference, in their division.  So that must mean the two SEC West teams that finished above them must be #1 and #2 in the country, right?  Wait…where are they?  Neither one is up here that’s for sure.  LSU may be a top 5 team, but not #3.

4. USC (11-2, ranked 5-0, TRES 4-1)

You’re kidding, right?  Can any team that played every game against a ranked team at home really be given full credit for those games?  Can any team that lost to 2 unranked teams in the regular season possibly be top 5, especially in the bloated Pac 10?  Can those losses be redeemed by a good win over an unproven and overrated Michigan team in the Rose Bowl about 20 miles off campus?  No.  They can’t.  Period.  USC should be at least 3 spots lower.  

5. Boise State (13-0, ranked 1-0, TRES 2-0)

Last.  Undefeated.   Team.  Can’t say it any easier than that.  How then does the team with the best record in football have to struggle to crack the top 5?  Can they be penalized because they play in the WAC?  I haven’t heard anything about the Pac 10 or Big 10 or any of the BCS conferences extending invitations, so no, they cannot be penalized.  On their home field, Boise was nothing short of invincible, surpassing every team above them in the rankings in home margin of victory.  If an underrated Hawaii could have been included in the TRES record (they are #24 in the USA Today Poll), Boise would have as many TRES wins as gasp Ohio State or LSU.  And then they beat an Oklahoma team that could be ranked much higher if not for a couple bad calls, in one of the best games in history.  They should be at least #3.

6. Louisville (12-1, ranked 3-1, TRES 2-1)

Only in the Big East:  Play in a conference that goes undefeated in their bowls.  Play through the entire season convincingly beating the teams you should beat (every unranked team on the schedule by at least 15 points, with the exception of Cincinnati).  Play one ranked team fewer than either team in the national championship game.  Beat all but one of those ranked teams, your sole loss being on the road by a field goal that boomed through as time expired.  Win your BCS game and cover the spread.  Fall in the polls.  Amazing.  Should be 2 spots higher.

7. Wisconsin (12-1, ranked 1-1, TRES 2-1)

Another victim of a weak schedule. Wisconsin did everything right except the 14 point loss in Ann Arbor, arguably one of the toughest stadiums to play in for a visiting team.  Wisconsin beat all their unranked opponents (which is more than USC can say).  Wisconsin also beat the SEC West champs in their bowl game.  Definitely should be higher.  

8. Michigan (11-2, ranked 1-2, TRES 3-2)

This is probably close to correct for Michigan, maybe one or two spots lower would be more appropriate.  They played in the overrated Big 10 (see: Iowa, Penn State), had exactly one good win against a then ranked team (Notre Dame), got lambasted in their bowl game by a puzzling USC team, and are the only team in the AP top 10 with a losing record against ranked opponents.  #8 may be a hair too high, though no one really deserves to pass them.

9. Auburn (11-2, ranked 2-0, TRES 2-2)

I thought the SEC was the toughest conference? Auburn only played 2 ranked teams?  Are you sure?  Yes I’m sure.  #9 is too high.  Even for beating Florida.  At least one spot lower would be more like it.

10. West Virginia (11-2, ranked 1-1, TRES 1-1)

Yet another victim of an underrated conference.  West Virginia beat every unranked team they played during the regular season by at least 17 points with the one glaring exception being the loss to South Florida.  The other loss was on the road to a good Louisville team.  West Virginia then went and beat the second place ACC team without the help of their star running back and with their star QB hampered by a bum ankle.  If not for the South Florida loss, they would be top 5.  As it is, #10 is about right.  

11. Oklahoma (11-3 12-2, ranked 3-3 4-2, TRES 0-2)

Good season overall for Oklahoma.  The bold numbers above are for giving Oklahoma their rightful win over Oregon.  Only real losses were to Texas and then Boise, but Oklahoma played valiantly in the bowl game and beat several strong teams during the regular season, so should probably be a top 10 team.  

12. Rutgers (11-2, ranked 1-1, TRES 1-1)

The bad loss to Cincinnati really brings down the Scarlet Knights’ stock.  Every other game this season however, Rutgers played well, even in their other loss (by 2 on the road to West Virginia).  Win over Louisville means Rutgers is about right at #12.

