As all of Bulldog Nation is well aware, Monday marked the 30th anniversary of Buck Belue’s 93-yard touchdown pass to Lindsay Scott, and, in commemoration of that event, I put Georgia’s latest loss to Florida behind me and was able to cast the BlogPoll ballot that I was constitutionally incapable of casting last week. Naturally, I paid no attention to my previous top 25 when compiling the following:
The combination of depression and other time commitments prevented me from watching much football last week. I attended the Georgia-Idaho State game and caught most of the second halves of the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game on Thursday night and the Arkansas-South Carolina game on Saturday night, so I welcome your constructive criticisms to fill in the gaps in my knowledge, and I particularly solicit your suggestions for three-loss teams that might be worthy of inclusion. Beyond that, I will be happy to answer any questions, but here is a thumbnail sketch of why I ranked the teams as I did:
- Even though five of the Plainsmen’s ten wins came by margins of eight or fewer points, Auburn clearly has the country’s best resume. Of the four remaining Division I-A unbeatens, the Tigers have the most wins over teams with winning records (5) and the fewest wins over teams with losing records (3). All of the Auburn victims who are under .500 sport 4-5 ledgers, so the Plainsmen have not beaten a truly dismal team, and no other contender has a set of scalps comparable to No. 5 Louisiana State, No. 15 Arkansas, No. 17 Mississippi State, and South Carolina.
- The Ducks are doing what mid-majors are excoriated for doing; namely, destroying bad teams. Six of Oregon’s eight Division I-A wins were over teams with losing records, including a pair of one-win outfits and a couple of 3-6 squads. Texas Christian and Boise State, each of whom has three victories over opponents with winning records and four victories over opponents with losing records, look slightly better overall, but the Ducks got the nod because their best victim (No. 7 Stanford) was vastly superior to the toughest teams tamed by the Horned Frogs (No. 19 Utah) or the Broncos (No. 20 Virginia Tech).
- The Bayou Bengals staked out a spot in the top five on the strength of triumphs over No. 14 Alabama and No. 17 Mississippi State, plus a quality loss in a close game on the road against No. 1 Auburn. The Spartans, who defeated No. 10 Wisconsin, couldn’t quite keep up because Michigan State was trounced at No. 12 Iowa. The Cardinal rode a convincing win over No. 13 Arizona to a No. 7 ranking, while the Cowboys edged the Cornhuskers in spite of the head-to-head result because Oklahoma State has twice as many wins over teams with winning records (6) as Nebraska (3), and because the Cornhuskers’ loss to 4-5 Texas gets weaker with each passing Saturday. I gave the Badgers credit for beating No. 11 Ohio State and No. 12 Iowa, but their other six wins were sullied by the weakness of the opposition. Wisconsin has defeated Division I-AA Austin Peay, a trio of one-win teams (Minnesota, San Jose State, and UNLV), a 4-5 Arizona State squad (in a nailbiter at home), and 4-5 Purdue (in a game in which the Badgers trailed at the half).
- The once-beaten Buckeyes check in behind the one-loss Wisconsin team that beat Ohio State, and the twice-beaten Hawkeyes slide in behind them, due to a win over No. 6 Michigan State and close losses to No. 10 Wisconsin and No. 13 Arizona. The Wildcats are a notch behind the Iowa team they beat narrowly at home because Arizona’s losses---at home to a .500 club and on the road in a blowout---did serious damage to the squad’s resume.
- The run of 7-2 outfits continues with No. 14 Alabama, which went on the road and beat No. 15 Arkansas. Missouri has beaten five teams over .500, including No. 18 Oklahoma and No. 24 San Diego State, but a pair of road losses---a convincing setback suffered at the hands of Nebraska and a close contest dropped against 5-4 Texas Tech---damaged the Tigers’ resume. Mississippi State grabbed the poll position just in front of the Sooners because the Bulldogs have the better set of losses, and because a road win over Florida presently appears to count for more than a home win over Florida State.
- The Utes have bookended their record with narrow wins over Pittsburgh at home and Air Force on the road. Unfortunately, Utah was blown out at home by TCU, and the team’s other six victories were over teams with records at or below .500, including a trio of 1-8 squads. Virginia Tech continues to be hampered by its loss to James Madison, the luster continues to fade on Nevada’s win over California, and Central Florida has a better claim to the No. 22 spot on the strength of the Knights’ close losses to 6-3 teams from automatically-qualifying conferences than on the basis of UCF’s triumphs over 5-4 East Carolina and Houston.
- The Owls beat Connecticut, the Aztecs beat Air Force, and the Bulldogs beat no one, but they were the last team standing with a two-loss ledger, unless you count Northern Illinois, which I more or less don’t. Seriously, people, suggest a team for me to include in lieu of anyone I have in the twenties. I’m begging you.
As always, I’ll be happy to provide more detail, but that, in a nutshell, is the rationale for my rankings. I welcome your comments and questions concerning my draft ballot, which I am more than willing to alter if persuaded by sufficiently convincing arguments.