Blog Entry

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

Posted on: December 20, 2010 7:42 am
Edited on: December 24, 2010 11:29 am

By taking a look at the AP poll from 2005-now, we can look at the five most overrated and underrated teams when it comes to preseason polls. Some schools continue to be ranked high in the preseason AP poll, only to finish nowhere near where they started.

12/24/10 Edit:  Adding additional links to the entire list since some people didn't see it at the end and didn't understand how the rankings were calculated.  Click the link for the full list:   THE OVERRATED – UNDERRATED LIST.

Five Most Overrated Teams

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners are the most overrated team over the last five years, and as you might expect, it comes from having a strong, long-term reputation and high expectations.  It was their 2009 season that cemented their place at the top.  They started 2009 at No. 3 and dropped completely out of the polls by season’s end.  They were overrated four of the last five years, but two of those (2008 and 2006) were very minor, one-spot changes.   On the other hand, 2005 was another year of unmet expectations with the Sooners dropping from No. 7 in the preseason to No. 22 in the final.  In the last five preseasons, Oklahoma has never been underestimated. 

2010 Prognosis:  The Sooners started the 2010 preseason ranked No. 7, which was the largest jump for an unranked team in the 2009 final poll.  In the 2010 pre-bowl poll, Oklahoma is ranked No. 9.  Not bad work by the voters, but the Sooners will need to win their bowl game to avoid staying on the list another year.

2. California: 
 Voters want to keep believing in Cal.  This is another team that hasn’t been under-ranked in the last five years.  In 2008 they started the season unranked and ended there.  Every other season was a disappointment.  The worst examples are 2009 and 2007, where the Golden Bears started the season at No. 12 and finished unranked.

2010 Prognosis:  The Golden Bears started 2010 the same way they ended:  unranked.  So they won’t be making too big of a jump in either direction on the list.  However, Oklahoma will likely drop at least one spot, and California could slide into the top spot on the overrated list.

3. Florida State: The Seminoles hold the AP record for the most consecutive top-five finishes (1987 – 2000).  While they haven’t touched the top five in the last five years, it seems the voters still give the Seminoles the benefit of the doubt.  They were only under-ranked once (2006) when they started unranked and finished No. 21.  The other four years, FSU was overrated.  The worst case was 2006, when they dropped from No. 11 in the preseason to unranked in the end. 

2010 Prognosis:  FSU was ranked No. 20 in the preseason and currently sit at No. 23.  Like Oklahoma, the Seminoles must win their bowl game to start working their way off this list.

4. Tennessee: The Volunteers have lost some respect over the last two years.  They finished unranked in 2008, and they started and finished unranked in 2009.  However, in 2005, they plummeted all the way from No. 3 in the preseason to unranked by season’s end.  This 23-place drop is tied with Oklahoma’s 2009 drop for the largest over the last five years.  In 2005 they effectively swapped places with Penn State, who went from unranked to No. 3 in the final poll.

2010 Prognosis:  Tennessee received absolutely no votes in the current poll or the preseason poll.  Even Middle Tennessee received some votes in the preseason poll.  However, with their 2005 results getting dropped from the calculation next year, the Volunteers are going to escape this list.

5. Michigan: The last five years haven’t been kind to the storied program of Michigan.  They started and finished 2008 and 2009 unranked.  In 2006 they actually improved from No. 14 to No. 8 by the end of the season, but they made this list mostly because of the 2007 and 2005 seasons.  The Wolverines dropped from No. 5 to No. 18, and No. 4 to unranked, respectively. 

2010 Prognosis:  Michigan was making a run up the polls earlier in the season, but it didn’t last.  The Wolverines started and ended the season unranked.  However, they should still get bumped off this list next year by a couple of new entries:  Southern Cal and Texas.  The Trojans dropped from No. 14 in the preseason to unranked, and the Longhorns dropped from No. 5 to unranked.  With no chance to improve their rankings (being bowl ineligible), they will enter next year’s list for sure.

12/24/10 Edit:  Adding additional links to the entire list since some people didn't see it at the end and didn't understand how the rankings were calculated.  Click the link for the full list:   THE OVERRATED – UNDERRATED LIST.

Five Most Underrated Teams

1. TCU: TCU is exactly the type of team you would expect to be the most underrated.  They are a Mountain West school that has been getting the job done on the field for years, but rarely getting respect in the preseason poll.  Three really good years made them the under-appreciation champion.  In 2005, then went from unranked in the preseason to No. 11 in the final poll.   In 2008, they went from unranked to No 7, and in 2009 they climbed from No. 17 to No. 6.  

2010 Prognosis:  No. 6 is where the Horned Frogs started the 2010 season. So while their lack of respect may finally be coming to an end, they currently sit at No. 3 and will likely continue to remain on the Underrated list next year (though not at No. 1).  Hopefully TCU’s pending move to the Big East will help them to continue building their credibility.

