Despite the establishment of the college football playoff selection committee, the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls still matter a great deal in driving the discussion, and especially early in the year, when the committee isn't meeting. This week, though, contains a perfect example of why the polls shouldn't even be as important as they are, and why basing who played in the BCS National Championship Game on one of those polls was a bad idea. First, your polls.
|Associated Press||Change||Points||USA Today||Change||Points|
|1||Ohio St. Buckeyes (59)||--||1,523||Ohio St. Buckeyes (62)||--||1,574|
|2||Alabama Crimson Tide||--||1,423||Alabama Crimson Tide (1)||--||1,472|
|3||TCU Horned Frogs||--||1,366||TCU Horned Frogs||--||1,430|
|4||Michigan St. Spartans (2)||+1||1,354||Michigan St. Spartans||+2||1,383|
|5||Baylor Bears||-1||1,240||Baylor Bears||-1||1,324|
|6||Southern Cal Trojans||+2||1,146||Florida St. Seminoles||+2||1,119|
|7||Georgia Bulldogs||+3||1,031||Southern Cal Trojans||+3||1,116|
|8||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||+1||1,012||Georgia Bulldogs||+1||1,108|
|9||Florida St. Seminoles||+2||973||Clemson Tigers||+3||948|
|10||UCLA Bruins||+3||928||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||+1||903|
|11||Clemson Tigers||+1||926||Ole Miss Rebels||+3||851|
|12||Oregon Ducks||-5||833||UCLA Bruins||+1||850|
|13||LSU Tigers||+1||787||Oregon Ducks||-8||847|
|14||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||+1||716||LSU Tigers||+1||806|
|15||Ole Miss Rebels||+2||713||Auburn Tigers||-8||784|
|16||Oklahoma Sooners||+3||705||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||--||731|
|17||Texas A&M Aggies||-1||703||Oklahoma Sooners||--||664|
|18||Auburn Tigers||-12||519||Texas A&M Aggies||+1||590|
|19||BYU Cougars||NR||349||Arizona Wildcats||+1||423|
|20||Arizona Wildcats||+2||342||Missouri Tigers||+1||320|
|21||Utah Utes||+3||290||Utah Utes||+4||279|
|22||Missouri Tigers||-1||264||BYU Cougars||+8||204|
|23||Northwestern Wildcats||NR||170||Wisconsin Badgers||+1||202|
|24||Wisconsin Badgers||NR||158||Northwestern Wildcats||+5||95|
|25||Oklahoma St. Cowboys||NR||48||Oklahoma St. Cowboys||+3||71|
|ORV||Temple (2-0) 38; West Virginia (2-0) 37; Mississippi State (1-1) 32; Tennessee (1-1) 30; Toledo (1-0) 29; Kansas State (2-0) 26; Arizona State (1-1) 20; Houston (2-0) 16; Boise State (1-1) 16; NC State (2-0) 14; Florida (2-0) 12; Minnesota (1-1) 9; Arkansas (1-1) 6; Iowa (2-0) 5; California (2-0) 5; Miami (Fla.) (2-0) 3; Stanford (1-1) 3; Virginia Tech (1-1) 2; Western Kentucky (2-0) 2; Duke (2-0) 1||West Virginia 49; Tennessee 43; Kansas State 39; Arizona State 36; Mississippi State 35; Duke 32; Temple 24; Miami (Fla.) 16; Boise State 14; Memphis 13; North Carolina State 13; Kentucky 8; Minnesota 8; Florida 8; Illinois 8; California 6; Toledo 6; Iowa 5; Michigan 5; Nebraska 3; Arkansas 3; Houston 2; Pittsburgh 2; South Carolina 1; Texas Tech 1; Western Kentucky 1|
There was a little SEC blood on the floor this week after a pretty bad weekend. Three teams dropped from the AP poll: Arkansas, which lost to Toledo; Tennessee, which lost in gut-punch fashion to Oklahoma; and Mississippi State, which lost to LSU. Arkansas and Tennessee also fell out of the coaches' Top 25, but Mississippi State wasn't there to begin with.
Which brings us to one of the more outrageous things about both of these polls: Auburn is still ranked. Auburn's two wins are a seven-point victory over a Louisville team that could not beat Houston at home and an overtime victory against FCS program Jacksonville State. If Auburn had not been ranked at the beginning of the season, it is almost unfathomable that they would be ranked now. But the preseason narrative and the name brand of Auburn keeps them in the Top 25 despite having done nothing to earn it.
The wording of the AP's alert about its poll puts captures the bizarre way most people still think about polls.
Really, guys? "Despite win"? C'mon pic.twitter.com/El7JruYDDw— Brandon Larrabee (@TeamSpeedKills) September 13, 2015
Sure, it was an ugly win against a team that would not seriously be considered for the Top 25 right now -- but it's a win, so Auburn should remain ranked, right? I mean, that is how it works, right?
More context: Auburn needed overtime to beat Sagarin's No. 80 team -- ranked below Colorado and Washington State -- and remains in the rankings. Mississippi State, which lost by two points to either the 13th- or 14th-ranked team in the country, depending on your poll of choice, is in the others receiving votes category. That's the power of narrative and preseason opinion. And while the selection committee might help us clear our heads of that in a few weeks, it's the only real way the average fan has of comparing teams in the interim.