NCAAF  > General NCAAF  > Poll bias for SEC: Fact or Fiction?
November 18, 2012, 11:21 AM
Circumstances today may offer a chance to test our theories-

Last week the #1 team in the polls (Alabama) lost a close game at home to the #14 or #15 team, depending on the poll. As a result, the polls dropped Bama behind the other undefeated teams (not counting tOSU), but placed them ahead of the other 1-loss teams (except the Coaches Poll that put Bama slightly behind UGA).

Yesterday, the #1 team in the polls (Oregon) lost a close game at home to the #13 or #14 team, depending on the poll; virtually identical circumstances to what happened to Bama. According to past practices, the polls SHOULD drop Oregon to #2 behind the undefeated team, but ahead of the other 1-loss teams.

If Oregon drops to #3 behind Bama, that would make sense to me because when Oregon and Bama had the same record for most of the season, Bama was ranked ahead of Oregon. However, if Oregon drops behind other 1-loss SEC teams in the polls, would it be justified or just the SEC bias coming into play?

Part 2 of this test is how the polls treat Stanford. Two weeks ago before Stanford or TAMU each beat the #1 team, they were ranked side-by-side in the polls with identical records. Since then, they both won 2 games, with one being against the #1 team. The only difference is Stanford also beat another top-20 team (OreSt) while TAMU beat a FCS school (Sam Houston).

Is it fair to expect Stanford to be ranked with or ahead of TAMU as a result of the past 2 weeks? Is there really any poll penalty for scheduling creampuffs? We shall soon see ....
November 18, 2012  11:26 AM ET

Kansas State doesn't really fit in any comparison with Bam and Oregon, because they lost ugly to an unranked team. But wouldn't it be interesting if Snyder's team is ranked ahead of Oregon. Maybe the poll bias is not so much for the SEC as against the PAC. I'd be surprised if K-State is ranked ahead of Oregon.

November 18, 2012  11:46 AM ET

I don't want to get into too much depth with your questions because it touches on every aspect of college football and it could go on endlessly. I will attempt a shorter opinion without drawing too many conclusions.

There is poll bias in a lot of different forms. Like in the real world bias can be reasonably based or it can be completely fallacious.

One of them is bias toward teams that the pollsters consider the better team. Given the SEC track record since 2006 it is not that surprising that SEC teams receive some bias even if not deserved by the record and schedule this season.

One of them is head to head bias. If you've been on the boards in the past week you have seen my rants about seemingly ridiculous head to head bias.

One of them is probably east coast bias since, I believe but do not know for sure, that there are more east coast voters and more voters see east coast games since they don't have to stay up late.

One of them is pre-season bias or previous week bias, where voters don't want to jump a team that didn't lose.

One of them is most recent game bias where the entire schedule is sometimes ignored because of what has happened most recently.

One of them is large program bias where the name program will get the benefit of the doubt over smaller programs.

But imo there should never be a bias toward a creampuff on the schedule. The entire schedule should be looked at, including creampuffs, because playing a creampuff is basically like not playing a game at all. There is not positives but no negatives either.

November 18, 2012  12:03 PM ET

When Alabama lost to TAMU, the main theme on the news was, 'Johnny Football!' and 'hey, TaMU really does belong in the SEC'. That is, the story line was that TaMU won, more than that ALabama lost.

I'm not seeing Stanford get anywhere near the same sort of positive press on Yahoo, ESPN or SI this morning.

So I'm betting Oregon falls to just below Florida State in the two human polls.

November 18, 2012  12:09 PM ET
QUOTE(#2):

don't want to get into too much depth with your questions because

Still an outstanding comment, I really like how you classified and explained the different biases. And to Trib, very interesting and nice work showing the similarities, this is some good stuff and I can't wait to see how it plays out!

November 18, 2012  12:12 PM ET
QUOTE(#3):

When Alabama lost to TAMU, the main theme on the news was, 'Johnny Football!' and 'hey, TaMU really does belong in the SEC'. That is, the story line was that TaMU won, more than that ALabama lost.I'm not seeing Stanford get anywhere near the same sort of positive press on Yahoo, ESPN or SI this morning.So I'm betting Oregon falls to just below Florida State in the two human polls.

True that TAMU got more press maybe in part because it was an earlier game and part because of the flashiness of a freshman Heisman candidate.

I will be very surprised if Oregon falls behind FSU. Most people still see Oregon as one of the best two teams in college football even though they won't vote them that way because of the many biases.

Just my personal opinions about Stanford....I was very impressed! They look like a top notch SEC team with that front seven dominating the line of scrimmage. Yes, my opinion of Oregon diminished a little because I now know for sure that a great defense can control them. I wasn't so sure before that game. I still would pick them in a one game playoff against anyone in the country on a neutral field.

