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Week one around college football shows why preseason rankings stink

Oklahoma State v Florida State Getty Images

I don’t know about you, but Oklahoma State sure looked like a top 25 team to me as I watched the Cowboys give defending national champion and consensus preseason umber one Florida State all they could handle. The Pokes forced Jameis Winston to look vulnerable at times (although the best player in college football overcame that by showing just why he won the Heisman Trophy in 2013 when needed) with a pair of interceptions. Oklahoma State held Florida State to just four third down conversions on 14 attempts and nearly countered every punch thrown by Florida State in the second half, pushing the Seminoles to the final second. Oklahoma State lost the game, of course, and there is not much of a chance any voter will include them in a top 25 poll this week.

But would it be fair to say Oklahoma State’s loss to Florida State was more respectable than No. 25 Washington’s 17-16 win at Hawaii? Maybe, depending on whom you ask.

The controversy and debate over preseason rankings are nothing new. The reason they exist is purely for debate, conversation and in this day and age, page views. We’re all guilty of it, even those of us who question why preseason rankings exist. We all check them out, even if we say we do not care about them. This week in college football will add some fuel to that discussion, but nothing will change.

Is No. 21 Texas A&M and new Heisman contender Kenny Hill really 24 points better than No. 9 South Carolina? What do we make of No. 7 UCLA beating Virginia by eight points when the offense only scored seven points (that defense is good, but they will not put up 21 points each week)? How much should we boost No. 12 Georgia or drop No. 16 Clemson after Todd Gurley muscled the Bulldogs’ 24-point victory? Ohio State was ranked fifth in the preseason polls, before quarterback Braxton Miller was lost for the year. They pulled away from Navy in Baltimore, but could possibly fall in the rankings without doing anything wrong.

Aside from the mismatches with FCS competition, the only game that may have been the best representation of the preseason rankings was No. 13 LSU coming from behind to defeat No. 14 Wisconsin, and the Badgers sure did not look like a top 15 team while letting a 24-7 second-half lead evaporate. Injuries on defensive line were one thing, but giving Melvin Gordon the football just three times for one yard, turning over the football twice and going three-and-out three times is not what a top 15 team does, even against a team as talented as LSU.

The good news is things should be different this season. With no BCS computer formulas adding various rankings into the equation and a selection committee chosen to determine the tp four teams at the end of the season, where teams fall in the preseason rankings may not have as much of an impact. It will be hard for the selection committee to stray from the long, storied tradition of poll and ranking philosophy, but they will not be influenced as much by preseason rankings as they are results on the field. But then again, isn’t the weight of the results on the field influenced by the preseason rankings? Oh boy.

The new Associated Press top 25 will be released on Tuesday this week, to account for games being played Sunday (No. 10 Baylor vs SMU, Tennessee vs. Utah State) and Monday night (Louisville vs. Miami).

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19 Responses to “Week one around college football shows why preseason rankings stink”
  1. 50milessouthofdetroit says: Aug 31, 2014 9:14 AM

    there shouldn’t be any rankings until the first week of october

  2. germanflats13a38 says: Aug 31, 2014 10:02 AM

    I don’t have a problem with the rankings. Their just guesses after all. I do have a problem with the refusal of voters to make more than incremental changes to the rankings.

    I would have no problem with TAMU and SCAR switching places; ranking TAMU in the top 5 and dropping SCAR below 20; or even ranking TAMU 1 and SCAR out of the top 25.

    The rankings should be fluid.

    But until teams play everyone, or a statistical significant sample of everyone, I don’t have a problem with the rankings.

  3. drummerhoff says: Aug 31, 2014 10:08 AM

    This is what happens when good football schools don’t play cupcakes in week 1. You can see the early season flaws.
    When a school plays a lower level opponent, it’s hard to tell how good they are, but of coarse that doesn’t stop the experts from giving them a coronation.

    Of Everything I watched yesterday, what stood out the most was UGA and that freshman rb, Nick Chubb.

  4. fsu01 says: Aug 31, 2014 11:03 AM

    I agree, based on week one it would appear maybe Texas A&M and Georgia (dominant victories over teams with high preseason expectations) are the top 2 teams in the country. We don’t know that though. Clemson and South Carolina may end up being average teams at best this season. While Alabama and FSU struggled to beat teams with low preseason expectations. If West Virginia and Oklahoma State turn out to be among the top teams in the country and Clemson and South Carolina falter at all, then the FSU and Alabama wins do not look so bad.

  5. 8to80texansblog says: Aug 31, 2014 11:54 AM

    This website didn’t even have A&M in their top 25… So yes…. Preseason rankings still stink.

  6. realfootballfan says: Aug 31, 2014 12:04 PM

    They kind of don’t matter. You should like them because they get you clicks in the off-season. I’m not just saying this because my team is #1 right now as that’s always been a curse for FSU besides 1999 when they ran the table as #1 wire to wire, but the BCS standings are all that count when they come out. By then, this thing is pretty much in focus and generally works itself out except for years like when Oklahoma State got screwed when Alabama got a rematch instead. Hey, but blame that on the voters who let that happen at the end of the season, not in the meaningless pre-season polls that only serve to hype the game when there’s nothing else to talk about.

  7. padraighansen says: Aug 31, 2014 12:44 PM

    Here’s the reason preseason ratings are bad, from a bigger perspective: Teams that are unranked, or lowly ranked, have a near zero margin for error, and are already way behind the 8-ball. Highly ranked teams can stumble, recover, and are typically still ahead of better, but initially unranked or lower ranked, teams.

