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The AP Poll is Biased Trash

+17 HS
cplunk's picture
September 25, 2022 at 8:38pm

Looking at Kentucky and Tennessee both being top ten AP poll teams made me wonder what a comparison to a non-biased computer poll would look like. 

A few caveats-

1) Yes, I know the AP poll does not technically play a role in selecting playoff teams. That said, you are fooling yourself if you think weeks of the AP poll does not pre-set the opinions of the members of the playoff committee.

2) I utilized the Sagarin ratings. Yes, I know the hazards of utilizing a single data point and that the Sagarin ratings is not the be all, end all. I'm fine with ignoring that for this simple overview.

3) Sagarin judges on data of performance, not just wins/losses. It is possible for teams with losing records to actually be better teams than some with winning records. Sagarin measures the performance of the team versus its schedule and compares to the performance of the average college football team versus the same schedule.

4) I assumed a rating difference of 1 in either direction (i.e. an AP poll rated 4 is ok if Sagarin is either 3, 4, or 5) as the standard for being appropriately ranked.

5) I assumed a rating difference of 5 in either direction as being the line for massively over or under ranked (i.e an AP poll of 12 would not be "massively" overranked unless Sagarin is 18 or worse, and not "massively" underranked unless Sagarin is 6 or better.)

My initial hypothesis was that the data would show the SEC teams to be over-ranked, and possibly also ESPN's other asset, the ACC. You can judge the value of my hypothesis based on the comparison.

I also included the Sagarin schedule ranking. Please note that Sagarin includes FCS teams, so if the schedule ranking is below 131 then that means at least some FCS teams have actually played a more difficult schedule thus far. 


Clemson (5 AP, 12 SAG, #112 Schedule), ACC

Kentucky (7 AP, 27 SAG, #88 Schedule), SEC

Tennessee (8 AP, 17 SAG, #89 Schedule), SEC

Oklahoma State (9 AP, 19 SAG, #143 Schedule), B12

NC State (10 AP, 30 SAG, #140 Schedule), ACC

BYU (19 AP, 33 SAG, #13 Schedule), IND

Arkansas (20 AP, 32 SAG, #16 Schedule), SEC

Wake Forest (22 AP, 45 SAG, #90 Schedule), ACC

Florida State (23 AP, 29 SAG, #57 Schedule), ACC

Pittsburgh (24 AP, 39 SAG, #52 Schedule), ACC


Texas A&M (17 AP, 21 SAG, #37 Schedule), SEC


Georgia (1 AP, 3 SAG, #35 Schedule), SEC

Alabama (2 AP, 1 SAG, #100 Schedule), SEC

Ohio State (3 AP, 2 SAG, #20 Schedule), B1G

Michigan (4 AP, 5 SAG, #176 Schedule), B1G

USC (6 AP, 7 SAG, #24 Schedule), P12

Ole Miss (14 AP, 13 SAG, #102 Schedule), SEC


Penn State (11 AP, 9 SAG, #45 Schedule), B1G

Oregon (13 AP, 15 SAG, #6 Schedule), P12

Washington (15 AP, 11 SAG, #72 Schedule), P12

Baylor (16 AP, 14 SAG, #97 Schedule), B12


Utah (12 AP, 6 SAG, #71 Schedule), P12

Oklahoma (18 AP, 4 SAG, #48 Schedule), B12

Minnesota (21 AP, 10 SAG, #177 Schedule), B1G

Kansas State (25 AP, 18 SAG, #39 Schedule), B12


LSU (NR AP, 8 SAG, #82 Schedule), SEC

Texas (NR AP, 16 SAG, #18 Schedule), B12

Notre Dame (NR AP, 20 SAG, #4 Schedule), IND

Wisconsin (NR AP, 22 SAG, #68 Schedule), B1G

Cincinnati (NR AP, 23 SAG, #81 Schedule), AAC

Miss State (NR AP, 24 SAG, #29 Schedule), SEC

Oregon State (NR AP, 25 SAG, #34 Schedule), P12

There are 11 teams massively overranked or overranked utilizing this method of comparison. Of those 11, 4 are SEC teams, and 5 are ACC teams. Thus, 9 of the 11 overranked teams are part of ESPN's present and future conferences.

There are 2 SEC teams in the underranked or not ranked but should be categories, and no ACC teams in that group. The other 9 teams that are underranked or not ranked belong to the B1G, P12, B12, or G5/IND.

It is like this every week. Every single week. And it has been for years. 

This is a forum post from a site member. It does not represent the views of Eleven Warriors unless otherwise noted.

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