As previously reported, I am under the weather, and I am a resume ranker, so what follows may make absolutely no sense whatsoever, but, be that as it may, I cast my BlogPoll ballot this week, and here is my top 25:
The nod goes to the Tide in the great Alabama/LSU debate, for the simple reason that the Red Elephants’ best wins (over No. 9 Arkansas and No. 18 Penn State) respectively trump those of the Bayou Bengals (over No. 13 Oregon and No. 25 West Virginia). As C&F rightly notes, though, this controversy will sort itself out on November 5.
The Country Gentlemen edged out the Sooners for the No. 3 spot, despite Clemson’s less impressive win over Florida State, because the Fort Hill Felines boast wins over No. 19 Virginia Tech and feisty Auburn, both by convincing margins. Oklahoma remains the top team in its home state, however, because the Cowboys (who had the less dominant victory over Texas) only narrowly escaped against the Aggies and watered down their resume with a win over horrid Arizona. The Sooners’ worst win (over 2-4 Kansas) came against a team Oklahoma State also beat.
There is, obviously, a significant drop-off after the top five, because Kansas State manages to sneak in, believe it or not, on the basis of schedule strength: Bill Snyder’s Wildcats, who built their reputation in the 1990s by lining up every tomato can, patsy, weak sister, and Division I-AA nobody they could find, beat two 4-2 teams (Baylor and Texas Tech) and two moderately solid 3-3 teams (Miami and Missouri). Yeah, three of those four wins were by a touchdown or less, but two of them were outside of Manhattan, as well.
I ranked Boise State ahead of Wisconsin by applying to the Badgers the same standards ordinarily employed against the Broncos. Yes, Wisconsin has the better quality win (over No. 11 Nebraska, as opposed to BSU’s opening win over 5-2 Georgia), but look at their respective slates as a whole:
- Boise State got to 6-0 by beating six Division I-A opponents. Wisconsin got to 6-0 by beating five Division I-A opponents and Division I-AA South Dakota.
- The Broncos’ worst win came on the road over Fresno State. The Bulldogs are 3-4, and they are the only team Boise State has faced that currently has a losing record. The Badgers’ worst win came at home against . . . well, take your pick: UNLV (1-5), Oregon State (1-5), Indiana (1-6), or the aforementioned South Dakota.
- Boise State’s Division I-A victims are a combined 21-18. Wisconsin’s Division I-A victims are a combined 12-20.
The bottom line is that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Anyone who derides Boise State’s record on the basis of the Broncos’ soft slate must heap the same scorn upon Wisconsin.
The Razorbacks’ wins over Auburn and Texas A&M earned them a spot in the top ten as the country’s best once-beaten team, with the Spartans lagging slightly behind. Arkansas and Michigan State have played similar slates---Division I-AA Missouri State equates with Division I-AA Youngstown State; 0-6 New Mexico equates with 0-6 Florida Atlantic; two-win Troy equates with two-win Central Michigan; even a four-point neutral-site win over four-win Texas A&M roughly equates with a three-point road win over four-win Ohio State---but, even though Sparty’s win over the Wolverines counts for more than the Hogs’ win over the Plainsmen, a loss at Alabama hurts less than a loss at Notre Dame.
The Cornhuskers trail MSU because a win over No. 12 Michigan carries more weight than a win over No. 24 Washington, while the Maize and Blue got about as much benefit of the doubt as may be wrung from a quartet of wins over four dubious four-win teams (Western Michigan, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, and San Diego State), chiefly because the next-best alternative was Oregon, which earned points for beating the Sun Devils but could not overcome altogether a slate otherwise comprised of .500 Cal and Nevada, one-win Arizona, and Division I-AA Missouri State.
The Cardinal are in the same boat as the Ducks, only more so. Yes, Stanford is undefeated, but against whom? No Stanford victim presently has a winning record, and two of them (Arizona and Colorado) have only one win apiece. The Yellow Jackets and the Fighting Illini suffered less than impressive losses last weekend, but Georgia Tech’s was both close and on the road. The only aspects of the Gamecocks’ resume that got better on Saturday were a three-point win over Georgia and a three-point loss to Auburn, as both the Bulldogs and the Tigers improved to 5-2.
After that, the pickings got shamefully slim, necessitating that I reward Penn State, Virginia Tech, Houston, Southern Methodist, Southern Mississippi, Southern California, and Washington for a four-point road win over Temple, a victory over Wake Forest, an undefeated record compiled against Division I-AA Georgia State and five Division I-A teams with a combined record of 12-19, an overtime win over Texas Christian, a six-point road win over Virginia, a victory over Syracuse, and a pair of eight-point wins over 3-3 clubs, respectively. That left room for the Mountaineers, whose claim to fame is going 5-1 against a Division I-AA team, a quartet of four-loss teams, and Louisiana State.
Clearly, next week, I am going to have to begin ranking two-loss teams, which I don’t like to do until a team gets past 5-2. Which teams have I misplaced? Which teams have I overlooked? Which teams are ranked but should not be? Let me know in the comments below.