BCS Rankings 2011: 5 Surprising Differences in the AP, USA Today Polls

Sean LansingContributor IOctober 16, 2011

BCS Rankings 2011: 5 Surprising Differences in the AP, USA Today Polls

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    Sometimes, the only thing more confusing than the BCS rankings are the discrepancies between the AP and USA Today polls. 

    We know that coaches don't get to watch every game, but do some of the writers with a ballot see any at all?

    On the flip side, are those coaches watching highlights, scanning box scores or simply filling out a piece of paper? 

    Here are five of the most surprising differences in this week's rankings. 

The Top Spot

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    How can a team be first in one poll and third in the other?

    Being one and two makes some sense, but there is no reason that the top team in the coaches' eyes should be third in the minds of writers. 

    None of this will matter once LSU plays Alabama and Oklahoma plays Oklahoma State, but that doesn't make it any less maddening. 

Stanford/Boise Flip

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    Stanford and Boise State are mirror images in the polls.

    In the AP, Stanford is seven and Boise State is five. In the USA Today poll, it's vice versa. 

    It's anybody's guess why the writers find the Broncos more appealing when the coaches favor the Cardinal. 

Kansas State

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    The AP has K-State inching towards the Top 10 at No. 12.

    The coaches have the unbeaten Wildcats at No. 16, with seven one-loss teams ahead of them.

    If Bill Snyder's team can beat the Sooners in late October, both numbers will change dramatically. 

Penn State

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    Even though the Nittany Lions are 6-1, they haven't been overly impressive.

    Because of their struggles, it's not surprising that they are only ranked in the USA Today poll.

    What is surprising, however, is that fellow one-loss Big Ten teams Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State are all ranked in the AP poll even though PSU's loss came at the hands of BCS front-runner Alabama. 

First Place Votes

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    Between the two polls, first place votes are scattered everywhere. 

    The Sooners garnered 31 first place votes to claim the top spot in the USA Today poll, versus just six in the AP rankings. 

    LSU, which holds the top spot in the AP poll, has 41 first place votes from the writers and just 15 from the coaches.

    About the only thing consistent between the two is Alabama—12 in USA Today poll; 11 in AP.