Undefeated does not mean unbeatable

Alert: The Florida Gators are the #1 team in the country. Well, that is not breaking news; come to think of it, it is not even news. With a 23-20 win yesterday in the final seconds over Arkansas, Tim Tebow & Co. pushed their record to 6-0 on the year to try and fulfill Tebow’s promise he made after the Ole Miss loss last season.

My question is: why does being undefeated mean that you’re the #1 team in the country?

[picapp src=”a/0/2/a/Arkansas_Razorbacks_v_b86a.jpg?adImageId=6132772&imageId=6841096″ width=”475″ height=”594″ /]

I understand that being undefeated means that you beat everyone who you’ve faced. That makes sense. But does being the best quarterback mean only having the best statistics (see Graham Harrell)? Or does it mean that you need to have the statistics, the arm strength and accuracy, and intangibles? I’ll choose the second one.

Why is there a double standards between how we rank players and how we rank teams? We rank the best players by stats, skill level, and the natural ability to win. As I sit here and try to think of a possible way to rank the top 25 teams, I can’t. I’ve got nothing. But I do feel that the AP, USA Today, and BCS (obviously) are mistaken in how they are evaluating these teams.

Yes, Florida has not lost. Yes, Alabama has not lost. Yes, Texas has not lost.

But Florida has not played like the #1 team in the country. Having a team like Arkansas (3-3, 1-3) take you down to the final minute of the game in which the supposed #1 team in the country needs a field goal to squeak out a victory. Arkansas’ closest game prior to the Gators was an 11-point loss to Georgia in which they allowed 52 points. Not exactly a strong opponent, but they still managed to take the Gators to the wire. The Gators looked uncomfortable and confused as Ryan Mallett, a bust at Michigan, picked apart the holes on the Gators defense.

Alabama is also undefeated. Their closest game came in a 34-24 win over #7 Virginia Tech in the first week of the season. A team who has won all seven of their games by 10 or more points must be deserving of the #1 ranking right? Well, the AP thinks,  so because as I write this, the AP just announced Alabama is now the #1 team in the country. But again, I disagree that they are the #1 team. Yes, they’ve won all their games, and in convincing fashion. But they haven’t been as impressive as the scoreline suggests: the Arkansas game was close for longer than it should have been and the win at Kentucky, though by 18 points, was by no means dominant throughout.

After a huge victory in the Red River Shootout over Oklahoma, Texas is undefeated as well and currently sitting in third in the polls. But they’ve played, to put it nicely, less than top notch teams. Up until Oklahoma, they’ve faced only one top 25 team. And they won by a mere three points over a banged up Sooners team that lost reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Sam Bradford, early on.

Basically what this comes down to is that neither Florida, Alabama, nor Texas are the #1 team in the country just yet. They are not infallible, and they have not played top talent and won big.

When it comes down to it, there is no #1 team yet. Yes the polls have to put a team in at #1 and Alabama by the numbers is the number one team. But on the field, no team has taken a stranglehold on that role yet.

– Stephen Dolan ’12

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2 Comments

Filed under College Sports

2 responses to “Undefeated does not mean unbeatable

  1. gatormiami

    Being #1 doesn’t mean you can’t be beaten. But it does mean that you’re less likely to lose than the others…

    Your criticisms of Florida, Alabama & Texas fail to reveal just which of the other 117 BCS teams is more deserving… Which? (Note that Virginia lost again this weekend…Keep up!)

    • stephendolan

      Right now, there is no defined number 1 team. If you go by the numbers, like I said, Alabama is the number 1 team. However, when looking at it, all 3 of the top 3 teams all have not been leaps and bounds better. I can’t give you which of the other BCS teams is #1 because 1. I think that none of them are #1 2. This blog is just meant to show that these three teams aren’t overly impressive.

      Obviously the #1 slot must be filled- you can’t have a tie for first (like you can for 4th or 5th such as earlier this year). So of course you need a #1 team. It is just time people start evaluating the #1 team by more than just wins and losses. Thank you for the comment.

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