College Football Rankings: How the Polls Should Look For Week 7
The biggest problem with the college football polling system is that it forces people to make emotional decisions.
Obviously, when there is no playoff system and records do not decide who goes forward, the human element is prone to error. As far as the polls are concerned now, it seems like the AP voters are so afraid of creating those errors, they refuse to shake the polls up, even when there are clear reasons to do so.
This week, following Alabama's loss, Ohio State moved up to the No. 1 slot. Of the five or six undefeated teams crowding the top of the polls currently, they probably have the least reason to claim supremacy.
At some point, voters are going to have to stop having their cake and eating it too. They refuse to vote Boise State higher because the Broncos play a weak schedule (they'll say outside of a BCS conference, but they mean weak schedule). Likewise, Ohio State this year is playing a weak schedule.
The voting system should be based on the body of work a team has put together up to that point in the season. There is no reason to cling to the preseason rankings; they come out before any football is played and before anyone has a chance to see how good teams actually are.
Likewise, the other factor voters should be considering in the rankings is the likelihood that a team ranked at No. 1 or No. 2 in the polls will lose a game (and get knocked out of that position). The higher the probability of that, the better there claim is to poll supremacy in this unfair system.
So ultimately, total strength of schedule should be determining the rankings in the polls.
Because of that, and because of the performances of teams thus far, the polls should look somewhat different:
The Pac-10 is the strongest conference in the country this year, and the Ducks have already knocked off a fierce Stanford team (as well as Tennessee and Arizona State). But in order to maintain a No. 1 spot, they'll still have to beat UCLA, USC, Washington, Cal, Arizona, and Oregon State.
That is the hardest remaining schedule in the country, as all of those teams have been shockingly good. UCLA beat Texas, USC is USC, Washington beat USC, Cal beat UCLA, Arizona beat Iowa, and Oregon State is a huge rivalry game (and the Beavers have shown talent against both Boise State and TCU).
Oregon's position as current No. 1 should be undisputed.
OU beat Florida State and Air Force, both of whom are ranked, and knocked their chief rival in Texas out of the polls. On top of that, if they are going to make it down the road, they'll have to squeak past a dominant Nebraska team in what might be the last installment of a legendary Big 8 rivalry.
They've done more than all of the other teams besides Oregon, and they have more to face than any of them as well.
They beat South Carolina (that says a heck of a lot to most people). Also, if they are going to remain toward the top, they'll have to beat LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas. While the SEC is only the second toughest conference in the nation this year, Auburn is its biggest representative. If they can run that table, they have a huge claim to the national title (just they're third in strength of schedule).
4. Ohio State
They beat Miami (which doesn't look so impressive now). Also, they beat Illinois, but that team is searching for direction.
The problem is Ohio State doesn't really play anyone else besides Michigan at the end of the year. They shouldn't be rewarded with the No. 1 slot when they have a weak schedule. That's an undeserved ticket to ride to the national championship game.
No one wants to see controversy come out of this, but it undoubtedly will if Ohio State gets in over an undefeated version of any of the teams I have above them.
They don't have the out of conference strength of Oklahoma, but a strong win over Washington is impressive. The Big 12 North isn't so scary, but they still have to take on Texas and Oklahoma State, and then probably Oklahoma towards the end of the year in the Big 12 title game. If Nebraska wins that, they'll have a claim to the big dance. Unfortunately, I can't justify them over Auburn or Ohio State.
If either of those teams go undefeated with their schedules, they have the better claim.
6. Boise State
They beat Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech is bad. Their win over Oregon State is far more impressive, but at the end of the season that is likely all they will have.
They beat Oregon State. Hey TCU, why didn't you schedule an impostor like Virginia Tech? That was your fault. Boise State has a better claim than you here.
8-25, a.k.a. The Field
There are a lot of other teams in college football. Unfortunately for them, they won't be one of the two playing for the national title. Therefore, I am not bothering to rank them.
However, based on the most logical system that forces teams to prove their position in the polls, this is how things would rank out.
So why can't the AP voters rank that way?
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