One poll voter works for an ice cream company. One computer poll ranks Southern California, which is on a 27-game winning streak, as the nation's sixth-best team. The methodology of how college football crowns a national champion will undoubtedly come under scrutiny again Monday, when both man and computers have their say in the first Bowl Championship Series ratings.
If recent history is any indication, the ratings, used to determine who plays for the national title, are sure to prompt debate and outrage on campuses far and wide. Last year, an undefeated Auburn team was left out of the championship game. Two years ago, USC, the top-ranked team in both human polls, was left out of the BCS title contest.
The Harris Interactive poll replaced the Associated Press rankings this year, but otherwise the BCS formula remains the same as last season, meaning the only question is when, not if, chaos will emerge. The results of two human polls, the USA Today coaches' and Harris Interactive polls, are combined with the compilations of six computer polls -- the best and worst computer rankings are not counted for each team -- to produce weekly standings.
The early buzz, in short, is that the computers like undefeated Penn State but don't like undefeated Texas. In fact, the Nittany Lions, not two-time defending champion USC, are ranked No. 1 in at least three computer polls. Texas is as low as No. 8 in three computer polls, including the one devised by Wesley Colley, who earned his doctorate from Princeton after completing a thesis titled "Statistics for New Datasets in Cosmology."
Things are shaping up nicely for a zany finish this season. Nine teams remain undefeated and as many as five BCS conference schools could finish the season with unblemished records. In fact, three Dec. 3 matchups could pit undefeated teams against one another: Virginia Tech vs. Florida State in the ACC title game; Georgia vs. Alabama in the SEC title game; and UCLA at USC.
-- Eric Prisbell