First Regular Season BlogPoll Ballot

As correctly noted by astute commenter Tom, the problem with preseason polls is that they are expressions of perceptions based only on presumptions. Hence, they produce the sorts of loopy theoretical constructs embodied in the names of Phaeton and Oedipus; such seemingly sensible convictions, stated as firmly yet as baselessly as Karl Marx's or Marshall McLuhan's, are pretty abstractions unencumbered by presently relevant realities.

This is how conscientious webloggers from the Midwest can look at the Bulldogs' question marks along the line of scrimmage and conclude that "[t]he Big Ten hates them some Georgia" just before the Red and Black beat Oklahoma State by a 35-14 margin. Prior to last Saturday's season opener between the hedges, no less an authority than Sunday Morning Quarterback wrote:

It will be an upset if Georgia's many noobs hold the Cowboys under 300 [yards] and/or 17 points, to put it conservatively.

(In SMQ's defense, the rest of his analysis was pretty spot-on: "The Bulldogs are loaded with skill talent, too, against a traditionally bad defense that happens to be rebuilding - all four defensive line starters will be new - in exactly the position that UGA is most vulnerable (offensive line). It's just as likely a coming-out party for 'team leader' Matt Stafford as a sophomore as it is for OSU's frightening contingent, and Georgia has fared well in this sort of game under Mark Richt (besides being 6-0 in openers, Richt's teams have beaten comparable Clemson teams in 2002 and 2003 and rocked the aforementioned Boise State upstart in 2005). If the Dogs can run to control the clock, which Oklahoma State's youth and traditional generosity up front suggests they can, UGA has to be the pick at home.") August expectations rooted in notions give way to September statistics proven by Knowshon.

Yes, I know that was contrived, but it was either that or working the first syllable of our starting quarterback's last name into a rewriting of the 23rd Psalm.

That is the best excuse I can give for why I ranked Michigan No. 1. Well, that, and the fact that I have never pretended to be a knowledgeable football fan.

Where, though, does that leave me as a zealous advocate of resume ranking? Because there were so few good games this past weekend, I tended to leave teams in place, at least relative to one another, unless I was given a good reason to move a squad up or down.

Boise State, Florida, Louisville, and Ohio State all defeated Division I-AA or (in the case of Western Kentucky) "provisional" Division I-A opponents, which counted for next to nothing in my mind, so all four of those teams remained exactly where they were before.

Florida State, Michigan, Oklahoma State, and Tennessee all started out 0-1. Although I believe all four will work their way back into the top 25 before the season is over, we have a very small data set upon which to base our current conclusions, and it simply is a fact that 1-0 is objectively better than 0-1, so all winless teams were booted from the poll altogether.

Here is how my ballot looked:

Rank Team Delta
1 Southern Cal 1
2 West Virginia 2
3 California 16
4 Wisconsin 3
5 LSU --
6 Boise State --
7 UCLA 2
8 Oklahoma 3
9 TCU 4
10 Louisville --
11 Georgia 3
12 Texas 9
13 Virginia Tech 5
14 Auburn 2
15 Florida --
16 Oregon 1
17 Penn State 3
18 Ohio State --
19 Rutgers 3
20 Georgia Tech 6
21 Nebraska 5
22 Clemson --
23 Oregon State 3
24 Brigham Young 2
25 Washington 1

Dropped Out: Michigan (#1), Oklahoma State (#21), Tennessee (#23), Florida State (#24), South Carolina (#25).

Southern California got the top spot by default; the Trojans didn't look that good against Idaho, but, quite frankly, no one looks like the No. 1 team in the nation right now. The Mountaineers rose by attrition and ability, and, while I am not a believer in the Golden Bears, Cal registered the weekend's most impressive win.

The Badgers doubled up a B.C.S. conference opponent, which vaulted Wisconsin over an L.S.U. team that won the most competitive 45-0 game you will ever see. Yes, I know it was just Stanford, but the Bruins hammered a conference opponent in their opener, whereas the Sooners had the best opening day of any Big 12 team.

The Longhorns, by contrast, simply didn't look good against lowly Arkansas State, so they dropped behind T.C.U. after the Horned Frogs posted a shutout win over a B.C.S. conference opponent. The 'Dawgs likewise recorded a solid victory over a team from a top-tier league and, no matter how hard the Worldwide Leader hyped the Hokies' emotional day, V.P.I. put up an underwhelming win.

The Plainsmen fell because they needed a furious rally to beat Kansas State, the Ducks beat a solid Conference USA team, and, although the Nittany Lions only beat Florida International, they still thrashed them. I hated to drop the Scarlet Knights, but other squads were more impressive.

Rutgers alumna Kristin Davis was disappointed that the State University of New Jersey descended on the Dawg Sports BlogPoll ballot following a convincing Scarlet Knight victory.

Clemson and Florida State were ranked 22nd and 24th, respectively, on my most recent previous ballot, so it seemed only fitting that the winner be rewarded with the higher of the two teams' rankings, particularly since I was pretty sure one or the other of them was overrated, anyway. (By the way, which is the more enigmatically euphemistic major, F.S.U.'s "undergraduate studies" or Clemson's "workforce studies"?)

My No. 25 squad, South Carolina, struggled more than the Gamecocks should have to beat Louisiana-Lafayette, so the Palmetto State Poultry were ousted in favor of teams whose achievements last weekend exceeded those of the Big Chickens.

New entrants into the poll include the Yellow Jackets (who beat Notre Dame by 30 points in South Bend, as I predicted they would), the Cornhuskers (who soundly trounced a decent mid-major team), the Beavers (who also soundly trounced a decent mid-major team), the Cougars (who posted a good win against a B.C.S. conference team), and the Huskies (who convincingly beat a B.C.S. conference opponent on the road).

Washington checks in at No. 25, which should enable the Notre Dame faithful to believe that the absence of the Irish from my BlogPoll ballot is all Tyrone Willingham's fault.

Also receiving consideration for inclusion were Arizona State, Boston College, Miami (Florida), and Missouri, but, to be quite frank, I need to see more from the Sun Devils, the Eagles, the Hurricanes, and the Tigers before I'm prepared to believe in any of them. Although arguments might have been mounted for taking looks at Cincinnati, Hawaii, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech, none of those squads have yet done anything deserving of my attention.

I watched Clemson-Florida State, Louisiana State-Mississippi State, Southern Methodist-Texas Tech, and Syracuse-Washington on television, as well as portions of Appalachian State-Michigan, Boston College-Wake Forest, Georgia Tech-Notre Dame, and Washington State-Wisconsin. Inasmuch as I have not missed a Georgia home opener since 1986---a streak I have kept alive by leaving wedding receptions early and changing clothes in the car---it should go without saying that I was in attendance in Sanford Stadium to see the Bulldogs beat the Cowboys between the hedges.

There will be more movement on next week's ballot, after essentially every noteworthy team has played at least one other legitimate opponent (loosely defined, of course). In the meantime, your comments on my daffy decisionmaking on poll placement are welcome.

Go 'Dawgs!

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