I’m not going to lie to you: I got home from Saturday night’s win between the hedges at 2:30 in the morning after what had already been a full week and a full weekend, so, this week, I started with the final draft of last week’s BlogPoll ballot and adjusted teams based upon their most recent performances. Accordingly, the up and down arrows have significance in this, the rough draft of my top 25:
|Last week's ballot
The Alabama Crimson Tide (10-0) and the Texas Longhorns (10-0) won more convincingly than the Florida Gators (10-0), although all three played on the road and the Sunshine State Saurians faced the toughest test among the top three teams. Nothing that happened on Saturday persuaded me to rearrange these squads, although, of course, the Gators will have their opportunity against the Tide in the Georgia Dome.
The Cincinnati Bearcats (10-0) held off the hard-charging TCU Horned Frogs (10-0) for the fourth spot on the strength of Cincy’s wins over Oregon State and Rutgers, which together trump Texas Christian’s quality win over Clemson. The Frogs get minimal credit for clobbering an overrated Utah club and a BYU outfit that squeaked by winless New Mexico, but their performance against the Utes was enough to leapfrog TCU (sorry) past the Boise St. Broncos (10-0), who remain high on the strength of their season-opening victory but are unable to inch up because their resume otherwise consists of empty calories.
Boise State’s aforementioned season-opening victory, of course, was over the Oregon Ducks (8-2), who inched up a notch after the Ohio St. Buckeyes (9-2) edged the Iowa Hawkeyes (9-2). Because Ohio State won at home in overtime, I moved Jim Tressel’s crew one spot in front of Kirk Ferentz’s bunch.
I’m not any happier than you are about having to rank the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-1) in the top ten, but the Golden Tornado took the place previously held by the Pittsburgh Panthers (9-1) because the Ramblin’ Wreck’s triumphs over Clemson, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech collectively have more heft than Pitt’s wins against Navy, Rutgers, and South Florida. We simply live in a world in which a victory over the Duke Blue Devils on the road counts for more than a victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at home.
It is simply impossible to justify ranking any team in the teens as high as that team is ranked, but it’s just been that kind of year in college football. Giving the LSU Tigers (8-2) the No. 12 ranking after the Bayou Bengals trailed the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at halftime is enough of a stretch, but the Wisconsin Badgers (8-2), Houston Cougars (8-2), Oklahoma St. Cowboys (8-2), and Penn St. Nittany Lions (9-2) either looked good against a bad team, won unconvincingly against a mediocre team, or lost outright. The Cougs remained ahead of the Pokes due to the head-to-head result between the two teams and the fact that the second-best wins carded by each were close contests against Texas Tech at home.
Nos. 17 through 24 are a muddled hodgepodge of 7-3 squads from the ACC and the Pac-10; if you can sort ‘em out, you’re a better man than I am. The Stanford Cardinal---good call, Big Jon!---staked out the top spot among the thrice-beatens by virtue of back-to-back triumphs over Oregon and Southern California. Although their 55-21 home loss to the Cardinal caused the Men of Troy to land four spots behind Stanford, the USC Trojans remained ahead of Cal and Oregon State teams they defeated in October. The Oregon St. Beavers likewise edged the California Golden Bears because the former beat the latter at Berkeley on November 7.
A similar logic applied to the Atlantic Coast Conference clubs. Despite ugly losses to Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Virginia, the North Carolina Tar Heels rode last weekend’s win over the previously 13th-ranked Miami Hurricanes to a No. 18 ranking, one slot above the Virginia Tech Hokies. UNC beat VPI by a field goal on October 29. Both the 19th-ranked Gobblers and the 20th-ranked Clemson Tigers notched victories over the 22nd-ranked ‘Canes, with the latter winning by a little and the former winning by a lot.
Finally, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7-2) found their way into the poll following a 31-0 throttling of the South Florida Bulls, whom I had in the top 25 at the time. Thursday evening’s Rutgers-USF tilt was among the weeknight fare I took in last week, along with Tuesday’s Buffalo-Ohio (Ohio) affair, Wednesday’s Central Michigan-Toledo outing, and Friday’s Cincinnati-West Virginia matchup. Parenting duties on Saturday kept me away from my television---I told you it was a full weekend!---so I saw only snippets of the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh and Florida-South Carolina contests at the praise-winning Tent City tailgate before I attended the Georgia-Auburn game. On Sunday night, just for good measure, I watched the East Carolina-Tulsa tussle.
As always, this is a draft ballot and I have until Wednesday morning to make corrections. Feel free to point out inconsistencies, argue for alternative placements, defend omitted teams, or otherwise offer feedback and constructive criticisms of my top 25. Like Frasier Crane, I’m listening.