Parity in College Football
Quick thought post here, have you noticed how odd the CFB rankings look heading into Rivalry Week? Teams with FOUR losses are sneaking into the Top 25 and there is even a team in the Top 4 with a loss (now two). Take a look at teams no. 25 and 24, Iowa State and Pittsburgh. The former holds a 6-4 record while the latter is slightly better at 7-4. Either way, these are just-above-average records for teams playing nobodies every week, yet they get ranked nationally. Moving up the chain, we see things like 8-3 (now 9-3) Florida ranked 11. How is it that a team can be ranked just outside the Top 10 when they have three losses, one of which came at the hands of then-unranked Kentucky (now No. 15) and another in which they were blown out by unranked Missouri?
I could list many more examples, but the point is that just a few years ago, anything less than a perfect record pretty much automatically disqualified you from top status. Nowadays, losses are almost tossed aside if a team performs great over the rest of their games. I mean heck, Washington State lost to Cal AND USC and they were still ranked No. 8 heading into the Apple Bowl (which they promptly lost). Cal has always been horrific, and USC is having one of its worst years in recent history, yet those losses are swept aside because Washington State beat Oregon (ranked 17th at the time), Utah and the rest of the irrelevants on their schedule.
A trend that I guess you could infer would be that dominant teams (with the exception of Alabama) are not as dominant as they used to be. Smaller programs like UCF, Kentucky, Washington State even have been able to compete with the big boys and rise to relevance, something that would’ve been unheard of just a few short years ago. So that early season loss your team suffers...well it won’t mean quite the same as it used to, and with less pressure I think upsets are going to become a lot more common.