We do not poll coaches, sportswriters, or fans. Nor does our staff make any judgments on the merits of any individual team. Prior season history, school size, and comments on message boards are not considered in the MaxPreps Computer Rankings.
The system utilizes the huge number of game results stored in the MaxPreps database. Generally, the more a team wins the higher the ranking, but the system takes into account quality wins (against other highly ranked opponents) and strength of schedule.
For example, a team's ranking is hurt more by losing to a team that is ranked below them verses a team ranked ahead.
Other factors that will affect the rankings are times when MaxPreps has incomplete or inaccurate information. We will correct errors when they are reported to us. If we are missing a score, report it to us on the team's MaxPreps page. If we are missing a game on the schedule, send us a correction request.
Playoff wins are weighed higher compared to a regular season game.
Movement indicates the up or down movement within the rankings when compared to our previously published rankings.
Updated 10/16/2018--- FOOTBALL ONLY
We will start explaining how the ratings work when margin of victory is used as a factor. It is much easier to explain that way.
When margins are used, the differences in ratings between two teams is roughly a measure of how many points better one team is than another. An 80 should beat a 60 by 20, etc.
Assume the following starting ratings. Don't worry about how they got to this point for now- that will be explained in a minute.
Team A's rating is 10.
Team B's rating is 0.
Team C's rating is -5.
Team D's rating is -8.
Team E's rating is -10.
The way our program works is as follows. It systematically sorts through all the results for the season (season-to-date results if we're dealing with an in-progress season). It takes each result and compares it to what "should" have happened given the ratings of the teams. It knows that if A played C, A should have handled them fairly easily. If A lost that game, or even squeaked by with a narrow victory, its rating is hurt, while C's is helped. The system keeps checking through all the results for every team. Sticking with team A though, let's say they also played D and won by 15 (that's about what they should have done- no real impact on either teams' rating there), demolished team B by 22 (which definitely helps their rating), and beat D by 10 (not doing quite as well as could have been expected- another "ding" against their rating.) When all is said and done, it takes the aggregate of how much better or worse they did than expected in all their games, divides that by the number of games played, and adjusts their rating accordingly. For example, if they averaged performing two points worse than expected, their rating drops from a 10 to an 8. (Please note: this is definitely over-simplified; it isn't this straight-forward-mathematical. Points aren't everything by any means- the win or the loss is always the most important thing, even when margins are used. There is a "diminishing returns" principle at play so as to not fully credit a team for blowing out a weak opponent. In addition to the cutoff point past which margins are not counted, there is a "win minimum" as well a maximum-- a number which no win is credited as being below...because, of course, a one point win isn't just barely better than a one point loss. Far from it.) All teams are adjusted similarly, and then we start over from the beginning with the new ratings- A is now an 8 and expected to perform accordingly, etc. This is done repeatedly until their is no longer any movement in the ratings, and they settle in where they "should" be.
Remember when we asked you to hold that thought on how they got to the point they started at? They didn't start there actually. All teams start at 0. There is no bias at all- last year's stats or pre-season projections are not used as a starting point (again, see the one exception above). Everybody starts at 0 and the ratings run continuously until the movement stops. Its just much harder to conceptualize that way (and you thought this way was hard!)- that's why we started the example off with the teams already having ratings.
When run without margins, the process is the same, but, of course, the margin of victory is not considered. A win is a win, and all wins are counted at the same level. Therefore, the examples of getting your rating "dinged" because of a closer-than-expected win do not apply. All that matters is the win (and who you played).
MaxPreps Xcellent 25
This is our human poll. Our writers' determine who will be in this poll. They use many factors to determine the Top 25. Some examples include, strength of schedule, talent, quality wins, returning starters, and connecting with local media from around the country.