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Stats Corner: How Bad was the Pre-season AP Poll?

Looking at how the pre-season guessed the 2022 season.

Big Ten Championship - Purdue v Michigan Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Other that Bowl games, another football season has come and gone. At the end of the year let us take a moment to reflect on the stupidity of the Pre-season polls, see here for an article covering 2018, 2019 and 2021. Of the 25 teams that were ranked by the AP poll week 1, on 10 remain on the list, and some of those left the top 25 before coming back. Of the teams ranked week 1, the average record is 8-4 compared to 10-2 of those currently ranked. This week on Stats Corner we are going to compare week 1 and week 14 AP polls. I do not like use the final week poll because the bowl games are different than the regular season, with the time off, different location, coaches leaving, and players opting out.

The below average teams

There are three teams who were ranked week one and have losing records: #6 Texas A&M at 5-7, #14 Michigan State at 5-7, and #15 Miami also at 5-7. The Aggies are the highest pre-season ranked team not to make a bowl game. Five teams finished 6-6: #7 Oklahoma. #9 Baylor, #12 Florida, #16 Arkansas, and #19 Wisconsin.

Teams out and in

The teams who started but did not end the season ranked were #6 Texas A&M, #7 Oklahoma, #9 Baylor, #11 Oklahoma State, #12 Florida, #14 Michigan State, #15 Miami, #16 Arkansas, #17 Pittsburgh, #19 Wisconsin, #20 Kentucky, #21 BYU, #22 Ole Miss, #23 Wake Forest, and #25 Houston. The teams who are currently ranked, but were not at the beginning of the season #3 TCU, #9 Penn State, #11 Kansas State, #13 Washington, #13 Florida State, #14 Tulane, #15 Oregon, #16 LSU, #17 Oregon State, #18 UCLA, #20 South Carolina, #21 Texas, #22 UTSA, #23 Troy, #24 Mississippi State.

Of the 15 teams who dropped out 4 were from the SEC, 4 were from the ACC, 3 were from Big 12, and 2 were from the Big 10, but do not worry there is no East Coast bias. The last two were Independent BYU and AAC Houston both Big 12 bound, so still no Power 5 bias.

The 15 teams who got in were 4 from the PAC 12, 3 from Big 12, 3 from the SEC, and 1 from Big 10, ACC, AAC, Sun Belt and Conference USA. Still no bias against west coast or Group 5 of conferences.

Stayed in, but moved.

There were 5 teams who stayed ranked but slid in the rankings. The biggest mover was Notre Dame sliding 11 spots from 8 to 19, NC State slide 7 spots from 18 to 25. While the others were smaller Clemson from 5 to 10, Alabama from 1 to 5 (still not sure how Alabama is ranked higher than Tennessee, both have 10-2 records and Tennessee won the head to head 52-49), and Ohio State dropped from 3 to 4. There were also 5 teams who improved their rankings Tennessee went from 24th to 6th, Utah went from 13th to 6th, USC and Michigan increased by 2 10th to 8th and 4th to 2nd respectively, and Georgia moved from 2nd to 1st.

When the 9th-24th ranked teams are all new, minus 10 and 19, then obviously the system is not working. Name a job where you can be correct 40% of the time and you can keep your job for the next year? There is too much error in the preseason polls which holds back the conference who do not automatically get in on name recognition. Also, can someone explain to me who 9-3 Oregon lost to 9-3 Oregon State 38-34 but is ranked 2 spots higher?