Your first in-season doses of WBE’s BlogPoll and SEC Power Poll ballots, comin atcha:
I know that is one truly bizarre-looking ballot, so let me explain: once the season begins, I do my best to rank teams based on what they’ve done on the field … up to a certain extent. The extent where, say, you put LSU ahead of Ohio State because LSU beat an ACC team (however gutted) and Ohio St. beat Marshall. So what I do this early in the year, basically, is divide teams into tiers, then rank within that tier according to who they beat (and how impressively) in Week 1.
Usually, there’s a couple of teams in a very top tier that I keep perched at 1, 2, or 3 regardless of who they played. But in a year this wide open, the top tier includes every team between 1 and 10 (though Texas and Florida maybe should have been evicted). Boise nabbed the best win of those 10 teams, beating what might be the eventual ACC champion in what was essentially a road game, so they’re at No. 1. TCU was at home but beat a potential top-25-quality Pac-10 team, so they’re No. 2. And so on.
As for the rest of the poll …
11-13: Tier 2. Notre Dame was the only one of the three to play a real team, so they go at the top.
14-19: Each of these teams either played actual competition or–in the unique case of Arizona–played their cupcake on the road, cross-country, and still absolutely slaughtered them. Utah-Michigan-BYU-LSU are ranked in order of strength of opponent and quality of performance. Carolina brings up the rear of this tier, having played “only” an upper-tier mid-major at home, but beating them in very impressive fashion.
20-24: Teams we learned little-to-nothing about, but who are still too good to leave off the ballot entirely. Auburn stays at the front of this pack by virtue of playing D-I competition.
25: Virginia Tech hasn’t accomplished anything just yet, but again, they’re so much better than the teams on the other side of the velvet rope I think they deserve to hang in at No. 25.
Waitlist: Teams like Kentucky, Fresno St., Maryland, Northwestern, and Kansas St. that beat other BCS-level teams but still have a too few many doubts about them to break into the top 25.
Now onto the …
1. Alabama. Assuming Ingram is back for the trip to Fayetteville and the Tide D makes the expected mincemeat out of PSU’s frosh QB, the biggest story of ‘Bama’s early season is going to be how much of a non-story their big stories are.
2. Georgia. At least one hypothetical SEC East contender looked the part in Week 1. (OK, so two did if you count the ‘Cocks. But you get the point. The Dawgs did what the Gators couldn’t.)
3. Florida. It’s flat impossible Meyer allows the offense to look so eye-gougingly horrific again. But clearly the offseason hasn’t done a thing to solve the Gators’ inability to throw further than 4 yards downfield.
4. South Carolina. We’ve replaced this customer’s usual South Carolina Week 1 snoozefest with new Gamecock crystals. Let’s see if they notice. CUSTOMER: Waiter, this team is terrific! WAITER: Sir, did you know you’re watching the Gamecocks? CUSTOMER: Oh. So it won’t taste like this again next week then, huh?
5. LSU. One day a vast underdog to LSU will finally stop their punt return game, and LSU will lose and lose painfully, and everyone will be embarrassed. But until that day, they’ve beaten a quality BCS-conference foe, and the following teams (save Kentucky) haven’t.
6. Auburn. The Arkansas St. game featured a ridiculous total of 31 possessions, despite the fact the clock-killed fourth quarter only included four. (By contrast, Michigan-UConn only featured 18.) Hope that defensive depth we’ve been promised–and didn’t exactly see vs. the Red Wolves–comes through.
7. Arkansas. We already knew the Hogs could look juggernautical against the kinds of teams that are as far away from juggernaut status as possible. But at least we’ll learn just as much next week when they take on ULM. Or not.
8. Mississippi State. Great. What the rest of the conference really wanted Dan Mullen to have was an accurate quarterback as well as one that could bull over people. I’m thrilled for him. Really.
9. Kentucky. ‘Cats should probably get more credit for racking up 430-plus yards against a Charlie Strong defense and beating a Big East team on the road. But beating Louisville the last couple of years still didn’t get them past 3 SEC wins, so we’ll see.
10. Tennessee. Hey, so Dooley’s bunch can pound the tar out of tomato cans. Good for him. So could Lane Kiffin’s.
11. Vanderbilt. ‘Dores were much more competitive than I expected against Northwestern; maybe they’re due for several more soul-shreddingly painful losses than the experts think, huh? (Wait, what, WINS? Don’t be silly.)
12. Ole Miss. Manufacturing your own quarterback controversy out of thin air isn’t just asking for trouble, it’s offering trouble its own trailer and 20 percent of the gate.
This week’s final SECPP results are available at TeamSpeedKills, as always.