With today's release of the Preseason AP Top 25 we can compare all of the major polls and rankings side-by-side: the Coaches Poll, the AP, Sports Illustrated, CBS, ESPN's Power Rankings and FPI, Football Outsiders' F/+, and all the computer rankings that Massey publishes.
Composite Top 5
Compiling the rankings from 37 different sources gives us this Top 5 by average rank:
Ohio State is the obvious choice for the top spot, but Oregon is a surprise at #3. TCU is being weighed down by Howell and Brown who have the Frogs at #19 and #23, respectively. Brown is also pulling Baylor down, ranking the Bears at #37--23 spots below their next-lowest rank.
Five teams are #1 in at least one poll: Ohio State (in 23 polls), Alabama (7), TCU and Baylor (2 each), and...Auburn?! Jeff England ranks our rivals #1 while Burdorf has the Fighting Scoreboards at #34.
(Did you hear that Auburn got a new scoreboard? Auburn got a new scoreboard! It's a really big scoreboard. Ask an Auburn fan about their scoreboard. It's the kind of thing fans take pride in when their team is coming off an 8-5 season.)
SEC Rankings by Average Rank
Ranking teams by their average ranking, we find nine SEC teams in the Top 25. Alabama has the second-highest average ranking followed by #6 Georgia, #9 Ole Miss, #10 Auburn, #13 LSU, #19 Missouri, #22 Arkansas, #23 Mississippi State and #25 Texas A&M.
Tennessee has the 29th-highest average, Florida is #32 and South Carolina is #35. There is a chasm between the Gamecocks and #69 Kentucky, and Vandy brings up the rear with the 86th-highest average ranking.
Average Rank by Conference
For all the talk about the Pac-12 being better than the SEC, these rankings don't show it. The average rank for the Pac-12 is 10 spots lower than the SEC. Colorado is just one spot above Vandy, and five Pac-12 schools are lower than #35 compared to just two in the SEC.
Despite Ohio State's #1 ranking, the Big 10 is still the worst of the Power 5 conferences. Ten of their 14 teams are outside the top 35, including seven outside the Top 50. The ACC and Big 12 each have two teams ranked lower than the SEC's worst: #88 Syracuse and #95 Wake Forest out of the ACC and #91 Iowa State and #99 Kansas out of the Big 12.
- SEC (27.9)
- Pac-12 (38.0)
- Big 12 (43.4)
- ACC (46.6)
- Big Ten (48.4)
Five of the 37 sources have 10 SEC teams in their respective Top 25 list including Massey, Sagarin and F/+. Twelve of the 14 SEC teams are in at least one ranking's Top 25.
Look at the range of those dots! Despite the questions about our QB, everyone seems to think Bama will be great. But lost talent and new coaches, coordinators and quarterbacks make it difficult to project how the rest of this year's SEC teams will fare, and the preseason rankings don't help paint a clearer picture. Sixty-three spots separate Arkansas' best ranking (#4, Burdorf) from their worst (#67, Brown). With a standard deviation of 18.2 spots, Vandy has the highest variance among SEC teams. They're #41 in ARGH but #119 (out of 128 teams) in Dezenzio's TSRS.
But if you think that's bad, 82 spots separate Northern Illinois' and Air Force's best and worst rankings. NIU is as high as 18 and as low as #100 while Air Force is anywhere between #22 and #104. There are 40 FBS teams with a gap of 60 or more spots between their highest and lowest rankings from various ranking services.
Highs and Lows
Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Georgia, LSU and Arkansas each appear in at least one Top 5, and Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Missouri are in someone's Top 10.
Ole Miss's lowest ranking is 26, LSU's is 33, and as previously mentioned, Auburn's is 34.
The Great Divide
These composite rankings help to illustrate the tremendous gap between the divisions. The five worst teams in the SEC are all in the East, which means that seven of the top nine teams in the league are in the West.
And yet, wins against the lackeys in the East count as much toward winning the West as games against the West. How is it possible that a team could beat every team in its division and not win its division? Alabama could run the West but lose at Top-10 Georgia and to Top-25 Tennessee--who many have picked to win the East--and A&M could win the West by going 5-1 in the West and beating Carolina and Vandy. Cross-divisional games should be tiebreakers, not criteria for winning the division.
One thing's for sure: The SEC West is going to be wild.
Bama's Non-Conference Opponents
- Wisconsin has an average ranking of 19.1. D1A Sports has them at #8 and they're #36 in ESPN's FPI.
- ULM is ranked #84.7 on average. The Warhawks are #62 in the Solecismic rankings and #101.6 in Burdorf.
- Middle Tennessee is #86 in Dezenzio TSRS and #116 in Jerry Palm's CBS rankings and has an average ranking of 84.9.
- Charleston Southern is #177 in the Sagarin ratings.