CFB AP Poll

College football season has certainly had its ups and downs, and in the weeks leading up to the end of the season, the AP poll rankings also had a bit of a rollercoaster ride as well – with a few exceptions. While Alabama spent most of the season at No. 1 (until the last two weeks), other teams weren’t quite as consistent. Let’s take a look.

Ranking ‘Em High

The Alabama Crimson Tide, as mentioned, spent the overwhelming majority of the season at the top of the AP poll standings, only dropping out of the No. 1 spot in week 14 (to No. 5) and gaining a spot in week 15 (to No. 4). The other three teams in this year’s college playoff haven’t been quite as consistent all season long, at least according to the AP Poll.

Let’s take a look at the team that nabbed the final No. 2 spot – the University of Oklahoma. Oklahoma was in the top four over the last month of the season, but before that, they spent some time a little farther south. Week 7, for example, found the Sooners ranked No. 12, followed by No. 9, No. 10, and then No. 8. The last four weeks, however, saw them sitting pretty at No. 3 for two weeks, before finally moving into the No. 2 spot on the final week of the season.

The Georgia Bulldogs are another team that didn’t spend a lot of time near the top until they started to heat up just as the season winded down. They started off week 1 at No. 15 and slowly but surely navigated their way near the top of the pack. They first reached No. 3 in week 8, and while they bounced around a bit after that (reaching No. 2 in weeks 10 and 11 before dropping down to No. 7 in weeks 12 and 13), they found their way back to the No. 3 spot by week 15.

The Clemson Tigers nabbed the No.1 ranking at the end of the season, but they too spent some time bouncing around the rankings as the season progressed. They were ranked No. 5 at the beginning of the season (week 1) and slowly crept up into the top three, where they remained until week 7. They then fell to No. 7, but didn’t stay there long (nor did they fall below that point during the season). In week 11, they were ranked No. 4, and in week 14, they landed in the No. 1 spot, which is where they remained until the season was over.  

Make It Rain … With Total Points

When we look at a season-long accumulation of points, it’s immediately apparent why Alabama spent most of the season atop the poll – they amassed over 22,200 points, and over 2,000 more than Clemson, who followed right behind them in overall points.

Points are awarded weekly by the AP poll voters (a panel of 61 sportswriters from around the country who vote in the poll every week). Teams receive 25 points for each first-place vote, then 24 for the second, and 23 for the third, all the way down to 1 point for teams who get a 25th place vote. Alabama, then, got the most first-place votes all season long but ended the season ranked No. 4.

Oklahoma received the third most points of the season, racking up over 19,100 points. Georgia was fourth in this category, with over 17,600 points, followed by Penn State (17,559 points), Wisconsin (17,318 points), Ohio State (16,934 points), and Washington (14,542 points).

Seeking a Championship Victory

The College Football Playoff began Jan. 1, 2017 with a couple of semifinal bowl games. The Allstate Sugar Bowl saw the Alabama Crimson Tide (No. 4) take out the Clemson Tigers (No. 1), while the Georgia Bulldogs (No. 3) defeated the Oklahoma Sooners (No. 2) in the Rose Bowl.

The College Football Playoff National Championship takes place on Jan. 8 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, where the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide will compete to win the national title.

This format is relatively new in college football. This will only be the fourth national championship game. Interestingly, Alabama and Clemson have both played in the championship twice, when they faced each other at the end of the 2015 and 2016 seasons – Alabama won the first meeting, and Clemson the second. While this year won’t see another rematch based on the seeding, it’ll be a rousing match between two SEC powerhouses.  

Get Your Gear

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Iowa vs. Stanford – After the Rose Bowl

Iowa vs Stanford in the Rose Bowl 2015 - Their Players' NFL careers after the Rose Bowl

As Iowa prepares to face Stanford on New Year’s Day at the 2016 Rose Bowl, fans are considering the type of matchup to expect. A team that radically reinvented itself this season, Iowa will play in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for the first time since 1990. Prior to the course correction, Iowa failed to surpass an 8-4 season record since 2009, and season ticket sales are projected to drop 10 percent this season from the season prior. This year, however, Iowa is 12-1 and missed an invitation to the National Championship Playoffs by losing to Michigan State at the Big Ten Championship – the team’s only loss this season.

