Ranking those rankings | November 28, 2012
With the Notre Dame Fighting Irish sitting pretty atop the BCS standings, and with their position at the National Championship table secured over Thanksgiving weekend, it might be preferable to look back over the rankings of the BCS with regard to Notre Dame being unranked in the preseason rankings nationwide, the irony being that they beat the preseason #1 ranked side USC in their final regular season game to secure their perfect regular season record. USC fell to 7-5 in Matt Barkley’s final season.
Looking back to move forward is always fun, also looking at which teams the voters got wrong badly and which other teams popped out of nowhere.
Firstly, credit and attention should go to Kent State Golden Flashes out of Ohio who went 8-0 in the conference gaining them a bowl game and a #17 ranking.
Before the season started, the idea of a MAC side being ranked by the end of the season was laughable. They face #21 Northern Illinois in the MAC championship on Friday night, both have 11-1 records. Kent State have the better win at Rutgers on their resume, if only they did not lose to Kentucky in Week 2, they would be higher.
The NI Huskies themselves have benefited from the all purpose yardage of QB Jordan Lynch – 39 TDs and 4361 total yards yet they did not beat a ranked side, their best win is versus Western Michigan 48-34 in a shootout. The Huskies are ranked 15th in points allowed (17.5 PPG) and yet the momentum is with the Kent State team, who have not had a bowl game since the days of Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.
Apart from the woeful selection of USC as #1 pre-season, the other mistakes were the selections of Michigan #8, Arkansas as #10 and Wisconsin as #12.
Michigan were hoping to take charge of the BIG10 and bring it a national spotlight due to the play of Denard Robinson who was to be a Heisman candidate. Yet they faced a difficult schedule and could never gain momentum coupled with the regression of Robinson’s play. Their first game of the season was a whopping by Alabama 41-14 in Cowboys Stadium. They also suffered losses to Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State all on the road, yet their best win was at home to Northwestern in OT, yet they remain 19th in the rankings albeit with an 8-4 record.
Arkansas finished with a 4-8 record, and 2-6 in the SEC their two wins coming against Kentucky who went 0-8 in the conference (2-10 overall) and Auburn who also went winless in conference play, 3-9 overall and just removed Gene Chizik from his position less than two years after winning the National championship. This was the biggest oversight of voters, they averaged 30.4PPG a game and could not match up with too many turnovers on offence.
Wisconsin are 7-5 overall and yet because they are in the Leaders division of the BIG10 conference, they are in the Big10 championship game versus Nebraska this Saturday, owing to the post-season ineligibility of both Ohio State (12-0, 8-0) and Penn State (8-4, 6-2). Wisconsin still have a mean defence but have struggled to gain the same productivity from Montee Ball in his senior year, as he did last year when nominated for the Heisman. Their best win was on the road 38-14 at Purdue who ended up 6-6 for the season, but 3-5 in the conference. That tells you enough, they are in their conference championship game and yet do not have a bowl eligible record in some eyes.
Other pleasant surprises were Stanford who were pre-ranked 21 and finish 8th with a 10-2 record, defeating Oregon ending their national title bid. They face unranked UCLA who end 16th and look good for next year, for the Pac 12 title on Saturday to be the PAC12 representation in the Rose Bowl (the winner faces Nebraska or Wisconsin).
Texas A&M garnered five pre-season voting points, and finish in 7th position thanks to their defeat of Alabama and the eye-catching play of Johnny ‘Football’ Manziel with his 43 total touchdowns and 4,600 total yards, more yards than Cam Newton and Tim Tebow had in their Heisman winning seasons.
Pre-rankings are a silly business and should only be taken at face value and then forgotten about after the first week, when until you see teams scheme and play will you be able to make a clear enough judgement of potential and talent.