With the current BCS system pitting No. 1 vs. No. 2, it becomes even more heated, especially when there are more than two undefeated teams going into the bowl games. Though the BCS doesn't have a preseason poll there are several major polls that publish a preseason poll.
Though it's more important where you finish than where you started, preseason polls can benefit the teams starting in the top 10. Obviously, starting closer to the top makes the journey to No. 1 or No. 2 a little smoother. We often gauge teams and conferences based on their rankings and with this mind I decided to see which conferences and individual teams had more top 10 finishes. The data has been compiled from the Associated Press Poll.
1970-2007, Most Top 10 Finishes by Conference
1992-2007, Most Top 10 Finishes by Conference
1970-2007, Most Top Five Finishes by Conference
1992-2007, Most Top Five Finishes by Conference
1970-2007, Most Top 10 Finishes by School
1992-2007, Most Top 10 Finishes by School
1970-2007, Most Top 10 Finishes in the SEC
1992-2007, Most Top 10 Finishes in the SEC
From 1951-2007, Auburn has started the season ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll 15 times. AU was ranked 11-20 in the AP Poll in 11 seasons at the start and unranked 31 times.
When Auburn started the season ranked in the top 10
7 finishes in the top 10 (46.7%)
10 finishes in the top 20 (66.7%)
4 finishes unranked (26.7%)
When AU started the season ranked 11-20 in the AP Poll
3 finishes in the top 10 (27.3%)
7 finishes in the top 20 (63.6%)
3 finishes unranked (27.3%)
When AU started the season unranked in the AP Poll
7 finishes in the top 10 (22.5%)
15 finishes in the top 20 (48.4%)
16 finishes unranked (51.6%)
Based on Auburn's history, it's better to start the season ranked in the top 10. Don't kid yourself that it's better for Auburn to start the season unranked or very low in the polls. Yes, I realize there has been some Auburn teams that failed to live up to preseason hype but the above numbers tell the entire story.
During the 15 seasons Auburn started in the top 10, it has compiled a 127-43-5 record or a winning percentage 74 percent. Those aren't eye-popping numbers, but are better than the 70.6 winning percentage when ranked 11-20 or the 64.0 percent when starting the season unranked.