Iowa – traditionally a big, hard-hitting, offense driven by tight ends and fullbacks – found success this year by emphasizing overlooked elements of Iowa football (such as punt returns) as well as perfecting their running game. Iowa will face a Rose Bowl standard in Stanford; the team has appeared at the Pasadena Classic in three of the last four seasons. A much smaller but faster team, Stanford has historically fared poorly against big-hitting teams – as illustrated by the team’s season opener against Northwestern, which it lost 16-6. With an 11-2 record to defend, however, the Cardinal are set to defy expectations.

If one were to use the success of Iowa’s and Stanford’s NFL draftees to speak of the historical quality of the teams, a complicated picture emerges. We compiled the playing records of the 95 Iowa and Stanford Rose Bowl alumni who have been drafted into the NFL and present the study below. Examine the results to discover the type of star players the team typically send to the Rose Bowl in order to determine not only what to expect on New Year’s Day, but what this game will mean for the league in the future.

Iowa vs Stanford - Success after the Rose Bowl

Tale of the Tape

The 48 Iowa draftees who have played in the Rose Bowl have amassed 27 Pro Bowl appearances and 72 NFL/AFL playoff appearances. They also have seen 228 collective years in the NFL and have racked up an astounding 22,121 yards from the line of scrimmage – including 17,519 yards in receiving. This is surprising, considering that Iowa is a tight end/fullback-friendly team.

Despite the impressive stats, no Iowa Rose Bowl alumnus has ever appeared in a Super Bowl or NFL Championship Game. In contrast, Stanford’s 47 Rose Bowl alumni/NFL draftees have played in six Super Bowls (winning four), amassed nine Pro Bowl appearances, and scored a combined 2,822 points – including 455 touchdowns.

Of the 95 Rose Bowl draftees from both teams, an astounding 41 were drafted as defensive ends, free safeties, linebackers, defensive backs, or defensive linemen. This suggests that, overwhelmingly, NFL scouts appreciate both teams’ ability to produce quality defensive players. These 41 players averaged in excess of 30 games played in the league.

Eleven of the drafted players were quarterbacks. Despite this, no Rose Bowl quarterback has been drafted from either school in the first round since Chuck Long in 1986.

Successful Pro's from Iowa vs Stanford after the Rose Bowl

After the Rose Bowl

The players drafted from the Rose Bowl from the two teams cut an interesting profile. Take, for example, Stanford’s Jim Plunkett, a Heisman Trophy–winning quarterback who won the award over Archie Manning and Joe Theismann. Even though he was drafted by the New England Patriots and traded to the San Francisco 49ers, his career didn’t truly start until his ninth year in the league, when he was traded to the Oakland Raiders to be their third-string quarterback.

After a series of retirements and injuries, Plunkett became the starting quarterback. During his first season as lead quarterback, he won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. He threw 2,299 yards for 18 touchdowns, went 9-2 in games started, and won MVP in Super Bowl XV, which the Raiders won over the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-10.

Three years later, he led the Raiders to another Super Bowl win after losing and regaining his starting quarterback position. Although his 72-72 games started record probably means he will not make it to the Hall of Fame, Plunkett is still the first quarterback of Latino descent to ever win a Super Bowl.

As Iowa and Stanford prepare to meet on New Year’s Day – one to protect and improve on its reputation as a perennial Rose Bowl guest and the other to seek to justify the change in mind that saw an end to years of stagnation – fans ponder who will be the next Rose Bowl alumnus to enter the NFL. Ultimately, “the Grandaddy of Them All” is the highest stage at which NFL hopefuls can dream of playing; it is more than likely that the finest athletes to play in Pasadena have yet to take the field.

