Defending champ sees rare drop from polls

September, 9, 2011
9/09/11
7:58
PM ET
Every Friday during college football season, we're taking fans' questions and answering them on our blog. You can send questions to our Twitter account @ESPNStatsInfo. Be sure to follow so you can tweet us your questions (facts, not opinions) and we'll answer the best of the best.

When is the last time the previous year’s college football national champion was unranked by Week 2 of the following year?
-- asked by @TEEnsign

The Auburn Tigers dropped from the polls after defeating the Utah State Aggies in their season opener. When was the last time the defending AP national champions were unranked by the second poll of the season?

Well, Gene Chizik was just three years old at the time.

You have to go back to 1965 to find the last instance. That’s when the Alabama Crimson Tide entered the season ranked No. 5. After a loss to the Georgia Bulldogs, the Tide fell out of the poll. Keep in mind, though, the AP only ranked the top 10 teams back in those days.

We discussed this and more in our Nickel Package on Thursday.

How often do preseason ranked teams lose their season opener and stay ranked the next week (TCU for example)?
-- asked by @tsmith15

The Oregon Ducks and TCU Horned Frogs both stayed in the AP top 25 despite falling to 0-1 in the opening week. Certainly it helps if a team’s initial ranking was high, as was the case with the Ducks at No. 3.

However, a team remaining ranked after losing its opening game is not all that uncommon.

Last year, it was Virginia Tech that lost its opener but remained ranked. In 2009, it happened with the Oklahoma Sooners, the Virginia Tech Hokies and Georgia.

In fact, in each of the past 32 years, a team has remained ranked after starting 0-1. You have to go all the way back to 1979 to find the last time it didn’t happen.

No touchdowns were scored in three of the 10 games Alabama and Penn State played from 1981-90. How rare was that in college football's modern age?
-- asked by @scontor

How rare is it these days? Try very.

Over the previous five seasons (2006-10), there were 4,003 games played. Of those, only 12 did not include a touchdown for either side. That’s 0.003 percent. Needless to say, that’s a far cry from the 30 percent of the games you mentioned.

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