It’s BlogPoll ballot time, and, as you might imagine, there have been a few shakeups this week. I started with a clean white sheet of paper and compiled my top 25 based strictly upon resume ranking, so the arrows are incidental, while the logic follows after the jump. Here are the top 25 teams in the land, as best I am able to determine:
While I will be happy to explain any oddities in the foregoing ballot in greater detail, here are a few observations regarding my rankings:
- Even though Oklahoma claimed four of its five victories by eight or fewer points, the Sooners have the best resume among the unbeaten teams. Bob Stoops’s squad has beaten a pair of 5-1 outfits (Air Force and Florida State), beating the latter by a convincing margin, with a neutral site win over Texas tossed in for good measure. No other team has three wins of comparable worth.
- Oregon narrowly edged Ohio State, despite the fact that half of the Ducks’ six victories came against the likes of Division I-AA Portland State, winless New Mexico, and one-win Washington State. The Buckeyes, however, have beaten some weak sisters of their own, including Eastern Michigan (0-6) and Marshall (1-4), and Ohio State has no signature victory of which to speak; the Bucks have defeated a trio of 3-2 clubs (Illinois, Indiana, and Miami), but the best of those wins was cheapened when the Hurricanes were routed by the team that was blown out by the Sooners. Oregon’s triumph over Stanford eclipses anything Ohio State has achieved.
- The Broncos are behind the Ducks because, as wins over Pac-10 teams go, beating the Cardinal counts for more than beating the Beavers. The Broncos are behind the Buckeyes because, as wins over ACC teams go, beating the ‘Canes counts for more than beating the Hokies. The Broncos and the Horned Frogs are behind the Plainsmen because a win over South Carolina is more impressive than a win over Oregon State, and because Auburn’s weakest victim is better than New Mexico State (1-4) and Division I-AA Tennessee Tech, the worst teams beaten by Boise State and TCU, respectively. The Broncos are ahead of the Horned Frogs because Boise State has a better second-best victory (over Virginia Tech) than Texas Christian does (over Baylor).
- Alabama has the best resume of the one-loss teams, with victories over Arkansas, Florida, and Penn State that justified keeping the Tide ahead of the South Carolina squad that just beat ‘Bama in Columbia. While the Gamecocks are for real, and while they have a quality loss by eight points to undefeated Auburn on the road, the Palmetto State Poultry were dragged down slightly by their low-value wins over Division I-AA Furman and four-loss Georgia. The Bayou Bengals slipped in between Alabama and South Carolina by virtue of an unblemished ledger against Florida, West Virginia, and North Carolina, but the Tide’s better collection of victims (Florida gave LSU its best win by a narrow margin while providing Alabama its second-best win by a wide margin) and greater overall dominance (Alabama claimed one win by a touchdown or less, while Louisiana State has had to survive four nailbiters in six games) kept Nick Saban’s team ahead of Les Miles’s outfit.
- The Spartans benefited from convincing wins over Michigan and Wisconsin (both 5-1), while Stanford suffered slightly from the devaluation of its win over UCLA in the wake of the Bruins’ 35-7 loss at California on Saturday. As impressive as the Cardinal looked in the season’s first four weeks, Jim Harbaugh’s team landed outside the top ten as a result of a 21-point setback sustained in Eugene and a two-point escape at home against a Lane Kiffin-coached Trojan squad in decline.
- Quality wins over Iowa and Cal, coupled with a quality loss to Oregon State, kept Arizona ahead of Oklahoma State, which checked in one spot ahead of Arkansas because a 5-0 team whose best win was a close one over Texas A&M deserves to be slightly in front of a 4-1 team whose best win was a close one over Texas A&M. However, the Hogs’ quality loss to Alabama kept the Razorbacks ahead of an undefeated Missouri outfit without a signature win. Nevertheless, the Tigers’ 5-0 record counts for more than the Cornhuskers’ does, as Nebraska’s unblemished ledger contains victories over the likes of Division I-AA South Dakota State, winless Western Kentucky, and an overrated Kansas State squad that got to 4-0 against the likes of Central Florida and Missouri State.
- Nevada’s 6-0 record would have earned the Wolf Pack a higher ranking than No. 17, were it not for the fact that UNR’s victims include a Division I-AA opponent (Eastern Washington) and three 1-5 teams (Colorado State, San Jose State, and UNLV). A convincing win over the Golden Bears got Nevada into the top 20, though.
- Neither Florida State nor Michigan looked good in defeat against a team in my top ten, but the Seminoles got the nod over the Wolverines by virtue of having beaten convincingly five teams, one of which was Miami. The Maize and Blue, by contrast, barely got by Division I-AA Massachusetts and a .500 Notre Dame outfit, as well as having to win a nailbiter against their most accomplished victim, an Indiana unit sporting a 3-2 ledger.
- N.C. State edged Iowa for the last spot in the top 20 in spite of the Wolfpack’s loss to Virginia Tech because N.C. State beat Georgia Tech on the road, while the Hawkeyes have not beaten a Division I-A opponent with a winning record. Neither have the Utes, three of whose five victims were winless New Mexico and two 1-5 clubs, San Jose State and UNLV. Utah’s best win was over the Iowa State squad that gave Iowa its second-best triumph.
- I credit Air Force with a quality loss at Oklahoma, but the Falcons’ best win was an eight-point home victory over Navy. The rest of Air Force’s wins came against Division I-AA opposition or teams with two or fewer wins to their credit.
- Oregon State and Florida claimed spots in the top 25 due to the caliber of the opponents to whom they lost. The Beavers fell to my No. 5 and No. 6 teams while carding a quality win at No. 12 Arizona, while the Gators were beaten by my No. 7 and No. 8 teams. The Sunshine State Saurians lack a signature victory, but my only other alternatives were a Big East team and Wisconsin. I am open to the possibility that a persuasive case might be made on behalf of some Big East squad, but the Badgers have done nothing to deserve a top 25 ranking. Their loss at Michigan State was not close; four of their five wins were against Division I-AA Austin Peay and a trio of opponents with 1-5 records (Minnesota, San Jose State, and UNLV); their best win was a one-point home win over a .500 Arizona State outfit. Also, Bret Bielema is a horse’s hindquarters for going for two and then blaming it on the omniscient card, but that didn’t influence my decision not to rank his team; it just made me enjoy the fact that Wiscy’s resume is worthless.
As always, my draft ballot is subject to change before the deadline, and I am open to questions and constructive criticisms regarding my rankings. Feel free to express yourselves with boldness and civility in the comments below.