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Best of the Rose Bowl: the 2001 Miami Hurricanes

The Best of The Rose Bowl

2001 happened under the most improbable of situations. The University of Miami was in deep decline after losing 31 scholarships, climaxing in a rare losing season in 1997. However, under then–head coach Butch Davis, the Hurricanes recovered to the point that in 2000, the team only lost one game. The decision by the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) to deny Miami a slot in the 2000 National Championship Game lit a fire under the team for the 2001 season, leading to a perfect season and the national championship.

The concentration of talent amassed by Davis and exploited by 2001 head coach Larry Coker from a mixture of in-depth field analysis and “creative” recruiting – such as awarding star players track and field scholarships and then having them “walk on” to the football team – had never been seen in a college team and has yet to be duplicated. The 2001 Hurricanes saw 38 players drafted into the NFL, 17 of whom went in the first round of the Draft. With 46 Pro Bowl appearances, 13 Super Bowl appearances, and seven Super Bowl wins, the 2001 Hurricanes arguably are the best team ever to play in the Rose Bowl.

Measuring Greatness; Miami Hurricanes

To assess the success of the 2001 Hurricanes in the NFL, look no further than the quarterback, Ken Dorsey. The two-time Heisman Trophy finalist and current quarterback coach for the Carolina Panthers – the NFL’s only undefeated team as of Week 15 – Dorsey made 13 starts for the San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns and completed 214 of 408 passes for 2,082 yards and eight touchdowns.

By the numbers, the 2001 team was exceptional. The combined tenure of the 2001 Hurricanes in the NFL was 247 years. The team produced 32,151 NFL rushing yards from the line of scrimmage and 33,956 receiving yards. They produced 429 league touchdowns, including 27 defensive scores and seven kickoff returns. The team’s bench, which included Willis McGahee, Vince Wilfork, Sean Taylor, Antrel Rolle, Frank Gore, and Kellen Winslow II, had 18 Pro Bowl appearances among the six players listed alone.

While there will always be an open debate about whether the 2001 Hurricanes or the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers were the best college football team of all time, no one can deny that the Hurricanes are a contender. The team’s 37-14 win over Nebraska in the 2002 Rose Bowl introduced the world to a team that outscored their opponents 512-117, beat Syracuse and Washington back to back for the largest margin of victory against two ranked teams (124-7), and yielded the best point differential of any national champion (+395).

The NFL productivity of the 2001 Miami Hurricanes players

Heads of the Class

In a constellation of stars, it is difficult at times to point out the brightest. But some of the 2001 Hurricanes had stronger NFL careers than others. Take, for example, safety Ed Reed. In his 12-years career that saw him play for the Baltimore Ravens, the New York Jets, and the Houston Texans, Reed collected 531 tackles and 64 interceptions – making him seventh on the list of all-time interception leaders. With nine Pro Bowl appearances and nine defensive touchdowns, Reed is one of the best defensive players to have played in the league.

Miami reserve running back Frank Gore is still lighting up the scoreboard, with four touchdowns and 762 rushing yards this season. With 11,775 total rushing yards – 15th on the all-time records – and 68 touchdowns, the five-time Pro Bowler and first-year Indianapolis Colt (previously, he played for the 49ers) is seeing rushing stats at par for his career average. Wide receiver Andre Johnson – also a Colt – is the eighth all-time receptions leader at 1,040 with 13,964 career receiving yards, the 10th-most in league history.

Standout professionals from the 2001 Miami Hurricanes

Conclusion

Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, reflecting on his time with the Hurricanes to Fox Sports, said, “There may have been a USC team that came close. I don’t think any of the other teams come close, from every perspective; point differential, number of guys drafted into the league, the length of the careers of guys in the league once they got there, whatever you want to compare it to. I don’t know anybody out there that would even come close.”

Considering that the team was cobbled together from the ruins of the NCAA sanctions that rocked the University of Miami in the mid-1990s, the 2001 Hurricanes were an extraordinary example of recognizing hidden talents and maximizing resources. While there may be arguably better BCS teams, none had to overcome so much to get as far as they did. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that this squad would find success in anything they desired, including conquering the NFL.

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Red River Rivalry Gear from Fanatics: Red River Rivalry 2013 Jerseys, T-Shirts and Hats Red River Rivalry T-Shirt

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