Because there were so few games played last weekend, I elected this week to begin with last week’s BlogPoll ballot and adjust accordingly. Ergo, without further fanfare, I submit the following as the top 25 teams in the land:
No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0), No. 5 Oregon (11-1), No. 8 Ohio State (12-0), No. 9 Texas A&M (10-2), and No. 10 South Carolina (10-2) boast basically the same resumes they did a week ago, so I left their respective poll positions unchanged . . . though I thought seriously about dropping the Buckeyes behind the Aggies and the Gamecocks, since Ohio State’s marquee win over the Cornhuskers now looks a whole lot worse and Texas A&M’s and South Carolina’s marquee wins over the Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs, respectively, now look a whole lot better. Ultimately, I grudgingly gave Urban Meyer’s team credit for its undefeated record, but it was a close call.
Speaking of Alabama (12-1) and Georgia (11-2), I told you I would advance the SEC Championship Game winner past Florida (11-1), but, after the way the game went, I moved both division champions ahead of the Gators. The Tide proved that they were no worse than the second-best team in college football, and the ‘Dawgs proved that they were the equal of that team, so, like Mark Richt, I voted Alabama second and Georgia third. Also, Florida can bite me.
I inched Kansas State (11-1) ahead of Louisiana State (10-2) on the strength of the Wildcats’ double-digit win over Texas (8-4), but the Longhorns slipped only to 23rd because, frankly, there just weren’t a lot of good options outside the top ten.
Speaking of the bottom 15 teams on my ballot, Stanford (10-2) moved ahead of Oklahoma (10-2) after the Cardinal bested the Bruins for the second time in as many weeks and the Sooners made it by Texas Christian by merely a touchdown. UCLA (9-4) dropped only as far as 22nd due to the closeness of the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Losses by my 13th- and 14th-ranked teams from a week ago were all that allowed Oregon State (9-3) to move up after throttling a Division I-AA patsy, while Northern Illinois (12-1) took the spot previously occupied by the Kent State squad the Huskies outlasted for the MAC championship. The Golden Flashes dropped out of the poll because I don’t rank two-loss teams when one of their losses was to Kentucky by 33 points.
I wanted to drop Florida State (11-2) after the Seminoles got by Georgia Tech only by six points, but there were no other good options for the top 15, so the Tribe stayed put. Clemson (10-2) seemed to fit right behind FSU, and a lack of quality alternatives forced me to move Boise State (10-2) up one notch in spite of the Broncos’ struggles with Nevada. Northwestern (9-3) similarly rose by inertia alone, whereas Nebraska (10-3) plummeted eleven spots because getting blown out by a middling Wisconsin team will do that to your ranking.
Left without adequate options, I was forced to reward mid-majors. (Yes, I count the Big East champion as a mid-major.) Louisville (10-2) managed to stumble bass-ackwards into the conference championship by beating Rutgers and sparing me the obligation to continue pretending the Scarlet Knights are any good. Utah State (10-2), San Jose State (10-2), and Conference USA champion Tulsa (10-3) filled out the rest of my top 25, leaving Arkansas State (9-3) waiting in the wings after the Sun Belt champion Red Wolves throttled the Middle Tennessee State team that skunked Georgia Tech.
I am, as always, open to constructive criticisms, which are welcome in the comments below.