BCS Rankings: Man v. Machine Who's No. 1?

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BCS Rankings: Man v. Machine Who's No. 1?

Icon Sports MediaIn the latest round of college football rankings, many glaring differences have emerged between the human voters and the computers.

Which teams are helped by their name recognition among pollsters—and which have the backing of the computers?

 

Let's take a look... 

South Florida

After their close road loss to a good Rutgers team, USF dropped to 12th in both human polls. The computers, accounting for the Bulls' strength of schedule, ranked them 5th.

USC

USC has moved back into the Top 10 in the human polls (7th/8th). The computers are punishing the Trojans for the strength (or should I say weakness) of their schedule—leaving them at 21.

Virginia

The 7-1 Cavs have now put the ACC on notice.  The pollsters have them at 18th/20th, but the computers like them at 6th—ranked even higher than fellow ACC member Virginia Tech.

Hawaii

The voters have allowed Hawaii to sneak higher and higher in the polls each week as the Warriors have kept winning. After their off week, Hawaii has peaked at 14.  The computers have absolutely crushed Hawaii for having one of the weakest schedules in the country—they're unranked by the machines.

Texas

Texas' two losses and lack of a quality win have also kept them unranked by the computers, despite their place at 16th in the human polls.  Perhaps there's no better example of the name on the jersey preceding the resume of the team.

Wake Forest

If Texas has been helped the most by name recognition, Wake has been hurt the most. Even with five straight wins to their credit, Wake has seen their human ranking DROP after victories over Florida State and Navy (30th/35th).  The computers like the Deacons' strength of schedule, putting them 18th, ahead of USC and Texas.

This list is certainly not comprehensive, but it shows the vast differences of opinion between the humans and the machines. 

My point isn't to show that one is more accurate than the other—it's to show that the situation is vastly unpredictable.

Here are the human Top 10 and the computer Top 10 side by side:

Rank                Human                    Computer

1.                    Ohio State                Boston College

2.                    Boston College          LSU

3.                    LSU                         Ohio State 

4.                    Oklahoma                 Arizona State

5.                    Oregon                    South Florida

6.                    West Virginia            Virginia

7.                    USC                         Kansas 

8.                    Arizona State            Virginia Tech

9.                    Virginia Tech             Oregon

10.                  Florida                      West Virginia/Florida

Only Florida sits in the same spot in both sets of rankings. The computers' emphasis on strength of schedule helps a lot of teams that aren't traditional powers—to say nothing of LSU.

USC may be the team most victimized by the computers. With weak wins over Nebraska and Notre Dame, the Trojans' strength of schedule is pretty weak—through no fault of their own.

In the coming weeks, the computer rankings are going to become more volatile as SOS changes, while the voters will follow their usual routine of punishing later losses more than early ones.  

Given the way the season has gone, and with more clashes between top teams, it's safe to say that these rankings will shift quite a bit in the coming weeks. 

Who will end up on top?  

Well, I guess that depends on who you ask.

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