AP poll

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Inaugural AP polls
Div I/FBS football1936
Div I/FCS football1978
Div I men's basketball1948–49
Div I women's basketball1976–77
Current AP polls
FBS football2023 season
FCS football2023 season
Div I men's basketball2022–23 season
Div I women's basketball2022–23 season

The Associated Press poll (AP poll) provides weekly rankings of the top 25 NCAA teams in one of three Division I college sports: football, men's basketball and women's basketball. The rankings are compiled by polling 62 sportswriters and broadcasters from across the nation.[1] Each voter provides their own ranking of the top 25 teams, and the individual rankings are then combined to produce the national ranking by giving a team 25 points for a first place vote, 24 for a second place vote, and so on down to 1 point for a twenty-fifth place vote. Ballots of the voting members in the AP poll are publicized.[2]

College football[edit]

The football poll is released Sundays at 2 pm Eastern time during the season, unless ranked teams have not finished their games.


The AP college football poll's origins go back to the 1930s. The news media began running their own polls of sports writers to determine, by popular opinion, the best college football teams in the country. One of the earliest such polls was conducted by the AP in November 1934.[3] In 1935, AP sports editor Alan J. Gould declared a three-way tie for national champion in football between Minnesota, Princeton, and Southern Methodist.[4] Minnesota fans protested and a number of Gould's colleagues led by Charles "Cy" Sherman suggested he create a poll of sports editors instead of only using his own list.[5] The next year the weekly AP college football poll was born,[5][6] and has run continuously from 1936.[7]

Due to the long-standing historical ties between individual college football conferences and high-paying bowl games like the Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl, the NCAA had not held a tournament or championship game to determine the national champion of what is now the highest division, NCAA Division I, Football Bowl Subdivision (the Division I, Football Championship Subdivision and lower divisions do hold championship tournaments). As a result, the public and the media began to acknowledge the leading vote-getter in the final AP poll as the national champion for that season.

While the AP poll currently lists the Top 25 teams in the nation, from 1936 to 1988, the wire service only ranked twenty teams, except from 1961 to 1967, when only ten teams were recognized. The AP expanded to the current 25 teams in 1989.[8]

The AP began conducting a preseason poll in 1950.[9][10]

At the end of the 1947 season, the AP released an unofficial post-bowl poll which differed from the regular season final poll.[11] Until the 1968 college football season, the final AP poll of the season was released following the end of the regular season, with the lone exception of the 1965 season. In 1964, Alabama was named the national champion in the final AP Poll following the completion of the regular season, but lost in the Orange Bowl to Texas, leaving Arkansas as the only undefeated, untied team after the Razorbacks defeated Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl. In 1965, the AP's decision to wait to crown its champion paid handsomely, as top-ranked Michigan State lost to UCLA in the Rose Bowl, number two Arkansas lost to LSU in the Cotton Bowl, and fourth-ranked Alabama defeated third-ranked Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, vaulting the Crimson Tide to the top of the AP's final poll (Michigan State was named national champion in the final UPI Coaches Poll, which did not conduct a post-bowl poll).

Beginning in 1968, the post bowl game poll became permanent and the AP championship reflected the bowl game results. The UPI did not follow suit with the coaches' poll until the 1974 season.

No. 1 vs. No. 2[edit]

Through the 2018 season, the number one ranked team has faced the number two ranked team 52 times since the inception of the AP poll in 1936.[12] The number one team has a record of 29–21–2 (.577) against the number two team.

