It’s official: 2008 stinks. More specifically, both the S.E.C. generally and Georgia specifically stink in 2008, and, frankly, if both the S.E.C. and Georgia are going to be down in the same year, well, to my way of thinking, that’s synonymous with the whole year stinking in toto.
Perhaps for the first time ever, being a member of the Southeastern Conference actively operated against a team’s prospects for being ranked in my top 25. At the end of the day, this is the BlogPoll ballot I cast, which remains open for revision through Wednesday morning, so I invite your critiques of the following:
Yes, Oklahoma (11-1) lost to Texas (11-1) head to head. The Sooners also annihilated Texas Tech (11-1) and the Red Raiders beat the Longhorns. Accordingly, the retort to everyone brandishing a "45-35" sign is: "39-33."
Texas beat Oklahoma, Missouri (9-3), and Oklahoma State (9-3), in that order of impressiveness. That is a weightier set of victories than that compiled by Texas Tech, which beat Texas, Oklahoma State, and Nebraska (8-4). However, the ‘Horns also assembled a resume less impressive than that put together by Oklahoma, which beat Texas Tech, Cincinnati (10-2), Texas Christian (10-2), Oklahoma State, and Nebraska. Thus, the Sooners are No. 1, the Longhorns are No. 2, and the Red Raiders are No. 4.
The only team able to keep the Big 12 South from locking up the top three spots on my ballot was Florida (11-1), which continued to make good on Tim Tebow’s teary-eyed promise to beat the crap out of everyone after the Gators’ increasingly forgivable loss to Ole Miss (8-4). Despite U.F.’s devalued wins over Georgia (9-3), Florida State (8-4), and Miami (7-5), the thoroughness with which the Saurians are dominating the opposition enabled them to inch up a notch.
Alabama (12-0) fell to fifth despite the Crimson Tide’s dominant performance against the Plainsmen because the team’s marquee win at Georgia looks increasingly meaningless, leaving as the only sparkling jewel in the Red Elephants’ crown a four-point home win over Mississippi.
The sixth, seventh, and eighth spots on my ballot remained the property of Penn State (11-1), Southern California (10-1), and Utah (12-0) because their respective resumes remained unchanged. The Nittany Lions and the Utes had open dates and the Trojans faced Notre Dame (6-6), which has been the functional equivalent of a bye for most of the last decade and a half.
Ugly losses (and subsequent plummets) by the teams I had ranked ninth, eleventh, and 13th enabled Ohio State (10-2) and Boise State (12-0) to sneak upwards slightly and, after sitting out in the cold and rain for four hours on Saturday watching it all unfold, I had no choice but to rank Georgia Tech (9-3) eleventh, awarding the Yellow Jackets the ranking previously belonging to the ‘Dawgs. Yes, that makes me want to puke, too. We lost to a guy named Josh Nesbitt who kneels down so far under center that he looks like a duck being stuffed inside the turkey’s butt in preparation for the cooking of a turducken. If we were Japanese instead of Georgian, we’d have to kill ourselves with seppuku swords to restore the lost honor of our ancestors. Did I mention that 2008 stinks?
Incremental gains were made by Cincinnati, Michigan State (9-3), and Boston College (9-3), who remained in the same sequence relative to one another, and performances of varying degrees of impressiveness and significance allowed reasonably large leaps to be made by Oregon (9-3), Pittsburgh (8-3), Ole Miss, and Ball State (12-0). Due to a dearth of otherwise qualified teams, T.C.U. came along for the ride, landing at No. 18.
Nothing in the win over Duke posted by North Carolina (8-4) gave me cause to move the Tar Heels, who stayed parked at No. 23, and canings of various levels of severity and shame caused a substantial drop in the value of the stock of Missouri, Oklahoma State, Georgia, and Oregon State (8-4).
That left me with 24 teams for 25 spots, so Virginia Tech (8-4) sneaked into the No. 22 slot, just ahead of the U.N.C. squad V.P.I. defeated. Yes, I know the Hokies lost to the selfsame Seminoles whom I dropped from the poll, but Frank Beamer’s bunch beat Georgia Tech and Nebraska in addition to the Tar Heels, whereas F.S.U.’s only other even vaguely impressive pelt was that of the Hurricanes.
I gave thought to ranking Northwestern (9-3), Iowa (8-4), Brigham Young (10-2), and Nebraska, who, respectively, are my de facto 26th through 29th teams.
I watched the Ball State-Western Michigan game on Tuesday and the Texas-Texas A&M game on Thursday. On Friday, I watched all of the Mississippi-Mississippi State and Arizona State-U.C.L.A. games and parts of the Pitt-West Virginia, Arkansas-Louisiana State, and Boise State-Fresno State games. On Saturday, I attended the Georgia-Georgia Tech game and was not thereafter tempted to watch any college football for the remainder of the day.
Let me know what about that ballot appears to you to be amiss or uncertain. I will happily answer any questions, address any constructive criticisms, and make appropriate adjustments if presented with sufficiently persuasive arguments.