Hey everybody, I'm filling in for Chris on the BlogPoll this week, which means Arkansas and Arizona State get ranked. I'm sure this will up our swing a bit, so we'll get what we were hoping for last week a bit late. Haven't totally figured out formatting, but I have my top 25 here and my silly explanations below the jump. Come discuss (possibly argue with) them, as that's always fun.
5. Boise State
6. Oklahoma State
12. Texas A&M
13. Kansas State
14. Notre Dame
16. Arizona State
17. Virginia Tech
18. South Carolina
19. West Virginia
20. Georgia Tech
22. Michigan State
23. Southern Methodist
- The elite: Alabama Crimson Tide, LSU Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners, Wisconsin Badgers, Boise State Broncos, Oklahoma State Cowboys. I think the top three are fairly well set apart, but each team in there has looked elite. Alabama over LSU for
woowow SOS purposes.
- Elite minus: Clemson Tigers, Stanford Cardinal, Oregon Ducks. Seven through nine can really be argued in any order, but I think they're a small step below the top group. Clemson is the team this year that just keeps getting it done without always looking pretty, Stanford looks great but hasn't played anyone with a pulse, and Oregon has a (completely understandable) loss and a couple wins against solid teams. Anyone want the Ducks over the Cardinal? Over the Tigers?
- Well, where else do they go: Arkansas Razorbacks, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Texas A&M Aggies, and Kansas State Wildcats. Arkansas is by themselves, by virtue of beating A&M and destroying a gritty Auburn. Nebraska and A&M are interchangeable, but Nebraska only has one loss. Both have beaten solid teams. Kansas State has their own tier at 13, and you try finding someone to take their place. They just keep winning ballgames. None of these four have a loss outside the elite six, save games against each other.
- The semi-ordered mishmash: Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Washington Huskies, Arizona State Sun Devils, Virginia Tech Hokies, South Carolina Gamecocks, West Virginia Mountaineers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Houston Cougars, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, SMU Mustangs. Semi-ordered because some things (like Notre Dame well above Sparty) should be set in stone, but there's plenty of room for argument elsewhere, so I feel like I have to justify my ordering: The Irish are five weeks removed from a pair of losses that were both anomalous in some way, and they have destroyed a ranked team. Washington is a prettier South Carolina--I'm not totally convinced by them, but they have beaten some solid teams (one on the road, no less) and have only one loss. ASU is a prettier South Carolina who had to play Oregon and is addicted to personal foul penalties. VT's only loss is understandable, albeit ugly, but Wake is not entirely unimpressive. South Carolina is an uglier South Carolina. WVU's loss is understandable but they lack teams with pulses on their schedule, as do Houston. Those are always the tough teams that can be argued from #14 to #24. GT has looked solid against okay competition outside an upset road loss. Michigan State beat average to solid Michigan and Ohio State squads but got housed by Notre Dame. SMU creeps into the rankings after a road win over TCU (better than the home win that got Baylor so much credit) and the total destruction of a UCF team with a pulse. Their only loss is to a top 15 team on the road. Michigan upset Notre Dame and has some impressive numbers but got exposed against a good secondary.
- Somebody has to be #25: Auburn Tigers. Your other candidates are Georgia (only losses to top 25 teams, no great wins), Texas (only losses to top 6 teams, no great wins), Missouri (only losses to top 20 teams on the road, no great wins), Baylor (only losses to top 15 teams, no great wins), and Louisiana-Lafayette (only loss to top 6 team, no great wins). But ugly as they are, and as little as I credit a win over a depleted Florida team, Auburn's done the most. Their only losses are to top ten teams, they've beaten three teams who have been ranked at points of this season, and they have a road win over a currently ranked team. What else do you want from #25?
- Note on injuries: at least South Carolina and Oregon picked up key injuries this weekend, but until we know the extent and have seen some play without the injured player, it's unfair to spike them. I suspect, however, that Oregon will keep on rolling and the Gamecocks will not.
- Dropouts from last week's ballot: Illinois, Baylor, Texas, Wake Forest. Texas' losses are respectable, but what of their wins? Missouri beat Iowa State worse than the Horns did. Wake lost handily at home to a fine but not elite team. Baylor can't get by on TCU forever. I don't give Illinois the credit I gave Georgia Tech, as a close upset loss on the road against a feisty but overlooked opponent is more understandable than a decisive home loss to a traditional power who's fallen on hard times. Which is really a roundabout way of saying I expected GT to struggle (as is documented in the Locks and Keys post), but Illinois was a disappointment. If Ohio State starts rolling, we can reconsider.