Sunday, October 24, 2010

This Week's Ballot

As I did last week, I decided to make a college football top 25 ballot, as if anyone had--or ever would--ask me to vote for a poll.

A brief recap of my rules: all undefeated teams get ranked higher than all one-loss teams (who get ranked higher than all two-loss teams, etc). If two teams have the same record and have played each other, the team that won head-to-head gets ranked higher (barring three-team "circle of death" situations, which have yet to matter this year). New rule this week: this week's ballot is not based on last week's. One of my biggest complaints about the real polls is their overwhelming reliance on inertia. I still have many of the same opinions, but I didn't move anybody "up" or "down" based on this week's games; I just put them where I thought they should go based on their entire body of work. I didn't even look at last week's ballot before I made this week's.

1. Oregon
They are just frighteningly good.

2. Boise State
They're very good at offense and at defense, and they've done everything they've needed to do.

3. TCU
Their offense, like Boise's, can put up big numbers on weak opponents, but their defense is even more impressive. I would love to see this team play Oregon.

4. Auburn
Fourth may seem to low for the last undefeated SEC team, but almost all of their games have still been in question going into the fourth quarter, and they have yet to be tested on the road. Out of Auburn, Oregon, Boise, and TCU, Auburn has looked the most beatable.

5. Missouri
They looked fantastic against Oklahoma on both (or, considering their kicker, all three) sides of the ball. The question has now been answered: yes, they are the real deal.

6. Utah
It's hard to defend having them lower than TCU and Boise, when their resume is similar, but at least we get to see them play TCU in two weeks and settle some questions.

7. Michigan State
After having to come from behind at Northwestern and, on reflection, struggling to beat a not-very-good Notre Dame team, MSU looks like the weakest of the undefeated teams.

8. Alabama
And maybe it's just habit, but it seems that Alabama is the strongest of the one-loss teams.

9. Wisconsin
Wisconsin has had two top-notch weeks in a row, convincingly thumping Ohio State at home and then winning a thriller at Iowa. Bret Bielema may finally have his team playing up to their potential.

10. Ohio State
Like the non-AQ teams, OSU unquestionably has the ability to throttle the life out of inferior opponents. Unfortunately, we don't get to see how they fare against a good team until they visit Iowa on November 20th.

11. Nebraska
After the (inexplicable?) loss to texas, they've gotten back on track with a win over Oklahoma State. They're no longer favorites to with the Big 12 North, but they can be again if they beat Missouri at home next week.

12. Stanford
Their only loss is to Oregon.

13. LSU
LSU is a deeply, even wildly flawed team, but it's still not easy to beat them.

14. Arizona
Beating up on the teams from Washington doesn't prove much, but their schedule is about to get more interesting.

15. Oklahoma
If the computers got to factor in margin of victory, OU wouldn't have been #1 last week. I had them pretty high because sure, their losses were close, but at least they scheduled hard. Now that they have lost a game, their fragile mystique is gone.

16. Florida State
Still a mystery to me. They're a one-loss team whose loss was to Oklahoma, so that's why they're here.

17. Oklahoma State
Very good offense (which can be shut down for at least short stretches), very little defense. I expect their loss total to go up.

18. Nevada
I really wanted to like Nevada, but I'm finally accepting that they're a bit of a sham. The one thing they've done is kill Cal, but it turns out that every time Cal goes on the road, they get killed.

19. Arkansas
There are three two-loss SEC teams, and while it's South Carolina that has the best win, Arkansas has the best losses. That's right; I'll take the team that lost to Alabama and Auburn over the team that beat Alabama and lost to Auburn and Kentucky. It's a judgment call.

20. Iowa
Despite the time-zone-influenced loss to Arizona, and the atrocious clock management against Wisconsin, I still think Iowa is very good.

21. South Carolina
I don't want to rank them (because I don't like them), but it's the responsible thing to do.

22. Virginia Tech
They keep trying to make people forget about James Madison, although it isn't easy.

23. Miami (you know which one)
I don't think Miami is great by any means, but they're decent, and their two losses are to quality teams.

24. Mississippi State
Oh, why not throw the third two-loss SEC team in here? They certainly don't put up big numbers, but they've won every game except at LSU and against Auburn. I maintain that they are scrappy.

25. East Carolina
They continue to make me smile.

The team I wanted to rank, but couldn't without breaking (or altering) my rules: Navy. I only saw bits and pieces of their game yesterday, but every time I flipped over there, they looked really good. However, they lost to Maryland, who lost to West Virginia, who lost to Syracuse, so I couldn't--within the rules as currently formulated--rank Navy without ranking those three teams in front of them.

The team I'm glad to see that professional voters ranked, but declined to rank myself: Baylor. I'm happy for them that they're bowl-eligible, that they beat K-State, and that they look to have more than a fighting chance against t.u. next week, but they got killed by TCU (as you do), and couldn't get it done against Texas Tech on a neutral field. Sorry, Baylor; maybe next week.

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