Question of the day: Which teams are the most overrated and underrated in the AP college football poll? [Updated]
Reporters from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
[Updated at 12:18 p.m.:
Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times
Most overrated team in this year's AP poll? Let's start with No.1 Alabama. What other major college team losing nine starters on defense would be annointed in such an overwhelming manner?
I could have accepted Alabama in a closer vote, but the Crimson Tide took 54 first-place votes out of a possible 60. Boise State was also 14-0 last year, did not get a shot at winning the national title and returns more than 20 starters, yet ended up No. 3 with only one first-place vote?
Alabama should be loaded, for sure, but so is Ohio State, which picked up only three first-place votes in opening at No. 2. The Buckeyes return nine offensive starters, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the preseason Heisman favorite, and seven starters on defense. Ohio State also plays eight home games -- including four "paycheck" games against Marshall, Ohio, Eastern Michigan and 1-AA Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Also overrated ... Louisiana State at No. 21. The Tigers are 17-9 since winning the BCS title in 2007 (with two losses, mind you).
Underrated? That's easy too. How can Navy, coming off a 10-win season and its second win in three years over Notre Dame, garner only 12 points?
And wait a minute: USC opens at No. 14 in the AP, but Stanford doesn't crack the top 25 despite crushing USC last year at the Coliseum? Well, you say USC has a great young QB. Well, he's not better than Stanford's great young QB. You say Stanford lost running back Toby Gerhart. Well, USC lost Pete Carroll and 30 scholarships.
UCLA fans want me to put the Bruins here. Sorry. UCLA, coming off 7-6 and a bowl win over Temple, did not pick up a single point in either the AP or the coaches' poll. And the coaches poll includes five Pac-10 coaches, the former UCLA coach (Bob Toledo) and the Temple coach (Al Golden). These guys must know something.]
Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune
Let’s start at the top: How can Alabama be rated No. 1 after losing 10 of its 11 defensive starters? I know Nick Saban can recruit, but can a program really wave goodbye to that many quality players and remain the nation’s best? That wouldn’t say much for the nation, in my book.
Also overrated: No. 19 Penn State. Minus a legit starting quarterback and still plugging holes in the O-line, I see the Nittany Lions finishing in the bottom half of the Big Ten.
The most underrated team didn’t even make the top 25: Cincinnati. The Bearcats are first among the “others receiving votes” teams even though they still have the weapons to crack 40 points against half their competition.
[Updated at 1:52 p.m.:
Desmond Conner, Hartford Courant
Boise State at No. 3? Right now? No way.
That’s where BSU is ranked in the preseason AP poll, fifth in USA Today.
I respect what they’ve done, particularly beating Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and winning the game again last year, but ranking a team that high in the preseason when its rival games are Idaho, Nevada and Hawaii ... I don’t know, folks.
Yes, the Broncos are opening with Virginia Tech this year and also host Oregon State in a non-conference game, but the WAC schedule is, well, weak. That’s why they’re going Mountain West Conference next year.
Boise State is good and they’ve gotten two big bowl wins lately, including the 2010 Fiesta Bowl victory over a very good Texas Christian team. But that ranking is a little too much too soon.
Pitt is ranked too low at No. 15 in both polls. The quarterback is gone and Tino Sunseri is a bit of a mystery, but Dion Lewis isn’t. He was only the nation’s third-leading rusher as a freshman with 1,799 yards. There’s a 1,000-yard receiver returning in big Jonathan Baldwin, and let’s not forget one of the best defensive ends in the game right now in Greg Romeus, who was double-teamed most of the year and still got 8.5 sacks.
Andrew Carter, Orlando Sentinel
In terms of long-term, sustained success, the Florida Gators are probably the closest thing going these days to what Florida State was in the 1990s and to what USC was for much of the 2000s. In recent seasons, the Gators have recruited well, haven’t been affected too much by any personnel losses and they just continue to roll on. But there’s serious reason to doubt Florida is the fourth-best team in the nation, as the AP Top 25 suggests. For one, the Gators lost just about defensive player of note a season ago. Florida will be completely rebuilding on defense.
Offensively, they lost a certain quarterback you may have heard something about. Without Tim Tebow, Florida turns to John Brantley, who is perhaps as talented as he unproven.
A team that’s underrated? How about Miami at No. 13. The Hurricanes return, well, just about everybody from a nine-win team. Quarterback Jacory Harris is back. If he cuts down on interceptions, he can be among the best quarterbacks in the nation. Also returning is every skill player of note and eight starters from a defense that ranked among the top 25 in the nation last season. Few would be surprised to see Miami win the ACC's Coastal Division and play for the ACC title for the first time.]