Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ranking the Rankings

It is exactly 101 days until the start of the 2007 football season. That might seem like a long ways off, but it is never too early to start talking about pre-season rankings. Or maybe we should call these the pre-pre-season rankings. In any case, lots of publications have come out with their list of top-25 teams for 2007.

You might ask, "Who cares about such rankings?". Well, you should care. Rankings in college football mean a whole lot, especially if you are trying to get to an elite bowl game.

Of the 25 teams that started last season ranked in the AP Poll, 8 of those teams made a BCS bowl. That's a 33% chance of making it into an elite bowl game. Only 1 team from a BCS conference, Wake Forest, played their way into a BCS game after starting the season outside of the top-25. There are 65 teams from BCS conferences, so that means unranked teams had a 1.5% chance of making it. It doesn't take a mathematician to know that your chances go way up when starting the season ranked!

Here is what the experts are saying. Some of these rankings were written before Ben was named the starting quarterback by Coach Dorrell.

Sports Illustrated: #22
With a staggering 20 returning starters from the squad that stunned USC in last year's regular-season finale, the biggest mystery this spring has involved the quarterback race between incumbents Pat Cowan and Ben Olson. Both have struggled against UCLA's loaded defense.
Fox Sports: #9
Who will the quarterback be? The Pat Cowan/Ben Olson debate will be the big one this off-season. That's the only offensive issue with 10 starters returning. The defense loses Justin Hickman, but All-America end Bruce Davis comes back, along with nine other starters. The team's biggest loss is PK Justin Medlock.
Athlon Sports: #15
The arrival of DeWayne Walker from the NFL coaching ranks as defensive coordinator was just what the doctor ordered, bringing vast improvement on that side of the ball, and the top eight tacklers all return. End Bruce Davis is one of the best pass rushers in America, having registered 12.5 sacks (tied for fourth nationally) last season, and there are four battle-hardened performers at the tackle positions, including starters Kevin Brown and Brigham Harwell.
Lindy's Sports Annual: #22
This is UCLA’s time. Nine of the defensive starters are seniors. Seven offensive starters are seniors. If the Bruins could be trusted to be more consistent, the ranking would be even higher.

Here are some other online publications ranking the Bruins:

SportingNews.com: #6
College Football News: #9
NationalChamps.net: #15
ESPN: #23
Rivals: Unranked

It looks like the Bruins will end up somewhere in the high-teens, low-twenties. That's not a bad starting spot. The relatively easy early schedule should allow the Bruins an opportunity to move close to the top-10 before starting the more difficult part of the schedule. I think the first big test will come September 29th when our boys head up to Corvallis to play the Beavers.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is what makes football championships such a joke: they are determined based on pre-season opinion, rather than performance on the field.

An unbeaten team not ranked in the top 20 to start the season will never be ranked ahead of a 1 loss team ranked in the top 5 to start the season. You just don't have a chance at the national title unless sportswriters think you should have a chance at the beginning of the season.

It is total nonsense

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