2. Alabama:  The Crimson Tide are the type of team you wouldn’t expect to find high on the underrated list.  Alabama is a historical national power oozing with respect.  However, they were in a serious slump before Nick Saban took over in 2007 and nobody expected he could turn the Tide (so to speak) so quickly.  2008 and 2009 were great years for Alabama, but they also had an unexpectedly good year in 2005, going from unranked to No. 8.  In 2008, they went from No 24 to No. 6, and had a very modest climb in 2009 from No. 5 to No. 1.  Of course, they couldn’t go any higher that year. 

2010 Prognosis:  With a preseason ranking of No. 1 in 2010, the Crimson Tide can only drop on the list next year.  Under Saban, we predict Alabama won’t be climbing the underrated list any time soon.  In fact, Alabama most likely drops off the list completely next year.

3. Cincinnati:
 The Bearcats have at least one thing in common with the Crimson Tide; they haven’t been overrated once in the last five years.  Cincinnati has started each of the last three seasons unranked.  However, they ended 2007 and 2008 at No. 17, and 2009 at No. 8 and Big East Champion.

2010 Prognosis:  While Cincinnati wasn’t ranked in the preseason, they still didn’t live up to expectations.  They just missed the preseason poll at No. 26, but the Bearcats ended 2010 with zero votes and bowl ineligible at 4-8.  So, due to lowered expectations in 2010 (partly due to losing their coach to Notre Dame), Cincinnati will certainly be on the underrated list for another year.

4. Boise State:  Boise State may be who most fans think of when they think of underrated teams.  The Broncos are definitely in the mix.  However, they don’t get top honors because they have also been overrated two times – in 2005 and 2007 the voters ranked them in the preseason, but they fell out of the rankings by season’s end.  The other three years, Boise State climbed.  They climbed as high as No. 4 in 2009.  

2010 Prognosis:  The Broncos may have finally broken through to mainstream respectability.  The start of the 2010 season had them ranked No. 3, and as a bonus, they announced their move from the WAC to the Mountain West.  They currently sit at No. 10, and even though they were overrated this year, they will likely remain high on the 5-year underrated list.

5. Oregon: This is another well-respected team that seems like an odd-duck on this list.   Yet, these Ducks haven’t been getting the respect they deserve lately.  In 2005 and 2007, they started out unranked, but didn’t end that way.  In 2008, they rose from No. 21 to No. 10, and in 2009 they climbed five spots from No. 16 to No. 11. 

2010 Prognosis:  The Ducks are currently No. 2 in the AP Poll with a chance to become No. 1 with a victory in the BCS Championship Game against Auburn.  Even so, there are a few teams on the cusp of the list that could knock them off next year if the Ducks don’t win.

12/24/10 Edit:  Adding additional links to the entire list since some people didn't see it at the end and didn't understand how the rankings were calculated.  Click the link for the full list:   THE OVERRATED – UNDERRATED LIST.

Methodology used a simple method for determining overrating and underrating in the AP Poll.

An overrated team is one whose final poll ranking is worse than its preseason ranking.  An underrated team is one whose final poll ranking is better than its preseason ranking.  Different results could be obtained by tracking every week individually during the season.  "Final poll" means the poll released after the bowl games.

The last five years for this list are the 2005 – 2009 seasons, inclusive.

We only counted teams listed in the top 25 during those years (53 teams in total).  When a team isn’t listed in the top 25, it is considered unranked and given a value of 26.  We could have ranked teams further by counting all teams that received votes, and that certainly would have changed the results.  For example, a team could have dropped to a theoretical No. 27 (receiving 50 votes), which would be better than a theoretical No. 49 (receiving one vote).  However, for simplicity’s sake, anything beyond 25 is unranked.  This also entirely weeds out teams typically considered unranked that qualify for the list by jumping from No. 49 to No. 26 (or vice-versa) in a given year.

Each team’s final ranking is subtracted from its preseason ranking to determine its over/under-rating for each year.  Then all five years are added together to determine each team’s “Points” and place on the list.  Ties are broken by taking into account the number of years being overrated vs. underrated.

Again, a more complex formula could be used and could certainly change the results, but we’re keeping it simple and straight-forward. 
You can find the entire list of teams sorted from most overrated to most underrated here: 


Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: December 21, 2010 4:15 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

Granted this is meant to be the SIMPLE calculation using only beginning and ending standing but you almost have to throw in vairables or its flawed from the start.  Would Oklahoma have ended anywhere as "overrated" as they did 2009 without the rash of season ending injuries they endured?  I highly doubt it.  To call a team overrated and not qualifiy it is simply to simple.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: December 21, 2010 4:04 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

Horrible article. OU overrated in 2009. I guess Sam Bradford (#1 pick on the draft) and Jermaine Gresham getting hurt at the start of the season had nothing to do with that. The blogger didn't even mention the injuries.

