Reaction to the Rankings, Week One: BYU Gets Respect, Moves Up After Win Over Washington State

The Brigham Young Cougars got a boost in the two major national rankings following their 30-6 romp over Washington State. How much and was it fair? Those questions are will be answered below in this week’s Reaction to the Rankings.

BYU moved up four spots from the preseason poll to number 28. The Cougars now have 63 points. Number 25 Stanford has 131, which is still a huge gap. There are only 60 voters. If every voter moved BYU up one spot, or put BYU at 25 if they didn’t have BYU in their ballot, then BYU would only have 123 points.

After finding itself as one of the “others receiving votes” as team number 32 in the Associated Press (AP) preseason poll, BYU is still one of the others, but closing in on a top 25 spot. The press clippings the day after the Thursday night win were very positive for BYU. Such a response from the media should signal that BYU would have an improved position in the media controlled AP Top 25. By improved position, I mean jump over teams that were ahead of them in the poll, notwithstanding those teams won their first game as well.

Four of the 31 teams ahead of BYU lost in week one. Of those four, only two dropped below BYU. Michigan (preseason no. 8) and Boise State (preseason no. 24) both lost to teams ranked in the preseason top 13, so it wasn’t expected that they would drop below the Cougars. They are now numbers 19 and 26, respectively. Georgia Tech and Auburn were also part of the “others receiving votes” in the preseason. With losses in their season openers, they account for two of the four spots BYU improved.

BYU did leapfrog three teams that won their season openers: Washington (21-12 vs. San Diego State), North Carolina (62-0 vs. Elon), and Utah (41-0 vs. Northern Colorado). Lack of respect for the opponent caused voters to demote North Carolina and Utah. It was a combination of lack of respect for opponent and poor play that caused voters to drop Washington.

The math, however, isn’t adding up. Two teams lost, three teams leapfrogged, equals a five spot improvement: 32-5 = 27. BYU is only 28.

Tennessee was number 33 in the preseason with 15 points compared to BYU’s 22. After beating North Carolina State 35-21, the Volunteers are now number 26 with 73 points (10 more than BYU).

Reaction to AP Ranking: I can accept this. The Tennessee win is a better win than BYU’s win. NC State has had a much better track record the last several years. At this point, slow and steady progress is preferred to avoid too much talk and overconfidence.

USA Today
BYU skyrocketed in the USA Today (Coaches) poll jumping from number 36 in the preseason to number 27 after week one. The Cougars now have 41 points (10 in the preseason), which is half the number of points for no. 25 Boise State. There are 59 voters in the USA Today poll, so cracking this Top 25 doesn’t appear as difficult.

The teams BYU moved ahead of since the preseason are: Auburn, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati, Texas A&M, Baylor, Utah, Mississippi State, South Florida, and North Carolina State. Of these nine schools, Auburn, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina State were the only ones to lose.

Tennessee did not leapfrog BYU, and BYU did not leapfrog Washington. Washington is no. 26 with 55 points, and Tennessee is no. 29 with 29 points.

BYU jumping over Baylor is interesting. Baylor beat SMU 59-24, and the replacement for Robert Griffin III played a great game. SMU has been better than BYU’s opponent Washington State in recent years. Could the exposure from playing on ESPN Thursday night explain why BYU eclipsed the Bears?

Reaction to USA Today Rankings: It was odd in the preseason to see BYU lower in the USA Today rankings than the AP. With BYU now no. 27 in the USA Today and no. 28 in the AP, things feel normal again. I like that BYU still has two opponents ranked (Notre Dame and Boise State). Hopefully, it will stay that way until September 20. Boise State has a bye before playing Miami (OH) September 15. It will be easy for voters to drop Boise State during the bye week because of the loss as other teams improve to 2-0. Not sure a big win over Miami (OH) to make Boise State 1-1 would move them back into the Top 25 before playing BYU, assuming no teams near the bottom of the rankings lose between now and then.

Overall Reaction
I like the respect that BYU got from the Washington State win, especially since it was not excessive. Overconfidence via poll position has been a struggle in the recent past.

It is nice to have bragging rights over Utah a few days earlier than expected. I don’t think the BYU players’ motivation and effort for that game will diminish by the marginal separation in the polls. Besides, the game this year is about so much more than just in-state bragging rights. Dignity needs to be restored.

I don’t want BYU to surpass Boise State in the rankings before the September 20 showdown. Should BYU be 3-0 and ranked ahead of Boise State, then overconfidence could set in. Additionally, BYU loses the edge of being the underdog/disrespected team.

