Most College Football Fans Endorse Ohio State-Florida Championship Matchup

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Ohio State ranked No. 1 all season

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The final regular season USA Today/Gallup College Football Fan poll, conducted Dec. 3-4, 2006, shows that a majority of fans endorse the Bowl Championship Series' matching Florida against Ohio State in the national championship game on January 8. Ohio State finished the season ranked No. 1 and held the top spot in each of the 14 weekly polls. Florida just edged Michigan for the No. 2 ranking in this, the final regular season poll. When asked for their preferred pairing in the Bowl Championship Series title game, fans show a decided preference for an Ohio State-Florida match-up over a rematch of the November 18 Ohio State-Michigan game.

The Championship Game

Since 1998, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) committee has attempted to match the top two regular season teams in a bowl game to play for the national championship. To do this, it relies on a formula that takes into account three things: the coaches' poll ranking of the teams, a poll of former coaches, players, and administrators, and several different computer ratings of the teams. The selection of the top two teams is often controversial, and as a result, the formula has been revised several times over the years. This year, Ohio State is the consensus No. 1 team in the country, but Florida and Michigan can make equally compelling cases as the No. 2 team in the country. Each team has just one loss (Florida to No. 11 Auburn, Michigan to Ohio State) and each played a competitive schedule.

Though it does not figure into the BCS formula, the USA Today/Gallup poll gives the fans a voice in determining who the top teams are in the country. And the fans are most likely to believe that Florida should play Ohio State in the championship game. Fifty-six percent of this representative sample of college football fans nationwide said they would most like to see Florida play Ohio State in the national championship game, while 36% would prefer to see Michigan play Ohio State. Eight percent would prefer to see some other match-up.

In three of the four regions of the country, fans prefer an Ohio State-Florida match-up. Fans in the West would prefer to see Michigan play Ohio State. Among the regions favoring an Ohio State-Florida match-up, the margin in favor of a Florida-Ohio State match-up is largest in the South and smallest in the East.

Preferred National Championship Game Match-up by Region

East

Ohio State-Florida

50%

Ohio State-Michigan

46%

Others

4%

Midwest

Ohio State-Florida

55%

Ohio State-Michigan

37%

Others

8%

South

Ohio State-Florida

66%

Ohio State-Michigan

28%

Others

4%

West

Ohio State-Michigan

44%

Ohio State-Florida

38%

Ohio State-Southern California

11%

Others

7%

The USA Today/Gallup College Football Fan poll has asked respondents for their preferred BCS title game match-up each of the last three weeks. Fans' preferences for the title game pairing have swung dramatically in response to the outcome of that week's games.

  • In the Nov. 19 fan poll, conducted the day after Ohio State's 42-39 victory over Michigan, the most favored match-up was Ohio State vs. Michigan at 34%, followed by Ohio State-Southern California at 29% and Ohio State-Florida at 14%.
  • The following week, Southern California beat Notre Dame impressively and Florida defeated Florida State while Michigan was idle. Ohio State-Southern California then became fans' preferred match-up at 61%, with 22% favoring Ohio State-Michigan and 11% favoring Ohio State-Florida.
  • This past weekend, Southern California was upset by UCLA while Florida defeated Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game while Michigan was again idle. The net result was an increase of 45 percentage points in favor of an Ohio State-Florida championship game compared with just a 14 point increase in favor of Ohio State-Michigan.

The latest poll was conducted between midnight Dec. 2, and 1 p.m. eastern on Monday, Dec. 4. Most interviews were completed before the official announcement of the Ohio State-Florida match-up was made on Sunday night, but those who submitted their rankings prior to the announcement were just as likely to prefer Florida as Ohio State's opponent as those who submitted their rankings after the announcement.

Latest Fan Poll Rankings

Ohio State -- the only remaining unbeaten team from a major conference -- received a total of 3,996 points in this week's fan poll, just four points short of a perfect score. Florida totaled 3,354 points to Michigan's 3,348 points. Michigan had been ranked ahead of Florida in each of the prior seven fan polls since Florida's loss to Auburn. Louisville and Louisiana State round out the top five.

Fans ranked Wisconsin No. 6, giving the Big Ten conference three teams in the top six (along with Ohio State and Michigan). Last week's No. 2 team, Southern California, fell to No. 7 following its loss to UCLA. Boise State, the only other undefeated team but playing in the lightly regarded Western Athletic Conference, finished 8th in the final rankings. Oklahoma and Notre Dame were ranked 9th and 10th, respectively.

