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Fixing the Final 1994 AP College Football Poll

1) Nebraska 13-0
2) Penn State 12-0
3) Colorado 11-1
4) Florida State 10-1-1
5) Alabama 12-1
6) Miami-Florida 10-2
7) Florida 10-2-1
8) Texas A&M 10-0-1
9) Auburn 9-1-1
10) Utah 10-2
11) Oregon 9-4
12) Michigan 8-4
13) Southern Cal 8-3-1
14) Ohio State 9-4
15) Virginia 9-3
16) Colorado State 10-2
17) North Carolina State 9-3
18) Brigham Young 10-3
19) Kansas State 9-3
20) Arizona 8-4
21) Washington State 8-4
22) Tennessee 8-4
23) Boston College 7-4-1
24) Mississippi State 8-4
25) Texas 8-4


To the left is the final 1994 AP college football top 25. You can access all of these teams' full schedules at the College Football Data Warehouse (amongst a number of other places). The fixed final AP top 25 follows the article below. 

Poor ol' Joe Paterno. For the 4th time in his career, he fielded a team that went unbeaten, untied, and uncrowned. That's some bad luck. Or an atrociously bad system for a major sport. Take your pick.

Of course, Penn State is only uncrowned if you rely on the major polls for your "championships." Mythical national championships are in the eye of the beholder, and this beholder views Penn State and Nebraska as co-champions for 1994. But who should be #1?

The AP poll got this one right. Stuck in the Rose Bowl, Penn State fell just short of defeating a top ten opponent this season. And they had 2 close wins (touchdown or less), while Nebraska had 1. And that one close game for Nebraska came over #3 Miami-Florida on their home field, where the Hurricanes had only lost once in ten years.

Er, at least Miami was #3 at the time the game was played. But I guess losing a close game to a 4th quarter rally from the #1 team made the AP voters reconsider quite a bit, because I see that the 'Canes dropped all the way to #6. Does that seem odd to you? Seems odd to me. Let's take a closer look at it...




Nebraska's Tommie Frazier against Miami in the 1995 Orange Bowl

Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier on the late winning touchdown drive of a 24-17 victory over Miami in the Orange Bowl for the national championship.

Miami-Florida

As it turns out, there isn't much to look at here. Miami beat Florida State 34-20, which is why they were ranked ahead of FSU before the bowls. Dropping Miami back behind FSU for losing to the #1 team in a close game is just senseless.

So we'll move Miami back ahead of the Seminoles to #4, dropping Florida State and Alabama one spot each.

Florida

Same story here. Florida beat Alabama in the SEC championship game 24-23, and they were ranked ahead of Alabama before the bowls. Then Florida lost by 6 in the Sugar Bowl to Florida State, and the voters dropped them behind Alabama. Again, this is senseless. The thing is, Florida's loss and tie to Florida State should not hurt them compared to Alabama, because Florida State is ranked ahead of Alabama. If anything, the tie should give them a leg up on Alabama. Not that they need it, having already beaten the Tide for the SEC title.

Furthermore, if you take a look at these two schools' full schedules, Florida outperformed Alabama by light years. In Florida's other 9 wins aside from their 1-point win over Bama, the closest anyone got to the Gators was 17 points. But 11 of Alabama's 13 opponents got within 17 points of them, and they won 7 games by only a touchdown or less!

This fix is easy. We just need to switch them: Florida #6, Alabama #7.

Auburn

Next up are a couple of win-hoarding teams that were on probation. #9 Auburn finished 9-1-1, #8 Texas A&M 10-0-1. Auburn's loss came to Alabama, who is ranked ahead of Texas A&M, so it is irrelevant when comparing these two teams. They are therefore even in that each took one upset tie. However, Auburn's tie came to 6-4-1 Georgia, and Texas A&M's came to 1-9-1 Southern Methodist. That is not even. Auburn defeated now-#6 Florida and #24 Mississippi State, both on the road, while Texas A&M defeated but one ranked opponent, #25 Texas (and they will not remain in the fixed top 25). That is also not even. And Auburn had 2 close wins over unrated opponents, one less than Texas A&M had. Game, set, and match.

Another simple switch: Auburn #8, Texas A&M #9.

Ohio State

Poor ol' John Cooper. He just couldn't beat Michigan-- even when he beat them! Take 1994. After failing to beat Michigan in his first 6 seasons, his 9-4 Buckeyes finally overcame the 8-4 Wolverines 22-6. His reward? A Citrus Bowl date with 12-1 Alabama, a close loss, and Ohio State ended up ranked two places behind Michigan in the final poll. A third time senseless. I think we have a theme here.