November 18, 2012  12:41 PM ET

for the ap poll anyway, the answer is
#5, between tOSU and UF.

so behind one loss Alabama and Georgia.

of course, it's the Harris and USA today polls that matter for the BCS.

November 18, 2012  01:01 PM ET

AP poll is out, here are differences I see--
Oregon fell behind UGA and tOSU, Alabama did not.
TAMU leap frogged FSU after beating #1, Stanford did not.

November 18, 2012  01:11 PM ET

A lot of truth in what you say TTT.

I would like to add this.
Think about that last touchdown that Stanford scored near the end of regulation to tie Oregon. Does anybody really think that SEC officials would have made that call against an SEC home team to possibly cost that SEC home team a shot at the BCS championship game?

It took a controversial call for the Ducks to lose, while Bama had it handed to them by aTm. Yet the Ducks drop significantly in the polls.

November 18, 2012  01:15 PM ET
QUOTE(#3):

When Alabama lost to TAMU, the main theme on the news was, 'Johnny Football!' and 'hey, TaMU really does belong in the SEC'. That is, the story line was that TaMU won, more than that ALabama lost.I'm not seeing Stanford get anywhere near the same sort of positive press on Yahoo, ESPN or SI this morning.So I'm betting Oregon falls to just below Florida State in the two human polls.

ESPN reported the Alabama loss with glee for a week.

November 18, 2012  01:18 PM ET

And truly, a USC fan talking about bias in the polls? Why was USC even ranked #1? We went for about 5-6 years deluged yearly with "This is the best team ever in college football!" only for USC to lose.

Seems a tad hypocritical.

November 18, 2012  02:32 PM ET

FACT!

If you only play each other, and virtually all of your OOC games are against non-FBS foes, how are we to know how good you are?

We have to assume the worst.

November 18, 2012  03:29 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

And truly, a USC fan talking about bias in the polls? Why was USC even ranked #1? We went for about 5-6 years deluged yearly with "This is the best team ever in college football!" only for USC to lose.Seems a tad hypocritical.

Poll bias for USC?

In '03, '04, and '05 USC went undefeated in the regular season and still only made it to 2 BCS title games.

In '06, '07, and '08 USC stubbed its toe along the way, kinda like Bama did this year and last. Despite having the same regular season record as the SEC champ in '07 and '08, USC was shut out of those BCS title games, while Bama went last year and will probably go this year.

You can simmer down, Joe. You may see it differently, but I don't see anyone here taking shots at Alabama. I already agreed Bama should be ranked #2. Relax.

If the talking heads seemed gleeful that Bama lost, it's probably because Bama losing is big news, which is what pays their bills.

November 18, 2012  03:48 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

A lot of truth in what you say TTT.I would like to add this.Think about that last touchdown that Stanford scored near the end of regulation to tie Oregon. Does anybody really think that SEC officials would have made that call against an SEC home team to possibly cost that SEC home team a shot at the BCS championship game?It took a controversial call for the Ducks to lose, while Bama had it handed to them by aTm. Yet the Ducks drop significantly in the polls.

In defense of SEC refs, there was an offsides call against Bama at the end of their loss that gave TAMU a first down and sealed the deal. I remember it because players from both sides jumped, and we expected the call to go against the Aggies. But the ruling was the Tide drew the Aggies off. Didn't see that coming.

November 18, 2012  03:52 PM ET
QUOTE(#13):

Didn't see that coming.

Neither did Saban. He was royally pissed.

November 18, 2012  08:29 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

Why was USC even ranked #1?

Good question along with several other teams at the top. Another one is why Miss State stayed as high as they did so long...I think we know the answer to that question.

Pre season/early season polls are nothing but biased towards names on the jerseys/reputations...because it can't be based on merit as they haven't played a damn game...or very many...and even fewer quality opponents early in the season.

I love to see the early poll teams flop. Some that don't flop stay toward the top of the polls only because they started there. Don't really beat anyone that great but don't lose but a game or two to a good or decent team.

November 18, 2012  09:13 PM ET

Yes there is poll bias for SEC teams.

Georgia and Florida should not be ranked ahead of Oregon.
LSU should not be ranked ahead of FSU or Stanford.
Scar spent too much time in the top 10 even after losing.
Mississippi State had no business in the top 10.

November 18, 2012  09:14 PM ET

I understand people get a little out of joint when their team/conference doesn't make it high in the polls...but I really don't think the folks at ESPN and the Sports Writers, and the Coaches and the Computers and all really have an agenda that favors the SEC. And while I do cheer for Miss State (which some on here have taken as a personal vendetta...lol), my main team is OU and I really don't care about what the BigXii does. In fact, this weekend I was with both SiL's in Dallas...they both laughed and said that now I had to root for TU to beat K-State so that OU would win the conference...I said no, I didn't. But I do admire the SEC and what they do...

