The argument here for weeks has been that the polls really do still matter -- that they frame the season in a way that influences the selection committee members (even if subconsciously) and how we, as fans, view the season as it unfolds. Now that we have a playoff, though, there's really is less of a reason to watch the postseason polls; the odds of a split title, one of the few reasons to watch those polls in the BCS era, are now vanishingly small. Still, they're something to chew over before we hit the offseason, so let's take a look.
|AP Poll||USA Today Coaches Poll|
|1||Ohio State||5||1||Ohio State||4|
|5||Michigan State (t)||7||5||Michigan State||7|
|5||Florida State (t)||2||6||Florida State||2|
|12||Arizona State||14||12||Mississippi State||8|
|16||Boise State||21||16||Boise State||21|
|18||Kansas State||11||18||Kansas State||10|
|21||Utah||23||21||Southern Cal||27 (NR)|
|25||Memphis||29 (NR)||25||Memphis||31 (NR)|
There's not a ton of difference in either of these polls -- the biggest gap in perceptions of any team appears to be the three-space difference on Missouri, and the 25 teams listed by each poll are the same. Hivemind has set in. (Also, it's the end of the season, so you would expect an objective set of human beings ranking teams properly to come up with a similar set of rankings. Perhaps the polls aren't that bad after all.) One neat thing: Memphis is ranked in both polls. There's something you don't see every day.
Alabama is out of the No. 1 spot, replaced by Ohio State -- no surprise there. The Tide falls all the way to No. 4, behind Oregon and TCU, which seems about right given the Ducks and the Horned Frogs' showings in the postseason. Georgia is the only other team in the Top 10. The SEC West's grip on the ranks of the college football elite has been pretty thoroughly smashed.
That's in no small part due to the bowl losses by Mississippi State and Ole Miss, which knocked the Bulldogs down a few spots -- to 11th or 12th, depending on the poll -- and sent Ole Miss on a deep slide. The Rebels plunged eight spots with the sportwriters, the worst drop in that survey, and seven places in the coaches poll, the second-biggest fall in the USA Today poll. (Only Kansas State was worse.)
Missouri, as mentioned before, was the most divisive team. The coaches put them at No. 11, meaning the SEC East just missed having more Top 10 teams than the West, while the AP put them at No. 14. A lot of that probably depends on how much you factor in the blowout losses to Alabama and Georgia along with the loss to Indiana and how much you factor in the rest of the season, which featured wins over perfectly respectable (though not necessarily ranked) teams.
Auburn clocks in at No. 22 in one poll, No. 23 in another -- and that's it. Six SEC teams in the Top 25. That's not terrible -- it's tied for the most with the Pac-12, and it's almost 43 percent of the conference's members ranked in the top 20 percent of college football. But after a season in which the SEC West at one point contained half the teams in the AP Top 10, it's not hard to see where the "SEC having a down year" narrative began at the end of the season. With those SEC West teams playing each other, and the tough draws some of them got in the bowls, the conference never really had a chance to live up to the standard it set in the early going. Its own success became its greatest enemy.