We'll drop Michigan behind Ohio State where they belong, moving Southern Cal to #12, Ohio State to #13, and Michigan to #14.

Colorado State

Time to pick on a little big team? Nope. 10-2 Colorado State had no upset losses and 2 wins over ranked opponents, while the team ranked in front of them, 9-3 Virginia, had 2 upset losses and no win over a ranked opponent. Sometimes I wonder if AP voters pay attention at all to what they're doing. Senseless is indeed the theme of the 1994 AP poll.

Another switch: Colorado State #15, Virginia #16.

Arizona, Washington State, and Washington

Here is a trio of 4-loss PAC 10 teams with better relevant records than several teams ranked ahead of them (and in Washington's case, many teams ranked ahead of them). 8-4 Arizona and 8-4 Washington State were ranked #20 and #21, while 7-4 Washington was curiously not ranked at all, or even close to it, despite beating now-#4 Miami 38-20 and now-#13 Ohio State 25-16. That is quite an oversight.

All 3 teams should move up, and Virginia, with its 2 upset losses and no wins over ranked opponents, makes for an easy team to pick on again.

So we'll move them all past Virginia. Arizona moves to #16, Washington State to #17, Washington comes into the top 25 at #18, Virginia drops to #19, and everyone behind Virginia drops accordingly. 8-4 Texas falls out of the top 25, which is just as well, as they lost twice to unranked teams and beat no rated ones.

Tennessee

8-4 Tennessee has the same relevant record as the three teams now ranked ahead of them, Kansas State (now #22), Brigham Young (#21), and North Carolina State (#20). But compared to Tennessee, all three are weak in schedule, performance, or both. Let's look at NC State. Like Tennessee, they took 2 upset losses, losing those games by 21 and 14 points. Tennessee lost their upsets by 2 and 3 points, and both occurred earlier in the season than NC State's first upset loss. NC State beat 4 unranked opponents by a touchdown or less, while Tennessee only had 1 such game.

So let's move Tennessee up to #20, dropping North Carolina State, Brigham Young, and Kansas State one spot each.

While Tennessee struggled to a 1-3 start after losing their starting quarterback, they finished out 7-1 with freshman Peyton Manning at the wheel, beating their last 3 opponents by an average of 54-8. I myself would have rated Tennessee much higher, but the AP poll has a case for not doing so.

Mississippi State

8-4 Mississippi State, now sitting at #25, is similarly looking at a rise, but they can't go quite so high as Tennessee due to a 28-24 bowl loss to North Carolina State. So let's just compare them to 10-3 Brigham Young. Let's see, MSU has a win over a ranked opponent, BYU does not. And MSU has 2 close wins over unranked opponents, while BYU has 6. Ouch.

We'll move Mississippi State to #22, dropping Brigham Young to #23, Kansas State to #24, and Boston College to #25.

Virginia Tech

For our last fix, we have 8-4 Virginia Tech, who won 12-7 at 7-4-1 Boston College. And lest you think that was a fluke, VT was 5-2 in Big East play, while BC was 3-3-1.

So Virginia Tech shall take over BC's #25 ranking. 

Fixed AP Top 25

And there we have it. Boston College and Texas fall out, and Washington and Virginia Tech replace them. This time, the new teams actually have a slightly better straight record than the old ones. More importantly, the old teams had 4 losses and a tie to unranked opponents and 1 win over rated teams, while their replacements have 2 losses to unranked opponents and 2 wins over rated teams. And the new teams were 1-0 head-to-head against the old teams (Virginia Tech over Boston College). Another slam dunk.

1) Nebraska 13-0--
2) Penn State 12-0--
3) Colorado 11-1--
4) Miami-Florida 10-2+2
5) Florida State 10-1-1-1
6) Florida 10-2-1+1
7) Alabama 12-1-2
8) Auburn 9-1-1+1
9) Texas A&M 10-0-1-1
10) Utah 10-2--
11) Oregon 9-4--
12) Southern Cal 8-3-1+1
13) Ohio State 9-4+1
14) Michigan 8-4-2
15) Colorado State 10-2+1
16) Arizona 8-4+4
17) Washington State 8-4+4
18) Washington 7-4IN
19) Virginia 9-3-4
20) Tennessee 8-4+2
21) North Carolina State 9-3-4
22) Mississippi State 8-4+2
23) Brigham Young 10-3-5
24) Kansas State 9-3-5
25) Virginia Tech 8-4IN

OUT: #23 Boston College 7-4-1
#25 Texas 8-4

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