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Speaking of Penn State, here are stats on overrated Top 25 teams

FiveThirtyEight shows us just how overrated the Nittany Lions, Ohio State, and Nebraska have been during the last two decades of the AP Poll.

Penn State v Michigan Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Right after James Snyder mentioned just how overrated the Auburn Tigers, Oklahoma State Cowboys, and Texas Longhorns were in this season’s first AP Poll, Greg Guglielmo at FiveThirtyEight showed up to quantitatively demonstrate which teams are actually consistently overrated each August.

There’s a full table at the FTE link, which includes even teams “receiving votes” (ranked 26, 27, etc.) in at least 16 polls since 1997. Here are the Big Ten- (and fuck Notre Dame-)relevant teams:


Team Avg PSR Same Better Worse
Team Avg PSR Same Better Worse
Notre Dame Fighting Irish 25.1 10% 20% 70%
Penn State Nittany Lions 25.2 5% 25% 70%
Ohio State Buckeyes 8 5% 30% 65%
Nebraska Cornhuskers 19.1 0% 35% 65%
Michigan Wolverines 15 10% 30% 60%
Michigan State Spartans 22.7 20% 35% 45%
wisconsin badgers 19.1 0% 55% 45%

To their credit, Guglielmo notes, Penn State tends to drop marginally in the rankings if they do, while they vastly exceed expectations if they don’t. I also grudgingly note that wisconsin exceeds expectations over half the time and that Michigan State performs equal to/better than their ranking over half the time.

There’s nothing particularly indicting about these statistics, if that they continue to confirm that people think particularly highly of the Big Ten blue bloods. It’ll be fun to see Michigan State and Nebraska underperform their rankings in this year’s “receiving votes” category, though.

Oh, and fuck Notre Dame.


Which Big Ten team will fall the farthest from the first to the last AP Poll?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Ohio State
    (32 votes)
  • 29%
    Penn State
    (138 votes)
  • 6%
    (32 votes)
  • 38%
    (181 votes)
  • 9%
    (43 votes)
  • 9%
    Michigan State
    (47 votes)
473 votes total Vote Now