No. 1 vs. No. 2 games
Light blue indicates bowl game
Season No. 1 Result No. 2 Site Event Ref.
1943 Notre Dame 35–12 Michigan Michigan StadiumAnn Arbor, MI 1943 Michigan–Notre Dame football rivalry game
1943 Notre Dame 14–13 Iowa Pre-Flight Notre Dame StadiumNotre Dame, IN
1944 Army 23–7 Navy Municipal StadiumBaltimore 1944 Army–Navy Game
1945 Army 48–0 Notre Dame Yankee StadiumThe Bronx 1945 Army–Notre Dame football rivalry game
1945 Army 32–13 Navy Philadelphia Municipal StadiumPhiladelphia 1945 Army–Navy Game
1946 Army 0–0 Notre Dame Yankee Stadium • Bronx, NY 1946 Army vs. Notre Dame football game
1962 USC 42–37 Wisconsin Rose BowlPasadena, CA 1963 Rose Bowl
1963 Oklahoma 7–28 Texas Cotton BowlDallas 1963 Red River Shootout game
1963 Texas 28–6 Navy Cotton Bowl • Dallas, TX 1964 Cotton Bowl Classic
1966 Notre Dame 10–10 Michigan State Spartan StadiumEast Lansing, MI 1966 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State football game
1968 Purdue 37–22 Notre Dame Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN 1968 Notre Dame–Purdue football rivalry game
1968 Ohio State 27–16 USC Rose Bowl • Pasadena, CA 1969 Rose Bowl
1969 Texas 15–14 Arkansas Razorback StadiumFayetteville, AR 1969 Texas vs. Arkansas football game
1971 Nebraska 35–31 Oklahoma Oklahoma Memorial StadiumNorman, OK 1971 Nebraska vs. Oklahoma football game
1971 Nebraska 38–6 Alabama Miami Orange BowlMiami, FL 1972 Orange Bowl
1978 Penn State 7–14 Alabama Louisiana SuperdomeNew Orleans, LA 1979 Sugar Bowl
1981 USC 28–24 Oklahoma Los Angeles Memorial ColiseumLos Angeles
1982 Georgia 23–27 Penn State Louisiana Superdome • New Orleans, LA 1983 Sugar Bowl
1985 Iowa 12–10 Michigan Kinnick StadiumIowa City, IA
1986 Oklahoma 16–28 Miami (FL) Miami Orange Bowl • Miami, FL
1986 Miami (FL) 10–14 Penn State Sun Devil StadiumTempe, AZ 1987 Fiesta Bowl
1987 Nebraska 7–17 Oklahoma Memorial StadiumLincoln, NE 1987 Nebraska–Oklahoma football rivalry game
1987 Oklahoma 14–20 Miami (FL) Miami Orange Bowl • Miami, FL 1988 Orange Bowl
1988 Notre Dame 27–10 USC Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum • Los Angeles 1988 Notre Dame–USC football rivalry game
1989 Notre Dame 24–19 Michigan Michigan Stadium • Ann Arbor, MI 1989 Michigan–Notre Dame football rivalry game
1991 Florida State 16–17 Miami (FL) Doak Campbell StadiumTallahassee, FL Wide Right I
1992 Miami (FL) 13–34 Alabama Louisiana Superdome • New Orleans, LA 1993 Sugar Bowl (Bowl Coalition National Championship Game)
1993 Florida State 24–31 Notre Dame Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN 1993 Florida State vs. Notre Dame football game
1993 Florida State 18–16 Nebraska Miami Orange Bowl • Miami, FL 1994 Orange Bowl (Bowl Coalition National Championship Game)
1995 Nebraska 62–24 Florida Sun Devil Stadium • Tempe, AZ 1996 Fiesta Bowl (Bowl Alliance National Championship Game)
1996 Florida 21–24 Florida State Doak Campbell Stadium • Tallahassee, FL 1996 Florida–Florida State football rivalry game
1998 Tennessee 23–16 Florida State Sun Devil Stadium • Tempe, AZ 1999 Fiesta Bowl (BCS National Championship Game)
1999 Florida State 46–29 Virginia Tech Louisiana Superdome • New Orleans, LA 2000 Sugar Bowl (BCS National Championship Game)
2002 Miami (FL) 24–31 2OT Ohio State Sun Devil Stadium • Tempe, AZ 2003 Fiesta Bowl (BCS National Championship Game)
2004 USC 55–19 Oklahoma Pro Player StadiumMiami Gardens, FL 2005 Orange Bowl (BCS National Championship Game)
2005 USC 38–41 Texas Rose Bowl • Pasadena, CA 2006 Rose Bowl (BCS National Championship Game)
2006 Ohio State 24–7 Texas Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial StadiumAustin, TX
2006 Ohio State 42–39 Michigan Ohio StadiumColumbus, OH 2006 Michigan vs. Ohio State football game
2006 Ohio State 14–41 Florida University of Phoenix StadiumGlendale, AZ 2007 BCS National Championship Game
2007 Ohio State 24–38 LSU Louisiana Superdome • New Orleans, LA 2008 BCS National Championship Game
2008 Alabama 20–31 Florida Georgia DomeAtlanta, GA 2008 SEC Championship Game
2008 Florida 24–14 Oklahoma Dolphin Stadium • Miami Gardens, FL 2009 BCS National Championship Game
2009 Florida 13–32 Alabama Georgia Dome • Atlanta, GA 2009 SEC Championship Game
2009 Alabama 37–21 Texas Rose Bowl • Pasadena, CA 2010 BCS National Championship Game
2010 Auburn 22–19 Oregon University of Phoenix Stadium • Glendale, AZ 2011 BCS National Championship Game
2011 LSU 9–6 OT Alabama Bryant–Denny StadiumTuscaloosa, AL 2011 LSU vs. Alabama football game
2011 LSU 0–21 Alabama Mercedes–Benz Superdome • New Orleans, LA 2012 BCS National Championship Game
2012 Notre Dame 14–42 Alabama Sun Life Stadium • Miami Gardens, FL 2013 BCS National Championship Game
2013 Florida State 34–31 Auburn Rose Bowl • Pasadena, CA 2014 BCS National Championship Game
2015 Clemson 40–45 Alabama University of Phoenix Stadium • Glendale, AZ 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship
2018 Alabama 16–44 Clemson Levi's StadiumSanta Clara, CA 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship
2019 LSU 46–41 Alabama Bryant–Denny Stadium • Tuscaloosa, AL 2019 LSU vs. Alabama football game [13]
2022 Georgia 27–13 Tennessee[a] Sanford Stadium • Athens, GA 2022 Tennessee vs. Georgia football game

