Ladies and gentlemen, it is BlogPoll ballot time! Did the Red and Black manage to sneak into the top 25 by virtue of their win in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party? To find that out, you’ll have to follow the jump and see for yourself:
Alabama holds the edge on Louisiana State because the Crimson Tide’s two best wins (over No. 7 Arkansas and No. 11 Penn State) trump the Bayou Bengals’ (over No. 8 Oregon and de facto No. 26 Auburn), though we’ll find out for sure on Saturday.
The Cowboys beat out the Cardinal for the No. 3 spot by virtue of the Pokes’ triumphs over No. 20 Texas and No. 23 Texas A&M, both on the road, coupled with the fact that only two of Oklahoma State’s victims have losing records. Stanford gained credibility with back-to-back wins over No. 22 Southern California and No. 25 Washington, but five of their other six victims are below .500. The Broncos check in at No. 5, thanks to wins over No. 24 Georgia and six teams with records between 5-3 and 3-5.
Clemson holds the highest ranking of any of the once-beatens, thanks to the Tigers’ triumphs over No. 13 Virginia Tech and a trio of three-loss teams (Auburn, Florida State, and North Carolina). The Razorbacks also beat Auburn, but the Hogs’ only other win over a team above .500 was a four-point victory against the 23rd-ranked Aggies. Otherwise, Arkansas has built its record against the likes of two-win Ole Miss and Troy, winless New Mexico, and Division I-AA Missouri State.
The Ducks essentially are the Razorbacks in uglier uniforms; Oregon’s only win of note was over No. 18 Arizona State, and the club from Eugene otherwise has dithered about with .500 Cal, three-win Washington State, two-win Arizona, one-win Colorado, and . . . Division I-AA Missouri State? What, were they running a special?
I hated to strand the Sooners as low as No. 9, because they have beaten No. 12 Kansas State, No. 20 Texas, and Florida State, all in venues outside of Norman, but Oklahoma suffered severely from the Sooners’ home loss to Texas Tech, a setback that looks worse now that the Red Raiders are 5-3. Oklahoma’s old Big Eight rival, Nebraska, claimed a spot in the top ten due to the Cornhuskers’ wins over No. 14 Michigan State and No. 25 Washington.
The Nittany Lions have little to show for their 8-1 record except a three-point home win over collapsing Illinois, but that was better than the Wildcats’ 7-1 run through a slate that includes two 4-4 teams, two 2-6 teams, one Division I-AA team, and a pair of three-loss victims Kansas State beat by a combined eight points. Even that, though, surpassed the Hokies’ lone win of note, over 5-3 Wake Forest.
The Spartans staked their claim to the highest ranking for a two-loss team by beating the 16th-ranked Wolverines, the 21st-ranked Badgers, and the de facto 30th-ranked Buckeyes. The Yellow Jackets might have overtaken Michigan State, but for the fact that their convincing dismantling of previously-undefeated Clemson was offset by two realities: Georgia Tech’s six wins include one victory over a Division I-AA club and three triumphs over two-win teams, and the Ramblin’ Wreck’s two losses came against middling outfits with a combined 9-7 record.
The Maize and Blue’s 7-1 ledger didn’t have a lot of "there" there, but Michigan’s wins over Notre Dame and San Diego State, coupled with a road loss to a top 15 team, permitted the Wolverines to outpace the Gamecocks, who have only one win over a team above .500 (No. 24 Georgia) and a worse loss (to Auburn at home). The Sun Devils still get credit for beating the 22nd-ranked Men of Troy, but that loss to the Fighting Illini is losing its luster, and Arizona State’s resume is dragged down by wins over two-win Oregon State, one-win Colorado, and Division I-AA UC-Davis.
The Cougars cracked the top 20 solely by being unbeaten, but Houston has a problem; namely, no wins over teams with winning records. The Longhorns slipped in right behind the Cougars, thanks to a one-point win over six-win BYU, plus the fact that Texas’s two losses were to teams with a combined record of 15-1. The Badgers’ two losses weren’t bad---both were on the road, by a combined ten points, to teams with a cumulative ledger of 11-5---but Wisconsin’s wins were over Division I-AA South Dakota and five Division I-A teams who are a collective 17-23 . . . and that’s with Nebraska’s seven wins included in the tally!
The Trojans have a couple of respectable losses---at No. 18 Arizona State and in overtime against No. 4 Stanford---but their best wins are over a pair of 5-3 outfits. The Aggies made the grade, despite their three losses, because they fell in close contests against No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Arkansas, and Missouri, and because they offset those setbacks with wins over Baylor, Southern Methodist, and Texas Tech. While the Bulldogs have yet to beat a team with a winning record, three of their six victims are .500 clubs, and Georgia’s losses were to teams with a combined 14-1 record.
The Huskies grabbed the last spot in the top 25 in similar fashion, besting 5-3 Hawaii and a pair of 4-4 teams while falling on the road to two teams who together have gone 15-1. That gave Washington the edge over the Auburn Tigers, the West Virginia Mountaineers, the TCU Horned Frogs, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Ohio St. Buckeyes, the Southern Miss. Golden Eagles, the Cincinnati Bearcats, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, the Florida St. Seminoles, and the Wyoming Cowboys, all of whom I considered ranking, and who finished in that order.
As always, your questions, criticisms, and observations are solicited in the comments below.