Since I'm obsessed with the factors that cause teams to be overrated, here's a great compilation of which teams have over or underperformed since 1989. A few thoughts:
1. A ranking like this will necessarily look bad for teams that are perennially in the pre-season top ten because those teams have nowhere to go but down. That said, it can be interesting to compare major powers. For instance, Georgia is near the top of the list, while Florida is near the bottom. And speaking of the Gators, they have finished below their pre-season ranking every year since 1996. That's understandable for the Zook era, but it also reflects that Florida was slightly underachieving over the second half of Spurrier's tenure. Then again, Florida plays the most consistently brutal schedules in the country and the polls are notorious for failing to take this into account. They tend to use schedule strength only when breaking ties between teams of similar records; it's inconceivable to pollsters that a two-loss team could be better than an unbeaten team.
2. Notre Dame is the most overrated team in the country by a wide margin. That won't be the case this year with a new coach, but as soon as they start doing well, it will be fun to watch the world overreact to their success. Compare them to another fallen power, Alabama, which has performed up to its pre-season rankings over the past 15 years.
3. My goodness, Clemson has overperformed their pre-season ranking exactly once in the past 15 years. In other words, there's no difference between them and the rest of the ACC (save for the Florida schools and Virginia Tech,) but they are still viewed as a potential power because they have a big stadium and they were very good in the 80s when a lot of us were forming our opinions about college football.
4. 2003 was the only time in Tommy Tuberville's six years at Auburn that his team underperformed its preseason ranking. Maybe I've underrated him a little. That said, I have a hard time thinking that Auburn will live up to its ranking this year. Pollsters are going to feel obligated to slot them around 15, but they replace all of their stars from last year.
5. Iowa has out-performed their pre-season ranking by 11, 18, and 18 spots over the past three years, but I suspect that the pollsters will not let them do so this year when they rank the Hawkeyes in the top five pre-season. In any event, Iowa's performance over the past three years shows that they go a great job of replacing losses, since they've always been replacing a quarterback or an offensive line or a defense and they still do very well.