By Chris Bruce and John Ezekowitz
Three of the top five teams in the nation lost this week, ensuring some chaos in the rankings. With every non-SEC top six team losing, a huge hole has been left at the top of the polls, and we predict that the top three spots will be taken by LSU, Alabama and Arkansas in both polls. This will set up an exciting matchup between LSU and Arkansas next weekend, which will have definite national championship implications.
Our predictions for the two polls differ somewhat significantly from one another this week. We see Houston much higher in the Coaches’ Poll than the AP, and Oregon and Oklahoma State falling much further in the Coaches’ Poll.
Interestingly, with the Oklahoma State, Oregon and Oklahoma losses, Stanford has crept back up to number 4/5 in our predictions (though by very slim margins in the AP Poll). Depending on the games next week, the conference championships and how the computer rankings sort out, we could see Stanford back in the running for a BCS championship berth.
Edit: After the release of the actual polls, we again saw a very high correlation of our predictions to the actual results – 0.981 for the AP Poll and 0.991 for the Coaches Poll. In the AP Poll we got the top 4 and spots 13 to 21 exactly right, but we were off by one spot on most of spots 5 through 12 due to the voters hitting Oregon and Oklahoma much harder for their losses than we anticipated. On the Coaches Poll we got the top 5 exactly right and better anticipated the large drops of Oregon and Oklahoma, but flipped a few pairs of teams compared to the actual results, ending up with 11 of the top 20 predicted correctly.