Polls are predictable. Wins and losses are given far more weight than they should be, because pollsters either a) don’t have time to watch every game every week or b) don’t care to look beyond score lines (or basic box score stats).
On Saturday night, Northwestern pushed a top-five team to the limit, nearly upending Ohio State in Evanston, but couldn’t quite pull the upset. Being able to hang with one of the best teams in the country for 60 minutes would seem to recommend, rather than discredit, Northwestern’s previous poll ranking (AP: 16, Coaches: 15). Logically, the Wildcats should have been moved up, or at least held their position in both polls.
But because of the way polls operate, few were surprised to see Sunday’s new rankings, wherein Northwestern has fallen three spots in both the AP and Coaches Polls, down to 19th and 18th, respectively. This comes as no shock: despite nearly upsetting the best team in the Big Ten, one likely headed to the BCS, the Wildcats fell because they lost.
Winning at Wisconsin next week would lead to a jump, just as a loss will lead to another drop. The Wildcats are now the third highest-ranked team in the Big Ten, behind Ohio State (AP: 4, Coaches: 3) and Michigan (AP: 18, Coaches: 16).
You can find both polls here.