13. Texas (10-3, ranked 2-1, TRES 1-1)

Late losses to Kansas State and Texas A&M really hurt the Longhorns.  They did succeed in beating Oklahoma and then-#17 Nebraska on the road however, so #13 is pretty close.

14. California (10-3, ranked 2-2, TRES 0-2)

That TRES record hurts.  But the big win in the bowl against A&M was an exclamation point.  Late losses to USC and Arizona should keep them from top 15 status however.  Should be swapped with BYU.

15. Arkansas (10-4, ranked 2-4, TRES 2-4)

Convincing win over Auburn on the road early in the year adds to their stock.  All 4 losses were to top 10 teams, and they won every other game they should have.  15 is about right.

16. BYU (11-2, ranked 1-1, TRES 1-1)

Excluding the 3-point loss in the opening game on the road against Arizona, BYU has had an excellent season.  BYU beat their unranked opponents by an average of over 28 points and beat a good TCU team on the road.   Their only knock is the lack of a headline win, which is why they are mired around #15 rather than knocking on the top 10 door.

17. Notre Dame (10-3, ranked 1-3, TRES 1-3)

This team did not belong in the BCS.  With the only win over a ranked team being against barely-ranked Penn State, and the thrashing handed them by USC, LSU, and Michigan, not to mention the 3 close calls against unranked teams, Notre Dame is lucky to be ranked at all.  Close calls still count as wins though so they’re still top 20.  But just barely.

18. Wake Forest (11-3, ranked 2-3, TRES 1-2)

Played poorly in ACC Championship win, played poorly in Orange Bowl loss, squandering opportunities time after time.  Feel good story was fun for a while, but at the end of the season, they were not the best team in the ACC.

19. Virginia Tech (10-3, ranked 2-2, TRES 1-2)

Came alive after 2 bad losses to Georgia Tech and Boston College.  Thrashed then top-10 Clemson and followed that with a 3 touchdown destruction of Wake.  Had to essentially play a road game in the Chick-fil-a Bowl.  Should at least be ahead of Wake.  

20. Boston College (10-3, ranked 3-1, TRES 1-1)

Every game BC lost was close, although Miami and NC State should have been beaten easily.  BC could be slightly higher, but USC seems to be the only team allowed to lose close games to unranked teams and not fall in the polls.

21. Oregon State (10-4, ranked 2-1, TRES 1-1)

Some bad losses mar the season and the Beavers barely scraped by on every win against a good team.  Should be slightly lower. USC win somewhat makes up for losses to Washington St and UCLA.  

22. TCU (11-2, ranked 1-0, TRES 0-1)

Bad losses to Utah and BYU in consecutive weeks keep them from climbing too far.  Still, with only two losses and one to a good BYU team, TCU should be slightly higher.

23. Georgia (9-4, ranked 3-2, TRES 2-2)

For those of us who remember the losses to Vandy and UK, and the desperate victories against then-winless Colorado, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State, it seems impossible to think UGA could be ranked.  Some impressive wins at the end of the season changed a lot of minds, however.

24. Penn State (9-4, ranked 1-4, TRES 1-4)

Didn’t beat anybody and got beaten by everybody that’s worth their salt.  A stretch to be ranked, but who else deserves a spot except perhaps Hawaii?

25. Tennessee (9-4, ranked 2-4, TRES 2-4)

Has been unimpressive at best all season.  Could be ranked except the final loss to an overrated(!) Penn State team.  Ouch.

Forget strength of conference, program prestige, and preseason rankings.  To get an accurate account of the season, you have to evaluate a team’s performance on the field, and that’s it.  So to conclude, here’s how the top 25 should have come out, in this writer’s humble opinion:

  1.  Florida
  2.  Ohio State
  3.  Boise State
  4.  Louisville
  5.  LSU
  6.  Wisconsin
  7.  USC
  8.  Oklahoma
  9.  Michigan
  10. West Virginia
  11. Auburn
  12. Rutgers
  13. Texas
  14. BYU
  15. Arkansas
  16. California
  17. Virginia Tech
  18. Wake Forest
  19. Boston College
  20. Notre Dame
  21. TCU
  22. Oregon State
  23. Hawaii
  24. Georgia
  25. Penn State

Here’s looking forward to a great 2007 season and let the debate begin.

