College Football Preseason Polls vs Final Poll Comparison and Analysis July 26, 2016 18:00

It takes a little bit of brain power and a lot of luck to pick the order of the best teams in college football before the season even starts. I was curious to see how well these polls have performed and took a small sample set of two preseason polls from last year (2015) and compared them to the final AP Top 25. Below you will see the two lists with the pollsters’ prediction numbered from #1 to #25 and the final AP ranking in parenthesis.   

Preseason Poll #1

  1. Ohio State Buckeyes (4)
  2. TCU Horned Frogs (7)
  3. Baylor Bears (13)
  4. Oregon Ducks (19)
  5. Florida State University Seminoles (14)
  6. Auburn Tigers
  7. Alabama Crimson Tide (1)
  8. Michigan State Spartans (6)
  9. USC
  10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11)
  11. Ole Miss Rebels (10)
  12. Arizona State Sun Devils
  13. LSU Tigers (16)
  14. UCLA Bruins
  15. Georgia Bulldogs
  16. Boise State
  17. Arizona Wildcats
  18. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
  19. Stanford Cardinals (3)
  20. Clemson Tigers (2)
  21. Texas A&M Aggies
  22. Missouri Tigers
  23. Arkansas Razorbacks
  24. Tennessee Volunteers (22)
  25. NC State Wolfpack

NR Oklahoma Sooners (5)

NR Houston Cougars (8)

NR Iowa Hawkeyes (9)

NR Michigan Wolverines (12)

NR North Carolina Tar Heels (15)

NR Utah Utes(17)

NR Navy (18)

NR Oklahoma State Cowboys (20)

NR Wisconsin Badgers (21)

NR Northwestern Wildcats (23)

NR Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (24)

NR Florida Gators (25)

 

Preseason Poll #2

  1. Ohio State Buckeyes (4)
  2. Alabama Crimson Tide (1)
  3. TCU Horned Frogs (7)
  4. Michigan State Spartans (6)
  5. USC Trojans
  6. Baylor Bears (13)
  7. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
  8. Oregon Ducks (19)
  9. UCLA Bruins
  10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish(11)
  11. Ole Miss Rebels (10)
  12. Wisconsin Badgers (21)
  13. Arizona Wildcats
  14. Arizona State Sun Devils
  15. Georgia Bulldogs
  16. Mississippi State Cowboys
  17. Clemson Tigers (2)
  18. LSU Tigers (16)
  19. FSU Seminoles (14)
  20. Missouri Tigers
  21. Michigan Wolverines (12)
  22. Nebraska Huskers
  23. Minnesota Gophers
  24. Arkansas Razorbacks
  25. Tennessee Volunteers (22)

NR Stanford Cardinals (3)

NR Oklahoma Sooners (5)

NR Houston Cougars (8)

NR Iowa Hawkeyes (9)

NR North Carolina Tar Heels (15)

NR Utah Utes (17)

NR Navy (18)

NR Oklahoma State Cowboys (20)

NR Northwestern Wildcats (23)

NR Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (24)

NR Florida Gators (25)

 

Analysis:

  • Both pollsters missed badly on about ½ the top 25 teams.
  • Close to 1/2 of teams ranked in final AP Poll were unranked in preseason polls
  • Preseason pollsters are good at picking about ½ teams that will be ranked within the top 25 which is pretty good considering the total number of teams.
  • Both polls had 5 to 6 teams in their top 15 that ended up unranked at seasons end
  • Both polls had about 7 or 8 good picks that were within 5 of their final ranking. ~25%

 

Take Away:

Preseason polls tell you what you already know. There are about 10-15 teams that are clear top 25 teams and about 10-15 that are better than anyone gives them credit for (for now). Overall, the team’s strength and weaknesses on paper doesn’t matter. These issues are always settled on the football field with a few lucky bounces of the football for some and a few tough breaks for others.  Strength of schedules, player injuries, returning starters, breakout players, game plans, execution, referees, etc. all play a role in the team’s final record and thus final ranking. The good news is, if your team isn’t ranked in any preseason poll do not despair. You likely have about 12 or so slots available in the final ranking come season end.  The other bright spot is that we now have the playoffs and not someone’s opinion to place the top teams of the land. Although it’s far from perfect, it’s a whole lot better than what we before. So enjoy your preseason polls. It’s really just a long overdue appetizer to wet your football appetite. The first entrée is just a little over a month away.

- GAMEDAY DOGS