Alabama remained a strong number one in the week nine BlogPoll (full results here), but Florida rode a huge special teams afternoon to the #2 spot, edging out an Oregon team who has been #2 since Southern California lost to Stanford. Alabama took home 55 of the 79 first place votes, with the remaining 24 spread out among #2 Florida (16), #3 Oregon (2), #4 Kansas State (4), #5 Notre Dame (1), and #9 Ohio State (1).
For the first time in a long time, the top five doesn't match exactly the Rocky Top Talk ballot, who kept Oregon #2 on the strength of them destroying everyone in their paths. And perhaps due to a little Florida skepticism, whose 44 points (mostly directly off South Carolina mistakes) overshadowed an offense that performed worse (by yards per play) than the worst game Florida fans can remember.
After that, the next disagreement comes at #6, where the BlogPoll has LSU flipped relative to our ballot with #7 Oregon State. Rounding out the top ten are Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Southern California.
The biggest movers this week were Texas Tech, who validated last week's win by following it up against TCU and moved from #18 to #13, South Carolina, who dropped ten spots to #17, and West Virginia, who dropped eight spots to #25.
While the Texas Tech/West Virginia anomaly has been solved, the BlogPoll has two cases where a two-loss team has beaten a one-loss team, and in both cases, they prefer fewer losses to a head-to-head victory. There is no rubric for this type of case. One team has a head-to-head advantage, one team has a record advantage. At that point, you go to the rest of the resume, or to the eye test, or something. But I'm still not seeing the great divide between #10 Southern California and #19 Stanford (who we ranked #10 and #9, respectively), and I'm really not seeing any reason to rank #15 Georgia ahead of #17 South Carolina. Some wins are easier to outweigh than others, and 35-7 is not easy to outweigh. Especially when Georgia's best win is at home to Tennessee.
As you might expect, Stanford is our biggest disagreement with the poll at large, with Clemson (our #20, #14 overall) coming next. Clemson, like Georgia, is hard to figure out, because they've beaten a bunch of awful teams and lost to one good team. The next major disagreement is South Carolina (our #12, #17 overall). South Carolina is a hard case, as they have a dominating win over a top 25 team and both losses came on the road to top ten teams. One loss was close, the other was a blowout, although a blowout in which the USC defense dominated. As I said, hard case. I slotted them ahead of Mississippi State, who hasn't beaten anyone good, but I can see an argument to have them lower. I'd argue pretty vehemently, however, that they should be ahead of Georgia.
We're also bearish on Mississippi State (our #16, #12 overall) and Georgia (our #19, #15 overall) and bullish on Texas A&M (our #17, #21 overall). A&M is the latest example of my polling philosophy that the #17 team shouldn't be punished for losing by one score to the #7 team.
Included in the final poll but not our ballot are #22 Michigan and #23 Boise State. Included in our ballot but not the final poll are #22 Arizona, #24 Toledo, and #25 Texas. Texas and Toledo got a lot of votes, but Arizona still gets no respect. All of their losses are to ranked teams, one of them is in overtime, and they've beaten two teams (Toledo, Oklahoma State) who are getting more votes than them. Essplain yourself, voters.
Our full ballot:
- Despite our love for Stanford, South Carolina, and Texas A&M and skepticism about Georgia, Clemson, and Mississippi State, none of those schools saw extreme votes from us. Stanford received one vote higher than our #9 (#6 from From Old Virginia), and we fell within the normal range for the others. South Carolina received votes as high as #9, Mississippi State as low as #20, and some folks didn't even rank Georgia.
- However, we did have one extreme vote: #22 for Arizona. The Wildcats only got three votes, and this was the highest. I laid out my case for the Wildcats above, and I'm standing by it. I'll continue standing by it if they lose a one-possession game to Southern California this weekend. If they get blown out, I'll back off. If they win, maybe someone will join me.
- This week's opponent for Tennessee is ranked #17, with votes as high as #9 and as low as unranked. On the Banks, One Foot Down, and Shakin' the Southland still think they're a legitimate top ten team.
- When's the last time you've seen an unranked team as a favorite over a top ten team? Unranked teams are favored over ranked teams all the time, but this one seems a little more extreme: #9 Ohio State is a 2.5 point underdog in Happy Valley this weekend. #12 Mississippi State and #5 Notre Dame aren't getting the respect their ranking indicates either. The Bulldogs are a 24-point underdog in Tuscaloosa and the Irish are 9.5 point underdogs in Norman.