AP Poll inclusion in the BCS[edit]

In 1997, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was developed to try to unify the poll results by picking two teams for a "real" national championship game. For the first several years the AP Poll factored in the determination of the BCS rankings, along with other factors including the Coaches Poll and computer-based polls. Because of a series of controversies surrounding the BCS, the AP demanded in December, 2004, that its poll no longer be used in the BCS rankings,[14] and so the 2004–2005 season was the last season that the AP Poll was used for this purpose.

In the 2003 season, the BCS system broke down when the final BCS standings ranked the University of Southern California (USC) at No. 3 while the two human polls in the system had ranked USC at No. 1. As a result, USC did not play in the BCS' designated national championship game. USC (who had earlier in the season lost in triple-overtime to an unranked U of California, 31-24) went on to decisively defeat No. 4 ranked Michigan in the Rose Bowl, while No. 2 Louisiana State University (LSU) (who had lost to Florida earlier in the season) defeated the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners (who had lost the Big 12 championship game to Kansas State) in a national title game. As a result, the AP Poll kept USC at No. 1 while the Coaches Poll was contractually obligated to select the winner of the BCS game as the No. 1 team. The resulting split national title was the very problem that the BCS was created to solve, and has been widely considered an embarrassment.[15]

In 2004, a new controversy erupted at the end of the season when Auburn and Utah, who both finished the regular season 12–0, were left out of the BCS title game in favor of Oklahoma who also was 12–0 and had won decisively over Colorado in the Big 12 Championship game. USC went on to a win easily over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl while Auburn and Utah both won their bowl games, leaving three undefeated teams at the end of the season. Also, in that same year, Texas made up late ground on California (Cal) in the BCS standings and as a result grabbed a high-payout, at-large spot in the Rose Bowl. Previous to that poll, Cal had been ranked ahead of Texas in both human polls and the BCS poll. Going into their final game, the Golden Bears were made aware that while margin of victory did not affect computer rankings, it did affect human polls and just eight voters changing their vote could affect the final standings.[16] Both teams won their game that week, but the Texas coach, Mack Brown, had made a public effort to lobby for his team to be moved higher in the ranking. When the human polls were released, Texas remained behind Cal, but it had closed the gap enough so that the BCS poll (which determines placement) placed Texas above Cal, angering both Cal and its conference, the Pac-10.[17] The final poll positions had been unchanged with Cal at No. 4 AP, No. 4 coaches, and No. 6 computers polls and Texas at No. 6 AP, No. 5 coaches, and No. 4 computer polls.[17] The AP Poll voters were caught in the middle because their vote changes were automatically publicized, while the votes of the Coaches poll were kept confidential. Although there had been a more substantial shift in the votes of the Coaches Poll, the only clear targets for the ire of fanatical fans were the voters in the AP Poll. While officials from both Cal and the Pac-10 called for the coaches' votes to be publicized, the overtures were turned down and did little to solve the problem of AP voters. Cal went on to lose to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl. Texas defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

