We released college football writers here at CBS Sports as well as a few colleagues from 247Sports. I am one of the voters, but my ballot is a bit different from the rest.on Thursday, ranking every one of the 130 FBS teams for the 2017 season. The rankings are compiled via ballots from a host of our
I turn in my rankings of all 130 teams every week based not on my opinion, but the same formula I use for the Fornelli 50 and Bottom 25 during the season.
I prefer doing it this way because I offer my opinion on plenty of things here at CBS Sports — particularly in this space with the Friday Five — and when it comes to ranking teams, I prefer objective data to my subjective opinions. Also, having a mathematical formula to use for ranking teams makes ranking 130 teams a lot simpler!
But it also gives what I believe to be a more accurate portrayal of a team’s quality. No matter how hard we try not to, all of us have preconceived notions about a team. If a team’s been bad in the past, we’re hesitant to consider it good and vice versa. If a team’s from a Power Five conference, we might give it the benefit of the doubt a bit more easily than we would a Group of Five team.
My rankings remove all of this from the equation and judge teams based on nothing but what they’ve accomplished in the current season. So with that in mind, I’ve decided that for this week’s Friday Five we’re getting a double-shot. I’m ranking the five most overrated and underrated teams in the CBS 130 when compared to my rankings.
Now, I did make a small adjustment. I’m sticking to teams ranked in the top 50 of the CBS 130 because the reality is that the difference between the No. 70 team and No. 90 team isn’t significant, so we’d be picking nits.
We’ll start with the overrated.
Most overrated teams
Oregon — Fornelli: 49 | CBS 130: 41
I’m not sure what there was about Oregon this year that could specifically lead my fellow voters to overvalue the Ducks. Our last glimpse of the team this season was its 38-28 loss to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, and during the regular season, it lost to Washington State by 23, Stanford by 42 and Washington by 35. Injuries at quarterback played a role here, but this is still a 7-6 team we’re talking about, and if I had it at 49, then somebody had to have this team ranked in the 30s to get it up to 41.
Utah — Fornelli: 56 | CBS 130: 46
Another Pac-12 team? That damn West Coast Bias is at it again! This Utah team finished the regular season at 6-6, losing six of its last eight games. Its best win was likely its 30-14 Heart of Dallas Bowl victory over West Virginia. Apparently, that finish impressed my fellow voters quite a bit.
Boston College — Fornelli: 51 | CBS 130: 39
I’m going to blame this one entirely on Chip Patterson. He probably had Boston College in his top 10. The Eagles lost the Pinstripe Bowl to Iowa 27-20 to finish 7-6 on the season. Of their seven wins, five came against bowl teams, but the best of the bunch was likely 8-5 Louisville. It was a respectable season, but not one that should have received top 40 recognition.
Texas A&M — Fornelli: 63 | CBS 130: 49
We finally have ourselves some of that famous SEC Bias. Like Oregon, Utah, and BC, A&M was a 7-6 team this season. Its best win was a 24-17 victory over 9-4 South Carolina. Its other five FBS wins came against teams with a combined record of 22-37. It finished the season with an exciting 55-52 loss to Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl. If I had this team at No. 63 then quite a few of my colleagues had to have the Aggies much higher to finish at No. 49. I have no explanation for this other than its Texas A&M.
Wake Forest — Fornelli: 41 | CBS 130: 27
Speaking of the Belk Bowl, our most overrated team is Wake Forest. Of course, you knew that was coming. The media has long had a history of propping up their beloved Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Now, of the five overrated teams listed here, Wake had the best season. It finished 8-5 and picked up nice wins against Louisville and a ranked NC State. But are those the kind of wins that put a team in the top 30? I don’t think so. My guess here is that some of my colleagues were still a bit drunk on that Belk Bowl.
Most underrated teams
Army — Fornelli: 31 | CBS 130: 36
Army won 10 games this season. Now, you can argue that those 10 wins came against a schedule that doesn’t stack up with other teams with fewer wins, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Still, Army — a team that’s allergic to the forward pass — managed to win 10 games, including a thriller against San Diego State in the Armed Forces Bowl.
Toledo — Fornelli: 29 | CBS 130: 35
With Toledo, we have a team that won 11 games and its conference in 2017. That’s good enough for the top 30 in my rankings, but it wasn’t worth of a top 40 spot from some colleagues. Hell, one or two may not have had it in its top 50. Instead, they chose a 7-6 Boston College or Texas A&M over the 11-win Rockets.
Ohio — Fornelli 35: | CBS 130: 43
I understand the skepticism with Ohio more than I do Toledo. The Bobcats didn’t even win their division in the MAC, let alone the conference, but they still finished 9-4 and were the best team in their division whether they won it or not. Sorry, Akron.
San Diego State — Fornelli: 28 | CBS 130: 38
San Diego State won 10 games this season. It’s the third-straight season in which the Aztecs have won at least 10 games. Obviously, that doesn’t carry much weight with my fellow voters. While my formula had this team pegged at No. 28, the composite left it at No. 38. In other words, some voters had this team way too low on their ballot.
Troy – Fornelli: 19 | CBS 130: 33
Do you remember Troy? LSU certainly does. After all, the Trojans beat LSU in Baton Rouge 24-21 earlier this season. They then went on to finish the season at 11-2, capping it off with a 20-point trouncing of North Texas (a C-USA division winner) in the New Orleans Bowl. My formula, which doesn’t care what conference you come from, considered Troy to have had the 19th-best season in the country this year. My fellow voters saw a Sun Belt champion and felt that was worth of inclusion in their top 50 or so.
Now, do you notice a trend with the teams on these lists? The five most overrated teams all come from Power Five conferences, the underrated teams from the Group of Five.
This is precisely why I felt the need to create my formula because, if I hadn’t and I just sent in a ballot based on my opinion, I’d have no doubt shown the same kind of bias toward the bigger schools that my colleagues did.
Now, I don’t write this to call anybody out, because as I just said, I’m as guilty of it as anybody else. I just hope that by writing about this topic it maybe leads some people to question their conceptions about who is good and who isn’t. I know that I disagree with my rankings often, but they also cause me to look at things from a different angle and question my own opinions.
That’s a good thing.