Rank

Team

Record

Total
Points

Last Week's
Ranking

Pre-season
Ranking

1

Ohio State

12-0

3,996

1

1

2

Florida

12-1

3,354

4

7

3

Michigan

11-1

3,348

3

11

4

Louisville

11-1

2,137

5

--

5

Louisiana State

10-2

1,934

6

8

6

Wisconsin

11-1

1,731

7

--

7

Southern California

10-2

1,514

2

3

8

Boise State

12-0

1,116

8

--

9

Oklahoma

11-2

1,017

11

9

10

Notre Dame

10-2

492

10

4

11

Auburn

10-2

328

13

5

12

West Virginia

10-2

304

14

6

13

Arkansas

10-3

289

9

--

14

Wake Forest

11-2

136

N/R

--

15

Texas

9-3

86

15

2

Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in the pre-season poll and in each subsequent poll, scoring over 3,900 points from week 2 onward (after it defeated then-#2 Texas). Florida's No. 2 ranking is its highest this season. It was ranked No. 7 in the pre-season poll, then climbed to as high as No. 3 before falling to No. 8 following its loss to Auburn. It had been ranked No.4 each of the last three weeks.

Michigan was ranked No.11 in the pre-season poll, and fell back to No. 13 after the first week of the season. It moved from No. 9 to No. 6 after it defeated Notre Dame, then slowly worked its way up to No. 2 by week 7, where it stayed through week 12, even after losing to Ohio State. It fell to No. 3 behind Southern California in last week's poll, but did not move up following Southern California's loss.

Louisville, Wisconsin, Boise State, Arkansas, and Wake Forest all finished the regular season ranked in the fans' top 15 but were unranked in the pre-season poll.

USA Today and Gallup will release a final ranking of the top college football teams from the fans' perspective after the bowl games are completed in early January. The USA Today/Gallup College Fan poll is conducted weekly during the football season and compiles the rankings of over 500 college football fans nationwide who have shown a high degree of interest in, and knowledge of, college football. The fans were drawn from Gallup's household panel, which is recruited through random selection methods.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone and Internet interviews with 507 members of Gallup's household panel, conducted Dec. 3-4, 2006, who have expressed a high degree of interest in the game, passed a basic knowledge test, and agreed to season-long participation in the USA Today/Gallup College Football Fan poll. Each week, fans submit their rankings of the top 10 college football teams in the nation. These rankings are assigned point values of 10 for a #1 ranking down to 1 for a #10 ranking. Each team's points are totaled, and the teams are ranked on the basis of their point totals. The sample size is normalized to a base of 400 to allow for comparison of point totals from week to week. Members of Gallup's household panel are chosen by random selection techniques.

USAToday /Gallup College Football Fan Poll: Rankings, by Week

Team

Pre

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

Ohio State

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Florida

7

7

7

5

5

4

3

8

9

7

6

4

4

4

2

Michigan

11

13

9

6

6

5

5

2

2

2

2

2

2

3

3

Louisville

13

9

8

8

7

6

6

5

3

9

8

5

4

LSU

8

8

6

10

9

9

12

12

13

14

11

10

9

6

5

Wisconsin

12

10

7

6

Southern Cal

3

3

3

2

3

3

2

3

3

9

7

3

3

2

7

Boise State

15

14

13

12

8

8

Oklahoma

9

9

12

15

15

11

9

Notre Dame

4

5

2

11

12

11

10

10

10

10

8

5

6

10

10

Auburn

5

4

4

3

2

2

8

7

7

6

5

14

13

13

11

West Virginia

6

6

5

4

4

6

4

4

4

3

9

7

7

14

12

Arkansas

15

14

12

12

6

5

9

13

Wake Forest

15

14

Texas

2

2

8

7

7

7

6

5

5

4

4

11

11

15

15

Tennessee

11

14

13

9

9

8

8

15

California

15

11

11

11

11

10

Georgia

14

15

11

8

10

10

13

Florida State

10

10

10

15

15

Miami, FL

12

12

Rutgers

15

13

13

8

14

12

Virginia Tech

15

12

11

Clemson

14

14

13

12

Iowa

14

13

Penn State

13

14

Oregon

13

14

12

15

14

Get Articles in Related Topics:


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/25744/Most-College-Football-Fans-Endorse-Ohio-StateFlorida-Championship-Matchup.aspx
Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030