Blog Entry

Texas A&M, Notre Dame most overrated in 2011

Posted on: January 18, 2012 4:32 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2012 4:39 pm

Now that the 2011 college football season is finally completed – Bobby Hebert’s done ranting about Les Miles, right? – let’s take a look at how smart or, make that clueless,  the voters in the Associated Press poll were before the season.

I was one of the 60 voters that participated in the AP poll. Each summer we’re asked to produce a Top 25 out of thin air. And then come January, we discover we’re usually as accurate as a non-fiction piece from James Frey.

Surprisingly, though, this year we did a fairly decent job of predicting the future or, if you prefer, the teams did a decent job of living up to their preseason rankings.

First the good.

We nailed it! Of the AP’s preseason Top 25 teams, three schools – No. 7 Stanford, No. 14 TCU and No. 19 Georgia – finished with the same ranking in the final AP poll.

Missed it by this much: Of the remaining 22 teams ranked in the preseason, we were off by only three spots or less on six schools: Alabama (preseason No. 2, finished No. 1), Oregon (preseason No. 3, finished No. 4), LSU (preseason No. 4, finished No. 2), Boise State (preseason No. 5, finished No. 8), Wisconsin (preseason No. 10, finished No. 11) and South Carolina (preseason No. 12, finished No. 9).

At this point I’d like to mention of the preseason top 19 teams, nearly half (nine) finished within three spots in the final AP rankings. Not bad. Which brings me too …

Wow, were we wrong: Of the remaining 16 teams ranked in the preseason Top 25, nine schools finished in the final Top 25, but were nowhere close to their preseason rankings. No. 1 Oklahoma finished 16th, No. 6 Florida State finished 23rd, No. 9 Oklahoma State finished third, No. 10 Nebraska finished No. 24, No. 13 Virginia Tech finished No. 21, No. 15 Arkansas finished fifth, No. 17 Michigan State finished 11th, No. 24 West Virginia finished No. 17 and No. 25 USC finished No. 6.

That leaves seven schools that were ranked in the preseason Top 25 but plummeted out of the rankings by season’s end because (take your pick) they choked under the pressure of a preseason Top 25 ranking, didn’t deserve to be ranked, were overrated, underachieved or all of the above.

We/they totally blew it: Here they are: the not-so-Magnificent Seven teams that were ranked in the preseason Top 25 but ended the season outside the Top 25. No. 8 Texas A&M, No. 16 Notre Dame, No. 18 Ohio State, No. 20 Mississippi State, No. 21 Missouri, No. 22 Florida and No. 23 Auburn all finished out of the Top 25.

We never saw them coming: There were 48 schools that received at least one vote in the preseason Top 25 poll. Yet, there were four schools that did not receive a single preseason vote that still finished in the final top 25: Baylor (finishing No. 13), Kansas State (finishing No. 15), Clemson (finishing No. 22) and Cincinnati (finishing No. 25).

Three other schools received Top 25 preseason votes and were not in the preseason Top 25 but finished in the AP final poll: No. 12 Michigan, No. 18 Houston and No. 20 Southern Miss.

So who were the biggest surprises and disappointments of 2011? Look no further than the Big 12, which had the nation's two most pleasant surprises in Baylor and Kansas State and the nation's biggest disappointment in Texas A&M.

Based on their AP preseason rankings, the biggest surprises in 2011: Baylor, Kansas State, Clemson (yes, even with the Orange Bowl seal-clubbing), Michigan, Cincinnati, USC and Houston. The biggest disappointments: Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Mississippi State, Florida, Arizona State, Miami, Utah, Iowa, Florida State, N.C. State and Oklahoma.

Listed below are the 48 schools that received a vote in the preseason Top 25 and the difference of how many spots better (+) or worse (-) it finished in the final Top 25 rankings. Following the school is each team’s preseason and final ranking. If a school started unranked and finished unranked, it was considered starting/finishing at No. 49.

