Last week, I failed to get my BlogPoll ballot in on time, but I wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice. Therefore, I now present to you the top 25 teams in college football, as I see them:
Kansas State (7-0) edged Florida (7-0) for the top spot because the Wildcats’ two best wins (over No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 23 West Virginia) were slightly superior to the Gators’ top two conquests (against No. 10 LSU and No. 25 South Carolina). Notre Dame (7-0) likewise had a pair of quality scalps, which the Irish took from No. 18 Stanford and twice-beaten Michigan.
Ohio State (8-0) appears to be living on borrowed time, but the Buckeyes’ toughest victim (No. 20 Nebraska) defeated the top team bested by Oregon State (6-0) (Wisconsin). Nevertheless, the Beavers’ victories over the Badgers and the Bruins gave their resume greater heft than that possessed by the records of achievement compiled by Alabama (7-0) and Oregon (7-0). The Tide beat Michigan, the Ducks beat Arizona State, and they both otherwise have looked dominant over next to no one.
The top team with a loss was Oklahoma (5-1), as the Sooners fell to No. 1 Kansas State but beat both the ninth-ranked Red Raiders and the 17th-ranked Longhorns. Naturally, Texas Tech (6-1) wound up right behind Oklahoma by virtue of the Red Raiders’ wins against No. 23 West Virginia and two-loss Texas Christian.
The last one-loss team to have carded two quality victories is Louisiana State (7-1), who got by both No. 25 South Carolina and twice-beaten Texas A&M. Florida State (7-1) rode a quality triumph (over the 13th-ranked Country Gentlemen) and an increasingly respectable loss (to the 24th-ranked Wolfpack) to a No. 11 poll placement for the Seminoles. Louisville (7-0) continues to cling to its undefeated ledger and its lone noteworthy win (over North Carolina).
By this point, as you can tell, the pickings already have gotten pretty slim; what can I tell you? Frankly, 2012 is shaping up to be rather a weak year for college football across the board. That’s why Clemson (6-1) can receive a No. 13 ranking with a loss to the Tribe and a win over the worst Virginia Tech team in recent memory, while Ohio (7-0) can lock down the No. 14 spot with an unblemished record that is impressive only because it contains a win over Penn State. The last and weakest of the unbeatens, Mississippi State (7-0) and Rutgers (7-0), check in at Nos. 15 and 16, respectively. I could justify the distinction between their largely meaningless 7-0 marks, but, really, isn’t it enough that the Bulldogs play in the SEC and the Scarlet Knights play in the Big East?
The top two-loss team is Texas (5-2), both because the Longhorns lost to good teams (No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 23 West Virginia) and beat a couple of legitimate opponents in Oklahoma State and Baylor. Stanford (5-2) continues to get credit for a seven-point home win over 21st-ranked USC and a seven-point road loss to No. 3 Notre Dame, whereas Toledo (7-1) was rewarded for doing me the solid of keeping me from having to rank Cincinnati.
Much to my chagrin, Nebraska (5-2) has to be given its due for wins over Northwestern and Wisconsin (both 6-2). Southern California (5-1) and Georgia (6-1) made it into the poll by being AQ-conference teams whose respective lone losses were to ranked teams. The Trojans got the better of the Bulldogs by having been beaten less badly by a higher-ranked opponent.
West Virginia (5-2) clung to a spot in the top 25 by virtue of having bested No. 17 Texas and Baylor, but the Mountaineers skidded to a stop in the lower reaches of the poll because they were absolutely carpet-bombed by No. 1 Kansas State and No. 9 Texas Tech. I really wrestled with the last two spots in the rankings, because N.C. State (5-2) has much worse losses (to Miami and Tennessee) than South Carolina (6-2) suffered (to No. 2 Florida and No. 10 LSU). I narrowly sided with the Wolfpack, though, because, frankly, N.C. State’s best win (over No. 11 Florida State) was that much better than South Carolina’s top triumph (over No. 22 Georgia). Believe me, Gamecock fans, it hurts me more than it does you to have to reach that conclusion.
Also receiving consideration for inclusion were TCU (5-2) and Texas A&M (5-2). The Horned Frogs missed out because they had no win better than their victory over Baylor, which was more than offset by their loss to Iowa State. The Aggies boasted a couple of quality losses (to No. 2 Florida and No. 10 LSU, just like South Carolina), but Texas A&M can claim no victory more impressive than a narrow escape against Louisiana Tech.
As always, I welcome your insights, observations, questions, and constructive criticisms in the comments below.