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Week Six BlogPoll Ballot Revised

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All right, now that the BlogPoll is being published by CBS Sports, the network that broadcasts Southeastern Conference football games with Verne Lundquist in the booth, it’s time to get serious.

After I cast my weekly ballot, I took the time to look at my fellow BlogPollsters’ votes and shop my ballot around among a couple or three other voters in search of constructive feedback. Mostly, I just want to be a conscientious BlogPoll voter; also, if it’s all the same to everyone else, I’d rather not be ripped into on a weekly basis over my failure to share the commonly-held view of which also-ran is really the No. 23 team in the country in early October. Life is too short.

I may be badgered into reconsidering my voting patterns, but I will stand firm against Brian Cook’s shoddy taste in women!

Accordingly, after examining the consensus among my fellow webloggers and considering my own rationale for ordering the teams as I did, I decided that, when ranking Oklahoma State and Brigham Young 21st and 22nd, respectively, I placed too great an emphasis upon the overly fine distinction between beating a 3-2 team and beating a 2-3 team while underrating the significance of the Cowboys’ and the Cougars’ undefeated records and margins of victory.

Since I found I could not credibly maintain the basis for deviating so substantially from the poll as a whole, I tweaked my ballot as follows:

Rank Team Delta
1 Alabama --
2 Oklahoma --
3 Missouri 3
4 Penn State 1
5 Texas 8
6 Vanderbilt 5
7 Boise State 8
8 LSU 4
9 Utah 5
10 Texas Tech 11
11 Southern Cal 3
12 Virginia Tech 5
13 Ohio State 5
14 Oklahoma State 11
15 Brigham Young 9
16 California 1
17 Georgia 1
18 Georgia Tech 8
19 Florida --
20 Wake Forest 11
21 Northwestern 5
22 Michigan State 4
23 Pittsburgh 3
24 South Florida 19
25 North Carolina 1

Dropped Out: Wisconsin (#10), Maryland (#14), Oregon (#20), Connecticut (#22), Auburn (#23).

Although no one urged me to make such a move, my review of the ballots of my coevals persuaded me that there was not sufficient justification for leaving as large a gap as I had between Utah and B.Y.U., or for ranking such once-beaten clubs as, say, Florida and Wake Forest ahead of undefeated Oklahoma State and Brigham Young squads when none of them had what would qualify as a marquee win.

Although the consensus seemed to be that the Cougars deserved a higher ranking than the Cowboys, I could not see my way clear to accepting the conventional wisdom upon that point, as their resumes seemed strikingly similar, viz.:

  • Oklahoma State and B.Y.U. both sport 5-0 records, but all of the Pokes’ wins were by more than two touchdowns, whereas the Cougs claimed one of their victories by the slimmest of margins. (More about that win anon.)

  • I treated Brigham Young’s 24-point victory over Division I-AA Northern Iowa as the functional equivalent of O.S.U.’s 44-point victory over Division I-AA Missouri State, although, given the 20-point difference in the margins, any edge would have to be awarded to Oklahoma State.

  • Brigham Young’s victory over U.C.L.A. (2-3) came against an opponent very much analogous to Texas A&M (2-3). Although the Cougars annihilated the Bruins by a 59-0 final margin, the Cowboys undeniably were dominant over the Aggies, as well, holding a 35-7 lead two-thirds of the way through the game and matching Texas A&M score for score during the final 20 minutes of the contest to maintain a four-touchdown advantage. As with the size of the two teams’ respective victories over Division I-AA competition, the differing margins mask the fact that both the Cowboys and Cougars were dominant. B.Y.U. gets an edge for the thoroughness of the Cougs’ dismantling of U.C.L.A., but Oklahoma State deserves considerable credit for whacking the Aggies, too. Edge to the Cougars, but not by a lot; I don’t deduct points from Mike Gundy for building depth in the fourth quarter.

  • Brigham Young’s 44-point victory over Wyoming (2-4) was more impressive than O.S.U.’s 19-point victory over Houston (2-3). Although the Cougars---the Houston Cougars, that is---likely are a better team than the Cowboys---the Wyoming Cowboys, that is---B.Y.U. gets a bonus point for this one. At this stage, Brigham Young has the advantage over O.S.U., but both have performed impressively.

  • Here is where the Cowboys start to pick up steam. Oklahoma State’s 31-point victory over Troy (2-2) counts for considerably more than B.Y.U.’s 20-point victory over Utah State (1-4). This gives O.S.U. one slight advantage (Missouri State/Northern Iowa) and one significant advantage (Troy/Utah State) to offset the games in which B.Y.U. held one slight advantage (U.C.L.A./Texas A&M) and one significant advantage (Wyoming/Houston). Even if you give the Cougars the overall edge for the totality of their decimation of the Bruins, the final comparison clearly will carry enough weight (a la Florida in the 2000 election) to swing the balance in either team’s favor.

  • Accordingly, it comes down to the fact that the Pokes went on the road and beat Washington State (1-5) by 26 points, whereas the Cougars went on the road and beat Washington (0-5) by a single point on a controversial penalty call. Clearly, this bumps Oklahoma State out in front, even though the closeness of their respective resumes has them ranked one right after the other.

Also, O.S.U. is 2-0 against teams nicknamed "Cougars," and, if I didn’t rank the Cowboys ahead of B.Y.U., Mike Gundy would yell at me, which is what I was trying to avoid by revising my ballot in the first place.

At the end of the day, therefore, my BlogPoll brethren persuaded me that I had undervalued Brigham Young’s resume, but, because I am not convinced that B.Y.U. has a better argument than Oklahoma State, my solution was to move both teams up an equal number of spots and leave the rest of my ballot alone. As a well respected fellow resume ranker recently put it, where Brigham Young is concerned, "the incorrigible skeptic in me is resisting the hype."

I stand by my ranking of Vanderbilt ahead of Louisiana State, as I believe any honest resume ranker is obligated to do.

Please remember that the deadline for submitting final ballots is 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, so I remain open to compelling arguments for further revisions.

Go ‘Dawgs!