Berry Tramel

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OU football: Are pollsters biased against Big 12?

by Berry Tramel Published: October 3, 2011

Another week, another drop by OU in the AP poll. The Sooners fell to No. 3, swapping places with Alabama, which routed Florida on Saturday. That’s a week after OU fell from No. 1 after a 38-28 home victory over Missouri; the Sooners swapped with LSU, which won big at West Virginia.

I’m not going to criticize the voters. As I wrote last week, the worst thing historically about the polls is the push-button mentality. You won, so you stay there. You lost, so you drop. Not enough reaction to how you actually played and who you played and where you played.

So you won’t find me popping the AP voters. The only thing that surprised me was the coaches poll kept OU at No. 1.

The coaches almost always follow the writers, only a week later. This time, no. They kept the Sooners No. 1.

What’s interesting is that hardly ever have we had a ranked No. 1 in one poll and No. 3 in the other. Sometimes you’ll see two teams that are ranked 1-2 in AP and 2-1 in the coaches. But 1-3? That’s rare.

A reader asked me a solid question. Is the dysfunctionality of the Big 12 being held against Big 12 teams? Not consciously, necessarily. But is all the Big 12 drama hiding how good these teams have played?

My response was no. I don’t even think the dropping of OU for two straight weeks has anything to do with the Sooners. I think it has everything to do with how LSU and ‘Bama have played. Both have been impressive, away from home. So has OU, but in fewer chances.

LSU already has been to Arlington, Texas (to play Oregon); Starkville, Miss.; and Morgantown, W.Va. Alabama has been to State College, Pa. (though Penn State is not much of a football team) and Gainesville, Fla., with a home rout of Arkansas thrown in.

OU has been to Tallahassee, Fla., with a home victory over Mizzou. By any reasonable study of the situation, you’d have to admit that LSU and Bama have done more than the Sooners so far. So I don’t think that means any kind bias against the Big 12 for not keeping its house in order.

All this will wash out, of course. This week is OU’s turn to shine. The Sooners get a game almost exactly like Alabama had – Texas is similar to Florida. Both national brands, both coming off sub-par 2010 seasons, both impressive so far in 2011. The main difference is Bama was in a true road game; the Sooners get the split Cotton Bowl.

Heck, the way the season’s shaping up, the Sooners will get their share of tough games. We looked at OSU’s road schedule and rightfully listed all the tough games – A&M, Texas, Missouri, Texas Tech. But the Sooners’ road schedule now is better than anticipated. The Oct. 29 showdown at Kansas State could be a battle of unbeatens. And Baylor, despite its loss at K-State, will take its shot in Waco, though the Sooners always seem to dominate at Floyd Casey Stadium.

Anyway, I just can’t buy the argument that OU is being penalized by the pollsters. Absolutely, the American media – maybe not the coaches so much – is infatuated by the SEC. That’s a lot of what’s going on. And until Oklahoma or Texas or someone beats the SEC in the Big Bowl, we’re going to have to live with it.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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