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The AP and Coaches Polls Don't Respect South Carolina and Ole Miss

Tell me which one doesn't belong:

  • Unranked Washington defeats fourth-ranked Southern Cal. The following week, the Trojans drop to 10th in the Coaches Poll and 12th in the AP Poll. The Huskies jump to 24th in the AP and 31st in the Coaches.
  • Unranked South Carolina defeats fourth-ranked Ole Miss. The following week, the Rebels drop to 21st in the AP and 18th in the Coaches. The Gamecocks rise to 28th in the AP and 29th in the Coaches.
  • Unranked Iowa defeats fifth-ranked Penn State. The following week, the Nittany Lions drop to 15th in the AP and 13th in the Coaches. The Hawkeyes rise to 13th in the AP and 17th in the Coaches.

If you picked our upset of the Rebels, you win the prize. In the other two cases, the losing team didn't drop as much, and the winning team jumped higher.

On the face I don't necessarily have a problem with us not making the poll. Ole Miss probably was overrated, and we still have a lot to prove. Moreover, if we take care of business over the next two weeks, we'll be ranked before heading to Tuscaloosa, which will be a legitimate opportunity to prove that we're for real. In other words, I think if this team is really one of the 25 best teams in the country, it will prove that over the next several weeks. It will have plenty of chances.

However, I do take issue with the seeming double standard in place in how the pollsters judge upsets. This double standard victimized both us and the Rebels. While I'm not surprised that undefeated Iowa jumped as high as they did, why didn't Penn State drop as far as the Rebels, considering that they lost at home and generally looked completely inept after an easrly big play? How did Washington jump much higher than us, despite the fact that Washington looked much more like a fluke at the time than we do now? (The Huskies, of course, proved they were indeed a fluke by losing to Stanford this past weekend.)

The answer, I think, probably has a lot to do with how the polls view "name-brand" programs vis-a-vis Ole Miss. Although lots of teams have shown signs of being overrated over the past couple of weeks, the idea that the Rebels were overrated has gained more traction than it has for other teams. That's because the pollsters are more ready to believe that Penn State, Southern Cal, and others of their ilk will bounce back while the Rebels sink back to their usual place in the bottom half of the SEC West. Moreover, our win over Ole Miss doesn't really mean as much because it didn't come against a traditional power. All in all, it's just yet another reason why the average football fan should hate polls.