When compiling last week’s BlogPoll ballot, I started with a blank piece of paper. This week, for a variety of reasons ranging from the lateness of Saturday night’s Georgia game to the fact that four of my top 20 teams (and three of my top eleven) had open dates this weekend, I started with last week’s ballot, purposely avoided reviewing any other person’s or entity’s rankings beforehand, and adjusted my earlier top 25 according to results, achieving this thoroughly unsatisfactory set of rankings:
Because Arizona State and West Virginia each sustained the team’s second loss of the young season, the Sun Devils and the Mountaineers dropped out of the poll, along with tenuous No. 23 North Carolina after a loss to new No. 19 Virginia Tech. The Hokies check in just behind East Carolina, which plummeted ten spots after a loss to N.C. State.
I probably was too harsh to the Pirates, but their victory over W.V.U. has lost much of its luster and, even though the Wolfpack took E.C.U. in overtime, I have serious doubts about the squad from Raleigh in light of the ugliness of the team’s loss to South Carolina.
At the top of the charts remains Southern Cal. The Trojans have been taking a lot of time off lately, but they appeared utterly dominant over Virginia and Ohio State, so the Men of Troy stay put at No. 1. The Bulldogs, however, inched back up into the top two after their win in the desert.
The same held true for Louisiana State and Florida after their respective road victories over Auburn and Tennessee. The Bayou Bengals got the nod over the Gators because every appearance indicates that the Plainsmen remain a better team than the Volunteers. Given the closeness of the contest in Jordan-Hare Stadium, I allowed the other S.E.C. West Tigers to hang onto the last spot in the top 25.
This weekend’s impressive performances on the road by the three S.E.C. frontrunners were bad news for the Big 12 contenders, as Oklahoma slipped three spots while idle, Missouri dropped two spots after holding only a six-point lead over Buffalo at halftime, and Texas stayed put at No. 7 after
a bye week dispatching Rice.
Brigham Young leapt up a notch by dropping a 44-0 dismantling on Wyoming. I know it was only Wyoming, but the Cougars are putting up big numbers on offense and goose eggs on defense in the toughest of the so-called "mid-major" conferences, the Mountain West. This also accounts for Utah’s rise to No. 11 after a road win over Air Force.
The ninth spot in the countdown went to Alabama after the Crimson Tide managed not only to avoid the pre-Georgia look-ahead loss that blindsided both the Gamecocks and the Sun Devils, but also to throttle Arkansas in the Red Elephants’ first true road game. The Clemson pelt continues to have value, even though the Tigers only beat South Carolina State this weekend. Mostly through attrition, Tommy Bowden’s club crept up to No. 23.
I rounded out my top ten with Penn State. I’m not proud of that decision, because the Nittany Lions are putting up big numbers against bad teams, but somebody has to be ranked No. 10 and I couldn’t find a team I liked any better for this poll position.
An uninspired 17-9 win over Florida International cost South Florida its place in the top ten, as the Bulls fell to No. 12. An uninspired 12-3 win over self-destructing Florida State in an A.C.C. field goal fest allowed Wake Forest to rise to No. 15. I am equally dissatisfied with both of these results. Wisconsin dropped two spots while idle because I still don’t have the faintest clue where to put the Badgers. I didn’t like the fact that the Buckeyes inched up from 16th to 14th after holding only a 14-10 lead over Troy at the break, but, once again, the pickings were pretty slim.
How slim were they? So slim that Kansas moved up after a 38-14 win over Sam Houston State. I won’t even attempt to justify that with any other explanation except the carnage around the Jayhawks. Likewise, I still don’t know what basis I have for believing in Nebraska, apart from the Cornhuskers’ having won nine or more games in each of the first 33 full football seasons of my lifetime, but, while U.S.C. stood pat on an off week and O.U. was dinged by a "you snooze, you lose" mentality while the Sooners were on a coffee break, the Big Red Machine actually managed to move from 20th to 17th during a bye week. Once again, I’m as troubled by this ballot as you are, except insofar as the ordering appears to me to make sense when you ignore the up and down arrows and focus on the names.
The last slot in the top 20 went to Boise State after the Broncos, previously winners over Bowling Green, claimed their first road victory over a B.C.S. conference opponent. Due to the outcome of that same game, Oregon fell from No. 15 to No. 21.
I gave serious thought to moving Vanderbilt as high as 19th after the Commodores defeated Ole Miss in Oxford to improve to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in S.E.C. play, but I just couldn’t quite bring myself to vote the Commies ahead of the Hokies or the Ducks. This very well may be indicative of a character defect on my part and I apologize in advance to any ‘Dores fans who rightly take issue with my position. In any case, Vandy held firm at No. 22.
Upon the basis of the Buffaloes’ overtime victory over West Virginia---one of the few national games I predicted correctly, incidentally---I awarded the 24th position on my BlogPoll ballot to Colorado. Dan Hawkins’s squad beat out Texas Christian and Texas Tech for the final vacancy in the top 25 on the strength of the win over the Mountaineers, which I deemed of higher quality than the Horned Frogs’ triumphs over New Mexico and Stanford or the Red Raiders’ victories over Nevada and Southern Methodist.
U.N.L.V., which has conquered both Arizona State and Iowa State but lost at Utah, also got a look and I’ll be keeping an eye on the Runnin’ Rebels. Arizona, Ball State, Connecticut, Georgia Tech, and Michigan State all received consideration, but only for as long as it took me to look at their respective schedules and chuckle.
My attention over the course of the week was devoted to the clashes between Kansas State and Louisville on Wednesday night, Colorado and West Virginia on Thursday night, and Baylor and Connecticut on Friday night before I spent much of my Saturday watching bits and pieces of the East Carolina-N.C. State game, almost all of the Florida-Tennessee game, and every solitary second of the Georgia-Arizona State game.
I feel like we’ll have a better handle on where most of the teams stand a week from now, given what this week has to offer (Alabama at Georgia, Colorado at Florida State, Illinois at Penn State, Minnesota at Ohio State, Southern California at Oregon State, Tennessee at Auburn, Texas Christian at Oklahoma, Virginia Tech at Nebraska, and Wisconsin at Michigan). In the meantime, please feel free to rip the foregoing to shreds. I still have time to make changes to my ballot before the Wednesday morning deadline, and I would welcome your input, because, frankly, I’m not at all happy with that top 25.