Compiling this week’s BlogPoll ballot was, by turns, easy to the point of obviousness and difficult to the point of distraction. Because many teams took on opponents offering no substantial challenge whatsoever, there often was only marginal movement, but I tended at this early juncture to reward teams for meaningful victories and punish their opponents for disheartening losses. It all will come out in the wash once everyone has played someone. Here is the draft of my ballot:
|Last week's ballot|
Explanations follow after the jump.
The Southern Miss. Golden Eagles were never more than a placeholder at No. 25, whereas a weak performance in victory by the Iowa Hawkeyes and weak performances in defeat by the Oregon Ducks and the Georgia Bulldogs caused those teams to fall from the top 25. While a close setback to the Alabama Crimson Tide kept the Virginia Tech Hokies from dropping more than a couple of spots, the Oklahoma Sooners’ loss of Sam Bradford, coupled with their high postseason placement, resulted in a larger plummet, from fourth to 14th. Anyone who saw the Kerwin Bell lookalike the Sooners had under center after their Heisman Trophy winner went down knows I am being generous.
The top-ranked Florida Gators did nothing Saturday to disabuse me of the notion that the Sunshine State Saurians are the No. 1 team in the land, while the USC Trojans’ 56-3 demolition of the San Jose St. Spartans impressed me more than the Texas Longhorns’ surrender of 20 points to a Sun Belt team, so Southern California and Texas switched places on my ballot.
Narrow escapes against overmatched opposition renewed my doubts about the LSU Tigers and the Ohio St. Buckeyes, who now are ranked 12th and 13th, respectively. The Penn St. Nittany Lions didn’t exactly trash the Akron Zips, so Joe Paterno’s crew slipped from seventh to tenth, in order to make room for such rising stars as ‘Bama at No. 4, the Oklahoma St. Cowboys at No. 5, the California Golden Bears at No. 6, the Mississippi Rebels at No. 7, the Boise St. Broncos at No. 8, and the BYU Cougars at No. 9 after all six carded impressive victories on Labor Day weekend.
Because they did not do as much as the newest additions to the top ten, several teams took slight dips, such as the Clemson Tigers (from tenth to 11th), the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (from 13th to 15th), and the UCLA Bruins (from 16th to 19th). The 17th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs did not play, so they did not move, and I likewise left the Michigan St. Spartans and Pittsburgh Panthers ranked 22nd and 23rd, respectively, after predictably lopsided wins over Division I-AA patsies gave me little to go on in deciding whether to move either team.
The North Carolina Tar Heels inched up a notch from No. 19 to No. 18, due chiefly to what other teams did or failed to do, and the spots cleared out at the bottom of my ballot were filled, in succession, by the No. 20 Cincinnati Bearcats, the No. 21 Missouri Tigers, the No. 24 Nebraska Cornhuskers, and the No. 25 Notre Dame Fighting Irish after those teams throttled decent (though still well short of good) opposition.
I’m looking for a reason to boot the Irish from the poll and I’ll take any credible excuse you give me. Please note that nothing that occurred during the nursing-home purse-slapping in Tallahassee on Monday night constitutes a credible excuse. I gave no consideration to any other teams, because, frankly, I had trouble coming up with 25 rankable teams as it was.
I watched Thursday night’s opening outings pitting the South Carolina Gamecocks against the N.C. State Wolfpack and Boise State against Oregon. Friday was a travel day and I attended the Georgia-Oklahoma State game on Saturday. That evening, after our arrival at the home of my brother-in-law’s other uncle, we watched about half of the Oklahoma-Brigham Young game and thereafter viewed what was left of the Alabama-Virginia Tech game. (When in Oklahoma, do as the Oklahomans do.)
On Sunday, I went out on the pond in a boat on a fishing excursion, took part in a game of competitive fetch involving the numerous dogs who were on hand, rode out to the dig site where Trav’s family has found the remains of a turn-of-the-century homestead, helped shoo donkeys away from a gate while exiting, and watched a good bit of the Ole Miss-Memphis game and a fair amount of the Colorado-Colorado State game. I spent most of Monday getting back to the Peach State, and, after my arrival, I saw a very little bit of the Cincinnati-Rutgers game and every bit of the Florida State-Miami game after putting the kids to bed.
If anything in the foregoing looks off the wall to you, go ahead and let me know, because the holiday weekend made for a short turnaround time on BlogPoll ballots this week.