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Florida Is Fans' Choice as Top College Football Team

Fans show strong support for playoff tournament

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The final USA Today/Gallup College Football Fan poll shows the fans picking Florida as the No. 1 team in the nation following its impressive win over Ohio State in the BCS National Championship Game on Monday. Ohio State had been the No. 1 team in each fan poll throughout the season. Additionally, college football fans largely give a thumbs-down to the current method of selecting a college football champion, as more than two-thirds say they favor a playoff tournament.

The poll of college football fans was conducted Jan. 9-10, following the BCS Championship Game on Jan. 8. The sample consists of members of Gallup's household panel who are fans of college football and have demonstrated a high degree of knowledge of, and interest in, the sport.

The Final Rankings

Florida received 365 of the possible 400 first-place votes in the poll to finish as the highest-ranked team from the fans' perspective. The Gators were also the top-ranked team in the Associated Press sportswriters' poll and the USA Today coaches' poll.

Boise State, the only undefeated major college football team in the nation but hailing from the lightly regarded Western Athletic Conference, got 30 first-place votes but finished No. 5 in the rankings, behind Florida, Ohio State, Southern California, and Louisiana State (LSU).

The remainder of the top 10 includes Louisville, Wisconsin, Michigan, Auburn, and West Virginia. Auburn was the only team to beat Florida during the regular season. Michigan had been ranked No. 3 in the prior fan poll but fell five spots after losing to Southern California in the Rose Bowl.

Rutgers finished 11 th, Texas 12 th, Oklahoma 13 th, Arkansas 14 th, and Notre Dame 15 th.

USA Today /Gallup College Football Fan Poll
(Final 2006 season)

Rank

Team

First-
place
votes

Points

Last

Pre-
season

 

 

 

 

1

Florida

365

3,953

2

7

2

Ohio State

2

2,911

1

1

3

Southern Cal

3

2,785

7

3

4

LSU

 

2,611

5

8

5

Boise State

30

2,564

8

N/R

6

Louisville

 

1,921

4

N/R

7

Wisconsin

 

1,690

6

N/R

8

Michigan

 

1,210

3

11

9

Auburn

 

854

11

5

10

West Virginia

 

601

12

6

11

Rutgers

 

226

N/R

N/R

12

Texas

 

144

15

2

13

Oklahoma

 

139

9

9

14

Arkansas

 

92

13

N/R

15

Notre Dame

 

54

10

4

Florida was ranked No. 7 in the pre-season poll, and remained in the top 10 all season long. It dropped to No. 8 after losing to Auburn Oct. 14, and fell another spot to No. 9 the following week, before beginning its climb to the top. Florida reached No. 4 in the Nov. 12 poll after upset losses by Texas, Auburn, and Louisville. It stayed at No. 4 until the final regular-season poll, when it moved to No. 2 after beating Arkansas, jumping over idle Michigan and defeated Southern California (which lost to UCLA).

Boise State was one of five teams that were not ranked in the pre-season poll but made the final rankings, along with Louisville, Wisconsin, Rutgers, and Arkansas.

Florida was the No. 1 team in all four regions of the country, but there was variation in the rest of the rankings by region, particularly in the top five. Ohio State was rated No. 2 in the East, South, and Midwest, but only No. 4 in the West. In the West, Southern Cal was rated No. 2 and Boise State No. 3. Southern Cal was ranked No. 3 in the East and Midwest and No. 4 in the South, while Boise State ranked No. 4 in the Midwest and No. 5 in both the East and South. LSU got a higher ranking in the South (No. 3), and ranked No. 4 in the East and No. 5 in the Midwest and West.

USA Today/Gallup College Football Fan Poll,
Results by Region

 

East

Midwest

South

West

 

 

 

Team

Pts.

Team

Pts.

Team

Pts.

Team

Pts.

 

 

 

 

1

Fla.

580

1

Fla.

1,022

1

Fla.

1,659

1

Fla.

692

2

OSU

431

2

OSU

785

2

OSU

1,215

2

S. Cal

533

3

S. Cal

399

3

S. Cal

730

3

LSU

1,170

3

Boise

496

4

LSU

374

4

Boise

655

4

S. Cal

1,123

4

OSU

480

5

Boise

344

5

LSU

619

5

Boise

1,069

5

LSU

448

6

L'ville

304

6

Wisc.

502

6

L'ville

794

6

L'ville

333

7

Wisc.

252

7

L'ville

490

7

Wisc.

658

7

Wisc.

278

8

Mich.

180

8

Mich.

334

8

Mich.

498

8

Mich.

198

9

WVU

109

9

Aub.

179

9

Aub.

420

9

Aub.

160

10

Aub.

95

10

WVU

143

10

WVU

244

10

WVU

105

The Final Rankings

While Boise State fans may disagree, the final results of this year's bowls left little doubt as to which is the best team in the nation. That has not always been the case, and the lack of a formal playoff in college football has been the subject of much controversy over the years.

When asked about the best way to decide the national champion in college football, fans showed a strong preference for a playoff tournament. When given three options, 69% favored "a playoff tournament involving the top 4, 8, or 16 teams that would replace the bowl games." Just 15% say they favor "the current system, where the top two teams at the end of the regular season meet in one of the bowl games," and 16% favor the compromise "plus-one" system that would involve "a one-game playoff between the top two teams after all the bowl games have been played."

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone and Internet interviews, conducted Jan. 9-10, 2007, with 481 members of Gallup's household panel 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 No. 1 ranking down to 1 for a No. 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.

18. Which of the following would you prefer as the way to determine the national champion in college football?

Jan. 9-10, 2007

The current system where the top two teams at the end of the regular season meet in one of the bowl games

15%

A one-game playoff between the top two teams after all the bowl games have been played

16

A playoff tournament involving the top 4, 8, or 16 teams that would replace the bowl games

69

No opinion

1



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