To quote Keyshawn Johnson....Come On, Man!!!  Every one of the overrated top 10 on the list had at least one big (double digit) negative season.  Injuries are a part of the game.  You think injuries didn't hurt any other schools?  I'll grant you that those were particularly devastating, but even if you factor that season out completely, Oklahoma would still finish at a lousy #7 on this overrated list.

Since: Oct 9, 2009
Posted on: December 21, 2010 4:00 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

You have to be kidding me.  Do you even know what tOSU's record is in bowl games....LET ALONE BCS BOWL GAMES. Sice the BCS started we do have a winning record idiot.  You sound like the same people who just talk about what they here and dont know the facts.  Try reading up on teams before you open your big mouth and talk about things you know nothing about.

Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: December 21, 2010 3:44 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

So much of where you finish is determined by where you start, because you aren't going to play a majority of the teams in the top 10.  We need a 6 team playoff, and Idon't know why it hasn't been done but we have 6 weeks from T-giving until when these Bowl games finish

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: December 21, 2010 3:34 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

Overrated: reading this wacky article.
Underrated: not reading it.

Since: Nov 2, 2006
Posted on: December 21, 2010 3:10 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

CBS has and always will be a huge Bama fan. How in the world you can call them underrated is unbelievable!

Auburn is by far the one that is underrated.Remember 2004 we should have gotten a chance to play for the NCC but we didn't. JOEPA was so upset he stopped voting in the coaches poll for a while in protest because of it. But, when is the last time you saw Bama locked out of anything? Their always ranked. Even before Saban they where given the benefit of the doubt .... just because of who they are. They have a sense of entitlement.Surprised

If you lived in Alabama with those redneck, pompous,never attended a game, rammer jammers you would understand! So go back and evaluate OK?!

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: December 21, 2010 2:57 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

The facts remain is this: OSU is 0-9 in Bowl games (since the start of the BCS system) against SEC teams.

DiTitaniumBlade, what does OSU's bowl record vs the SEC have to do with this overrated / underrated list?  This list only covers the last 5 seasons.  Only two of those bowl games were during the past 5 seasons, and OSU is still not on the overrated list despite those losses.

To set the record straight, only 4 of those bowl losses to SEC teams have come during the BCS era (which started with the 1998 season).  Of the 9 losses, 5 came under the Cooper era.  One went back to the Woody Hayes / Bear Bryant era (1977 season).  Tressel is 0-3 vs the SEC in bowls, the first being in his first year at OSU.  As such, it was with Cooper's players.  One of which was a boneheaded QB who got greedy and cost OSU the win (tie game in last 2 minutes, OSU driving and closing in on FG position, QB forced a deep ball into double coverage resulting in a pick that was returned to OSU's 20 to set up game winning FG for S Carolina). 

But I digress. The main point is OSU is actually 6-5 in all bowl games since the BCS began in 1998, not 0-9.  OSU is 0-9 vs SEC teams in bowls, but only 4 of those have come in the BCS era.

Since: Dec 21, 2010
Posted on: December 21, 2010 2:50 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

Horrible article. OU overrated in 2009. I guess Sam Bradford (#1 pick on the draft) and Jermaine Gresham getting hurt at the start of the season had nothing to do with that. The blogger didn't even mention the injuries. Totally irresponsible writing! I guess it is true that it is hard to verify the truth on blogs. I now know why! Yes, I'm an OU fan. Here's wishing that the pollsters would start OU at #25 every year, so we could officially become the most underrated!

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: December 21, 2010 2:46 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

You make very good points overall, but some of your facts are a bit off.  Keep in mind that the BCS began at the end of the 1998 season.  OSU's Sugar Bowl loss to Florida St was on 1/1/98, which was the last of the pre-BCS era bowl seasons.  I don't care if you count this, but if you do, you should also include OSU's Rose Bowl victory over Arizona St.  Better yet, let's forget about both because they happened before the BCS era began.  So in actuality, OSU is 6-5 in (all) bowls since the BCS began in 1998. 

Since the BCS era began as the culmination of the 1998 season, Ohio St is 5-3 in BCS bowls.  No other school has been to as many BCS Bowls as Ohio St...8 in 12 years, soon to be 9 in 13 years.  These are minor points, but I just wanted to set the record straight.

You are absolutely right about DiTitaniumBlade being off the mark with his comment, but I will address that in my next post.

Since: Oct 26, 2007
Posted on: December 21, 2010 2:42 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

The original article contained multiple links to the entire list of teams, but only one link made it into the final (at the very end).  So for those unhappy with the list, please see the link:   .

This list was not put together with an agenda or bias... just math.  Also for those that couldn't make it to the end of the article, it covers the 2005 - 2009 seasons.  The rankings will change after the bowl games, and the 2010 prognosis was done (mathematically) with that taken into account (with some margin to account for either a win or a loss in the bowls).  However, the current list is based on 2005 - 2009.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or