Buckeyes No. 8 as Preseason Bias Rears it’s Ugly Head

Once again the SEC bias in the polls is starting to rear it’s ugly head. After struggling against Townson, Saturday’s SEC play featured LSU falling to Florida and Arkansas, who so far has been absolutely pathetic this season, dropping Auburn to 1-6. Auburn’s only win this season came in an overtime spectacular against that football powerhouse Louisiana Monroe.

A look at the standings in “the most dominant conference in college football” places South Carolina and Florida at the top of the Eastern Division and Alabama and Miss State at the top of the West. All four are undefeated.

Look deeper though and those undefeated records come against a string of unranked teams including South Alabama, Bowling Green and of course Michigan. And there are big November games to come with South Carolina meeting Wooffard, Florida playing both Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State and Alabama planning a big-time match up against Western Carolina.

Before the season started, the SEC held five of the top ten spots in the USA Today/Coaches poll including Arkansas in the No. 10 spot. After week six, only two of those teams remain undefeated and two have proven themselves highly unworthy of the preseason accolades they received. Arkansas was quick to do so with losses to Louisiana-Monroe and Rutgers but even after being completely dominated by Florida, LSU remains in the top 10.

LSU is the perfect example of SEC preseason hype and bias in the rankings. Before barely getting past Auburn they tested themselves against Idaho, North Texas and of course Towson, a FBS school now 2-3. Traditionally, the 12-10 win over Auburn would be used as proof of the power of the SEC but even the most ardent of SEC fans have to admit that LSU has not lived up to the hype they were given. Ranking a team on their potential schedule is no way to determine the best in college football. (See Michigan.)

And yet is wasn’t until last week’s 38-22 win over Townson that LSU slipped to third in the poll (remember, they were No. 1 preseason). In any other game, a score of 38-22 would be credited as a dominant victory but in the world of padded schedules and biased preseason rankings, it’s not enough to just win a game. A team must completely shut down their “lesser” opponents leaving them limping all the way to the bank to cash in their athletic department funding for the next year.

Really, who wants to see a November game with a 35-40 point spread? Tune in to the SEC around week eight or nine though and I’ll bet you’ll find them.

Even with the loss to Florida, LSU remains in the top 10 (No. 9).

The problem with preseason rankings, especially when they so dominantly favor one conference, is that it requires the rest of college football to prove them wrong. Add in a conference-wide refusal to schedule top-ranked out of conference teams and the task becomes even more difficult. The task of knocking SEC teams out of the top spots in the standings turns to schools like Western Carolina who take on Alabama in Bama’s second to last game of the regular season. Unless they can keep the score to a 20 or so point difference, we have to go with the polls’ faith that the rest of the SEC really is that good.

If strength of schedule is going to play a role in the rankings (as well it should) than that strength must be tested with out of conference play. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith recently announced that the Buckeyes will be looking to strengthen their non-conference schedule in the coming years. For the Buckeyes, there is no other choice. Unlike other conferences, a 5-0 record in the B1G apparently isn’t enough to move you into the top ten. It took the loss of nine previously top 25 ranked teams and two wins over top 25 teams before the Buckeyes were able to crack the top 10 (now No. 8)

As we switch to the new playoff system, four open spots will mean a higher chance of one-loss teams making it to the playoffs. Hopefully, this will place a higher value on a “good loss” to a top-ranked team than a high-scoring shut out over a athletic department charity fund raiser.

Even then, unless the media decides to take note of their lack of high quality non-conference game the SEC will still be claiming “good losses” to teams like this year’s Arkansas or Auburn.

Comments

  1. gulfportcarl says

    Well said Jim, SEC bias at it’s best. We have to give Arkansas credit for it’s first win, even though
    they beat a shity Auburn team.

  2. Tony the "Quacking Duck" says

    Jim – I must agree with the SEC “Strength of schedule” sham. With the SEC holding down the 1, 3, 4, 9 spots …… we are primed for another SEC vs SEC National Championship game. Florida doesn’t have to play Alabama this year and both of these teams can run the table. Because of Florida’s “strength of schedule” this would probably push them to #2 in the BCS standings.

    Carl – Don’t think I will give Arkansas any credit for beating a team that is 1-3. Although I am somewhat surprised that the Hogs weren’t ranked on the top 10 after this win.

  3. says

    I really hope Oregon is capable of winning the rest of their games,…even agaist an over-rated USC squad or a pretty darn good Stanford squad, because I’m really gonna enjoy watching Alabama’s defense take that Duck offense apart….peice by peice in the NC game.
    It would be just like getting to watch mighty Oklahoma St. get their wish last year and face off against either an LSU or an Alabama defense in the title game…..sweet.

  4. Tony the "Quacking Duck" says

    Gonzo – You should be more concerned about your Hogs than my Ducks. You have had 2 “quality” wins against FBS competition with a combined record of 2-11.

    The first BCS standing just came out and (no surprise) the SEC is 1-2. The system is broke and beyond repair. When a SEC team loses they rarely fall out of the top 10….. this inflates the strength of schedule for all teams in the conference and props up their BCS ranking. There is a possibility that we may see a repeat of last years SEC vs SEC title game. What If Florida wins the SEC title game? Will Alabama fall to #2 in the BCS standings and still go to the NC?

    And yes …… I would love to see my Freshman QB play against Alabama.

  5. says

    I’m not taking anything away from Alabama this year. They may actually have a good team. Problem is, they are one of two and at best, three in the SEC. We often see conferences with one or two very good teams. That doesn’t mean their play against the sub-par teams in the conference (ie. Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Auburn, Arkansas, Missouri, etc. etc.) justifies an automatic BCS Championship bid yet that is exactly what the gets.

    West Virginia lost and dropped out of the top 10 taking their national championship hopes with them. After losing to Florida, LSU beat South Carolina (who’s ranking is questionable at best) and not only does LSU remain in the top 10, ESPN couldn’t stop talking about their return as a national title contender.

    Unlike LSU, if Oregon loses a game, their NC hopes will also vanish. The system is incredibly biased toward the SEC. Unless the SEC takes it upon themselves to schedule quality out of conference opponents all we have to go on is the media hype telling us that the SEC really is that good. Considering ESPN’s financial ties with the SEC, don’t count on it happening anytime soon.

Trackbacks