Many members of the press who voted in the AP Poll were upset by the controversy and, at the behest of its members, the AP asked that its poll no longer be used in the BCS rankings. The 2004 season was the last season that the AP Poll was used in the BCS rankings. It was replaced in the BCS equation by the newly created Harris Interactive College Football Poll.[18]

Final AP football polls[edit]

Other media football polls[edit]

The AP Poll is not the only college football poll. The other major poll is the Coaches Poll, which has been published by several organizations: the United Press (1950–1957), the United Press International (1958–1990), USA Today (1991–present), CNN (1991–1996), and ESPN (1997–2005). Having two major polls has led to numerous "split" national titles, where the two polls disagreed on the No. 1 team. This has occurred on eleven different occasions (1954, 1957, 1965, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1991, 1997, 2003).

College basketball[edit]

In Division I men's and women's college basketball, the AP Poll is largely just a tool to compare schools throughout the season and spark debate, as it has no bearing on postseason play. Generally, all top 25 teams in the poll are invited to the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournament, also known as March Madness. The poll is usually released every Monday and voters' ballots are publicized.[19]

Men's basketball[edit]

The AP began compiling a ranking of the top 20 college men's basketball teams during the 1948–1949 season. It has issued this poll continuously since the 1950–1951 season. Beginning with the 1989-1990 season, the poll expanded to 25 teams. Kentucky has the highest % of AP poll top 25 appearances, top 10 appearances, top 5 appearances, as well as preseason and end of season appearances. [20]

Women's basketball[edit]

The women's basketball poll began during the 1976–1977 season, and was initially compiled by Mel Greenberg and published by The Philadelphia Inquirer. At first, it was a poll of coaches conducted via telephone, where coaches identified top teams and a list of the Top 20 team was produced. The initial list of coaches did not include Pat Summitt, who asked to join the group, not to improve her rankings, but because of the lack of media coverage. Summitt believed it would be a good way to stay on top of who the top teams were outside of her own schedule.[21] The poll continued to be a top 20 poll through 1989.[22] The number was increased to 25 in 1990 and subsequent years.[23]

The contributors continued to be coaches until 1994, when the AP took over administration of the poll from Greenberg, and switched to a panel of writers.[24] In 1994, Tennessee started out as No. 1 in the polls with Connecticut at No. 4. After losses by the No. 2 and No. 3 teams, Tennessee and Connecticut were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, headed into a showdown, scheduled as a special event on Martin Luther King day, the only women's basketball game scheduled on that day. Because of the unusual circumstances, the decision was made to hold off the AP voting for one day, to ensure it would be after the game. Connecticut won the game, and moved into first place in the AP poll, published on Tuesday for the only time. (Connecticut went on to complete an undefeated season.)[25] Over the history of the poll, over 255 coaches have had a team represented in polls.[26]

NFL football[edit]

Beginning in 2012, the AP began issuing a weekly pro football ranking, the AP Pro32 rankings.[27]


