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What the Football Polls Tell Us

The start of basketball season naturally brings on thoughts of the postseason and polls. Basketball polls are pretty close to meaningless, of course, as the sport has a sensible way of deciding a champion; what number is tacked on the front of a team name as the season progresses only serves to tell you how exciting the game you're about to watch is likely to be. Football, on the other hand, lives and dies by their special little votes, so it's worth taking a look at the important lessons this week's poll has to offer:


  • Florida, Texas, and Alabama... were ranked in that order in the preseason. You may think that the top of the polls would get the most scrutiny, but no. Florida, Texas, and Alabama are in that order because back in August they were put in that order. That's not going to change until one of three teams drops a game.
  • The Big East is actually less respected than the Mountain West. TCU and Cincinnati have similar resumes. Each scheduled one decent non-conference opponent and then waltzed through their respective conference slates to date. If enough people held the Bearcats in esteem, they'd have jumped TCU (they did Boise State). The fact that they didn't tells you everything you need to know about the coaches' and sportswriters' opinions on the Big East.
  • Oddly enough, folks do respect the ACC. Which is why Georgia Tech is the top one-loss team in the polls. True, the next highest one-loss team is Pittsburgh, of the same blighted conference as Cincinnati, and whose loss came at the hands of N.C. State, of all teams. Still, a good case could be made to put Tech behind two-loss LSU, and the pollsters also felt the need to put Miami, Virginia Tech, and in one poll Clemson all in the Top 25. That's one more than the SEC, and two more than the Big 12. 
  • I really wish the coaches poll still published ballots. UNC gets seven votes? And that's a drop of a vote after beating Duke? Maybe there's no rhyme or reason to these things at all.