Stats & Info: Boise State

SEC duo may top AP Poll for first time ever

August, 17, 2012
The release of the preseason AP Poll officially means college football is right around the corner. This weekend's release does have some drama attached, as Alabama, LSU and USC each have claims to being ranked preseason No. 1. Here are some things to look for when the poll is released on Saturday:

• If Alabama and LSU are No. 1 and No. 2, it would be the fifth time (and first since 1987) where the Top-2 teams in the preseason poll came from the same conference. In all four previous instances, neither team ranked first or second went on to win the national title. Alabama and LSU would be the first SEC schools to accomplish the feat.

• In the Coaches' Poll, Alabama, LSU and USC had 20, 18 and 19 first-place votes, respectively. In the history of the preseason AP Poll, only once have three teams been separated by two first place votes. That came in 1955 when No. 1 UCLA had 33, No. 2 Oklahoma had 32 and No. 3 Michigan had 34. Since 1960, there has never been a preseason poll in which three different teams received at least 15 first-place votes.

• There is a chance the SEC could have as many as five teams ranked in the Top 10. If that happens, it would mark the first time a conference ever had five Top-10 teams in a preseason AP Poll. The Big Ten came close in 1959, with five teams ranked in the Top 11.

• Who will be the highest ranked team in the preseason that did not finish 2011 ranked? Texas is the most likely team to fit this mold in 2012. Dating back to 2004, four of the eight teams finished the year unranked, with only Oklahoma in 2010 and Michigan in 2006 posting Top-10 finishes.

• Being preseason No. 1 hasn't guaranteed a great finish lately. The last preseason AP No. 1 to finish the year ranked first was USC in 2004 and in three of the last four years, the preseason AP No. 1 team has actually finished 10th or worse.

• If Oregon and USC are both in the preseason Top 5, it would mark the first time the Pac-12 has ever had two Top-5 teams in the preseason poll.

• Michigan may begin the season ranked in the Top 10 for the first time since 2007. That year, Michigan lost to Appalachian State in its season opener.

• Boise State (46 weeks) and Stanford (23 weeks) have the longest active streaks of being ranked in the Top 10 but both will likely end with the release of the 2012 preseason poll. The new leaders in consecutive weeks ranked in the Top 10 will likely be Alabama and LSU (Both enter 2012 with 17 straight weeks ranked in Top 10).

• Notre Dame has been unranked in six of the last 10 (and seven of the last 12) preseason polls. From 1950-1999, Notre Dame was unranked only five times in 50 years. After being ranked to begin 2011, Notre Dame is looking to be ranked in consecutive preseason polls for the first time since 1998-1999.
The 62nd Associated Press preseason college football poll was released today, with the Oklahoma Sooners as the No. 1 team for the record 10th time, but only second since 1988.

In the nine previous occurrences, the Sooners finished on top of the AP Poll four times, most recently in 1985. The last time Oklahoma was ranked No. 1 in the preseason was 2003.

The preseason No. 1 ranking may not mean much. In the past 35 years, only five preseason No. 1 teams finished the year ranked there in the AP Poll, with 2004 USC the most recent.

But preseason ranking does correlate somewhat with postseason success. Seven of the past eight teams that finished No. 1 in the AP Poll began the season ranked in the top 10. The exception was last year’s Auburn Tigers, who were ranked 22nd in the preseason poll and became the lowest-ranked team in the preseason to capture the national title in the BCS era.

Speaking of Auburn, the Tigers begin this season ranked 23rd, making them the second defending national champion to begin the year outside the AP top 15, joining unranked Minnesota in 1961.

Auburn’s archrival Alabama is ranked second to begin this year, marking the first time the Crimson Tide have been ranked in the preseason top five for three straight years since 1980 to 1982.

The Oregon Ducks are third, their best-ever preseason ranking. The Ducks had been ranked higher than 15th in the preseason only twice, but have been ranked in the top 10 of the final AP Poll four times.

The LSU Tigers and Boise State Broncos round out the top five. The Tigers begin the season there for the first time since 2007, when they won the national title. The Broncos received two first-place votes and are in the top five for the second consecutive season.

At the other end of the poll, the Texas Longhorns led the receiving-votes category, ending its streak of 12 straight years ranked in the preseason AP Poll. That was the second-longest active streak, behind only Ohio State’s 22-year run.
The 2011 USA Today Preseason Coaches' Poll was released late Thursday morning with the Oklahoma Sooners taking the top overall spot. This is the first time Oklahoma is the preseason No. 1 in the poll since 2003, a season in which they reached the BCS National Championship game before falling to LSU. The team finished third in the coaches' poll that season.

