College Football

College Football Polls 2014: Comparing Week 2 AP and Coaches Polls

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2014

College Football Polls 2014: Comparing Week 2 AP and Coaches Polls

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    Rainier Ehrhardt/Associated Press

    The Week 2 editions of the Associated Press and Amway Coaches Polls dropped Tuesday afternoon, and despite closer-than-expected games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia, respectively, Florida State and Alabama remained the consensus No. 1 and No. 2 teams in America.

    There was plenty of movement behind the top two, however, especially as a result of Texas A&M's 52-28 win at South Carolina. The Aggies started outside the Top 20 of both polls, and the Gamecocks started inside the Top 10 of both polls, but now those spots have largely reversed.

    I say "largely," though, because they have not reversed entirely. In one poll, they have; in the other, they have not. But deciding what to do with Texas A&M was just one of many variations between the media poll and the Coaches poll, which always seem to deviate from each other in minor but notable ways.

    Let's look at how they contrast from start to finish.

Nos. 25-21

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press
     Poll2524232221
    APLouisvilleMissouriClemsonUNCS. Carolina
    CoachesTexasClemsonUNCMissouriS. Carolina

     

    The spots here are jumbled a bit—especially with Missouri, which the coaches rank two spots better than the media—but for the most part, there's a consensus on the Nos. 20-24 teams.

    The same can not be said for No. 25, where the coaches had Texas sneak into the caboose, while the media had Louisville.

    Oddly enough, the Longhorns actually dropped one spot in the Coaches poll after debuting at No. 24. They were passed by Missouri, which began the season unranked. But the Longhorns beat the heck out of a viable FBS team, North Texas, while Missouri let a decent FCS team, South Dakota, hang around into the second half.

    What gives with that?

    As for Louisville, the Cardinals broke into the AP poll after starting the year at No. 31, hoisted by a convincing win over Miami on Monday night. They are still down at No. 28 in the Coaches poll, looking up at No. 26 Oklahoma State and No. 27 Florida.

    Texas is No. 26 in the AP rankings, making it the consensus No. 25 team over Louisville on aggregate.

Nos. 20-16

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    USA TODAY Sports
    Poll 2019181716
    APKansas St.NebraskaWisconsinArizona St.Notre Dame
    CoachesKansas St.WisconsinNebraskaOle MissArizona St.

     

    Same as the previous section: There is a general consensus on four of the Nos. 20-16 teams in the country (Kansas State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Arizona State), but discord on No. 16 and No. 15.

    Notre Dame began the year ranked No. 17 in both polls, one spot ahead of Ole Miss in the AP and two spots ahead in the Coaches. It maintained that two-spot buffer in the latter, but in the former, media voters bumped Ole Miss past the Fighting Irish and up into the Top 15 after beating Boise State, 35-13, in Atlanta.

    Notre Dame could not have looked much more impressive in its opener against Rice, but the media deferred to strength of schedule. It did the same in keeping 0-1 Wisconsin (close loss to LSU) over 1-0 division rival Nebraska (blowout win over Florida Atlantic).

Nos. 15-11

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
     Poll1514131211
    APOle MissUSCStanfordLSU (1)UCLA 
    CoachesNotre DameUSCTexas A&MLSUUCLA

     

    See if you can spot the difference.

    AP voters knocked Stanford down from No. 11 to No. 13, but not through any fault of the Cardinal's own. Instead, once again, they deferred to strength of schedule, moving a pair of teams that beat ranked opponents (LSU and Texas A&M) over David Shaw's group.

    The coaches, who always adhere more strictly to their previous rankings, did not bump LSU or Texas A&M over Stanford, preferring to see how the Cardinal fare against USC this week before dropping them. Stanford shut out UC Davis, 45-0, in its season-opener.

    Also of note: LSU received a first-place vote from Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News. Wilner is well-known in polling communities for his, well, let's say "contrarian" method of ranking, which he elucidated (a little bit) with a tweet after the poll was released.

    "Only three teams in (the) AP Poll beat other teams in (the) AP Poll: LSU, A&M and [Georgia]," Wilner wrote. "They are (ranked) one, two and four on my ballot."

Nos. 10-6

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    David Goldman/Associated Press
     Poll109876
    APBaylorTexas A&M (2)Ohio St.Michigan St.Georgia (2)
    CoachesStanfordBaylorGeorgia (1)Ohio St.Michigan St.

     

    The biggest differences in this section—for the umpteenth time now—come down to merit over preseason ranking.

    Georgia got the one first-place vote in the Coaches poll, but for the most part, its dominant win over Clemson was not as impressive there as it was to the media. The Bulldogs received two first-place votes in the AP poll, leapfrogging Ohio State and Michigan State.

    The Buckeyes did not drop as far as many‚ myself included, thought they would after losing Braxton Miller for the year (which happened after the release of the preseason polls) and struggling to beat Navy in Week 1. However, even though Urban Meyer's team remains firmly in the Top 10, it dropped behind the Spartans in both polls.

    It is now, officially, the second favorite to win the Big Ten.

Nos. 5-1

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
    Poll 54321
    APAuburnOklahoma (2)Oregon (5)Alabama (1)Florida St. (46)
    CoachesAuburnOregon (2)Oklahoma (2)AlabamaFlorida St. (57)

     

    The order here did not really deviate.

    The Coaches poll had the exact same Top Five before the season, and the AP poll had the exact same Top Four and slid Auburn up from No. 6 to replace Ohio State (ostensibly because of Miller's injury).

    The biggest difference, then, would be the shifting of No. 1 votes away from Florida State.

    Once again being meritocratic, the AP voters took 11 first-place votes* away from the Seminoles, who started with 57 of 60. In the Coaches poll, the Seminoles went from having 56 first-place votes to 57.

    And, no: You didn't misread that. One poll took 11 first-place votes away from Florida State on the heels of its six-point win over Oklahoma State. The other poll gave it one extra.

    And that, folks, is a shining example of why you should never take poll results too seriously.

    At heart, they are sort of a farce.

     

    *Technically, Florida State has 11 fewer first-place votes than it did last week, but with Brent Axe's AP ballot missing, it could, theoretically, move to 10.

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