Teams better than polls think

These squads didn't win media votes but are well-positioned for league titles

Updated: August 1, 2013, 9:43 AM ET
By Brian Fremeau | Football Outsiders

David AshScott Halleran/Getty ImagesDavid Ash and the Texas Longhorns are ranked fourth overall in the 2013 projected FEI ratings.

Conference media days have wrapped up for each of the AQ conferences, and fall practices leading up to the first weekend of the college football season are about to begin. One focal point of each conference kickoff event is an annual poll of media members, voting on the preseason ranking for the division races and overall conference title chases that lie ahead.

Unlike in the BCS rankings, polls (mercifully) have no role in determining conference championships. The preseason vote has little significance beyond determining which teams have the most initial media attention this season and which conference contenders may be flying somewhat under the radar.

Which teams that didn't win over the voters are favored by our projections to win division and conference title races? Let's take a look.

Cincinnati Bearcats
Preseason media poll: 2nd in The American
FEI projections: 1st in The American
Likelihood to win conference: 52 percent

Look no further than the Bearcats for a potential conference champion that few are paying any attention to at this point in the year. The Louisville Cardinals earned 28 of 30 first-place votes in Tuesday's American Athletic Conference media ballot, and Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is a preseason Heisman favorite. Cincinnati, on the other hand, is breaking in a new head coach in Tommy Tuberville and doesn't boast much star power on its roster. So why do our Football Outsiders preseason projections like the Bearcats to defy media expectations and claim the American Athletic Conference's BCS bowl bid?

Brian Fremeau

ESPN Insider
• Has been a contributor to ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine since 2009
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com