How Are College Football Team Rankings Determined?

A selection committee presides over the ranking of college football teams. The committee ranks the top 25 teams and assigns them to play in one of the New Year's bowl games.

College football has no playoff series at the end of the season, so rankings determine whether a team plays in one of the Bowl Championship Series games. Any Division 1-A team with a winning record is technically eligible to play in a BCS game.

The selection committee uses a mathematical formula to rank the top 25 college football teams. The evaluation is on-going throughout the season, with results being updated every Monday. The formula includes subjective polls, computer rankings, the strength of each team's schedule and the number of losses accrued. Each factor carries a numerical value that is tabulated weekly.

The Associated Press, which is made up of a national board of sports writers and broadcasters, counts for one part of the subjective polling factor. A select group of football coaches votes for USA Today/ESPN ratings. Members of each group cast votes based on their professional evaluations of each team's performance in a game.

The computer ranking factor is based on a number of programs that crunch statistics. Some of these statistics compare margins of victory, the locations of each game and the relative strength of opponents.