That being said, I ran across this interesting tib-bit on my phone this week ends as well...interesting stuff...pay attention to the ones whose opposing opponents are so weak such as Clemson, FSU and UCLA (and not meaning to pick on these teams at all)...versus these same records for teams such as TAMU, LSU and Florida....

And I am sure that you can spin it however you want, and some will....after all it is just statistics....but very interesting I thought.

Current AP Top 25(26)....Poll

The Top Twenty Five teams in The Associated Press expanded college football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Nov. 17, points based on 25 points for a first place vote through one point for a 25th place vote, previous ranking, record vs. top 25 teams at time of game, record of opponents played, and extra points:

Vs. Opp.

Record Pts Pv T25 Rec. Extra Points

1. Notre Dame (60) 11-0 1,500 3 4-0 66-43 1-9 last 10 vs. Trojans

2. Alabama 10-1 1,399 4 3-1 61-49 Back in the title hunt

3. Georgia 10-1 1,316 5 1-1 59-51 9-1 last 10 vs. Tech

4. Ohio St. 11-0 1,292 6 2-0 57-54 Won the Leaders Division

5. Oregon 10-1 1,246 1 2-1 60-51 Held to 14 pts by Stanford

6. Florida 10-1 1,171 7 3-1 73-36 Offense struggles continue

7. Kansas St. 10-1 1,064 2 3-0 57-48 A week off to lick wounds

8. LSU 9-2 1,048 8 3-2 71-39 Miles 4-3 vs. Razorbacks

9. Texas A&M 9-2 1,028 9 3-2 74-36 Lost 5 of last 6 vs Mizzou

10. Florida St. 10-1 1,026 10 1-0 52-57 Won ACC Atlantic Division

11. Stanford 9-2 991 14 3-1 69-41 Won 4 of last 5 vs. Bruins

12. Clemson 10-1 874 11 0-1 57-54 16-9-1 home vs Gamecocks

13. South Carolina 9-2 795 12 1-2 67-43 3 straight wins vs. Tigers

14. Oklahoma 8-2 734 13 1-2 58-41 82-17-7 vs. Cowboys

15. UCLA 9-2 624 17 3-0 54-56 Clinched Pac-12 South

16. Oregon St. 8-2 599 15 2-1 58-43 4-6 last 10 vs. Ducks

17. Nebraska 9-2 559 16 0-1 68-42 27-12-3 vs. Hawkeyes

18. Texas 8-2 498 18 1-2 50-47 61-20-1 vs. Horned Frogs

19. Louisville 9-1 362 20 0-0 38-58 5-3 vs. Huskies

20. Michigan 8-3 282 23 0-2 64-46 2-8 last 10 vs. Buckeyes

21. Rutgers 9-1 265 22 0-0 48-48 8-21 vs. Panthers

22. Oklahoma St. 7-3 240 NR 1-2 54-42 2-8 last 10 vs. Sooners

23. Kent St. 10-1 155 25 0-0 49-61 Clinched MAC East Division

24. N. Illinois 10-1 144 NR 0-0 45-66 Clinched MAC West Division

25. Mississippi St. 8-3 82 NR 0-3 59-50 Mullen 3-0 vs. Ole Miss

25. Utah St. 9-2 82 NR 1-0 54-55 Last rank was final 1961

November 18, 2012  09:16 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

And truly, a USC fan talking about bias in the polls? Why was USC even ranked #1? We went for about 5-6 years deluged yearly with "This is the best team ever in college football!" only for USC to lose.Seems a tad hypocritical.

LOL and all we've heard for the last 6-7 years is that the wide open spread offenses of the Big 12 and Pac 12 have no chance against truly elite SEC defenses. Then along came TAMU.

November 18, 2012  09:20 PM ET
QUOTE(#16):

1. Georgia and Florida should not be ranked ahead of Oregon.
2. LSU should not be ranked ahead of FSU or Stanford.
3. Scar spent too much time in the top 10 even after losing.
4. Mississippi State had no business in the top 10.

! and 2...check the post (17) I just put out comparing the records of the opponents for each of these teams..

3. If Lattimore had remained healthy you might think differently on this one

4. Agreed...it was just because they were winning the games they were supposed to win. Remember, they didn't start out that high. For the record, most State fans are very happy with this record...the normal thought I keep hearing is that they won the games they were supposed to win, and lost the games that they were picked to lose. (tho I thought they would have beaten TAMU and lost to Arky <shrug>)

 
November 18, 2012  09:21 PM ET
QUOTE(#18):

LOL and all we've heard for the last 6-7 years is that the wide open spread offenses of the Big 12 and Pac 12 have no chance against truly elite SEC defenses. Then along came TAMU.

LOL....which all of you TU guys said would fail so miserably as well...remember?

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