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Group of Five Power Rankings: Bull Run's Underdogs Poll Entry

Each week a collection of midmajor bloggers collaborate in the Underdogs Poll, a 15-team ranking of the best teams in the so-called Group of Five conferences.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Depending on how much exploring you do on the SB Nation network, you may or may not know about the Underdogs Poll, which brings together voters from various G5 blogs to provide a ranking of our teams separate from the Power 5. This way, instead of squinting at the fine print in "Also Receiving Votes,' we can get a feel for our standing amongst the teams we spend most of our schedule against.

There will be no composite Underdogs Poll published this week, but I figure it's still worthwhile to publish what my ballot was. As Tim once did in his MAC Power Rankings, I've broken the teams into tiers.

Leading by 10 lengths

1.  East Carolina (5-1) - Defeated South Florida, 28-17 (LW: 1)

The question of #1 in this poll pretty simply comes down to a question of ECU vs Marshall. As long as they're not separated by more than one game in win/loss record, it's easy for me to give the Pirates the nod on the basis of schedule. ECU has at least two wins (North Carolina, Virginia Tech) that are superior to anyone on Marshall's schedule, and I believe South Carolina, who is responsible for their only loss, would also beat the Herd.

2. Marshall (6-0) - Defeated Middle Tennessee State, 49-24 (LW: 2)

See above. Marshall is rather likely to go undefeated, but I won't move them above the Pirates unless ECU drops another. Their best win is only Middle Tennessee State, though they will play other teams in this poll in conference play.

Western Teams and the Transitive Property

3. Arkansas State (4-2) - Defeated Georgia State, 52-10 (LW: 3)

I know, I know. I have the Red Wolves rated higher than anyone else. And I do mean anyone. And as the season plays on, this team will drop because their schedule isn't very strong. Right now, though, they've only lost to power conference teams: Miami and Tennessee. I find myself penalizing teams for power conference losses less than other pollsters. What really complicates things, though, is that they have a head-to-head win over...

4. Utah State (4-2) - Defeated Air Force, 34-16 (LW: 4)

Utah State will either easily move into my #3 spot or drop into the next tier down next week as they take on a strong Colorado State team. It's moot now that the Cougars fell to UCF, but Utah State's victory over BYU is what propelled them this high for me last week. Though other teams have fewer losses, USU's have come to Arkansas State and Tennessee. See above for my thoughts on power-conference losses.

5. Boise State (4-2) - Bye (LW: 6)

Boise State takes advantage of BYU's loss and moves up without putting their own neck on the line. We're just about at the point in the season where I feel less compulsion to follow head to head results, but not quite yet. Boise State's top win is against Colorado State, which hurts the Broncos relative to Utah State's BYU win more than BSU's "worst loss" to Air Force. It's unlikely that a win against Nevada would put them over USU if the Aggies beat Colorado State.

6. Colorado State (5-1) - Defeated Nevada, 31-24 (LW: 7)

The score kind of hides how good this win was for the Rams, who led by 21 going into the fourth quarter. CSU's position here is pretty simple: They're 5-1 and have a strong win on the road against Boston College, but lost to Boise State. Could cement themselves for good in the upper part of this poll with a win over USU.

Week 6 Losers and a Slow Climber

7. Central Florida (3-2) - Defeated BYU, 31-24 (LW: 13)

UCF had clearly the best win of the week, and while I feel uncomfortable bumping them six slots, I think they've a better resume than the next few teams, even at 3-2. The two losses are to Penn State and Mizzou.

8. Brigham Young (4-2) - Lost to UCF, 31-24 (LW: 5)

I still feel OK about BYU: both losses came to teams also in this poll. They host Nevada and travel to Boise State in their next two games, so as head-to-head becomes less of a factor they could climb quickly.

9. Temple (4-1) - Defeated Tulsa, 35-24 (LW: 12)

I feel dirty. But how low can you put a one-loss team with a win over Vanderbilt, even if they're coasting on that win and a soft schedule right now. Navy is not a terrible loss, but I'd like to see more from the Owls. Houston, UCF, and East Carolina in the next few weeks.

10. Nevada (3-3) - Lost to Colorado State, 31-24 (LW: 9)

As you see, lots of teams in the middle of my poll lost this week. That makes it complicated enough, and it's even worse that many of them lost to other teams in the poll. Nevada brings up the rear of this group because they have three losses, even though they're all to strong teams: Arizona, Boise, and Colorado State. Nevada is another in this cluster of Western teams that can move up quickly; they have BYU next week followed by some winnable games.


11. Bowling Green (5-2) - Defeated Ohio, 31-13 (LW: NR)

I don't care how ugly their two losses were, or how weak their five wins are. The Falcons own a power conference win over Indiana and with NIU and Toledo falling, they're the best resume in the MAC for this week at least. They will have to win against a weak schedule to maintain this spot, and even that might not be enough.

12. Northern Illinois (4-2) - Lost to Central Michigan, 34-17 (LW: 8)

Too low? I had NIU much lower than everyone else last week, too. If CMU were the Huskies' first loss, I'd have them around 8, but it's not. Arkansas is not a bad loss, though 38 points is, and Northwestern is a good win, but NIU doesn't have a second good win to balance the CMU game. Teams at the top of this poll would beat Syracuse, which routed the Chippewas.

Rise of the South

13. Georgia Southern (5-2) - Defeated Idaho, 47-24 (LW: NR)

Toledo and Cincinnati both lost and dropped out. Georgia Southern is the highest leaper from the previously unranked in my ballot, and another five-win team that I can't ignore. They don't have anything I'd call a good win, but they do have five of them, and their two losses are to ACC schools.

14. Memphis (3-3) - Lost to Houston, 28-24 (LW: 10)

If Cincinnati or Toledo had won, I think I would have dropped Memphis all the way out. As it stands, they're at 14 in part because the other team I chose to bring in lost to them. It's three weeks before they get a shot at someone else on this ballot, so they may be around the cusp here for a bit, but only if they keep winning.

15. Middle Tennessee State (4-3) - Lost to Marshall 49-29. (LW: NR)

I had Wyoming penciled into this spot before they lost to... Hawaii? Ultimately 4-3 with a "worst loss" of Memphis and coming off a loss to Marshall is better for the moment than a loss to Hawaii.