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 four questions that jumped out at us from this week’s Top 25, focusing especially on the coaches’ poll.
1. Why are the Aggies only No. 8?
So far in 2014, the Texas A&M Aggies have posted a convincing 52-28 win at South Carolina (which was ranked in the top ten at the time) and a 73-3 beatdown of overmatched Lamar. In return for their lopsided victories, the Aggies have climbed to No. 8 — Kevin Sumlin’s squad started the year ranked twelve spots lower — but that still seems a little low.
Go back and read that previous paragraph one more time. Texas A&M won by seventy points in its most recent game. Seventy. It doesn’t seem right that the Aggies are still only the fourth highest-ranked team in their own conference (behind Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia). So when/if one of those schools dominates a program like the Steve Spurrier-led Gamecocks (who had won 18 in a row in Columbia) in a true road game, let’s talk.
Key stat: Average margin of victory for the SEC’s top-ten teams after two weeks of the season: No. 2 Alabama with 15.5 points per game, No. 5 Auburn with 35 points per game, No. 6 Georgia with 24 points per game, No. 8 Texas A&M with 47 points per game, No. 9 LSU with 30 points per game.
2. Is UCLA better than Ole Miss?
Speaking of SEC schools that appear to be underrated, Ole Miss checks in at No. 15 after a 35-13 neutral-site win over Boise State and a 41-3 blowout of conference foe Vanderbilt. Both wins are impressive, the first because of the traditional quality of the opponent and the second because of the margin in a league game.
We can’t help but glance up a bit higher in the poll and see No. 12 UCLA, whose resume — admittedly at this early point in the season — doesn’t seem to be in the same class: one-score wins over Virginia and Memphis.
Fast forward two or three months, and UCLA may very well be the better team — only time will tell — but as of Week 3, Ole Miss deserves better than three spots below the Bruins.
Key stat: Ole Miss’s 38-point win at Vandy was the up-and-coming Rebels’ biggest margin of victory in a conference game since 2008.
3. Ohio State over Virginia Tech? For real?
This one is by far the most baffling part of the Week 3 coaches poll. In Week 2, Virginia Tech went on the road in front of the largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history and beat the then-No. 7 Buckeyes by two touchdowns. The next day, the coaches poll ranked Virginia Tech nineteenth in the country…and Ohio State eighteenth.
Where we come from, when two teams with the same record meet on a neutral field and one wins convincingly, the victor deserves to be considered the better team. When it’s a hostile environment instead, the equation is even more slanted. So how in the world are the Hokies still looking up at the Buckeyes in the rankings?
Key stat: Virginia Tech, 31, Ohio State, 17. In Columbus. There’s really nothing else to say.
4. Where are BYU and Louisville?
The absence of the BYU Cougars and Louisville Cardinals from the most recent coaches’ poll was also something of a surprise. BYU boasts a 35-10 victory over UConn and a 41-7 road spanking of the Texas Longhorns, with the latter team being part of the Top 25 at the time. Louisville beat the Miami Hurricanes 31-13 to kick off the Cardinals’ second Bobby Petrino era, and followed that up with a 66-21 laugher over Murray State.
Both schools seem like more worthy candidates for the Top 25 than, say, a North Carolina team that escaped San Diego State 31-27, a Kansas State club that only beat Iowa State by four, a Nebraska squad that needed a final-minute touchdown to escape McNeese State, or a Clemson team with a 24-point loss to its (dis)credit.
We would argue that the AP poll got it right, tabbing Louisville at No. 21 and BYU at No. 25 to the exclusion of the Tar Heels and Cornhuskers. But, when the coaches can’t figure out that 2-0 Virginia Tech deserves to be ranked ahead of 1-1 Ohio State after beating them head-to-head in Ohio, nothing really surprises us at this point.
Key stat: In Texas coach Charlie Strong’s first year replacing Mack Brown, his 34-point defeat at the hands of BYU is a worse home loss than his predecessor ever suffered in Austin.