COMMENTARY: Poll gazing

THE BEAVERS FINISHED the 2007 football season ranked in the Top 25 for the second straight year. This past year, Oregon State had to climb up the ladder to do it, having not been listed in the Top 25 in either the AP or ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Polls at the beginning of the season. A closer look, however, reveals some interesting tidbits for poll gazers that can still rankle.

Such as that the team OSU beat in the Civil War, and who finished with an identical 9-4 record, finished above them in both of the season ending polls.

After the Beavs bested the Ducks in the regular season ender, and entering the bowl season, Oregon State and Oregon were both out of the Top 25 --- Oregon State was at No. 29 and No. 31 in the Coaches' and AP Polls, respectively, while Oregon was ranked No. 33 and No. 30.

Oregon State took third place in the Pac-10 standings to finish the regular season, while Oregon finished tied for fourth place.

But because the Beavers in '06 played in the Sun Bowl, the Pac-10's third place bowl, the Sun's bowl officials decided to bypass the Beavs and take Oregon.

Oregon subsequently had the chance to play No. 23 South Florida while Oregon State took on a 6-6 Maryland team in the Emerald Bowl.

Oregon State beat Maryland 21-14 but Oregon crushed South Florida in the Sun. The Ducks subsequently jumped up nine spots to No. 24 in the Coaches Poll, and six spots to No. 23 in the AP.

Oregon State meanwhile, barely mustered enough with the pollsters to creep into the final AP poll, finishing the year at No. 25. The Beavs were on the outside looking in when the final Coaches' Poll was released, finishing the year at No. 26.

The No. 25 team in the Coaches' Poll -- Penn State -- also sported a 9-4 record like the Beavs. Indeed, nine teams with a 9-4 record finished in the Coaches' Poll Top 25 ahead of the Beavers -- Penn State, Oregon, Texas Tech, Clemson, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Florida and Auburn.

Over in the AP Poll, all those teams, save for Penn State who was 26th, finished ranked above the Beavs' No. 25.

In the never ending game of what-ifs, forget about the Sun Bowl and what would have been the outcome in a OSU-South Florida matchup.

Is there anyone out there who wouldn't have enjoyed seeing the outcome of OSU vs. any of those schools, and just what Oregon State's defense would have done against those schools with the same 9-4 records who finished above them in the polls?

Ah well, history will record the Beavs still finished the season in the Top 25 in one of the polls. And that should count for something. It should help in recruiting, and to continue the building of the Beaver Program.

Sure, Oregon State might not get some of the early season built-in respect that other programs do -- Florida and Michigan, for example, who both finished 9-4 began the year ranked in the preseason Top 5. Therefore each one of their four losses meant they could still stay in, or within shouting distance, of the Top 25 more easily than could the Beavers.

Nevertheless, an Oregon State Top 25 finish, the second in as many years, remains something the Beaver Nation should be able to enjoy and point to with pride -- particularly during the offseason.

After all, they're the only football program in the state that can say that about the last two seasons.

BeaverBlitz Top Stories