Louisville fans are used to the phenomenon of poll disrespect. Not being a ‘traditional power’ (I like to call them myths), the Cards regularly have to deal with bias in the Poll. In my pre-season article on Poll Bias in the AP we found that bias exists between voters from the pre-season to the end of the season poll. Louisville was in the under-rated group.
Being a media poll, the AP likes to confirm their theories on certain programs. The (2005 regular sesaon) 2006 BCS National Championship between USC & Texas at the Rose Bowl was dubbed “one of the greatest games ever played” in the days & weeks after the game. That game between the Trojans and Longhorns ended with a 41-38 score (79 points) and 1138 yards of combined total offense. Praise was heaped upon the game, winning the 2006 ESPY for ‘Best Game’ and given similar distinctions by Sports Illustrated, Scout.com, College Football News, and the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. TIME Magazine even joined in on the party calling the game “Best Sports Moment of 2006”.
11 months later in November 2006 #6 Louisville played #3 West Virginia at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in a Thursday Night ESPN match-up. Louisville won the game 44-34 (78 points) in a game that featured a combined 1008 yards of total offense between the Cards & Mountaineers. The aftermath of this game featuring two ‘non-traditional’ programs from the Big East, was much different than the “Game of the Year” 11 months earlier. William DuBose from Yahoo! Sports wrote: ” It is two years later, and the Big East still has not made any progress. My opinion might not be a popular one, but the Big East has changed little since it was coined the “Big Least” only a couple of years ago.” DuBose continued: ” What it turned into was a showing of two teams that play little defense and rely on gimmicks to get the job done on the offensive side of the ball. The Red Birds should, however, join their mountain topping brethren outside of the top ten. The showdown was a chance for the conference to showcase its best product. It did that, but what the nation saw was a brand of football that will not get the job done when the rubber meets the road. The two teams put up over 1000 yards of combined offense, but that was due more to the fact that neither of the defenses fielded men who could tackle.”
To this day, I still find it humorous that the same national media members that loved the 2006 Rose Bowl, hated the 2006 WVU vs. Louisville game because it lacked “Defense”. Especially considering that the game between the Cards and the Mountaineers featured fewer points and fewer yards than the “Best Game Ever”. Hypocrisy indeed.
From my experience, the national media isn’t interested in learning any lessons or correcting blatant oversights. Big-time programs like Texas, Alabama, USC, Ohio State, etc. draw huge audiences and it is much easier to vote those programs higher in the poll than it is to vote a ‘non-traditional’ school in the Top 10.
After Week 3 in the 2013 Season- LSU Jumped The Cards?
Louisville moved up to #6 in the Coaches Poll and remained at #7 in the AP after Week 3. The move from #7 to #6 was expected because Texas A&M was beaten by 7 at home vs. Alabama. The Aggies scored a late TD in the last minute to make the final score look better, but A&M was a play away from being down 14 in the end.
The Cards were leap-frogged by LSU who dismantled Kent State 45-13 at home in Tiger Stadium. Louisville beat their rival Kentucky on the road at Commonwealth stadium 27-13. LSU was favored by 37, Louisville was favored by 14. Louisville met expectations, LSU came up 5 points short.
AP Voters that chose to vote LSU over Louisville basically said that a MAC victory at home was more valuable than an SEC win on the road. I don’t understand that logic. Especially when Louisville beat Kentucky, who a year ago was 2-10 and took down Kent St. 47-14, a larger margin than LSU in Week 3.
Louisville didn’t look AWESOME beating Kentucky. They forced things, they weren’t patient, and they looked like they were trying to blow the Wildcats out. But that’s not football. Football is executing and like it or not….voters noticed. LSU is LSU. Louisville is Louisville. Whether or not LSU beat a lesser team, or whether Kentucky just isn’t highly regarded doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is that the margin of victory matters for Louisville in 2013. Voters & media will criticize the schedule, and while a team’s schedule will never determine the true ability of a team it is something people will influence focus on.
My Take On The Top 10
#1 Alabama: Is Deserving of the Top Spot. The program & Nick Saban is a finely-tuned machine. They have the athletes, they have the scheme, they don’t make mistakes. But they aren’t unbeatable. Bama is the type of team that sucks the life out of opponents, especially when teams are not patient & make mistakes. At this point Bama has beaten two very football programs in Virginia Tech & Texas A&M.
