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Alabama, Florida State Tie in BCS Computer Rankings Shows Flaws of Human Polls

Nov 16, 2013; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (5) signals an audible during the first half against the Syracuse Orange at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
Perry KostidakisContributor INovember 9, 2016

Two cakes sit before you, and both look equally delicious. 

The one on your left is the one most recommended to you by everybody, since it is consistently the greatest one. This year it hasn't been AS delicious, but still pretty darn good. 

Now, on your right, that's a heck of a cake. It used to be average and definitely has taken a couple of years to perfect, but now, sweet lordy your mouth is watering at the sight of it. Even better, the nutritional analysis of the cake has determined that if it isn't better than the other cake, then it's definitely equal. 

So what do you do? Do you take the familiar cake or the one that by all means looks better? 

Luckily, to continue this cake metaphor, you'll get to have your cake and eat it too come January, so long as FSU and Alabama continue their winning ways. It does, however, bring up a point in regards to the actual polls. 

Is Alabama ranked No. 1 because it has shown that it is the best team in college football this year, or in years past?

Though the human polls are near-unanimous in their decision to place the Crimson Tide at the top, computer polls are more divided in their selections, with a good chunk of them giving the title of No. 1 to none other than Florida State. 

BCS Standings
AVGBCSCoachesHarrisComputer Ranking (AVG)A&HRBCMKMJSPW
Alabama.99141111112122
Florida State.96612221221211
ESPN

You can see from the latest edition of the BCS standings that the computers are more than willing to place the Seminoles in first, tied with Alabama. This has happened all season, with the computers occasionally favoring the Seminoles in their selections. 

In the S&P+ rankings, which, according to footballoutsiders.com, "are a college football ratings system derived from the play-by-play and drive data of all 800+ of a season's FBS college football games (and 140,000+ plays)," FSU has a comfortable lead over Alabama, showing its advantage over 'Bama in several advanced metric categories. 

S/P+ Rankings
S&P+Off. S&P+Play Eff.Drive Eff.Def. S&P+Play Eff.Drive Eff.
1. Florida State317.3159.3153.0165.6158137.6178.3
3. Alabama285125.8123.4128.1159.2136.6181.8
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/ncaa

Florida State ranks first, while Alabama toils at No. 3 behind Baylor. But then why is FSU looked at as second best while, by every unbiased means, it has a serious case for No. 1?

The argument of "eye test" can't hold true, as FSU has dominated every opponent this year and Alabama has shown flashes of weakness, so it's obvious that until Alabama loses a game, it will be the best team in the country. 

Should this be a big deal? Not particularly, seeing as it doesn't get in the way of a Florida State national championship berth. The only time being ranked first over second matters is when the final polls are released. So long as you're in the top two when the BCS Selection Show comes on, you're just fine. 

But to rank a team first when every other indication points towards another team is an interesting decision, and it will be interesting to see what becomes of it. 

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