Just for variety’s sake (and because I know I ran long on the BlogPoll discussion below), we’re going to lead off this week with WBE’s ballot in the …
1. Alabama. You win, universe: I wish they still had John Parker Wilson.
2. Florida. Hmmm … why has no one else figured out this “Hey, maybe we should put the tiny, ludicrously small guy in the middle of the punt block?” thing?
3. Georgia. No truth to the rumor that the Dawgs’ defense is now being coached by new assistants Two-Face, Janus, and Angelina Jolie’s character in that “Girl, Interrupted” movie.
4. South Carolina. Kudos for the win and all, but the real Steve Spurrier never would have put the offense in park up just 13 points in the third quarter. I guess that Spurrier is really, truly gone, and that’s a little sad.
5. Auburn. Any Fringe watchers out there? I think Walter Bishop has totally stolen the Auburn team from that other Earth, because no way this Earth’s team is No. 3 in the nation in total offense four weeks in.
6. LSU. Jordan Jefferson has quietly been everything LSU wanted him to be. Too bad for Miles nothing else has been.
7. Ole Miss. Snead could throw for half-a-dozen TDs next week and it wouldn’t surprise me, but repairing that offensive line in time for the Tide’s visit? That might be Houston Nutt’s greatest trick.
8. Arkansas. Well … they didn’t give up 51 points. You can say that for them. But that’s really about it this week.
9. Tennessee. You can add “didn’t use Montario Hardesty nearly enough, obviously” to the list of Dave Clawson’s many, many crimes.
10. Mississippi St. Dear Dan Mullen: please don’t ever find yourself a competent quarterback. You’ll be scary. Thanks, Jerry.
11. Kentucky. Not only did the ‘Cats get, well, the Florida-didn’t-cover-the-spread-the-week-before treatment, but that narrow home win over Louisville doesn’t look all that hot after the Cards took the pipe againt Utah.
12. Vanderbilt. Hey, it’s a road win. Hey, Vandy’s still at .500. Those things still matter, I think, up in Nashville.
Now on the BlogPoll ballot. This is Week 5 coming up this Saturday. If you haven’t beaten someone yet, you’re not going to be on the WBE’s ballot. Too many teams have earned their way in to let Penn St. hang around because they’re capable of beating Temple. Sorry, Ole Miss: you’ll be back soon enough, I imagine, but wins over SELA and Memphis don’t cut it at the moment.
Another factor I kept in mind this week: 2 good victories (or one emphatic one) and an understandable loss now trump a spotless record without a particularly good win. A .750 win percentage seems a lot better to me than a .666 one.
This is the pile of crazy I ended up with:
|Last week’s ballot|
Dropped Out: California (#6), Penn State (#9), Mississippi (#10), North Carolina (#13), Florida State (#19).
1-3: Same as last week. No reason to make a change here, though Texas Tech’s second loss drops the ‘Horns closer to the Gators–both teams lack a definitive win.
4-8: Yeah, I kind of can’t believe this lineup, either. But every one of these teams save Boise has a pair of solid wins, with Iowa not just beating but shutting Penn St. flat down in Happy Valley about as impressive statement as you can make. Note that Hawkeye victim Arizona won at Oregon St. late Saturday–meaning Cincy’s win in Corvallis is a little less impressive. As for Boise, this is as high as they’ll get, and only lingering doubts as to how good Clemson is (in TCU’s case) and a better performance against Fresno than Cincy’s keeps them this high.
9-14: The one-loss brigade. Va. Tech’s pretty clearly the best of the bunch, with their loss and near-defeat coming to the likely champions of the SEC West and Big 12 North.* Everything else starts, weirdly enough, with South Carolina–between the ‘Cocks beating Ole Miss and the N.C. State win looking much better after the Wolf Pack took down previously unbeaten Pitt, SC deserves to fly up the poll. This makes Georgia–already looking good with two other BCS-conference wins–look even better, which in turn bumps up Oklahoma St. (whose loss also looks more excusable with Houston beating Tech).
I know how ugly Miami looked in Blacksburg, but they did whip Georgia Tech (themselves winners over both Clemson and UNC) and survived their trip to Tallahassee. For now, they don’t deserve to drop too far for a road loss to a top-10 team, I don’t think.
15, 18-21: Here comes the second wave of undefeated teams. Every single one of these teams saw their signature win depreciate (or stand still) in value; Washington getting wiped out in Palo Alto (not to mention their weak showing in Starkville) means LSU is now kind of just another unbeaten with a schedule you can read whatever you like into. Notre Dame doesn’t look good but they’re still 3-1 (as is Indiana), so Michigan goes in front of Missouri (whose Illinois win looks near-worthless) and UCLA (whose Tennessee win looks less impressive by the week).
As for Auburn, well, WVU and La. Tech being off and MSU failing to pull it out over LSU means their resume didn’t get much of a boost this week. But to be perfectly honest, they’d be higher (the ‘Eers are going to be a quality win sooner rather than later) if I wasn’t deathly afraid of the ill powers of the BlogPoll’s Coulter-Kos Award. The CK Award sent its “winners” to defeat against the spread 10 out of 14 times in 2008 and is on a rampage this season: winners are 0-4 both straight up and against the spread, despite its backing three different home favorites. Most of me is perfectly rational and knows that a silly award in a poll voted on by bloggers has no actual bearing on Saturday’s game, but: I’m still not chancing it, thanks.
16-17: Oregon, you have wins over Cal and a Utah team that finally got on the “halfway-decent victory” scoreboard by beating Louisville this week, so up you go. (LSU stays in front because their better wins have come on the road.) I don’t like USC this high–the Washington loss looks a lot less excusable–but Ohio St. has been just killing people and that win did come in Columbus. It’s better than anything anyone else in the poll has.
22-25: I made one exception to the “have to have beaten somebody” rule, and that’s Oklahoma, just because excluding them entirely seems a bit weirder than with PSU and Ole Miss. Ohio St. and South Florida would be higher if we knew if Illinois and Florida St. were going to be worth anything; BYU will also rise if that home loss to the ‘Noles doesn’t look so horrible.
Waitlist: Cal should probably be in here somewhere with their road win over a decent Minnesota team, but good heavens they looked awful in Eugene. Kansas continues to be the ballot’s No. 26 or 27 team, but a home win over Southern Miss isn’t quite enough to punch them in this week. Nebraska was one play in Blacksburg away from being in the top 5, but as is they’ve beaten Arkansas St., Florida Atlantic, and Lafayette.
*HT to blog buddy Big D for pointing this little factoid out.