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Seven teams receive first-place votes and the Vols have a top 20 opponent ready to go for Saturday night. This and more in the week seven BlogPoll
Mississippi State jumped into the top 20 at #19, and everyone in the top seven garnered at least one first-place vote in the Week Seven BlogPoll. #1 Alabama still lead the way with 64, but more than a quarter of the #1 votes were spread out over #2 Oregon (4), #3 South Carolina (7), #4 West Virginia (1), #5 Florida (9), #6 Kansas State (1), and #7 Notre Dame (1). Florida, of course, is a resume-voter favorite, as they have two wins over ranked teams (one in the top ten) and one over a team receiving votes.
After the top seven, which is identical in the final BlogPoll and the Rocky Top Talk ballot, things get a little more interesting. Ohio State pulls in at #8, and LSU, despite an acute lack of offense, drops only to #9, followed by Oregon State, Florida State, Southern California, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas. The top 20 is rounded out by the usual suspects in Clemson, Stanford, Louisville, Mississippi State, and Rutgers, and #21 Cincinnati, #22 Louisiana Tech, #24 Texas A&M, and #25 Iowa State all break in to join #23 Ohio in the back end of the poll.
There were five discrepancies of five places or more between the Rocky Top Talk ballot and the overall poll. We dropped LSU to #14--mostly out of respect for Chris and Kidbourbon's rules about teams who can't score--while they stayed at #9 overall. We have Southern Cal at #17, mostly because 8 through 17 were a mess and could've done in any order, but they came in #12 in the overall poll. But we do have Stanford #10, and they linger at #17 in the overall poll, five spots behind the team they beat head-to-head. And we have Texas A&M #16, eight spots ahead of their overall #24. If Florida is really good, Texas A&M probably is too.
Finally, we have Mississippi State at #25, and inertia has carried them to #19 overall. For anyone who read through the preliminary thread, you know the reason for this: their best wins are over Kentucky and Auburn. I don't care if they haven't lost--they haven't played anyone who could beat them. But if the criteria for being ranked is ability to beat Kentucky and Auburn, Arkansas will be joining them in next week's poll. Of course, the Western Division Bulldogs have a chance to prove themselves against a team with a pulse this weekend--Mississippi State are three-point favorites at home to Tennessee.
Rocky Top Talk ranked three teams--Michigan, Baylor, and Western Kentucky--who did not appear in the overall poll, while we failed to rank Cincinnati (who was one of the last teams we dropped) and Iowa State. Here is where I'll put a demand for explanation on why Iowa State is worthy of a ranking. They lost to Texas Tech--at home, by double digits--two weeks ago. They have the same number of losses as Texas Tech. Texas Tech's only other loss is to the #15 team. Now I'm not advocating for a ranking of Texas Tech, but how is it that the Cyclones pull in ahead of them? Head-to-head isn't the be all and end all, but I can't think of a single metric that puts Iowa State ahead right now.
Our full ballot:
- Rocky Top Talk stayed away from extreme votes this week. At least five voters were higher on Texas A&M and Stanford, at least five were lower on LSU, Southern Cal, and Mississippi State. We might've been out of step with the poll at large in some places, but we didn't do anything crazy, like not rank Virginia Tech. And no, I'm not tired of bringing that up.
- This week's opponent, Mississippi State, while finishing #19, received votes as high as #8 from Hammer and Rails, and finished with eight top ten votes. Hammer and Rails has all 14 bowl-eligible undefeated teams in his top 14 (there are two others who are undefeated: Ohio State and UTSA), and all of Mississippi State's top ten votes came from blogs who refuse to put a one-loss team in the top ten.
- Tennessee, on the other hand, for the first time this season, received no votes. Only one way to fix that.
- Other interesting matchups this week include #3 South Carolina at #9 LSU, #17 Stanford at #7 Notre Dame, and #15 Texas vs #14 Oklahoma. In a fascinating play-in for the back end of the poll, #24 Texas A&M travels to Shreveport to take on #22 Louisiana Tech. Good thing none of you have anything else to be watching at 9 PM EDT this Saturday.