If you’re a college football fan, you’ve probably heard this for as long as you can remember and said it a few times too: “That team is overrated.”
Expectations are always a tricky thing, especially when trying to project how well a team of numerous individuals will come together and fare over a season — now potentially 15 games with the College Football Playoff.
Regardless, we decided to put it to the test, and devise a way to find out which programs have been the most overrated, or under-performed the most on a regular basis.
The methodology was simple — compare each year’s preseason and postseason Associated Press polls. The difference equals a point, plus or minus and anything outside of the top 25 doesn’t count toward anything.
The key’s consistency, because it’s just about the hardest thing to come by in the sport, and why Alabama’s current run has been so impressive under Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide have been ranked in the top five of the preseason Associated Press poll eight straight years, and either No. 1 or No. 2 six times.
Only twice during that stretch has Alabama finished outside of the top four in the final poll, and never below No. 10. Should the voters tab Alabama as the team to beat in 2017, it’ll be the 10th straight year Saban’s team was No. 1 at some point of the season.
Alabama is anything but overrated.
However, Notre Dame was last season.
The Fighting Irish were ranked 10th in the preseason, and not in the top 25 at the end of the year. Right behind them were Ole Miss, Michigan State and TCU, while amongst teams that were still ranked Tennessee fell the most from No. 9 to No. 22.
Most overrated team over the last 5 seasons: Georgia
Except for 2001, Georgia has been in the preseason top 25 every year since 1998. It has not been in the final poll five of the last eight years. The biggest drop-off was 2013 when the Bulldogs were No. 5 at the start of the season and went 8-5. They also went 6-7 in 2010.
Since 1997, Georgia has been in the top 10 at some of the season in every year except four. However, it finished in the top 10 in just six.
Georgia has been ranked No. 1 only once since Herschel Walker’s Heisman Trophy season of 1982, the preseason poll in 2008. After an unimpressive 45-21 victory against Georgia Southern it was leapfrogged by USC, and slid down to No. 3 two weeks later before subsequently losing at home to No. 8 Alabama, 41-30. The Bulldogs finished 10-3 and No. 13 in the final poll.
The next four most overrated programs after the Bulldogs were LSU, USC, Arkansas and UCLA.
Most overrated team over the last 10 seasons: Georgia
Following the Bulldogs were Oklahoma, LSU, Nebraska, USC and Texas.
Most overrated team over the last 25 seasons: Nebraska
Things haven’t been the same since Tom Osborne left in 1997, and Nebraska has finished out of the top 25 four straight years for the first time since 1959-62 (Bob Devaney’s first year).
The Cornhuskers had a nice run at No. 1 through the first two months of the 2000 season under Frank Solich, but then stumbled at No. 3 Oklahoma and lost at No. 16 Kansas State. They finished 10-2 and ranked eighth.
Only once since then has Nebraska both been in the preseason top 25 and finished with a better ranking at the end of the season, 2009. It began at No. 24 and moved up to No. 14. It’s also the program’s best result since 2001.
The next four programs were USC, Oklahoma, Florida State, Texas, Tennessee and Notre Dame.