Since my SEC Power Poll ballot sparked no small degree of sturm und drang, I have some trepidation about introducing this week’s BlogPoll ballot, but the call of duty (which, or so I have been told, is the sublimest word in the English language) compels me to provide you with a top 25, so provide you with a top 25 I shall.
Here it is, for whatever it might be worth:
In the wake of the weekend, it was obvious which was the No. 1 team in the nation. Though the Crimson Tide’s resume is not helped by the presence of a pair of 1-4 squads (Kent State and North Texas), Alabama’s 5-0 mark includes victories over a trio of 4-1 outfits: Arkansas, Florida, and Penn State, all of whom the Tide topped convincingly, two of which ‘Bama beat on the road.
One set of Tigers from Death Valley edged another for the No. 2 spot, as Clemson’s wins over Auburn, Florida State, and Virginia Tech carried more weight than Louisiana State’s victories over Oregon and West Virginia. The Sooners, buoyed by triumphs over two of the best 2-2 teams in the country, Florida State and Missouri, took the fourth spot ahead of Wisconsin, as there was only so much the Badgers’ beatdown of the Cornhuskers could do to overcome a sorry slate that otherwise consisted of Northern Illinois (2-3), UNLV (1-3), Oregon State (0-4), and Division I-AA South Dakota.
The next four teams in the poll were the Yellow Jackets, the Fighting Illini, the Broncos, and the Cowboys, on the strength of wins over North Carolina, Arizona State, Georgia, and Texas A&M, respectively. The top ten was rounded out by the highest-ranked once-beaten, Auburn, whose road win over South Carolina was the marquee victory posted by a team with a blemish on its record.
Past that, it’s really just a competition to decide the dog with the fewest fleas. Honestly, it’s easier to justify lowering teams than raising them, and, in most cases, a team ranked ahead of another team had a better "best win" than the team ranked immediately behind it, but a few standouts warranted mention:
- I’ll be glad when the Big 12 teams start playing one another so I can quit overvaluing their pretty, yet ultimately meaningless, records. The 12th-ranked Longhorns’, the 16th-ranked Wildcats’, and the 17th-ranked Bears’ best wins were over Iowa State, Baylor by one point at home, and a 3-2 Texas Christian club by two points at home.
- Since the argument for Baylor is that the Bears beat TCU, I figured it was only fair to rank Southern Methodist at No. 18, since the Mustangs also won a close one over the Horned Frogs. By that same logic, I probably should’ve ranked the Gamecocks closer to the Plainsmen.
- When choosing between teams who got skunked by Alabama, I elevated Arkansas above Florida because the Hogs at least offset wins over Division I-AA Missouri State and winless New Mexico with a comeback against the Aggies. The Gators beat Tennessee at home, but otherwise defeated a Kentucky club that is the worst team in the conference and a pair of 0-4 outfits (FAU and UAB).
- From a resume standpoint, I’m probably cutting the Ducks and the Mountaineers way too much slack, to the detriment of Michigan State, North Carolina, Southern California, Southern Mississippi, and West Virginia, all of whom received consideration.
I freely admit there are more than a few oddities on my ballot, so your questions, suggestions, and constructive criticisms are welcome in the comments below.