8 replies on “Reviewing the AP Top 25”

lsu Let me just say this:

I was with a bunch of Gator diehards and alumns yesterday, and they all agreed that LSU was the best team in the country, bar none. Even after Florida’s win last night as a Gator fan, I still would have trouble voting Florida ahead of LSU.

That, said, good article. Thank god you didn’t try to overrate the Big 12. The Big 12 was god awful this year.

Derrick Williams of Penn State has openly said already they EXCPECT to win the National Championship next season, and nothing less.

I will try and not be a homer here, being a huge Penn State fan…

First off, good article and I totally agree with what you said about Penn State as much as it pains me to see. The games the lost could have very easily been won, all except the ND game and idk what happend there.

Trivia: The Penn State defense only gave up three touchdowns in the final 25 quarters it played this season.

Now, I honestly believe there is a huge question mark on the o-line again, but for those of you who don’t know let me give you a history lesson.

In 1993, an underachieving Penn State football squad was led by Kerry Collins. Collins had an awful year but the Lions made it to a New Years day bowl I believe? Either way, it was on that day that Collins showed some of the form that people had been looking for the entire season. He looked like a real good QB. 1994 comes along, Collins is by far the best QB in college football, he leads Penn State to the number one offense in the country and the Nittany Lions finish the season undefeated, but somehow #2, but that’s another story.

My point is, Anthoney Morelli looked very solid in the bowl win vs. Tennesse… nobody picked PSU to win because of the Vols “speed.” But they did, they pretty much dominated the entire game with much help from Tony Hunt. But Morelli completed passes he never came close to making all year, he SCRAMBLED out of the pocket once and showed he is agile after-all, and he even made a mistake that turned into something nice, whereas he porbably would have been picked during the regular season.

I think Ammo made a huge step, and there is obvious great talent of the squad. NC in ‘007? Might be pushing it, but I don’t think it is a stretch to say that JoePa and the Nittany Lions could be a dangerous team.

LSU over Florida????? So both teams win their BCS bowl games by the same score, 41-14. Florida does it on a neutral field against the consensus pre-bowl #1, LSU does it against the worst team to make a BCS Bowl this year in a virtual home game. Florida beat LSU by 13 back in October. Each team lost a tough game to Auburn.

How does that make it hard for you to rate Florida above LSU?

good overall analysis LSU shouldn’t be ranked so high just because they beat up on overrated Notre Dame. That’s not enough to overcome their 2 bad losses.

I think Boise could slide ahead of Ohio State when you consider both entered Bowl season unbeaten, one came out winners in arguably the most entertaining college football game in history, the other laid an egg in arguably the most overhyped game in history.

the pollsters are right I still believe Ohio State is the best team in the country.  Florida in my opinion didn’t win the game.  Ohio State LOST the game.  C’mon you can’t possibly think that Florida put up 41 points on the #2 scoring defense in the nation without some help.  And I certainly believe an offense that is in the top 5 scoring and total yards only scored 14 points and 79 yards total offense had to help Florida out a lot.  I could have had 3 sacks on Troy Smith the way the line played.  Your right Florida is the champion, but I think the reason Ohio State is #2 is because most of the media and coaches believe Ohio State would beat Florida on any given day and are still the best team in the country.

are you joking? You can say Ohio State lost the game, but Florida still won it. You don’t hold a team to 79 yards, not turn the ball over, force two turnovers, and save a kickoff return where there was a questionable  no-call holding, absolute destroy a team and not be able to say you won the game.

Ohio State didn’t even make that many mistakes. Florida was a faster team. That’s what it comes down to.

wow guys, guys, guys …
first of all, how in the world can Ohio State be # 1 after this loss? To add to that, half of their star players are leaving for the NFL.
I agree with LSU at #2, but I’m curious to see where Florida will turn out. . .Probably # 1.
Even though I like Boise State, (how can you not?) you cannot put them in the top 3 just because they beat up on Oklahoma after getting incredibly lucky….  Put them anywhere from #4 to #7

Notre Dame is overrated
Rutgers will only get better
watch out for USC next season !!!

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