#2 Oregon: Has Shown no drop off since Chip Kelly departed. Marcus Mariota is extremely talented and I don’t see the Ducks being challenged until October 12th at the earliest vs. Washington. Two convincing wins over Virginia and Tennessee won’t get an argument from me for the #2 spot.
#3/ #4 AP Ohio State: To me is fraudulent. People say Louisville hasn’t played anyone…….Ohio State hasn’t played anyone. Buffalo (1-2) 40-20, San Diego State (0-2) 42-7, and California (1-2). None of these teams has a win over a FBS school. San Diego State lost to Eastern Illinois, Cal beat Portland State by just 7, and Buffalo needed 5 Overtimes to beat Stony Brook 26-23. Next week the Buckeyes take on the hefty task of FCS Florida A&M. Ohio State will be tested September 28th vs. Wisconsin.
#3/#4 Coaches Clemson: I was really impressed with the Tigers win over Geo,rgia in Week 1. Who wasn’t? Clemson had their FCS week in Week 2, and a BYE in Week 3. Tajh Boyd & Sammy Watkins are the real deal, and they will get a decent test this week against NC State. In my opinion Clemson has done more to claim #3 (maybe #2) than Ohio State.
#5 Stanford: The Cardinal had a BYE in Week 1 and then they opened with a local school in San Jose State who went 11-2 in 2012. In Week 3, Stanford made the trek across the country to West Point, NY to play Army. Stanford won 34-20. Having been to West Point for a game, I can empathize with getting caught up in the surrounding area and having a lot of respect for the academy. I really feel like Stanford should be ahead of Ohio State and ranked #4.
#6/#7 Coaches LSU: Is another team that should be in front of Ohio State. LSU teams are always tough on defense, built around fantastic special teams and a strong running game. QB play and the passing game? That’s another story. Right now a 10-point win over TCU is more than a lot of programs can claim at the moment. My issue with LSU jumping Louisville isn’t about LSU’s worthiness….but rather on the merits of what happened in Week 3. Voters couldn’t feel worse about Louisville and better about LSU in Week 3 based on anything on the field. To me, it is a wash. Week 5 match-up with Georgia is one to watch next.
#6/#7 AP Louisville: The unbiased part of me really likes what the Cards have done on defense in 2013. The first team defense is yet to give up a TD, and they’ve done a great job of positioning the offense. The offense vs. UK really pressed more than we’ve seen in long time. The Cards went outside of their personality, and I think they learned their lesson. Everyone wants to criticize the schedule, and you won’t get an argument from me. But when Georgia, WVU, TCU, San Diego St. and Boise State, come off the Cards’ schedule & then Louisville goes and wins the Sugar Bowl over Florida, it’s hard to find programs who will be willing to play last minute. I always thought crowning a national champion was about the best team? Not the best schedule, school colors, band, tradition. Just the best football team.
#8 Florida State: Very untested, but had a nice showcase against Pitt in the opening game of the season 41-13 on the road. Respectable. Pitt isn’t a program that has any consistency of late and they looked like it on the field against the Seminoles. Maybe that is FSU. Next week we get to learn nothing as Florida State takes on Bethune-Cookman. Next challnege is October 19th at Clemson.
#9/ #10 Coaches Georgia: When a school goes on the road and plays a Top 10 school in the opening week of college football, they get my respect. UGA went down in an extremely good game against the Clemson Tigers 38-35, then the next week knocked off a Top 10 ranked South Carolina team. The Bulldogs earned their week off in Week 3 & get North Texas before hosting LSU in Week 5. If the Bulldogs can store up some emotional capital I like them to beat LSU.
#9/#10 AP Texas A&M: Great offense. Soft defense. It’s a problem. But the Aggies have big gaps in between games that can actually pose a challenge for them. A&M losing at home by 7 (late TD made it 7 instead of 14) pretty much eliminates the Aggies from the national championship. But you never know. A&M still has Arkansas, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, and LSU as potential losses on the schedule.