However, the Sooners do not have recent history on their side - the last team to open up the season No. 1 in the coaches' poll and finish the season No. 1 was USC in 2004.

One challenge the Sooners will have to overcome in order to stay No. 1 will be performance on the road. Specifically, the performance of quarterback Landry Jones.

Jones was much more effective at home during the 2010 season - he had a 37-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio at home compared to 27-to-20 on the road. The team's first road test will be on September 17 at Florida State, with other notable road/neutral games including Texas on October 8, Baylor on November 19 and Oklahoma State on December 3.

Beyond The Top Spot
The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame made the largest jump of all teams inside the top 20, going from unranked and 36th in receiving votes to No. 18 in the preseason poll. Three other teams jumped 10 or more spots based on their final ranking from the previous season, including Texas A&M and Florida State, both of whom jumped into the top 10.

On the other hand, three of the final top five teams from the final coaches poll last season dropped by more than 10 spots. Auburn fell 18 spots down to 19th, the largest drop for any team. That's thanks in part to returning only three starters on each side of the ball. It is the lowest debut for a defending national champion since USA Today began administering the coaches' poll in 1991. Meanwhile Ohio State found itself 16th in the preseason poll and TCU sits 15th after finishing No. 2 last season.

Alabama, which picked up 13 first-place votes, comes in at No. 2 and will once again be relying heavily on the running game to stay there. The team lost starting running back and former Heisman Trophy-winner Mark Ingram to the NFL and will now turn to Trent Richardson to pick up where he left off.

Thankfully, Richardson proved himself to be effective last season - perhaps more effective than even Ingram himself. Richardson was superior to Ingram in his yards per rush figures from virtually every angle; rushing inside the tackles (Richardson' 5.0 to Ingram's 4.7), rushing outside the tackles (7.8 to 6.5) and even yards after contact (2.7 to 2.4).

After completing fewer than half of his passes that were thrown in the air 10 yards or more in 2009, LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson's deep passes regressed even further in 2010.

Jefferson is going to have to improve his deep touch if the Tigers are going to overcome of the nation's toughest schedules.

That schedule features an opener against Oregon, trips to Alabama, West Virginia, Mississippi State and home dates against Florida, Arkansas and Auburn. In other words, it will be a challenge for the Tigers to remain in the top five all season long.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Big East failed to place a team in the preseason Top 25 for the second time in three seasons.

However, a lot can change between now and January - just ask defending champion Auburn as it was ranked No. 23 in the 2010 Preseason Coaches Poll.
Five things to know about the MAACO Bowl pitting No 19 Utah against No. 10 Boise State at 8 ET in Last Vegas on ESPN:

1) This is the only game between top-20 teams before January 1, and one of just four matchups of ranked teams in non-BCS games. The next one, between No. 20 South Carolina and No. 23 Florida State isn't until December 31.

2) Utah has won nine consecutive bowl games, the longest active streak in the nation. The streak is two shy of the all-time record set by Florida State from 1985 to 1995. No other team entered this time of year with a bowl win streak of more than four games. The Utes are 12-3 in bowl games. Their .800 postseason winning percentage is the best in the nation among schools with at least 10 bowl appearances. However, Utah is 0-3 all-time against Boise State.

3) Kellen Moore, now 37-2 as starting quarterback at Boise State, has thrown 72 touchdowns and just eight interceptions over the last two seasons. His 9-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio is the best in the country in that time by a significant margin. Andrew Luck rates second-best at 3.7-to-1.

4) Once in the red zone, Moore's favorite target is Austin Pettis. Moore has targeted Pettis on more than one-third of this red-zone throws over the last two seasons. Pettis has more receiving touchdowns from within the red zone (21) than other player in the FBS over the last two seasons.

5) Utah’s Shaky Smithson averages 19.7 yards per punt return, which, along with his 10 returns of at least 20 yards, rates best in the nation. Smithson has brought two punts back for touchdowns this season. Boise State allowed a 54-yard punt return touchdown to James Rodgers of Oregon State on September 25, but in its last four games has allowed only 19 yards on six punt returns.
This week used to mark a pivot point when it came to the BCS Standings, but that hasn't been the case the last two seasons.

This is the 13th season of the BCS. Teams ranked No. 1 at this point in the season have reached the BCS Championship Game in 10 of the previous 12 years. However, in the last two seasons, the No. 1 team at this point of the season did not play in the title game (’08 Alabama, ’09 Florida). Oregon, ranked No. 1 for the fourth straight week, is hoping that the old version of that precedent holds up. Boise State and TCU are among those hoping it does not.

