By Hugh Falk, Pollspeak.com
Alabama is clearly No. 1 in the the pollsters' eyes this week. The AP, Harris Interactive and Coaches' polls all rank the Crimson Tide No. 1. However, half the computers favor Texas Tech, as Billingsley, Massey and Sagarin rank the Red Raiders No. 1. Meanwhile, two computers rank Alabama No. 1 (Anderson/Hester and Wolfe) and the Colley Matrix is the odd formula out, ranking one-loss Texas over the unbeatens.
One reason for the disagreement is media experts often tout the SEC as the strongest conference. However, both Sagarin and Anderson/Hester place the Big 12 on top. Both also have the SEC ranked third behind the ACC. While many media types might be willing to give the Big 12 the nod over the SEC this year, very few would be willing to say the ACC is stronger than the SEC. That's why computers can make tough choices; they are immune to ridicule. While a comment like, "Hey Colley Matrix, your rankings are like procedural languages -- No Class," might discourage a human voter (especially if he's Fat Albert), it never affects a computer.
Speaking of making tough choices, it turns out President Elect Barack Obama is a college football fan. For those who didn't catch the interview during Monday Night Football, Obama says if he could change one thing in sports today, he would like to see a college football playoff. As you keep reading, you'll understand why.
Five voters ranked two-loss Ohio State over one-loss Penn State. It was just two weeks ago the Nittany Lions beat the Buckeyes in Columbus.
At this point in the season, it's difficult to track and name all the teams that have played each other, so this week I'll focus on the major powers in the Big 12.
One voter still ranks Texas over Texas Tech. It's worth noting the Colley Matrix also ranks the Longhorns over the Red Raiders, but, unlike AP voters, the Colley Matrix didn't receive the AP Voter Guidelines, which say "pay attention to head-to-head results."
Six voters ranked Oklahoma over Texas. Texas only stumbled against No. 2 Texas Tech. Oklahoma's only loss came against Texas. There seems to be an obvious pecking order which was followed by just about everybody else in the AP. The coaches are another matter...
This is yet another week where I'd like to see the coaches' ballots. Enough coaches ranked Oklahoma over Texas that the Sooners (No. 4) are actually ranked higher than the Longhorns (No. 5) in the Coaches' Poll. Wow. On that note, Pollspeak sponsors a petition asking the BCS to require its components to use public ballots.
Finally, 17 voters ranked Missouri over Oklahoma State even though the Cowboys won the head-to-head and both teams have two losses. They both lost to No. 1 Texas. Oklahoma State's other loss was to No. 2 Texas Tech while Missouri's other loss was to Oklahoma State. Again, seems like an obvious pecking order's being ignored.
For all the people who say they want the definitive justice of a playoff, there seems to be just as many (including voters) who don't think losing on the field is a big deal. When filling out their ballots, I implore voters to ask themselves, "What would Obama do?"
For more poll analysis, go to pollspeak.com.