As always, I posted my preliminary BlogPoll ballot on Sunday night, solicited reader feedback, and gave additional consideration to my rankings before making appropriate adjustments to produce this final version of my top 25:
I didn’t want to rank Texas Tech (10-0) ahead of Alabama (11-0) . . . not as an S.E.C. homer; not as someone who believes a team ought to be penalized for playing a Division I-AA opponent (which the Crimson Tide have not), much less two of them (as the Red Raiders have); not as someone who, um, may have underestimated the team just a wee bit. Nevertheless, Mike Leach’s squad has recorded two quality wins over Texas (10-1) and Oklahoma State (9-2), whereas the best victory registered by Nick Saban’s team was its road win over Georgia (9-2). After L.S.U. (7-3) needed a furious rally to defeat Troy (6-4), I couldn’t even give ‘Bama credit for its overtime win in Death Valley, so there’s a new
sheriff pirate in town.
After that, quite frankly, I bailed on the mid-majors located outside of Salt Lake City. I dropped Boise State (10-0) from ninth to twelfth, Ball State (10-0) from 15th to 25th, Texas Christian (9-2) from 19th to 24th, and Brigham Young (10-1) out of the poll altogether. Why did I dock the other non-B.C.S. conference contenders and not Utah (11-0)? Because the Utes actually beat someone: Oregon State (7-3).
Frankly, that’s more than can be said for the rest of the mid-majors. The Broncos’ best win was a narrow escape over what ultimately proved to be unrankable Oregon (8-3); the Horned Frogs’, a thumping of a B.Y.U. club that has accomplished nothing noteworthy; the Cardinals’, a victory over Navy (6-4). Other than that, there are a whole heck of a lot of victims with eight losses in their ledgers, which doesn’t carry a great deal of weight with me.
After additional reflection, I realized I had given the Beavers too much credit by vaulting them past Michigan State (9-2), Pittsburgh (7-2), and Cincinnati (8-2). Unlike O.S., which lost to Stanford (5-6), those three teams do not have losses to teams below .500---although Pitt admittedly came close---and the second-best wins registered by the Spartans (over Iowa), the Panthers (take your pick: at Navy, at Notre Dame, or at South Florida), and the Bearcats (over South Florida) all are as good as or better than the second-best win claimed by the Beavers (over Cal) . . . and Oregon State’s resume is dragged down by wins over Washington State (1-10) and Washington (0-10).
I thought it over some more and decided that additional changes to my ballot were required. However, I have not budged from my belief that Princess Ardala was hotter than Colonel Wilma Deering.
That just leaves us with the usual suspects among A.C.C. clubs sporting 7-3 records. From 18th through 23rd, I arranged these thusly: North Carolina, Maryland, Boston College, Miami (Florida), Georgia Tech, and Florida State.
On balance, the Tar Heels unquestionably boast the best resume in the Atlantic Coast Conference. All three of U.N.C.’s losses were close contests and two of them came on the road. North Carolina has three quality conference wins (at the Hurricanes and over the Eagles and the Yellow Jackets), plus three decent out-of-conference victories against Connecticut (7-3), Notre Dame (6-4), and at improving Rutgers (5-5).
The Terrapins edged out B.C. because Maryland had the better conference win (over North Carolina, which surpasses the Eagles’ win at Florida State) and the better non-conference win (over Cal, which surpasses anything Boston College can claim). Both, however, had better resumes than the ‘Canes, who have no quality wins. The Ramblin’ Wreck and the Seminoles brought up the rear because each has a pair of wins over Division I-AA opponents and the Engineers earned the nod by virtue of their having beaten F.S.U. head-to-head.
As always, your comments and constructive criticisms are most welcome. Although the Wednesday morning deadline is fast approaching, it’s not necessarily too late for you to change my mind with a sufficiently persuasive argument. For now, though, that is how the top 25 teams in the land stack up from my perspective and those are the reasons why.