As we enter the halfway point in the College Football season, the debate on the rankings are starting to heat up. This weekend we will get to see where many of the teams stand as we have marquee match ups but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some questions to the rankings already.
The thing to keep in mind is that in 2015 we will have a selection committee picking the Final Four teams that will be in the running for the Championship.
This means that they will have to sift through the strength of schedules from top to bottom and weight wins by each team. Now enter the ever tricky task of separating perception from reality. Right now, the pollsters are caught up in what I like to push that perception is reality not reality in general.
There is no denying that the SEC has dominated college football the past six seasons and the SEC West in a more specific role. This does leave the benefit of the doubt to many voters but when you are creating a poll it needs to look at the present not the past. This part has seemed to be lost and could be the demise of the upcoming Football Championships.
The best way to look at this is looking at the current rankings. BCS rankings will start in week eight, so the time is coming but before then we will have some marquee match ups but never early to start.
AP Poll/USA Today
3 / 4 Florida State:
Key Wins: Clemson
Notes: Florida State has 3rd ranked defense which includes a game against the 16th ranked offense in Clemson. The Seminoles have a knack for being overrated and not coming through in the end of the season.
Comments: The debate would be whether FSU should be ranked third ahead of LSU or behind. The perception was that LSU would be a power house entering the season and FSU was knocking on the door. So perception of the coaches’ show that LSU gets a pass right now but the reality is FSU has looked better on the field than LSU.
6 /6 South Carolina:
Key Wins: NONE
Notes: South Carolina opened the season as a top ten team and has not dropped even with mediocre performances versus Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The only win that South Carolina can put on a pedestal is beating Missouri who by all accounts was overrated entering the season.
Comments: Once again the perception is that they beat Vandy and Kentucky who are in the SEC and tough teams. Remember that right after South Carolina beat Vandy, Northwestern beat Vandy by the same amount in the same fashion and it took until this week before Northwestern was ranked in both polls at 5-0. The reality is that South Carolina is a very solid team. Lattimore is back but still slowed by injury. Shaw is hit and misses not only in performance but also if he will finish the game. The GameCock defense is very good but against mediocre competition. In the next three weeks, the GameCocks will play Georgia, LSU, and Florida so we will know the truth.
10 / 11 Florida:
Key Wins: Tennessee
Notes: Florida is starting to show promise under new offensive coordinator Brent Pease. After a sluggish start against Bowling Green, the Gators schedule really heated up with a tough trip to Kelly Field and the Aggies. Florida’s defense shut down Manziel in the second half and the Gators offense in the second half versus Tennessee.
Comments: Once again the perception is that three wins in the SEC is worthy of putting a team in the Top 10. Texas A&M was picked to win maybe six games by the SEC writers this year which included their OOC games. A win over Tennessee in Knoxville is a solid win but a win to catapult you into the Top Ten? Reality is that Florida has one of the best defenses in the country but the offense is still going to need time to mesh. The Gators schedule is going to pick up with three of the next four games versus Top Ten teams and FSU at the end.
11 / 9 Texas:
Key Wins: Oklahoma State
Notes: Texas was going to be a stalwart on defense this year and it looked that way early against Wyoming and New Mexico but it has been a different story versus Ole Miss and Oklahoma State the past two weeks. The plus for the Longhorns has been the play of David Ash to go with a stellar running game.
Comments: The perception is that the Longhorns defense was one of the top coming into the season and that it is the Longhorns who were picked to win the Big 12 by many writers over West Virginia. If a road win in the SEC is rated so highly then the Longhorns have earned their Top Ten ranking by winning at Ole Miss. The reality is that the Longhorns defense has been less than stellar by giving up 60 (KO return for Ole Miss) points to two average teams does not ring out a top defense. The offense is playing above where they should but does that garner a Top 10 ranking especially when unranked Arizona blasted Oklahoma State.
21 / 20 Nebraska:
Key Wins: NONE
Notes: This was going to be the year that the Cornhuskers had a chance to make some noise in the Big Ten. Taylor Martinez has looked better as a passer this year. They have had some early injuries including to Rex Burkhead. The Big Ten is not what was expected which in turn could hurt the Huskers if they drop a game or two.
Comments: Perception is that someone in the Big Ten has to represent them In the BCS game which means they need to be ranked to make it more attractive. The reality is that the Cornhuskers are not that good. They are also ranked above UCLA who they lost to in UCLA. UCLA has lost one game 27-10 to #14 Oregon State. Nebraska squeaked by Wisconsin last week who has been less than stellar all season.
This is just five teams scattered throughout the rankings. I wanted to ensure they were ranked in both polls when I was writing this. The key component is fluidity in the polls. As a voter, as a fan we want to see teams be put where they deserve to be due to their play on the field. Past results should not hold water. There are a few other teams that could be looked at as well in Rutgers, Mississippi State, TCU, and Stanford. The time is getting closer that we will have a committee selecting our Championship teams and to think that it will be done with on field results over perception is putting a lot of hope on what has already been proven that “Perception is Reality”.