Tip Top 25 in helmets, smaller

Overrated and Underrated College Football Teams of the Decade 2000-2009

So now that I've repaired every AP poll of the last ten years, we can take a look at the totals and see which teams have been most often overrated and underrated by AP poll voters in the last decade. If you've been looking through those repaired AP polls, then much of this will not be a surprise.


I expected to see this list dominated by the "little big teams," and indeed, three little bigs made the list (BYU, TCU, and Boise), but they hardly dominated it. The surprise here, for me anyway, is the most overrated team of the decade: Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech was the team that was most often overrated (five times) as well as the team that was overrated by the most total ranking places. I suspect they are a victim of their conference. The ACC stands out in this list in general, with 4 teams out of the ten, including 1st and 3rd place. Here is the list, and the total number of ranking places these teams were overrated 2000-2009:

1)  Virginia Tech          -17     (5 times)
2) Texas                       -15.5  (3 times)
3) Maryland                  -12      (2 times)
     Illinois                          "            "
5) Brigham Young        -11.5  (2 times)
6) Texas Christian        -10     (4 times)
7) Boise State              -10      (3 times)
8) Oregon                      -7       (4 times)
9) Boston College        -6.5    (3 times)
10) Wake Forest          -6        (1 time)
       Washington State   "             "
       Minnesota                "             "

Including all teams, not just those on this list, the ACC was the most overrated conference, its teams being overrated by a total of 27.5 ranking places. Seven ACC teams were overrated, and four were underrated, though not by very much (the underrated teams were Georgia Tech, FSU, UNC, and Miami). The other 3 most overrated conferences were the Mountain West (-22.5), the Big East (-19), and the WAC (-12). No surprises there. Those happen to be the weakest conferences that consistently get teams rated at all.


The list of most underrated teams of the decade is pretty much as I would expect: dominated by the SEC. The AP poll is set up to give relatively equal regional representation in its top 25, so when one conference is far and away the best, you can expect that conference to be consistently underrated. Six of the ten most underrated teams are from the SEC, including the top 5! What is more interesting, however, are the four non-SEC teams on this list: Penn State, Purdue, Oklahoma State, and even one "little big team," Bowling Green (thanks to just one season). Penn State, I would say, is the only real surprise, given that they are a "name" team that you would not expect to be underrated very often. Here is the list, and the total number of ranking places these teams were underrated 2000-2009:

1) Auburn                 +22     (6 times)
2) Florida                 +19     (5 times)
3) Louisiana State  +18.5  (5 times)
4) Tennessee          +15     (4 times)
5) Georgia               +14     (5 times)
6) Penn State          +14      (3 times)
7) Purdue                 +14      (2 times)
8) Oklahoma State  +13     (4 times)
9) Arkansas             +12     (3 times)
10) Bowling Green  +11     (1 time)

So it is no surprise that when you include all teams, not just those on this list, the SEC was by far the most underrated conference, by a gigantic total of 109 ranking places! In fact, the SEC is the only conference that was really underrated at all, at least to a degree that is worth mentioning. And the SEC had only one team that was overrated: Mississippi.

I would have guessed that Florida would be the most underrated team of the decade, but Auburn was not a big surprise. They are historically underrated, possibly the most underappreciated college football program in history. Their 2004 team is the only SEC team with a perfect record not to be named a national champion since... Auburn 1993. And Auburn probably should have been voted #1 in 1983, but they were not. They were voted #1 in 1957, when they were the only major unbeaten team, but even then, the coaches and football writers association polls voted 9-1 Ohio State #1. So Auburn has long been the Rodney Dangerfield of college football. As to why this is, I can't exactly say, but... yawn... hmm. Sorry, I just forgot who and what I was writing about. Oh well.