  1. ^ No. 2 tied with Ohio State, however Tennessee had more first-place votes (18) than Ohio State (15)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Associated Press voters 2013 retrieved 2 January 2014 Archived 15 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "AP College Poll Voters [Football]". Associated Press. Archived from the original on February 25, 2009.
  3. ^ "November 15, 1934 AP Football Poll". College Poll Archive – Historical College Football and Basketball Polls and Rankings. 1934-11-15. Archived from the original on November 10, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-09.
  4. ^ Gould, Alan (December 3, 1935). Written at New York. "Associated Press Rates Grid Teams — Mustangs, Tigers, Gophers Are Ranked as Equal All Unbeaten". The Duncan Eagle. Duncan, Oklahoma. Associated Press. Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  5. ^ a b Nissenson, Herschel (December 29, 1985). "Half a Century Later, Football Poll Still Causing Controversy". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  6. ^ Halberstam, David. Breaking news: how the Associated Press has covered war, peace, and everything else. Princeton Architectural Press, 2007. p150-151
  7. ^ "1936 Final Football Polls". College Poll Archive – Historical College Football and Basketball Polls and Rankings. Archived from the original on October 13, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-09.
  8. ^ Parks, James (2021-10-08). "How the AP Top 25 college football poll works". College Football HQ. Retrieved 2021-10-12.
  9. ^ Ellis, Zac (2013-08-17). "AP Poll: Alabama, Ohio State headline first preseason rankings". Campus Union - SI.com. Retrieved 2014-06-09.
  10. ^ "5 things to know about the AP preseason poll - TimesDaily: College". 18 August 2013. Archived from the original on 18 August 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  11. ^ The official final AP poll, taken before the bowls, had Notre Dame No. 1 (107 first place votes) and Michigan No. 2 (25 first place votes). Michigan won the Rose Bowl 49–0 over USC while Notre Dame did not play in a bowl game. Detroit Free Press sports editor Lyall Smith arranged a post-bowl AP poll with only Michigan or Notre Dame as choices. Michigan won that poll 266–119.Kyrk, John (2004). Natural Enemies. pp. 142–7. ISBN 1-58979-090-1.
  12. ^ "Football Bowl Sub Division Records" (PDF). NCAA. p. 138. Retrieved January 14, 2022.
  13. ^ "AP Top 25 Poll - Week 11". AP.org. Associated Press. November 3, 2019.
  14. ^ AP Removes Its Poll From BCS, ncaasports.com, Dec. 22, 2004, Accessed June 6, 2006. Archived from the original.
  15. ^ Tim Layden, Embarrassing moments in College Football (#10) Archived 2012-10-21 at the Wayback Machine, SportsIllustrated.com, Aug. 2, 2006 , Accessed Aug. 2, 2006.
  16. ^ Kelly Whiteside = California bears burden of making point that it's BCS-worthy. USA TODAY, November 29, 2004
  17. ^ a b *"2004 BCS Standings, BCS Rankings" (PDF). The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, Inc. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  18. ^ BCS Replaces AP Poll, ncaasports.com, July 12, 2005, Accessed June 6, 2006. Archived from the original.
  19. ^ "AP College Poll Voters [Men's Basketball]". College Poll Tracker.
  20. ^ "Total AP Men's BB Poll Appearances Summary - College Poll Archive - Historical College Football and Basketball Polls and Rankings". collegepollarchive.com. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  21. ^ Greenberg, Mel. ""The stare" may have been Summitt's trademark, but it did not define her true personality". FullCourt.com. Archived from the original on 21 May 2012. Retrieved 8 Nov 2012.
  22. ^ "1989 Final AP Women's Basketball Poll | College Poll Archive". www.collegepollarchive.com. Retrieved 2023-02-04.
  23. ^ "1990 Final AP Women's Basketball Poll | College Poll Archive". www.collegepollarchive.com. Retrieved 2023-02-04.
  24. ^ "Mel Greenberg Class of 2004/2005 – Sports Writer". Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 1 Oct 2017.
  25. ^ Mel Greenberg, Mel. "Guru's College Special: How A Previous NHL Lockout Enhanced WBB To UConn's Benefit". Womhoops Guru. Retrieved 8 Nov 2012.
  26. ^ Greenberg, Mel. "Guru's College Report: Associated Press Preseason Poll Trivia". Womhoops Guru. Retrieved 8 Nov 2012.
  27. ^ Wilner, Barry (31 July 2012). "Packers top first-ever AP Pro32 rankings". The Washington Times. Retrieved 31 July 2012.

External links[edit]