Shakeup Saturday created a large, gaping vacuum in the top 10 of my ballot and another wide space of opportunity down in the teens, where numerous undefeated teams fell to many inferior squads.
Rather than simply mindlessly advance the victors like so many other lockstep balloteers, I decided to take this opportunity to do something I have wanted to do for several weeks now — résumé-heavy balloting.
Enough top-10 teams have challenged themselves by going on the road and beating other ranked teams that I feel justified in using those accomplishments to advance them ahead of other teams with weaker résumés.
But you may be shocked when you find out which teams those are. Brace yourself, and scroll down for my topsy-turvy, upside-down ballot, with extended discussion following by necessity:
I may win the award this week for most swing. How many other voters dropped Alabama and Oregon a combined 11 spots, I wonder?
OK, now that you've had a chance to process the weird carnage, let me justify this, team-by-team.
Keep in mind, this is all subject to rapid change in a week depending on what I see on the field.
Florida: With all due respect to the groupthink No. 1 Alabama, Florida clearly has the best résumé in the country. No other football team has beat two teams currently ranked in the AP poll, with one of those wins coming on the road.
Kansas State: I dare you to call me a homer. Our win at AP No. 13 Oklahoma is the best road win of any team in the country, and second only to Florida's win over AP No. 9 LSU. Based on accomplishments to date, we belong here.
South Carolina: With a win over AP No. 14 Georgia, the Gamecocks did good work this week. Now they have to back it up at LSU and at Florida. Get through that unblemished, and they'll probably be No. 1 in two weeks.
West Virginia: The win at AP No. 15 Texas was impressive, but still a little too close to comfort. I'll take our win at Oklahoma over that one, by a narrow margin. This week's Red River Shootout could validate that choice, as well.
Alabama: Hey, Tide, where's the beef? The signature win is AP No. 25 Michigan, who's not even eligible for BlogPoll inclusion. The win at Arkansas is next to worthless. Play someone, anyone, and No. 1 can be yours again.
Notre Dame: Virtually the same résumé as Alabama, only the win over Michigan was at home, not neutral, and by a diminished margin. There is a road win at Michigan State (receiving AP votes), but beating the Big Ten is so easy.
Ohio State: The only Big Ten team worth a crap, the Buckeyes have two wins over teams receiving votes in the AP poll, although both of them have two losses apiece already. But that's still more beef than...
...the Oregon teams: Neither Oregon nor Oregon State has a win over a team currently receiving votes in the AP poll, mostly because they beat those teams so badly when they still were ranked that they dropped out. Still, I can't in good conscience put them ahead of any of the seven teams listed above. Oregon State gets the nod over Oregon, which hasn't played a true road game yet this season. Challenge thyselves, and thee shall be rewarded.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs haven't beat anyone of note and probably will fall rapidly in a few weeks' time, but I couldn't put a one-loss team in the top 10 just yet. By virtue of being undefeated and ESS EEE SEE, they sneak in.
One-loss teams that lost to an AP top-10 team: Here's how I fairly simply broke these down:
- Georgia: lost at AP No. 3 South Carolina
- LSU: lost at AP No. 4 Florida
- Texas A&M: lost to AP No. 4 Florida at home
- Baylor: lost at AP No. 5 West Virginia
- Texas: lost to AP No. 5 West Virginia at home
- Oklahoma: lost to AP No. 6 Kansas State at home
The Big East bloc: Louisville, Rutgers and Cincinnati are all undefeated (and probably better than any team in the Big Ten not named Ohio State), but none have played what you might call a murderer's row schedule.
The mid-majors: Louisiana Tech can do itself a lot of good by beating Texas A&M on Saturday. And it's a crime that 6-0 Ohio isn't yet ranked, despite a win over Penn State that continues to look more impressive by the week.
Other one-loss teams: Well, I had to rank four more. Here's the best I could come up with:
- Florida State: It was only a one-point loss on the road to a team receiving AP votes, and they did beat AP No. 16 Clemson. Still, not a lot to hang your tiny cowboy hat on here.
- Clemson: lost at AP No. 12 Florida State
- Texas Tech: lost at home to AP No. 13 Oklahoma
- USC: lost at AP No. 17 Stanford; barely gets the nod over Duke, who lost by a worse margin to the Cardinal and doesn't have a neutral-field win over Syracuse
Stanford was considered, but ultimately discarded because no team should go to overtime against Arizona and because I think the USC win was a fluke. And that Washington loss looks ugly now.
It's all moot, though, because Notre Dame is gonna kill the Cardinal and make them BlogPoll-ineligible anyway.
The one-loss team waiting list, as best as I can figure, looks something like this (for now): Stanford, Duke, Iowa State, TCU, Arizona State, Northwestern, Tulsa, Western Kentucky and San Jose State.