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: Feb 24, 2007
Posted on: December 21, 2010 9:40 am

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

2010: Won Big XII Conference.

2009: Ravaged by injuries, yet they produce three of the top 4 picks in the draft? Beat one of this year Top 5 teams in a bowl. If Bardford doesn't get hurt odds are they win the Big XII AGAIN and play for the NC.

2008: Won the Big XII Conference; played for the NC.

2007: Won Big XII Conference.

2006: Won the Big XII Conference.

Since: Nov 24, 2007
Posted on: December 21, 2010 9:35 am

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

DITitaniumBlade: Fact check - tOSU is 5-3 in BCS bowl games since the BCS started. No team has won more BCS bowl games. Their three losses were to the #1, #1 and #2 teams in the country. Yes they are 0-9 lifetime against SEC teams in bowl games. 7-11 all-time against SEC.

More facts - B10 has a better record against SEC in head to head bowl games since the BCS started.

B10 and SEC are the two best conferences. Have the most players in the NFL. Amazing how one the SEC acts like the B10 doesn't belong on the field with them when over history the B10 has a better record head to head.

Since: Oct 5, 2006
Posted on: December 21, 2010 8:31 am

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

  Why don't you schedule a Big Ten team in midseason and see what happens

The question there should be why won't the B11 teams schedule SEC teams, NOT the question you posed. SEC teams are playing AT all the other conference schools except the B11, you trying to tell me that SEC teams are scared of the B11? Scared of the cold? Why is PSU-AL not relevant? 

Also, what was Tennessee's record this year?  Oh yes, and in 2008 they almost lost to Northern Illinois in the regular season.  Get serious with the comparisons.

It seems to me that it is the B11 who has trouble with 1AA teams, Appy St ring a bell?

Since: Dec 21, 2010
Posted on: December 21, 2010 8:14 am

using the AP poll? Yeah that's fair

So where are the Georgia's, Virginia Tech's, and Penn State's on the over rated list? Last I checked VT and UGA are always ranked high and screw the pooch every year. And Oregon, Boise, and TCU are not under rated. Oregon has always been a decent team, they just need to learn to play at 9am Pacific time so more people can see them play.

As an Oklahoma Alum, I can't argue that we have been ranked higher than we should be, sometimes I wouldn't mind being ranked 20th and working our way up.....  But we've won our conference most of the years this report was counting ... so what does that mean?

P.S. a mid major can never be underrated.  When you play JV teams most weeks your true potential is unknown. And giving teams outside the top 25 a ranking of 26 is retarded.  It throws off the curve horribly when you don't account for all 119 positions.....

Since: Jun 12, 2009
Posted on: December 21, 2010 8:00 am

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

There's only one SEC team on the over-rated list: Tennessee.

Since: Nov 28, 2006
Posted on: December 21, 2010 1:43 am

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

Spoken like a true, jealous, arrogant SEC homer.  Oklahoma earns every bit of what they receive like it or it or not, which obviously you can only cry and whine about because your team is so piss poor, the Vols I presume?  That explains a lot.

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: December 21, 2010 1:16 am

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

There's no doubt that the most overrated conference is the SEC. This has already been discussed on CBS articles last year. The SEC won the most overrated title by far. Who won the most underrated? The Pac 10. Was there ever any doubt?

Since: Sep 3, 2006
Posted on: December 21, 2010 12:04 am

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

Exactly!!! Best comment so far!!

Since: Jun 16, 2010
Posted on: December 20, 2010 10:27 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

lovinMSU, aside from the NFL speech, everything about SEC not being able to defeat Big Ten is flawed, heavy flawed. So you're telling me that the players from Big Ten are polar bears? They can't play at a 70 degree bowl game? Makes no sense. First. Second, Big Ten DO NOT have a championship game, giving them extra time to prepare for the championship. Example? Both 2006 and 2008, Ohio State lost twice to two different SEC team in the NCG, both time Ohio State was rank number 1. Does that mean OSU is overrated? Not necessarily, they did manage to get an undefeated record. Overrated is defined as a team that everyone expects a lot from and in the end, they accomplish about half the expectation. Example? Alabama of this season. They were expected to return to the NCG this season. The facts remain is this: OSU is 0-9 in Bowl games (since the start of the BCS system) against SEC teams.

As for your NFL speech, how did Miami won against the Jets at the Jets?

Slice and Dice

Since: Sep 20, 2009
Posted on: December 20, 2010 10:26 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

 I agree with several other posters here . you can not place Oklahoma on this list and not point out the injuries of last season they lost Bradford and played a untested QB with a O-line that was third or forth team at best very few if any programs could come back and salvage a season and a bowl win over Stanford. Most new QBs have a hard time but would you place on behind a third team Oline too?

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