The FanPulse Top 25 is back for another week of giving us the best teams in the country according to the experts! These experts are the fans. We are the experts.
This is your weekly reminder that fans can sign up and vote for the Top 25. Each week, a national poll is created based on all the fan votes from 66 SB Nation communities. We also create a poll each week here for BlockU, so you can know exactly how other Utah fans are seeing college football.
I now happily present Week 2 of the National FanPulse College Football Top 25:
I also present the 100 percent, guaranteed accurate, BlockU Top 25:
How Can Utah Break Into the Top 10?
Utah has ascended all the way to No. 12 in the National FanPulse poll. For teams that are this high in the poll, very rarely does a team move up by winning, instead teams start to move up by simply not losing. LSU is a prime example of this. The Tigers beat the No. 9 Texas Longhorns on the road and really dominated most of the game. That’s the best win any team in the Top 10 has at this point in the season. LSU was rewarded by moving up one whole spot to No. 5.
This is how we treat teams in the Top 10 of polls. We assume that they are as good as their number until they prove otherwise. And the only way to prove otherwise is by losing. Clemson is going to be the No. 1 team all season unless the Tigers lose a game. Same with Alabama at No. 2 and Georgia at No. 3. It would take several more impressive wins from LSU before the Tigers would jump past Oklahoma and into the Top 4. However, if any of these teams lose, they will immediately fall several spots in the poll. The only way to see any drastic movement in the Top 10 is to have one of the teams lose. And sometimes that movement isn’t even all that drastic. Texas was No. 9 and they only dropped to No. 11 after the loss to LSU.
It feels as though Utah has reached the top of the second tier of teams in the poll. The teams that are ranked No. 1 through No. 11 are the teams that were regarded as most likely to make the playoff, or at least were thought of as legitimate contenders, entering the season. Utah leads the second class of teams that had questions surrounding them and therefore must prove they belong in the national conversation.
With the loss by Washington this week, Utah doesn’t have a game against a team currently in the Top 15 on their schedule. Wins against teams like USC and Washington State will be big for Utah, but they won’t provide the necessary clout to push Utah higher up the poll. Instead, the Utes are going to have to wait for higher ranked teams to lose and not make any mistakes in the process. While the ascent for Utah might be slow going forward, if the program can keep taking care of business, the Utes will make the Top 10 and have a chance to go even higher.
Utah is already Top 10 in the heart of Utes fans though. The BlockU community members voted Utah at No. 9 in the poll, well ahead of a Texas team that just lost.
A Vote of Confidence
Last week, only 96.7 percent of fans voted that they were confident in the direction of Utah as a program. This week, those in the charge of the program received perfect reviews. 100 percent of voters said they were confident in the program after the game against Northern Illinois.
There are a few likely reasons Utah fans gained that last bit of confidence, but the one sticks out to me is the play of Tyler Huntley. Quarterback play has always been at least a moderate concern this decade for Utah. With the defense and the run game looking to be strong as always, a strong season from Huntley could really put Utah over the top.
These confidence numbers will likely fluctuate week to week, but I don’t see any reason for Utah fans to have any concerns for the time being.
Like last week, here are a few fan bases that had interesting results to their confidence polls:
· Stanford fans voted after Week 1 that they were 100 percent confident in the direction of the program. After getting torched by USC and a freshman quarterback, zero percent of fans said they believed in the direction of the program. That’s quite the roller coaster of emotion.
· Only 51 percent of Michigan fans voted they were confident in the Wolverines going forward. Don’t forget, Michigan won this week. Though they did have to go to double overtime to beat Army. The troops and their triple option attack have the power to break even the most stubborn of fans. Shout out to the troops.
· Washington fans need to relax just a little bit. The confidence of Husky fans dropped from 100 percent to 72 percent after the loss to Cal. The loss is bad, no denying that, but Washington still has Chris Peterson at the helm. Peterson is one of the best coaches in college football and there’s no way the Huskies will completely collapse while he’s at the helm.
The Strange Nature of Punishing Losses
The falls of Washington, Oregon and Texas after their respective losses give us an interesting view into how voters judge losses. Oregon was ranked No. 12 going into the game against No. 18 Auburn. Oregon led the entire game, dominated Auburn for three quarters, and choked the game away in the fourth quarter. Oregon promptly fell five spots to No. 17.
Washington was ranked No. 13 going into Week 2. The Huskies lost 20-19 against Cal in a game that ended at 1:22 a.m. local and 4:22 a.m. eastern. You could probably count the number of people who watched this entire game on one hand. Despite losing to an unranked Cal at home, Washington fell only four spots to No. 17.
Texas lost to LSU at home, on national television, with College Gameday in attendance. Texas led for all of three minutes in the second quarter. Ultimately, Texas scored a touchdown with 20 seconds left to make this one score game, falling to LSU 45-38 in the game of the week. This week, Texas dropped from No. 9 to No. 11 in the FanPulse poll.
Why did Oregon fall more spots than Washington despite losing to a Top 20 team at a neutral site while the Huskies lost to an unranked team at home? Why did Texas only fall two spots after losing to LSU at home while Oregon fell five spots after losing to Auburn?
When it comes to making polls, the way a team loses will always matter quite a bit in voting. For Texas, it was considered a success that they kept the game close against a superior LSU team. For Oregon, they were remembered as collapsing and giving the game away to an inferior Auburn, even though Auburn was favored by three points before the game.
Oregon lost on national television, in primetime, at the most famous NFL football stadium. Washington lost in obscurity, falling to Cal in the wee hours of the morning, in the far corner of the country. The game was just as close as Oregon’s loss to Auburn, but because nobody saw Washington blow the game, they didn’t judge the Huskies as harshly for the loss. It also hurts Oregon that they were chosen to make a statement for the Pac-12 against the SEC, and they failed. Meanwhile, Washington lost to a conference foe and that’s the end of the story.
Always remember, the best thing a team can do is not lose. But if a team is going to lose, make sure to lose in the sexiest way possible.
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