It wasn't a major week for the standings in terms of changes. In fact, this marks the first time in BCS history that the top seven remained unchanged for three straight weeks. The most notable thing to happen was that No. 4 Boise State cut the deficit it needs to overcome to pass TCU for the No. 3 position.

The gap still looms large, relatively speaking, for both those schools with regard to with No. 2 Auburn. Likewise, Stanford and Wisconsin were able to trim LSU's cushion in the No. 5 spot.

Also of note is that the Big Ten put three teams in the Top 10. Michigan State re-entered in the No. 10 slot after being out of the top 10 in the previous three weeks.
The Oregon State Beavers, ranked No. 24 in the country, face a huge road test when they battle the No. 3 Boise State Broncos on Saturday night. Boise State has a big win over Virginia Tech, has won its last two games against Pac-10 teams and has a 16-game winning streak. But the Broncos need to be careful against these giant killers.

Although Oregon State's last nonconference win against a top-3 team came all the way back in 1967, the Beavers have taken down a top-3 squad from the Pac-10 three straight times. In each case, it was that team’s first loss of the season, and obviously derailed national title hopes each time.

And how is Oregon State preparing to pull off the upset? By painting its practice field blue and recreating the look at Bronco Stadium. OSU ordered 70 gallons of white grass paint base that made 280 gallons of water based paint and 110 gallons of blue grass paint base, which made 440 gallons of the blue water based paint. The paint is similar to what is used in the Southwest to paint lawns green, only with the blue pigment. And it was an anonymous donor who covered the cost of the paint.
With two weeks of the 2010 college football season here and gone, ESPN Stats & Info takes a look at where the various FBS conferences stack up at this point of the season.

The rankings system uses a formula that equally weighs the rankings from the USA Today Coaches' poll and a compilation of available computer ratings.

What might be the most notable item from these rankings is both the ACC and Big East rank behind the Mountain West and WAC.

• After a rough weekend in which all four of its ranked teams lost – The Miami Hurricanes, Virginia Tech Hokies, Florida State Seminoles and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets – the ACC finds itself as the seventh-best conference. Of those teams, only Miami is still ranked in the Top 25.

• The Big East is way behind the other five automatic qualifying conferences. Big East teams are a combined 3-6 this season against FBS schools and the three wins came against Florida International, Akron and Marshall.

• In the USA Today Coaches' Poll, the Boise State Broncos have more voting points (1,269) than the entire ACC and Big East conferences combined (949). For that reason alone, the WAC is ranked ahead of both the ACC and Big East.

• Despite being ranked fifth by the computers, the Big Ten comes away with the second overall ranking. A convincing win by the Alabama Crimson Tide over the Penn State Nittany Lions helped keep the SEC ahead of the Big Ten.

Nickel package: LSU owns the ACC

September, 3, 2010
1. LSU enters Saturday's matchup with North Carolina on an 18-game winning streak vs the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tigers have beaten eight different ACC foes during this streak, including four wins over UNC, and haven't lost to an ACC team since falling to Maryland in 1955. This is the longest winning streak any team has had against the conference since it began play in 1953.

2. Virginia Tech enters its game against No. 3 Boise State with an all-time record of 1-25 vs teams ranked in the top five of the AP poll (beat No. 2 Miami in 2003). Even worse, the Hokies are 0-21 in such games away from Blacksburg, VA. This game, of course, is being played in Landover, MD at FedEx Field.

3. One of the interesting subplots to Monday's Boise State-Virginia Tech game is the high-scoring BSU offense, which returns all but one starter from 2009, against the Tech defense, which has to replace six starters. Both units, however, have shown the ability to excel regardless of experience. Over the last decade (2000-09), Boise State was the nation's top scoring team (41.4 points per game), while Virginia Tech was the nation's second-best scoring defense (16.3 points per game allowed). Only Ohio State (15.2 points per game allowed) was better than the Hokies at keeping opponents off the scoreboard during the last 10 years.

4. Mike Riley's success at Oregon State has been one of the great college football stories of the last few decades, but his teams have been notoriously slow starters. In his nine seasons as the Beavers head coach (two terms with a four-year gap in between), his teams are 1-12 in pre-October games away from home. The lone win came last year, beating UNLV with a field goal in the closing seconds. In fairness to Riley, he's faced a lot of big-time opponents in those games, just as he will this September. Oregon State plays TCU in Arlington, TX on Saturday and travels to Boise State three weeks later.

5. Alabama is the fifth defending champion in the last nine years to be ranked No. 1 in the AP preseason poll. It's natural to think that such a team is just being placed there by default by voters who are afraid to go out on a limb, but recent history has shown this to be a high-percentage selection. The previous four defending champs to start the season No. 1 all won at least their first 12 games of that season.