Florida defensive backs, from left, Marcus Roberson, De'Ante Saunders… (John Raoux / Associated…)
The top eight teams in the Associated Press college football poll -- Alabama, Oregon, South Carolina, Florida, West Virginia, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Ohio State -- are all undefeated after playing either five or six games.
Writers from around Tribune Co. will offer their opinions about which of those teams is the most overrated and which is the most underrated. Check back throughout the day for their responses and join the conversation by voting in the polls and leaving a comment of your own.
Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel
At No. 4, Florida has to be the most overrated team in this week’s top 25 poll. No disrespect to the Gators, but what were voters thinking when they moved Florida up five spots from No. 10 after its win over then-No. 4 LSU on Saturday?
Maybe it was the glare of the Southeastern Conference or the fact that Florida beat a top-five team, but by no means are the Gator a top-five team. If Florida beats South Carolina in two weeks, then we can talk.
On the flip side, Notre Dame is underrated at No. 7 in this week’s poll, especially considering the strength of its schedule and its performance on the field.
The Fighting Irish haven't played this well on the defensive side of the ball since the Reagan years, and wins over Michigan, Michigan State and Miami should have moved them into the top five. A victory over Stanford on Saturday should remedy that oversight.
[Updated at 12:03 p.m.:
Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times
I was one of the few people that had Ohio State in the top 10 to start the season. I had the Buckeyes No. 9 (compared with No. 18 in the Associated Press media poll) based two factors: Braxton Miller returning at quarterback and Urban Meyer being named head coach.
Yet, I think Ohio State is probably a tad overrated at No. 8 this week, despite a dominating win against Nebraska. Ohio State did not look great in wins over Central Florida, California and Alabama-Birmingham. The Buckeyes survived a one-point win at Michigan State.
I had Ohio State No. 14 last week. To me, they are a fringe top-10 -- but definitely on the rise.
Underrated? Kansas State is No. 6 in the AP poll but has two of the more impressive victories notched this year. The Wildcats pummeled Miami, 52-13, in Manhattan, and then shocked Oklahoma in Norman. I am more in line with the USA Today poll, which has Kansas State at No. 5 ahead of No. 6 Florida.
David Teel, Newport News Daily Press
Geno Smith -- 24 touchdown passes and no interceptions! — may win the Heisman and lead No. 5 West Virginia to the national title. But it's difficult for us defense-wins-championships Neanderthals to grasp a contender that has allowed 108 points in its last two games. Indeed, the Mountaineers not only yielded 63 to Baylor and 45 to Texas but also rank 102nd nationally in scoring defense and pass defense.
Along the same line, and counterintuitive though it seems, top-ranked Alabama may be the most under-valued among the top eight. Quarterback AJ McCarron doesn’t grace many (any?) Heisman watches, and the Crimson Tide offense doesn’t obliterate scoring records. But Alabama leads the nation in scoring defense, total defense and pass-efficiency defense, a combination that will be difficult to beat.]