If Stanford continues to struggle like it did against San Jose State, I don’t want to see them stay ahead of BYU just because they are “still winning” and their two BCS bowls the last two seasons. At a certain point, what happened this year has to outweigh what happened the last one, two, three, etc. seasons. The same can be said about Florida.

What’s your reaction to the rankings?

Note: Complete Poll results follow below.

AP Top 25


1 Alabama (45) 1-0 1481 2
2 USC (11) 1-0 1435 1
3 LSU (4) 1-0 1382 3
4 Oregon 1-0 1295 5
5 Oklahoma 1-0 1170 4
6 Florida State 1-0 1135 7
7 Georgia 1-0 1083 6
8 Arkansas 1-0 992 10
9 South Carolina 1-0 980 9
9 West Virginia 1-0 980 11
11 Michigan State 1-0 915 13
12 Clemson 1-0 788 14
13 Wisconsin 1-0 664 12
14 Ohio State 1-0 634 18
15 Virginia Tech 1-0 604 16
16 Nebraska 1-0 603 17
17 Texas 1-0 584 15
18 Oklahoma State 1-0 558 19
19 Michigan 0-1 446 8
20 TCU 0-0 355 20
21 Kansas State 1-0 339 22
22 Notre Dame 1-0 198 NR
23 Louisville 1-0 190 25
24 Florida 1-0 145 23
25 Stanford 1-0 131 21

• Dropped from rankings: Boise State 24

• Others receiving votes: Boise State 79, Tennessee 73, Brigham Young 63, North Carolina 48, Baylor 38, Utah 34, Washington 15, Georgia Tech 14, Ohio 10, TEXSTATE 10, Missouri 7, Texas A&M 5, South Florida 5, UCF 4, Mississippi State 3, Auburn 3, Cincinnati 2

USA Today

Rank Team (first-place votes) Record Points Last week

1. Alabama (37) 1-0 1,447 2
2. Southern California (14) 1-0 1,398 3
3. LSU (7) 1-0 1,375 1
4. Oregon (1) 1-0 1,286 5
5. Oklahoma 1-0 1,171 4
6. Florida State 1-0 1,144 7
7. Georgia 1-0 1,092 6
8. West Virginia 1-0 1,032 11
9. South Carolina 1-0 943 9
10. Arkansas 1-0 929 10
11. Michigan State 1-0 868 13
12. Clemson 1-0 826 14
13. Wisconsin 1-0 719 12
14. Nebraska 1-0 652 16
15. Texas 1-0 600 15
16. Oklahoma State 1-0 595 19
17. TCU 0-0 479 17
18. Virginia Tech 1-0 476 20
19. Michigan 0-1 427 8
20. Kansas State 1-0 414 21
21. Stanford 1-0 324 18
22. Notre Dame 1-0 252 24
23. Florida 1-0 204 23
24. Louisville 1-0 109 NR
25. Boise State 0-1 82 22

Dropped out: No. 25 Auburn (0-1).

Others receiving votes: Washington 55; Brigham Young 41; Baylor 39; Tennessee 29; Utah 20; Auburn 18; Georgia Tech 16; Missouri 16; Texas A&M 13; South Florida 12; Central Florida 11; Ohio 11; Cincinnati 10; Mississippi State 10; Virginia 7; Arizona 6; Louisiana Tech 6; Nevada 5; Vanderbilt 3; Northwestern 1; Rutgers 1; Texas Tech 1.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at


  1. The frustrating thing about polls is that so much of a ranking is tied to tradition and conference affiliation rather than actual performance. If you watched the South Carolina/Vanderbuilt game, and were objective, SOuth Carolina did not look any better, and possibly worse than many of the teams not even ranked. They had a total of 67 passing yards against a very mediocre Vanderbuilt team (typically the bottom feeder of the SEC). Marcus Lattimore had a decent game, but since he is a heisman candidate and SOuth Carolina started ranked #9, they didnt even drop in the polls. They just looked inept and had a couple of big plays and calls go their way.
    If you took BYU's performance, and traded out their uniforms for some SEC Team, they would have been a)ranked in the top 25 pre-season polls (10-3 record, essentially returning 18 starters), and b) after this past win over WSU would be in the top 15, purely based on performance. Since it is BYU, an independent west coast team that many love to hate, they simply have to work harder to earn respect than teams associated with BCS conferences. Boise State returned far fewer starters and had to replace almost all their skill position players, yet they started in the top 25 based on consistent performance over the past 8 years. If BYU can start to win some big games and maintain their national exposure via ESPN over the next couple years, maybe BYU will get some more "cred" with national pundits in the future.


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