The MaxDiff Poll After Week 4: Fans Remain High on Texas A&M and Oklahoma State After Losses

This Week’s Poll Specs

When was this fielded?: September 24, 2018
Number of respondents: 1,144
Research technique: Online quantitative survey using the MaxDiff Market Research Technique.

Interpreting the Scores: The MaxDiff scores for each team are indexed at 100. For example, Washington’s MaxDiff score of 161 means that team was ranked 61% higher than the average team in the exercise. It is important to note that these scores should not be interpreted as “votes.” See our explanation of MaxDiff if you would like more information.


FanJuicer’s “Big Six” Takeaways From This Week’s Poll

    1. Fans remain relentless in their support of Texas A&M after looking good in losses to Tier I teams.

      Texas A&M sits at 2 – 2 with wins over Northwestern State and ULM – not exactly an impressive resume at first glance. Fans, however, didn’t put Texas A&M in the MaxDiff Poll’s Top 20 and rate them as the most underrated team in the AP because of who the Aggies have beaten. Ironically, Texas A&M is getting a lot of credit because of how they played in losses to Clemson (#3) and Alabama (#1). The Aggies looked competitive against two of the nation’s top teams, particularly against Clemson. In the MaxDiff Poll, fans’ voting patterns don’t have to follow the unwritten rules that govern the AP. Fans often move teams up or down in this poll after “quality losses” and ugly wins, respectively. Don’t get me wrong – AP voters do the same thing. They just tend to wait a week or two before doing so.

    2. The bottom falls out for Virginia Tech.

      After a devastating loss to Old Dominion that will loom large on Virginia Tech’s season, the Hokies fell in the AP from #13 down to #28. However, they fell even further in the eyes of fans all the way to the bottom of the MaxDiff Poll at #32. In addition to the loss to ODU, I suspect that fans are taking into account the fact that Virginia Tech’s victory over Florida State is looking less and less impressive by the week.

    3. Fans think Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are both underrated after last weekend’s game.

      Fans have been high on Oklahoma State all season, even before Week 1, and for awhile, fans appeared to have been correct up until this weekend when Mike Gundy and company were humbled by the Texas Tech defense of all things. Ironically, fans are now high on both teams, as the Red Raiders and Cowboys are both among this week’s most underrated teams in the eyes of fans. And just in case you are wondering, this poll is not overrun with Big 12 fans who are inflating the rankings for Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. In this season’s first poll, I pointed out that this poll reasonably represents college football fans on whole in terms of team affiliation. Still, I have to admit I was surprised when these two teams both registered among this week’s most underrated teams, particularly Texas Tech, who weren’t even in last week’s MaxDiff Poll as a result of not cracking the AP Top 32. Just to be sure, I looked at the rankings by fans of each of the Power Five Conferences and found that they all rated both Texas Tech and Oklahoma State higher than the AP.

    4. There is more agreement among fans this week.

      I noted last week that when the rankings create even, flat tiers that it indicates agreement among fans about the quality of teams, whereas uneven “staircases” reflect a lack of consensus. We’re starting to see a bit more agreement among fans, as you’ll notice that the tiers are starting to become slightly more flat compared to last week, especially Tiers III, IV, and V. I suspect that voters had an easier time filling out their MaxDiff ballots this week than last week.

    5. No respect for the Pac 12’s rank and file.

      The Pac 12’s Colorado and Cal were both ranked by fans as two of the most overrated teams in this week’s poll. Perhaps this is due to lack of familiarity with the two teams, or it could be the perception that the Pac 12 is the weakest Power 5 conference. Truthfully, this is just a hypothesis because I’m not convinced that the average college football fan still thinks the Pac 12 is the weakest Power Five conference. Even though fans did rank the Pac 12 as the weakest Power Five Conference in our preseason rankings, I’m interested if we would get the same results after four weeks of play due to how unexpectedly bad the ACC has looked so far.

    6. Stanford enters Tier III.

      After a big road victory over Oregon, Stanford enters Tier III. The Cardinal have now amassed one of the more impressive resumes in college football. In addition to the Ducks, the Cardinal also hold a victory over the USC Trojans. If Stanford is able to defeat Notre Dame this weekend, it will be difficult to deny them entry into Tier II.



The MaxDiff Poll Versus the Spread?

Last season, I noticed a peculiar trend in the MaxDiff Poll in that the teams fans felt were OVERRATED in the AP tended to win versus the spread the following week, while teams fans felt were UNDERRATED tended to lose versus the spread. Using this pattern, last week’s poll made six predictions with five wins and one loss. After a dead on slate of calls last weekend, the MaxDiff Poll is now 19 – 13 (59% hit rate) against the spread on the season so far.

Here are this week’s predictions:

  • ARKANSAS (+20.5) over Texas A&M
  • WEST VIRGINIA (-3.5) over Texas Tech
  • KANSAS (+18) over Oklahoma State
  • MIAMI (-18.5) over North Carolina
  • MICHIGAN STATE (-28.5) over Central Michigan
  • BYU (+17.5) over Washington
  • CALIFORNIA (+3) over Oregon
  • COLORADO (-10) over UCLA

How Do Fans Feel About Ohio State v. Penn State This Weekend?

I think it is worth pointing out that fans were pretty close to dead on in their prediction of Stanford versus Oregon last week.
Fans were also extremely close to the actual score a couple weeks ago too.