Updated, 11:52 a.m.: AP voter Josh Kendall of the State in Columbia, S.C., offered his explanation why he dropped Tech out of the top 25 on his ballot:
“The Jackets were absolutely a casualty of Virginia Tech’s stinker. I dropped them solely on the results of the Hokies game, and I realize that’s inherently unfair on one hand. However, I couldn’t rank a Pittsburgh team that lost to Youngstown State and therefore I couldn’t rank a Virginia Tech team that just lost to Pittsburgh and therefore I couldn’t rank a Tech team that lost to Virginia Tech two weeks ago. I realize this kind of transitive logic can’t hold up the entire season but with only three games worth of data on these teams, I think it’s a valid way to rank people right now. The Jackets are definitely on my radar and if they keep looking good, I will put them right back in the poll and even high in the poll if they keep winning.”
Please do me a favor and not flood Josh, a colleague and friend, with nastygrams. Bear in mind that he started Tech out in the preseason at No. 21 and kept them in the top 25 after the Hokies loss. His opinion of Tech, it would seem, is higher than most voters.
So this was unusual. Georgia Tech beat Virginia Saturday in one of its most lopsided ACC wins since it joined the conference and actually lost ground in the Associated Press top 25 poll voting.
After beating Presbyterian two Saturdays ago, the Yellow Jackets ranked No. 35 with 15 points from four different voters, according to the website pollspeak.com. Then, after the Jackets’ 56-20 win on Saturday, only two voters kept Tech on their ballots. Tech fell from No. 35 to No. 40 with three points.
Moreover, eight different teams leapfrogged past Tech. Perhaps the most puzzling jump was by Northwestern, which beat Boston College at home 22-13. The Wildcats went from No. 39 to No. 28, five points to 41. Tech did more or less the same thing as Northwestern – beat a middling-to-poor ACC team at home – but did it in far more convincing fashion and fell backwards, while the Wildcats were rewarded.
Iowa State made a similar head-scratching leap, going from No. 39 (five points) to No. 32 (15 points) after beating Western Illinois 37-3 at home. Like Tech, Iowa State beat an undefeated team in Western Illinois, although the Leathernecks came in 2-0 with wins over Butler and Indianapolis, while the Cavaliers had beaten Richmond and Penn State.
Perhaps the team that should be bothered isn’t Tech, but Virginia.
First off, while I find this interesting, it’s pretty small beans. If Tech continues to win, it’ll get into the poll. I think some of this has to do with the season being a few weeks old and voters moving teams around as they learn more about them.
Second, there is no anti-Tech conspiracy. The poll is made up of 60 voters who don’t have the time or interest to depress Tech’s ranking. To me, Louisiana-Monroe has more of a gripe than Tech. After earning 23 points for beating Arkansas on the road, the Warhawks took Auburn to overtime on the road and then lost all of its votes. Brigham Young was No. 25 and lost 24-21 to archrival Utah on the road when a last-second field-goal attempt bounced off the upright. The Cougars didn’t get a single vote in the most recent poll.
Maybe the conspiracy is against schools with two words in their name.
If I had to guess, I’d say that Virginia Tech’s loss to Pitt probably didn’t do the Jackets any favors in the “good loss” category. Further, Tech simply not being undefeated doesn’t help, either. (Northwestern is 3-0 with wins over Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Boston College.) As Tech’s rise to No. 12 last year for starting 6-0 would indicate, there’s something to be said for winning all of your games.
The win over Presbyterian would seem to not carry much value. So all the Jackets can claim is a home win over an average Virginia team, albeit a blowout. That said, from No. 20 on down in last week’s poll, the only other team to lose and fall back was Wisconsin, which was No. 32 and then dropped to a tie for No. 36 after beating Utah State 16-14, a result that is not similar to Tech’s.
Or maybe it’s the “If Tech beat Virginia that badly, then Virginia can’t be any good” line of logic. (kidding) Personally, I think it’s the Virginia Tech thing or just oversight. I don’t think I’d ever want to be a voter (thankfully, the AJC’s policies prohibit that from ever being a possibility) because it’s a lot to keep track of in a short amount of time and it gets highly scrutinized.
Tech is No. 34 in the USA Today coaches poll. In the seven other ranking systems used in the BCS, the highest Tech is ranked is No. 29 in the Billingsley Top 50 computer poll. They’re not in the top 50 of the Anderson/Hester, Colley Matrix, Massey Ratings, Sagarin and Wolfe Ratings computer systems.
Tech and the eight teams that leapfrogged (with last week’s ranking and point total and this week’s ranking and point total):
35. Georgia Tech (15) beat Virginia 56-20, fell to No. 40 (3)
36. Oklahoma State (13) beat Louisiana-Lafayette 65-24, moved up to tie for No. 30 (19)
39. Iowa State (5) beat Western Illinois 37-3, moved up to No. 32 (15)
39. Northwestern (5) beat Boston College 22-13, moved up to No. 28 (41)
Missouri went from no votes to tie for tie for No. 38 (4) after beating Arizona State 24-20 at home
Texas A&M went from no votes to tie for No. 38 (4) after beating SMU 48-3 on the road
Texas Tech went from no votes to tie for No. 36 (4) after beating New Mexico 49-14 at home
Cincinnati went from no votes to No. 34 (9) after beating Delaware State 23-7 at home
Rutgers went from no votes to tie for No. 30 (19) after beating No. 37 South Florida 23-13 on the road
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog