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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: Dec 14, 2008
Posted on: December 20, 2010 9:54 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah.  Why don't you schedule a Big Ten team in midseason and see what happens.  Oh, and don't go using the Penn State vs Alabama game this season, not relevant.  Let's talk about last year's bowl performances by Big Ten vs SEC.  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. 

Since: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: December 20, 2010 9:46 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

I find it funny that the writer doesn't allude to the fact that some of the teams on the over-rated list play in the toughest conferences.  Where as some of the under-rated play for lack of a better word, sub par teams.  TCU may or may not be a really good team, schedule a top teir SEC, Big Ten, or a Big 12 team and lets find out.  As for bowl wins, teams get lucky all the time in the one game.

Since: Oct 29, 2006
Posted on: December 20, 2010 9:30 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

 There is no justification whatsoever for pollspeak to be spotlighting or even claiming Oklahoma to be the most overated team.

As another poster commented, in three of the five years Oklahoma's final AP ranking was either exactly what their pre-season ranking was or it was only one spot lower. And still another poster has pointed out that in 2009 it wasn't that the Sooners were overranked, their big drop that year was caused by having three of their best players, (who later were top NFL draft-picks), injured and unable to play for the entire season. Also, regarding 2009, the article states that Oklahoma dropped out of the polls by season's end, but it doesn't mention that Oklahoma beat a still ranked Stanford team in their bowl game.

And the article's statement that in 2010 ''

Oklahoma will likely drop at least one spot' doesn't make any sense at all with the Fiesta Bowl still two weeks away from being played.

Since: Aug 18, 2008
Posted on: December 20, 2010 8:57 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

I think the okalahoma comment needs to be address, as in 2009, I recall Sam Bradford, a fairly good quarterback, go hurt and missed most the season.  That might have had some impact on why they finished out of the polls

Since: Dec 18, 2007
Posted on: December 20, 2010 8:06 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

Be careful CBS. 4 of the the top 10 over-rated teams on this list are from the SEC. Don't you have a big contract with them?

Since: Oct 21, 2006
Posted on: December 20, 2010 8:01 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

I wouldnt call it the little 10 because outside of the national championship game the Big Ten has a winning bowl record against the SEC.

Its easy to be from the south and practice at home in 70 degree weather and go to a BCS bowl game where its 70 degrees, but going from where its in the 30s having to practice indoors with heaters (NOT THE SAME HEAT) is a lot more difficult.

Lets see Florida, Auburn, Alabama, LSU come up to Big Ten country in January and beat ANY big ten team.  They wouldnt be able to do it.  None of them.  Thats why you dont see any of the southern schools lining up to play big ten teams in November when it starts to get cold.  Cause they know they wouldnt win.

And for proof of this just look to the NFL.  Its no different from the NFL than it would be in college.  You play where its cold you winn in cold weather.  You play where its warm and you dont play well in cold weather.  How long was Green bays winning streak at home in the playoffs?  How many games has Tampa Bay won since becoming a team in 32 degree or colder weather?  Try Miami as well. 

Since: Dec 16, 2009
Posted on: December 20, 2010 8:00 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

Another hater, you guys all sound the same.....I get it, we did not show up and were beaten in '06 & '08 but what IDIOT would ever think that a requirement for OSU to advance to the title game be that they beat a SEC team in a bowl game a couple of times????? I suggest you stop hiding behind the banner of the SEC and worry about your own sorry squad.

Since: May 13, 2010
Posted on: December 20, 2010 5:59 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

I guess poll speak refers to only the top 25...

With out a doubt...well my homer opinion...the most underrated team in D1 football was Syracuse Universtiy.  Go Orange!!!


Since: Aug 18, 2010
Posted on: December 20, 2010 5:55 pm

Pollspeak: Overrated and Underrated

I really don't see much here as far as overrated or underrated.  Even with the case of OU; over the past five seasons, the preseason poll was virtually dead on three of the five years.  You cannot call a one point difference being overrated.  There was quite a difference for two of those seasons, but that is to be expected with preseason polls.  Again, if the "experts" are still correct 60% of the time with their worst results, then that is not too terrible in my estimation.

Since: Jan 24, 2007
Posted on: December 20, 2010 5:41 pm

Anyone defending Ohio State is an IDIOT

Ohio State is ZERO and nine against the SEC in bowl games. They have been DESTROYED in National championship games against the SEC. Against Florida,with their Heisman trophy winner at QB(another joke), they gained 64 total yards and were SMASHED.  Their ranking is the Midwest bias for the LITTLE 10. This program should never be put in the national championship game until they can win a couple of bowl games against SEC middle tier teams. They certainly cannot play with the SEC best.

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