The undefeated Cal Poly football team has been a favorite of computer-based ranking systems for pretty much the entire season.
But the Mustangs (7-0, 5-0 Big Sky Conference) have found it tougher gaining traction with living and breathing poll voters.
Though one of just two remaining unbeaten FCS teams in the country, Cal Poly hasn’t been able to crack the top 10 in either The Sports Network top 25 media poll or the coaches’ poll — the two rankings published each week on the NCAA’s official website.
After Saturday’s 37-25 homecoming victory over Portland State, the Mustangs moved to No. 11 in the two aforementioned polls. Lehigh (8-0), the other undefeated program, is ranked sixth by the coaches and eighth by the media. Eastern Washington (6-1, 5-0 Big Sky), who Cal Poly will face in Spokane, Wash., in a Nov. 3 nonconference game, is first in both polls.
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“I know how this FCS thing works out,” Mustangs head coach Tim Walsh said after the victory over the Vikings, a program he coached for 14 years. “I don’t think it’s watched as well as it should be by, no offense, the media. And therefore the media poll, I think, is a little skewed.”
Walsh has a major point.
College football at the FCS level does not have nearly the television coverage of the FBS, which has preview and highlight shows dedicated to exposing its top players and teams to the entire nation — not to mention an abundance of televised games.
FCS poll voters, whether they be coaches or media members, have less to go on than their FBS counterparts.
But as noted, Cal Poly does fare well with the unbiased computer ratings systems.
The Gridiron Power Index (GPI) top 25, a power rankings system administrated by The College Sporting News, has been used by the NCAA for the past four seasons as a tool to help award at-large berths to the FCS playoffs.
Thanks largely to the computer component, Cal Poly ranks fourth overall in the country for this week’s GPI. Even though the human polls rank the Mustangs 11th, the computers have them second to No. 1 North Dakota State (6-1).
USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin also has Cal Poly as the second-rated FCS team in his computer rankings, which evaluates every team in Division I together.
“I don’t know what we are,” Walsh said. “I just know we’re a very good football team. I don’t know if we’re great. We’ll find out by the end of the year. But right now, we are a good football team that finds ways to win, and I think that deserves recognition.”
“Obviously, for community’s sake for campus’ sake, I’d love to come back in two weeks 9-0 and ranked second or third in the country, but we'll be what we are, and we’ll continue to fight the fight and make sure that we’re playing in November.”
FREEMAN WELL AFTER SURGERY
When Cal Poly junior tackle Mike Freeman left the field Saturday, it was not a pretty sight.
After falling to the ground on a running play, Freeman’s left foot was seen pointing backward after what appeared to be a leg fracture.
Walsh said Freeman suffered a broken fibula and multiple torn ligaments in his ankle joint.
After undergoing surgery Sunday, Freeman’s prognosis is to be back in time for spring practice, regardless of whether he will participate.
“He’ll be back doing things in three to 3 1-2 months,” Walsh said. “The surgery went well. Mike’s home doing well and we’re going to miss him because the last two or three weeks he had been playing really strongly at tackle, and that’s unfortunate that that happened to him.”
With senior tackle Karl Winkelman also battling an injury, former Atascadero High standout Weston Walker, a redshirt freshman and key reserve, could make his first collegiate start.
WILLIAMS ADDED TO PAYTON WATCH LIST
Cal Poly senior running back Deonte Williams was added to the Walter Payton Award watch list by The Sports Network on Tuesday. The Payton Award goes to the best offensive player in the FCS.
Having topped 100 rushing yards in six of seven games, Williams has rushed for 926 yards and nine touchdowns. He is the top rusher in the Big Sky with 132.3 yards per game, a number that ranks seventh in the FCS.
The former Sacramento area high school standout had a career-high 27 carries for 169 yards against Portland State going into this week’s game against his hometown team.
HORNETS MOURN PLAYER DEATH
After nearly a month in a coma, Sacramento State senior defensive end John Bloomfield was taken off life support and died Sunday.
A former teammate of Cal Poly’s Williams and Brandon Michalkiewicz when all three played for Sierra College in 2009, Bloomfield was admitted to the hospital Sept. 19 for a deteriorating lung that collapsed after the Hornets’ season opener at New Mexico State more than two weeks earlier, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Bloomfield had an unrevealed respiratory condition that was exacerbated by the altitude of Las Cruces, N.M. He lapsed into a coma during a series of surgeries.