According to the USA Today coaches poll, UCLA’s fondest admirer is Mark Helfrich. The Oregon head coach voted the Bruins No. 13 in his final ballot, the highest among 62 participating coaches from the FBS and five spots above the team’s actual placement. Continue reading
Despite a 41-31 win over Washington, UCLA fell a spot to No. 14 in the latest Associated Press poll — switching spots with No. 13 Michigan State.
The Spartans moved up after a 41-28 win at Nebraska that clinched a share of the Big Ten Legends title.
The two teams also made the same switch in the USA Today coaches poll.
USC, still tied with the Bruins for second in the Pac-12 South, moved back into the AP poll to No. 23 after its 20-17 upset of Stanford. It was the Trojans’ first win over the now-No. 10 Cardinal since 2008.
The full rankings after the jump: Continue reading
For the first time since 2007, UCLA is ranked in the preseason edition of the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Voted by coaches at No. 21 nationally, I think the Bruins are in more or less in right spot. UCLA has the upside to make a BCS bowl, but could also struggle a bit as it faces a brutal road schedule without all-time rushing leader Johnathan Franklin.
The Pac-12 has five teams in the top 25, tied for second with the Big Ten. The SEC, unsurprisingly, leads with six teams, including two-time defending champion Alabama four votes short of a unanimous No. 1.
USC and TCU are the only ranked teams who had 7-6 records last season.
1. Alabama (58)
2. Ohio State (3)
6. Texas A&M (1)
7. South Carolina
11. Notre Dame
12. Florida State
14. Oklahoma State
19. Boise State
25. Oregon State
The Bruins (17th in AP) finished No. 19 in the final USA Today Coaches’ Poll, which USA Today also broke down ballot by ballot in a fascinating interactive graphic. Definitely check it out in its entirety, but here are some of the highlights:
— UCLA’s highest vote was No. 13, which came from Middle Tennessee’s Rick Stockstill. San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre had the Bruins lowest at No. 25, behind his own Spartans, Fresno State, Kent State and Tulsa.
— Five coaches had UCLA at No. 23, including Baylor’s Art Briles and fired Cal coach Jeff Tedford. Tedford probably didn’t think as much of the Bruins given what he saw in Berkeley, but Mike Riley beat UCLA too and had them at No. 17.
— Seven coaches had UCLA at No. 15, including David Bailiff (Rice), Bo Pelini (Nebraska) and Mike Leach (WSU). Wins over all three probably helped make an impression.
— Standard deviation tends to increase going down the poll, which is expected since distinguishing three- and four-loss teams from each other is more difficult. One exception is No. 8 Stanford, which is as as high as fourth (Todd Graham, ASU) and as low as twelfth. Georgia and Kansas State sparked disagreement as well.
— Other unsurprising regional biases include three southern coaches leaving Notre Dame out of the top spot. Vanderbilt’s James Franklin had three teams ahead of the undefeated Irish: Alabama, Florida and Georgia.
On the other side of that coin, Mike Riley and Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter both had the Crimson Tide third behind Oregon.
The take-home lesson is probably that coaches should not be involved something that actually affects how the postseason is set up. Hard to blame them for helping themselves if the system allows it.