After a wild first couple of weekends of college football, I don’t know what to make of any of these teams. Clearly, there are not 25 teams deserving of a top 25 ranking, nor are there ten teams worthy of a top ten ranking, and, since no team has enough of a resume to go on yet, I’m forced to use last week’s ballot as my starting point. Nevertheless, in tribute to the recently-dethroned Notre Dame Fighting Irish, I will rank like a champion today. Here is my top 25:
|Last week's ballot|
Believe me when I tell you I don’t like that any better than you do, but I will try to explain a couple of oddities:
- The ACC is awful. The Florida St. Seminoles and the Maryland Terrapins both nearly lost to Division I-AA opponents this past Saturday. The North Carolina Tar Heels trailed the Connecticut Huskies by a double-digit margin after three quarters and the Stanford Cardinal held a two-touchdown halftime lead on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem. A bizarre confluence of questionable penalties and special teams plays that would be difficult to duplicate allowed the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to win a game in which they were dreadful through the air (4 of 15) and on third down (3 of 14). Only because the Clemson Tigers turned out to be as schizophrenic as ever did the Golden Tornado end up winning. The Virginia Tech Hokies look like the only legitimate team in the whole sorry bunch, so the rest of the Gobblers’ Atlantic Coast Conference brethren were bumped down or out altogether. If I were the Big East commissioner, I’d be looking to poach the top two or three teams in the ACC . . . assuming, probably wrongly, that the ACC has two or three teams that qualify.
- Obviously, the Missouri Tigers’ narrow escape over the Bowling Green Falcons, the Michigan St. Spartans’ loss to the Central Michigan Chippewas, and the Golden Domers’ loss to the Michigan Wolverines cost all three of those teams a spot in the poll.
- I have yet to be given a reason to doubt that the Florida Gators are the best team in the country. Because I expected the USC Trojans to win handily in Columbus, I left Southern California in the same spot and moved up the Ohio St. Buckeyes on the strength of the quality loss.
- The Texas Longhorns led the Wyoming Cowboys by three at the break. The Alabama Crimson Tide led the Fla. International Golden Panthers by six at the break. I moved the California Golden Bears ahead of them both.
- Nothing that happened this past weekend gave me any particularly strong reason to reassess the placement of the teams I had ranked seventh through tenth.
- The TCU Horned Frogs and the UCLA Bruins clearly earned the right to advance. (Boy, who could have called that UCLA win in Knoxville? Oh, yeah . . . right!) The Pittsburgh Panthers rose strictly through attrition. The Oklahoma Sooners, Cincinnati Bearcats, and Nebraska Cornhuskers fall somewhere in between the two. The LSU Tigers have yet to do much to justify ranking the Bayou Bengals at all.
- All the evidence you would ever need to conclude that we should go back to ranking a top 20 instead of a top 25 may be found in the list of teams I have ranked 20th through 25th. In the year of the mid-major, it made sense to me to rank the Houston Cougars 20th, the Oklahoma St. Cowboys 21st, and the Georgia Bulldogs 22nd. Michigan got in by beating a No. 25 Notre Dame club I never wanted to rank in the first place. The West Virginia Mountaineers and the Wisconsin Badgers rounded out my ballot because the voting widget wouldn’t let me rank 23 teams.
If you’re not a fan of this ballot, I don’t blame you a bit. This week, I have time to make adjustments before the final version is due, so please feel free to offer your feedback in the comments below. Arguments with respect to the relative rankings of Big East, Big Ten, and mid-major squads are most welcome. Arguments that the ACC is anything other than a black hole of abject suckitude will be met with cruel mockery, unmitigated derision, and thoroughly inappropriate animadversions regarding the consanguinity of your parents and the purity, vel non, of your women.
For the record, I watched the Clemson-Georgia Tech game on Thursday night, I spent Friday night yelling "Go play intramurals, brother!" at Dan Hawkins during the crime against football that was the Colorado-Toledo game, and I watched a fair amount of the Fresno State-Wisconsin game on Saturday before traveling to Athens for the Georgia-South Carolina game. I heard part of the TCU-Virginia game on the radio during the drive to Athens, I saw part of the Michigan-Notre Dame game while stopping by to see Doug Gillett and his posse at Tent City, and I saw the winning touchdown being scored in the Ohio State-USC game while passing through the Georgia Center for Continuing Education on my way back to the parking deck.
Also for the record, I got home at 2:00 a.m., but I still served as lay leader for the 11:00 a.m. worship service and attended my lay speaking recertification course in the afternoon. If you’re thinking of a line from Danny Glover to Mel Gibson in the "Lethal Weapon" movies, you’re right.