Comparing the AP Top 25 to DCTF's college football rankings.
Let’s be honest: the Associated Press college football poll is king of the college football polls.
Now, it may not always be the most accurate, and it may not always be the most sound. But its history, stretching all the way back to 1934, and its influence are unmatched.
So when the AP’s annual preseason poll was released on Saturday, the college football world stopped for a hot second and focused on the list of 25 teams as selected by the AP’s legion of voters.
(Well, actually, it’s more like 43 teams, what with all the teams in the “Also receiving votes” category.)
We here at DCTF have deep respect for our friends at the Associated Press; as a respected football entity that’s been around for more than a half-century, we feel like we have a lot in common. That’s why my first thought when I saw the AP’s preseason college football rankings was predictable:
OK, how much do we disagree?
As I mentioned yesterday when comparing the AP Texas high school football rankings to our own, polls are subjective, meaning there’s a lot of room for debate and coercion. DCTF put out its preseason college football Top 25 when the summer magazine came out back in June; now that the AP has put out its rankings, we can measure up our rankings to our friends’ and see where we differ.
(And agree. But we’re much more interested in where we differ. We’re confrontational like that.)
So, let’s go to the big chart and see how DCTF’s college football rankings stack up against the AP’s.
|Team||AP Rank||DCTF Rank||Difference|
|South Carolina||6||9||AP +3|
|Texas A&M||7||4||DCTF +3|
|Florida State||11||16||AP +5|
|Oklahoma State||13||14||AP +1|
|Notre Dame||14||13||DCTF +1|
|Boise State||19||24||AP +5|
|Oregon State||25||17||DCTF +8|
|Michigan State||26||33||AP +7|
|Virginia Tech||28||18||DCTF +10|
|Kansas State||31||22||DCTF +9|
|Fresno State||32||36||AP +4|
|Ole Miss||36||30||DCTF +6|
|Georgia Tech||38||34||DCTF +4|
So, there’s a lot to digest here, including some significant discrepancies between our two sets of rankings. We’ll categorize them in four ways:
Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Texas, TCU
There are five teams that both DCTF and AP ranked in the exact same spots, and each of them is notable for a different reason. For one: we both have the same national top three, with the defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide, followed by the unbeaten and largely unchallenged in the Big 10 Ohio State Buckeyes, followed by the always dangerous Oregon Ducks in the top trio of spots.
Perhaps more amazing: we both ranked Texas at No. 15. The Longhorns are looking for a big year behind QB David Ash, an experienced offensive front and a versatile and dangerous defense. It appears that both DCTF and the AP have the same cautiously optimistic outlook of Texas.
And what do you know: of the three Texas teams ranked in the Top 25, we ranked two of them in the exact same spot! TCU clocks in at No. 20 for both DCTF and the AP, and with the Horned Frogs’ exceptional defense and the return of QB Casey Pachall, that may be a little low.
Close Enough (within two ranks of each other)
Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Notre Dame, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Washington, Clemson, UCLA, Miami
Ranging from Top 10 teams like Georgia, Louisville and Clemson to the “also receiving votes” type like UCLA and Miami, we largely agreed with AP.
We should, of course, touch on Baylor, who earned the dreaded “First Team Out” recognition from us. The AP ranks them one spot lower – 27th – and the more I think about it, the more I worry that this is going to look silly at the end of the year. If the defense looks like it did at the end of 2012 and not the beginning – and that’s a big if – the Bears could be that unranked team that surges into the Top 10.
Not Quite Seeing Eye-to-Eye (3-5 rank difference)
Stanford, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Northwestern, USC, Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia Tech, Fresno State, Boise State, Florida State, Michigan, Vanderbilt
And here’s the large bulk of the rankings, where we wouldn’t quite call it a total disagreement, but there’s certainly a difference.
The basic gist of the difference can be summed up with Texas A&M and Stanford. In our poll, A&M is 4th (technically tied for 4th with Georgia) and Stanford is 7th; in the AP’s poll, it’s reversed, with Stanford 4th and A&M 7th. I’ve got to be honest: I don’t necessarily understand the hype around the Cardinal. Is it QB Josh Nunes? RB Stepfan Taylor is gone…is it the defense? To me, even though A&M has many question marks – starting with the defense and ending with QB Johnny Manziel’s ongoing drama – they’re a safer pick for a Top 5 team than the Cardinal. Then again, maybe I’m just a Lone Star homer.
Other disagreements of note:
-Sorry, but we’re not falling for the Florida State trap again.
-We think Florida’s going to be awful good – better than the AP seems to think they will be. The same goes for Michigan and our SEC sleeper pick, Vanderbilt.
What Are You Thinking?! (More than 5-rank difference)
Ole Miss, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Oregon State, Arizona, Kansas State, Virginia Tech, Arizona State
And now we’ve just completely split from one another on these. The most glaring difference, in my mind, comes with Oregon State, who checks in at No. 25 in the AP poll and No. 17 in DCTF’s. Some voters may be scared off by the Beavers’ lackluster 2011, but after roaring back in 2012 – and bringing back QB Sean Mannion, RB Storm Woods and four of the five starting offensive linemen (plus a talented defense) – we think 2011 was an anomaly. The AP obviously disagrees.
Also: Virginia Tech 28th? C’mon. The ACC appears to be down this year, and that’s prime feasting time for Frank Beamer’s Hokies, who will once again be sturdy on defense and do all the little things right. We like them to battle Florida State for the ACC crown, while the AP appears to favor the ‘Noles big there.
Some other notes:
-Maybe we’re too big of fans of what Bill Snyder is doing at Kansas State, but No. 31 seems way too low for the Wildcats (we have them at 22).
-The state of Arizona is home to perhaps our biggest divergence. We’re very high on Arizona – when you bring back RB Ka’Deem Carey, you have a shot – and think Arizona State is more of an also-ran in the Pac-12…yet there’s ASU at No. 30 in the AP poll (unranked in DCTF’s) and Arizona at No. 40 (No. 32 in DCTFs).
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.