Diff School (Pre-Final ranking)
+36 Baylor (NR-13)
+34 Kansas State (NR-15)
+27 Clemson (NR-22)
+26 Michigan (38-12)
+24 Cincinnati (NR-25)
+19 USC (25-6)
+18 Houston (36-18)
+15 Virginia (NR-34)
+11 Southern Miss (31-20)
+13 Northern Illinois (41-28)
+10 Arkansas (15-5)
+7 West Virginia (24-17)
+7 Brigham Young (33-26)
+6 Oklahoma State (9-3)
+6 Michigan State (17-11)
+3 South Carolina (12-9)
+2 LSU (4-2)
+1 Alabama (2-1)
+1 Wisconsin (11-10)
0 Stanford (7-7)
0 TCU (14-14)
0 Georgia (19-19)
-1 Oregon (3-4)
-3 Boise State (5-8)
-3 Nevada (46-NR)
-3 Northwestern (46-NR)
-3 Washington (46-NR)
-4 Auburn (23-27)
-4 Texas (26-30)
-5 Arizona (44-NR)
-5 Maryland (44-NR)
-6 Penn State (27-33)
-6 Tulsa (43-NR)
-8 Virginia Tech (13-21)
-8 Missouri (21-29)
-8 Hawaii (41-NR)
-9 UCF (40-NR) 5
-10 Tennessee (39-NR)
-12 Pittsburgh (37-NR)
-14 Nebraska (10-24)
-14 Air Force (35-NR)
-15 Oklahoma (1-16)
-16 N.C. State (33-NR)
-17 Florida State (6-23)
-17 Iowa (32-NR)
-19 Utah (30-NR) 25
-20 Miami (29-NR)
-21 Arizona State (28-NR)
-27 Florida (22-NR)
-29 Mississippi State (20-NR)
-31 Ohio State (18-NR)
-33 Notre Dame (16-NR)
-41 Texas A&M (8-NR)


Since: Aug 16, 2011
Posted on: January 20, 2012 1:57 pm

Texas A&M, Notre Dame most overrated in 2011

drjellyfinger, Miss. State did not beat Auburn in 2011.  Keep in mind that Auburn lost 25 starters (mostly Jr's and Sr's) from their 2010 team and has been going through a major rebuilding year in 2011.  Auburn played 25 Freshman players througout 2011 and was the youngest Div. 1A team in 2011.  WAR EAGLE

Since: Jan 1, 2007
Posted on: January 20, 2012 11:33 am

Texas A&M, Notre Dame most overrated in 2011

Funny how the most underrated team (Baylor) lost to the most overrated team (Texas A&M) by four touchdowns.

Since: Mar 26, 2011
Posted on: January 20, 2012 8:24 am

Texas A&M, Notre Dame most overrated in 2011

Hey, cutty240, didn't I say that ND had a monumental collapse in one of its first two games?  There is almost nothing in my post about ND that is negative unless you consider the truth to be negative.  Believe me when I say that I have no illusions about Michigan's remarkable success in 2011.  But, then, I wasn't talking about Michigan at all, was I?  The fact is I have followed ND football for many years, and after Michigan, often support the Irish.  But, it has been difficult to support this team more recently and even more difficult to understand its consistent appearance among the pre-season "top" teams. Why?  What factors from ND's recent past warrant such attention?  Don't project on me the sentiments of an article calling ND one of the most overrated teams in 2011.  ND created that label all by itself.  Coming off the Rodriguez experiment, I can tell you that sometimes the truth is painful and you just have to deal with it. 

Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: January 20, 2012 7:07 am

Texas A&M, Notre Dame most overrated in 2011

WOW, Notre Dame and Ohio State were overrated,   LIKE EVERY YEAR!

Since: Jan 19, 2012
Posted on: January 20, 2012 1:11 am

Texas A&M, Notre Dame most overrated in 2011

"We/they totally blew it: Here they are: the not-so-Magnificent Seven teams that were ranked in the preseason Top 25 but ended the season outside the Top 25. No. 8 Texas A&M, No. 16 Notre Dame, No. 18 Ohio State, No. 20 Mississippi State, No. 21 Missouri, No. 22 Florida and No. 23 Auburn all finished out of the Top 25."

I know it wasn't his intention, but based on this article, he makes a great case to eliminate preseason polls outright. Don’t forget that he states this year was more accurate than most, so imagine the numbers in years past.

Eliminating preseason polls and standardizing the number of conference games played in every conference would be two giant steps in the right direction to determine a true national champion (in lieu of a playoff system). Based on the section above, (which I totally agree with in terms of voters blowing it) is there any surprise that we end up with a logjam of SEC schools at the top and subsequently a never-ending debate regarding SEC bias/dominance and other subjective nonsense?

The voters and computer formulas used to determine participants in the current or future plus one BCS system need a base line (starting point) to determine a variety of critical factors that contribute to the final standings, including strength of schedule, quality wins, bad losses, etc. My intention is not to single out the SEC, but they are currently the most relevant example to support why these polls should go away. 

Simply put, the base line calculations used to determine who “deserves” to play for the BS National Championship game has become an SEC pipeline. It’s nearly guaranteed that at least one team from the SEC will play for the title despite the potential for another team outside of their conference having a stronger overall resume. 

If you rank most every team from one conference (regardless of which one) in the top 25, before they take a snap, based solely on paper analysis, that conference is bound to have one team that is going to do well enough to argue their legitimacy. As a result of these polls, the path becomes filled with less obstacles, i.e. a one loss SEC team generally ranks ahead of a one loss team from any other conference (because at least one team started that way), a 2 loss SEC team typically ranks ahead of a 2 loss team from another conference and so on. Unfortunately for all college football fans, the starting point too often favors reputation over actual results.

