Penn State fans have always felt the Nittany Lions tend to get slighted in the polls on a somewhat regular basis, and now there is a study to help validate some of those sentiments. While Penn State is far from being in the Boise State conversation when it comes to under-rated teams, Penn State is among the most under-rated schools using one simple method.
The Crunch Zone, a site focused more on Louisville sports, has reviewed the past 13 years of the preseason AP poll and compared it to the final poll standings, calculating the different in preseason and final poll rankings to see which teams are the most over-ranked and under-ranked throughout that time period. The most over-rated team according to the study is the Florida State Seminoles, in runaway fashion, followed by Tennessee, USC, Oklahoma and Michigan. The most under-rated program according to the study is Boise State, followed by Stanford, Utah, TCU and Cincinnati. Penn State is the 14th most under-rated team in the study, only a few spots behind the likes of Oregon and Alabama. Yes, Alabama.
The study has some valid criticism in how it is set-up of course. For example, it includes all seasons, which can be skewed one way or another by one particularly great or surprisingly poor season (USC preseason number one in 2012, Auburn's BCS championship season etc.). Perennially strong teams with high rankings have nowhere to go but down sometimes, and thus are victims to downward trends in how this poll is set-up.
We'll let the economics and statistics majors take it from here as far as breaking down the study, but if you want to keep your stance simple then this may be something worth remembering.
By the way, the AP Top 25 was released over the weekend. Penn State is not ranked but does appear in the Others Receiving votes category.