This week’s WBE BlogPoll and SEC Power Poll ballots are as follows:
Runnin’ it down:
1-7: Last week my “top tier” of teams ran 10 deep, but I figured it was time to separate the teams who had played someone from the ones who hadn’t–so Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin slipped into Tier 2 this week. In ranking the top 7, I tried to combine quality of victim with the level of dominance; given Marshall’s performance against West Virginia and the Buckeyes’ total throttling of both the Herd and the ‘Canes (who they would have annihilated if not for those kick returns and some shoddy red-zone performance), I thought OSU deserved the top spot ahead of the Tide. Oklahoma would have jumped TCU if not for their struggles against Utah St., Florida Boise if not for the Miami performance.
8-12: Possibly terrific teams who haven’t played anyone meet teams that might not be as good but have major scalps already on the wall. I went with the latter first, the former second, with the ‘Cocks getting the nod over the Wolverines based on the fact that I suspect UGa is a better team than either UConn or Notre Dame. A Dawg loss to Arkansas this weekend will change that, though.
13-20: Tier 3, ranked by quality of wins. Beating Miss. St. on the road might be more impressive than beating half-strength UNC in Atlanta, but LSU’s second win–at Vandy, by 24–is much stronger than beating Arkansas St. at home by 26. Utah maybe should be ahead of either one–the Pitt win may end up more valuable than either the UNC or MSU wins–but they haven’t gone on the road yet.
21-23: I guess this is who should come next, as they all either have one impressive-looking win over not-terrible competition (Air Force over BYU, Cal over Colorado) or two shaky-as-hell wins over not-terrible competition. But it’s already hard to find teams I think are really deserving.
24-25: Whatever. I’m betting Georgia takes care of business at home vs. the Hogs, but the last team I left on the ballot with a loss was Virginia Tech. (Which is why Miami and Georgia Tech are gone this week.)
Waitlist: Kentucky comes next, and I gave brief consideration to Kansas St. (though after the Stanford game, you wonder why they didn’t beat UCLA even more soundly) and Maryland. But I think, for now, that Georgia’s just better and that Fresno’s win has more quality.
As for the …
1. Alabama. I’ll admit, I’m wondering if my “pssh, whatever, Penn State was hot garbage and the Nits still could have put up 17 on them” response is rational thinking or just my brain’s self-defense mechanism against the possibility of another undefeated LOOK AT THAT BIRD OUTSIDE THE WINDOW! WOW! IT’S A BIRD!
2. South Carolina. Between the Lou Holtz all-rushing era and the Steve Spurrier all-passing era (and the prior all-singing, all-dancing era), seeing the ‘Cocks with an actual balanced offense must be what it’s like to see a live platypus: you know such a thing could exist, but until it’s right there in front of you, it still seems more like someone’s fun theory than something legitimately possible. (Full disclosure: I expected to see the platypus first.)
3. Florida.Watching USF trying to dig themselves out of the hole B.J. Daniels’ passes dug for them by having B.J. Daniels pass reminded me of those credit card counseling service advertisements, for some weird reason. I’d take Carolina over the Gators if they played tomorrow; good thing for Gators they don’t play until Week 10.
4. LSU. If this is actually the fourth-best team in the SEC, I’ll put myself through a 24-hour DVD marathon of Homeboys in Outer Space, but for now I don’t think anyone else has earned the No. 4 slot, either.
5. Auburn. So, Mississippi State’s feeble 129 yards passing … dramatic improvement from the Tiger secondary (and pass rush) or just terrible quarterbacking and receiving on the Bulldogs’ part? Kyle Parker will likely let us know right quick.
6. Arkansas. Trying to come up with something interesting and/or witty to say about wins over Tennessee Tech and UL-Monroe … trying … trying … I think I’ve got it … no, that’s neither witty nor interesting, nevermind … trying … failing … failed.
7. Georgia. A year after the Dawgs were outplayed by Carolina at home but won on the strength of the ‘Cocks various red zone failures, Carolina lets the Dawgs play them almost even at home but win on the strength of the Dawgs’ various red zone failures. What’s that phrase? Something about the things that, you know, go around? What they do next?
8. Kentucky. Full credit for getting past Louisville on the road and slaughtering a motivated Western Kentucky team, but allowing those two teams to run for a collective 5.8 yards a carry (particularly in a division with Demps, Lattimore, Ealey, and Poole) isn’t so much a red flag as giant red “MISSION NOT YET ACCOMPLISHED” banner.
9. Mississippi St. Bulldogs have to be tearing their hair out: they hold Auburn to just one play longer than 20 yards, they get several huge plays out of their special teams, Tigers choke away multiple second-half scoring opportunities, they start second half with back-to-back possessions against an already-thin defense on a short week … and they still can’t manage more than 14 points to Auburn’s meager 17. Painful.
10. Tennessee. No offense to Vol fans, but how were they not expecting Oregon’s second-half explosion? This was the worst possible matchup–up-tempo ground game, incredible return units, veteran offensive line, ridiculous overall speed–for a team with the Vols’ kind of depth issues. (Take it from an Auburn fan who sat through 2009, amirite?) There’s still lots to build on with that start and the running of Tauren Poole, who looked plenty ready to take over the Hardesty MANtle.
11. Vanderbilt. No truth to the rumor Vandy has hired Tony Franklin circa 2008 to run their offense.
12. Ole Miss. No, Rebels, a 14-point victory over Tulane featuring the same second-half issues that spelled doom against Jax State is not enough to get you out of the cellar.