Here is a quick example. In week two of this past season Mississippi St. played Auburn. Both were ranked in the top 25 and it was hyped to be a match up of two top 25-powerhouse teams. Mississippi State moves up significantly in the rankings after the win and Auburn doesn’t drop out because (based on the polls) they played a quality opponent. In fact, it wasn’t until much later and several more losses before the voters finally admitted their error and dropped these teams from the rankings. Turns out, it was a pretty good game played by a couple of pretty average teams, but the benefits from being over ratted at the beginning pays dividends for every team who beat them thereafter.

The question becomes, how much did other teams in the SEC (SOS, quality wins, etc.) benefit from these two teams being higher in the preseason rankings than they should have been? For that matter, how much did the entire conference benefit in 2011 from a number of misses coming from the same conference? It should be noted that the majority of teams who made a significant improvement from their initial rankings (Arkansas withstanding) were not from the SEC, but in the end, the SEC reaped the reward.

Do me a favor, go back and cross-reference South Carolina’s 2011 schedule with this article. You’ll find that 4 of the SEC opponents they played this year fall squarely in the overrated category. When we start talking quality wins, SOS and other factors that help bump up a team in the rankings and computers, is their any question that they benefited from the voters blindly making predictions without merit? 

I have no doubt that some will totally miss my point because they can’t look past the use of the SEC as an example, but just wait until the preseason polls come out next year and the same 5 highlighted 2011 dogs from above (5 of 7 are in the new SEC and all were in the, “We/they totally blew it” category) are ranked back in the top 25 based on nothing more than speculation.

In all good conscience, every voter and so called computer guru that makes up these formulas should wait and see how well a team plays before they ever cast a vote or program a computer. After all, computers need to be programmed by humans and every computer formula needs to start with a variety of base line assumptions. Where do these assumptions begin?.... You guessed it, preseason pools!

If you have ever played or coached the game, even the best teams on paper need to actually play the game before a determination can be made as to how good they actually are.

Since: Apr 2, 2011
Posted on: January 19, 2012 11:28 pm

Texas A&M, Notre Dame most overrated in 2011

hey!  another negative nd comment... guess that keeps us relavent for one more day

Since: Oct 26, 2011
Posted on: January 19, 2012 9:11 pm

Texas A&M, Notre Dame most overrated in 2011

Very Funny comment coming from a Michigan Fan.Doesn't say much about Michigan then,it took a last second Hail Mary pass from DR for you guys to beat ND at Home.Other than Michigan State,ND was the tuffest team you played all year.I love all you Michiagn Fans got your Chest's all Puffed out.Lets bet and see if DR finishes the first Game against The Tide.You can't hide in Ann-Arbor on This one.

Since: Mar 26, 2011
Posted on: January 19, 2012 3:16 pm

Texas A&M, Notre Dame most overrated in 2011

As I have said before, Notre Dame has not been relevant on the CFB national stage for more than fifteen years (since Lou Holtz struck out with predicted quarterback sensation Ron Powlus), a time which ironically coincided closely with ND's TV arrangement with NBC.  As the years have gone by since then, the stories associated with this program have become less and less effective in drawing the stellar recruits necessary to continue the "myth." I'd be willing to bet that the best high school football players today know little about "winning one for the Gipper, Knute Rockne, or Ara Parseghian's 1973 perfect season (they'd probably say, "Ara Who?), and while they might know that Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana won four super bowls, it's unlikely that many of them would know that he was a star quarterback at ND.  In other words, they have their eyes on other prizes.  Further, ND has had a lot of trouble hiring successful
coaches going back to Gerry Faust who was hired to follow Dan Devine.  All of this said, sports pundits continue to see Notre Dame through the filters of the program's previous successes and haven't been able to manage to leave them out of the pre-season picks year after year.  This year, even after they had lost their first two games, one of which was a monumental collapse, Lou Holtz was still touting the Irish as BCS contenders. So, I'm not surprised that, once again in 2011, sports pundits are diasappointed by their performance.  Almost everyone else who follows CFB has been disappointed by Notre Dame for years.   

Since: Dec 29, 2011
Posted on: January 19, 2012 1:25 pm

Texas A&M, Notre Dame most overrated in 2011

Too much Karma working against the Irish - they don't deserve to win against anbody except perhaps Penn State - a waste of resources

Since: Dec 29, 2011
Posted on: January 19, 2012 1:15 pm

Texas A&M, Notre Dame most overrated in 2011

Right on - my wife laughs every time Lou Holtz makes a prediction - he's almost 100% wrong every time he predicts a school he or his son coached at - she calls him "HOMER HOLTZ" - LAMO

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