The AP Poll was released Saturday morning with much anticipation and analysis.  By now college football and its title contenders have been discussed ad nauseam and we are all tired of talking about what is to come and ready for some actual action.  One of the conversations I had this week was with a Kentucky fan who claimed: “Clemson is always overrated in the pre-season.”  It got me thinking……since 2000 what programs have under-performed OR out-performed Pre-Season Expectations in terms of the Final AP Poll?

What I Thought I Would Find

To get started, I wanted to set MY expectations for what I would find so that I could evaluate my own bias.  I wrote out that I believed Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, and USC would likely be towards the top of the OVERRATED crowd and I thought that programs like Boise, Cincinnati, and Louisville would be members of the UNDERRATED group.  I also took note to evaluate the ‘West Coast Bias’ that gets talked about each season as the claim from out west is that voters tend to overlook teams in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones.

How I Calculated

To have an evaluation of bias, I thought it would be prudent to have a simple and unbiased way of calculating the results.  So with this, it’s as unscientific as it gets:  #1 in the Poll=1.  #25 in the Poll=25.  #NR in the Poll=26.  The scale goes from 1-26, if a team like USC in 2012 started the season #1 and finished unranked, their score was -25 (1-26= -25). If a team started outside of the Poll Pre-Season, like Texas A&M in 2012 and finished #6 in the Final Poll their score was 20 (26-6=20).  The final result would be the cumulative result of the 13 seasons that have been played since 2000.  It’s just math.

Most Pre-Season Over-rated since 2000

Florida State -89
Tennessee -63
USC -57
Oklahoma -56
Michigan -55
Nebraska -54
Florida -49
Texas -45
California -35
Virginia Tech -35
Miami (FL) -32
WVU -25
Wisconsin -24
Georgia -22
Clemson -21
Washington -20
LSU -19

Florida State is the most overrated program in the Pre-Season, by a WIDE margin.  There have been 13 seasons since the 2000 season and Florida State’s -89 deviation from Pre-Season Poll to Final Poll is the most drastic deviation of any team in the Pre-Season of Final Poll since 2000.  The Seminoles finished ahead of their pre-season ranking 3 of 13 seasons (2003, 2008, 2010).  FSU’s -89 represents an average over-ranking of -6.846 spots EACH SEASON.

Over-rated Conference Breakdown:  ACC: 4 (Florida State, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Miami),  SEC: 4 (Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, LSU), PAC: 3 (USC, CAL, Washington), Big 12: 3 (OU, Texas, WVU), Big 10: 3 (Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin).

Most Pre-Season Under-rated since 2000

Boise State 68
Stanford 46
Utah 46
TCU 41
Cincinnati 37
Boston College 35
Washington St 34
Oregon 31
Iowa 26
Oregon State 25
Alabama 24
Mississippi 23
BYU 22
Penn State 20
South Carolina 19
Auburn 17
Notre Dame 17
Texas Tech 17
Louisville 16
Miami (OH) 16
Nevada 15

Boise State is the most underrated program in the Pre-Season, also by a fairly wide margin.  Boise’s +68 represents a 5.2 spot under-ranking in the 13 seasons from the Pre-Season AP Poll to the Final AP Poll. The Broncos appeared in the Pre-Season Rankings just SIX times from 2000 to 2012, but appeared in the Final Rankings NINE times.

The Big surprises in this analysis were Alabama & Notre Dame.  The Tide actually have a +24 & the Fighting Irish were a +17.  Also, the Louisville Cardinals are almost in the “Most Accurately Ranked” category with a +16 thanks to their 2007 season where the Cards posted a -17 (their only negative season).

Under-rated Conference Breakdown:  PAC: 5 (Stanford, Utah, Washington St, Oregon, Oregon State), SEC: 4 (Alabama, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Auburn) American (AAC): 2 (Cincinnati, Louisville) Mountain West:  2 (Boise, Nevada), Big 12: 2 (TCU, Texas Tech), Big 10: 2 (Iowa, Penn State), Independent: 2 (BYU, Notre Dame) ACC: 1 (Boston College), MAC: 1 (Miami, OH)

The Most Accurately Ranked Programs since 2000

Georgia Tech -13
North Carolina -13
Purdue -13
Pittsburgh -12
Virginia -12
UCLA -11
Ohio State -9
Southern Miss -9
South Florida -7
Arizona St -6
Marshall -5
Texas A&M -4
Northwestern -1
Iowa St 1
Mississippi St 1
Colorado 2
Fresno St 2
Navy 2
Tulsa 2
Bowling Green 3
Central Michigan 3
Oklahoma St 3
Toledo 3
Vanderbilt 3
Hawai’i 4
Maryland 4
Missouri 4
Northern Illinois 4
Rutgers 4
Arkansas 5
Central Florida 5
Kansas St 5
Minnesota 5
NC State 5
San Jose State 5
Wake Forest 5
Kansas 6
Colorado St 7
Houston 8
Illinois 9
Utah State 10
Michigan State 11
Syracuse 12
Baylor 13

To be in the “Most Accurately Ranked” category  a team must have a +/- of 13 to -13 or an average season deviation of less than or equal to 1.

My Thoughts After Findings

I was VERY surprised to find Notre Dame in the under-rated category, but I think I might have been even more surprised at seeing Alabama in there as well.  Seeing USC & Michigan in the OVER-Rated category was not a shock, but I was surprised to see Florida State & Oklahoma so far up the list.

I wasn’t shocked at all by Boise being #1 in the UNDER-rated category, but I did find it interesting that the PAC actually has 5 programs who qualified for the UNDER-RATED cut-off as well.  Maybe there is something to this West-Coast bias thing.


If you want the spreadsheet that I used to calculate this I will gladly send it over (request via Twitter @UofLSheriff50).  It is too large to insert into a post, but I’ll give you an idea of what it would look like if I did insert it (unreadable).


2013 Preseason Top 25

Rank Team Average Deviation
1 Alabama 1.846
2 Ohio State -0.692
3 Oregon 2.385
4 Stanford 3.538
5 Georgia -1.692
6 South Carolina 1.462
7 Texas A&M -0.307
8 Clemson -1.615
9 Louisville 1.231
10 Florida -3.769
11 Florida State -6.846
12 LSU -1.462
13 Oklahoma St 0.231
14 Notre Dame 1.307
15 Texas -3.462
16 Oklahoma -4.308
17 Michigan -4.231
18 Nebraska -4.154
19 Boise State 5.231
20 TCU 3.154
21 UCLA -0.846
22 Northwestern -0.077
23 Wisconsin -1.846
24 USC -4.385
25 Oregon St 1.923
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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of

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