Ballot Business, Week 5 (plus rant)

Starting off again with …

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1. Alabama. As off-weeks go, this year’s at Kentucky was still a whole lot more impressive than last year’s vs. Tulane. Unfortunately.

2. Florida. Am I the only one who thinks the Gators should publicly end the “will-he-or-won’t-he” discussions and just name Brantley the starter for Saturday? Wouldn’t that show of confidence do wonders for both his focus and the team’s? Am I crazy?

3. LSU. 6 points in the half they dominate start-to-finish, 14 in the half they hang onto by their fingernails. I have no idea what to make of that game or this team.

4. Auburn. All Your Points Are Belong to Gus.

5. South Carolina. Looking over the rest of their respective offensive and defensive seasons, has their been a flukier-looking score this year–anywhere–than Georgia 41, South Carolina 37?

6. Ole Miss. Why do I get the feeling that after watching the Rebels splortch around for five weeks, ‘Bama is in for a total dogfight on Saturday? Oh, Houston Nutt’s entire career, that’s why I get that feeling.

7. Georgia. Phil Steele’s gotta be loving him some Dawgs: they could easily be 4-1, they could easily be 1-5.

8. Arkansas. Here’s to hoping the scoreboard operator in Fayetteville has done all necessary checks, maintenance, tests, etc. before Saturday.

9. Mississippi St. I know they’re 2-3. They’ve also outgained every opponent but Auburn and the flood of turnovers has to stop some time. (I think.)

10. Tennessee. Attention Vol fans: Fulmer didn’t leave you with Crompton. Fulmer handed you both B.J. Coleman and Tajh Boyd, and Kiffin looked at both and said “No thanks.”

11. Kentucky. No truth to the rumor that Randall Cobb, MANtario Hardesty, Derrick Locke, and Anthony Dixon are going to run off and form their own quarterback-less team together.

12. Vanderbilt. I guess if it was happening for Vandy you’d have expected them to at least put a full scare into someone by now as opposed to all these kinds of quarter-scares.

This week’s WBE BlogPoll ballot looks like so …

Rank Team Delta
1 Alabama
2 Florida 1
3 Texas 1
4 Virginia Tech 5
5 Iowa 1
6 Miami (Florida) 6
7 LSU 8
8 Boise State 2
9 Cincinnati 1
10 Southern Cal 7
11 Ohio State 12
12 Auburn 9
13 TCU 6
14 Wisconsin
15 South Carolina 2
16 Oregon
17 Georgia Tech 3
18 Stanford
19 South Florida 6
20 Brigham Young 2
21 Houston 16
22 Oklahoma State 12
23 Michigan 5
24 Notre Dame
25 Georgia 14
Last week’s ballot
Dropped Out: Missouri (#19), UCLA (#20), Oklahoma (#24).

Breakin’ it down:

1-3: Texas gets dinged for having one shaky-looking win over a conference also-ran (T-Tech) while Florida has two mostly convincing ones.

4-7: Miami adding Oklahoma to their victims list pushes Va. Tech ahead of Iowa, but their loss keeps the ‘Canes behind the Hawkeyes, whose win over Arizona keeps them in front of LSU.

8-9: Boise and Cincy are going to have to either beat somebody (else, in Boise’s case) legitimate or keep slippin’. The good news for Cincy is that they’ll have their chances.

10-11: Trojans and Buckeyes both seem to have snapped out of their funk. OSU’s scalps don’t really demand a ranking this high, but a tight loss to SC isn’t so bad and they’ve been totally dominant three weeks running.

12-14, 19: The Undefeateds. With Clemson biting the bullet against Maryland, I don’t see how TCU has the juice to stay with the Boise/Cincy pairing, which is where Auburn will end up with a win Saturday. I don’t see how Wisconsin can get so little respect from the polls, the BlogPoll included: vs Fresno, vs. Mich. St., and at Minnesota aren’t spectacular wins, but they’re not the worthless fluff a team like Kansas has on their schedule, either.

South Florida … who knows. At FSU and at Syracuse aren’t good enough wins just yet to move any higher than this when the other three games they’ve played are all exhibitions.

15-17: Each of these teams takes a bit of a knock (well, Oregon stayed put despite a win) when previous victims (N.C. St., Cal, Clemson and UNC, respectively) take the pipe.

18, 20-24: Welcome Stanford everybody, who did what both Tennessee (i.e. beat UCLA at home) and Notre Dame, USC, and LSU (i.e. beat Washington handily) could not.

The rest of these teams’ grasp on the ballot is tenuous at best, but as always I’ll take teams that have some kind of quality victory–even Notre Dame, with their collection of Great Escapes over assorted BCS-conference non-entities–than those that have only beaten trash.

25: Georgia has wins over Carolina, Arkansas, and Arizona St. and losses to two top-25 teams, one of them on the road. They stay.

And now, a rant: You’ll notice there are only two Big 12 teams in the ballot above. This is because the Big 12 is a joke.

Herewith, a comprehensive list of the entire conference’s nonconference victories to date, recalling that we have now entered the sixth week of the season: UL-Monroe, UTEP (x2), Wyoming (x2), Idaho St., Tulsa, North Dakota, Rice (x2), New Mexico (x2), Georgia, Grambling, Utah St., UAB, Wake Forest, Northwestern St., Kent St. (x2), Florida Atlantic, Arkansas St., UL-Lafayette, Illinois, Bowling Green, Furman, Nevada, Northern Colorado, Duke, Southern Miss, North Dakota St., Army, UMass, Tennessee Tech.

This is not to argue that Big 12 teams haven’t played anybody, because they have. Oklahoma played BYU and Miami. Nebraska went to Virginia Tech. Oklahoma St. and Texas Tech both played Houston. Baylor hosted UConn. Colorado visited West Virginia. A&M set up the JerryDome date with Arkansas. Kansas St. went to UCLA.

Of course, here’s the catch: they lost every one of those games. Take the actual contenders for the top 25 in the Big 12–Texas, Oklahoma, Okie St., Texas Tech, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri–and they’re a combined 1-5 against legitimate nonconference opponents. (Southern Miss lost that designation when it slipped up against UAB, by the way.) 1-5.

But I’m supposed to rank Kansas anyway, right, because they’re 4-0 and they’re Kansas? I’m supposed to rank Oklahoma anyway, because they’ve beaten Tulsa and Idaho St. and they’re Oklahoma? Missouri over Wisconsin, right, even though Mizzou’s resume doesn’t come close to stacking up, because one is in the high-flyin’ Big 12 and the other in the plodding Big 10 (nevermind that the Badgers haven’t scored fewer than 30 points since Week 1)?

Garbage.

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