UNC Football Better in Polls That Don't Know Who UNC Is

With the win over Boston College, Carolina has cracked both the AP Poll and the BCS standings, at 23rd and 24th respectively. Of course, the BCS Standings are useless at this level (in fact, they only officially go to 15, news outlets just extrapolate from there, I believe) but that doesn't mean there's nothing to learn from them. I've long enjoyed comparing computer polls to the voters, and this year two teams jumped out in their relation to the Tar Heels.

2009poll_medium

The computer averages cluster Penn State, UNC, and Clemson at roughly the same spot, at 18th (where they're tied with Oregon), 20th, and 22nd. In three of the polls, UNC is actually ahead of the other two schools; the other three give Penn State the nod. The end result, of course, is pretty close to a wash as computers go.

And yet, Penn State is a favorite to get a BCS at-large bid, and the Heels will be the fourth or fifth team picked in the ACC. This is because the human voters, who know Carolina is a "basketball school," and Penn State a "football school," rank the Nittany Lions 11th, while UNC 24th and 26th (!). The human voters also find the Tigers better (at 16th and 17th) but that's a function of them being atop the Atlantic Division and headed to Tampa. You can make the argument their losses are better than the Heels anyway. But Clemson's only getting two a BCS bowl by automatic bid. 

If Penn State slips into one of the big bowls at the expense of Boise State (6th in votes, 7th in computers), I don't think even Ari Fleischer can spin them out of this. 

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