    There should be no rankings at all prior to week 5 of the season.

  8. lolnfl says: Aug 31, 2014 12:57 PM

    only bad things about these rankings is people will stick to their preseason predictions instead of what happens on the field…it usually plays itself out.

  9. Mr. Wright 212 says: Aug 31, 2014 1:24 PM

    It doesn’t show anything except the fact that there is no preseason, so there will be shakiness from every team — if they aren’t playing some FCS cupcake, that is.

  10. tigersfandan says: Aug 31, 2014 1:48 PM

    I think Texas A&M and Georgia should both pass Florida State. Yes, I know FSU is the defending national champs, and I know they were the preseason #1, but what’s more important: how the teams played last year, how they were expected to play this year, or how they actually have played so far this year?

  11. realfootballfan says: Aug 31, 2014 1:53 PM

    padraighansen,

    Not really. FSU was like 15 last year. People saw them demolishing teams and moved them up accordingly. Texas A&M will leap next week into the top 10 more than likely while SC will probably go to the 20′s. The beauty of college football is that the regular season is the playoffs, or at least it has been until this year. FSU many years only lost to Miami teams on wide field goals and never got to national championships because of that. Those are the breaks. As far as teams stumbling and not getting another chance; why is that bad? The SEC is the best conference top to bottom and has been for years, they should get more benefit of the doubt if they lose a game in conference as opposed to FSU losing to a sorry NC State team. Less is more in this case. Would you rather something akin to the farcical NCAA tournament where the team who’s hot with the best matchup in March wins in a 68 team field, and the regular season is essentially meaningless?

  12. realfootballfan says: Aug 31, 2014 1:59 PM

    padraighansen,
    Yea, that makes sense so you can go back to teams scheduling directional school U to get the kinks out instead of playing real games. FSU is the champs who returned key parts to warrant them being #1. If Winston wasn’t tehre anymore, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be #1. Simple as that. If they can’t get their younger players up to speed, they will not make it by December as they will have lost a game or two. What’s so crazy about that concept. You don’t say, well this guy deserves the belt in boxing because he looked great in his undercard fight last night while the champ didn’t dominate in his title fight later in the night. If someone knocks out the champ, then you have those conversations. If Florida or Louisville or Notre Dame or Clemson can do it, then you’ll have your wish. I personally wouldn’t count on it though.

  13. dcroz says: Aug 31, 2014 2:19 PM

    Folks, why is everyone all up in arms about rankings and when they should come out? In case you’ve forgotten, we’re in the Playoff Era now, and the rankings by the AP, Coaches, Football Writers, New York Time, West Podunk High School Student Newspaper, or anyone else are just a beauty contest. The Playoff Committee has its own criteria for determining who gets invited. It’s fun to talk about who is better than whom, but for people to get upset if Team X is ranked higher than Team Y as if it matters anymore is silly. And enough with the “there should be no rankings until week N of the season.” There will always be organizations and people who will put rankings out whenever they bloody well like, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it, so stop whining as if there is.

  14. woebegong says: Aug 31, 2014 3:00 PM

    Rankings mean something at the end of the season because it is usually down to the last man standing so to speak. I watched some good games yesterday where the teams surprised and watched others that failed to live up to the hype. Maybe around game 6, you get a fair idea of what teams are there and what teams have been lucky. Luck very seldom wins the big game most of the time.

  15. 4512dawg4512 says: Aug 31, 2014 5:20 PM

    I agree with everything in that article

  16. monsterright says: Aug 31, 2014 7:55 PM

    The writing here is so skewed. You could have written FSU did not look like the #1 team in the country AND WI showed it could compete with the SEC. Sure seems like you have an agenda.

  17. florida727 says: Sep 1, 2014 10:30 AM

    I agree with the posts saying that there should be no ranking until after the first week in October, but we all know that’ll never happen.

    How impressive was A&M’s win over South Carolina? Is Ohio State the 5th best team in America (without Braxton Miller)? Can Wisconsin compete with anybody/everybody in the SEC?

    Simply stated: context. We won’t know the answers to those or any other ranking questions until we have perspective, and that only comes with time.

    Bottom line: weekly rankings this early in the season are media concoctions created for the sole purpose of boosting readership and blog chatter. And so far, they’re fulfilling their designated purpose… because we’re all talking about them (rankings).

  18. onlyoneleft says: Sep 1, 2014 2:58 PM

    From what I saw Ohio State, Wisconsin and South Carolina are way overrated. Alabama, Auburn and FSU did not appear to be that good while Tenn, Baylor and Oklahoma State looked pretty good.

  19. woebegong says: Sep 1, 2014 4:15 PM

    I think it is pretty hard to pass judgment on many teams after the first game, because a lot of new folks are starting for the first time, new coordinators are in place for the first time, and even some new head coaches. I tend to think you have to wait until about the 3rd or 4th game, when most conference teams start their in conference games before you get an accurate idea of how good or bad a team really is.
    The SEC mixes it up pretty good in that regard, although it is usually by the second game that they start in conference play. Texas A&M and S.C. started from the first game on. S.C. still has the potential to be a half decent team, but they were not a top ten team and will not be this year. They are going to win some games down the pike but you can’t lose as many parts on both sides of the ball, and always rebuild quickly. Even the best teams, with a lot of recruits that are highly rated have to go for an adjustment period to start each season. The ranking just don’t mean a whole lot early in the season.

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