This week's BlogPoll, one of SMQ's few concessions to the macabre.
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|2.||Arizona State (8-0)|
|4.||Boston College (8-0)|
|5.||Ohio State (9-0)|
|9.||West Virginia (7-1)|
|13.||South Florida (6-2)|
|20.||South Carolina (6-3)|
|21.||Virginia Tech (6-2)|
|23.||Wake Forest (6-2)|
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Really and truly, this is the horror of horrors. Mainly, there are not enough teams worthy of filling this ballot, so if you look at it and say "Cal at 15!! ¡Que lastima!" know that I completely agree. But there are 25 spots to fill and only about twelve teams worthy of them at the moment, so we hold our noses and do what we must.
Also, at second glance, I can’t justify Boston College jumping Ohio State. This is a numbers thing – I assigned arbitrary numbers to reflect the ‘value’ of each team’s wins, in admittedly haphazard fashion in this case, and B.C.’s came out higher – but frankly it doesn’t pass the smell test. I had Ohio State ahead of the Eagles last week, and while I’m not ready to say Penn State is better than Virginia Tech, it is pretty obvious that OSU had the more impressive win last week. So mentally, if not officially, I’m going to posthumously and unilaterally move the Buckeyes to fourth. And if that indecision/schizophrenia makes you queasy about taking the whole thing seriously, well, you’ve probably never tried to put one of these together.
Onwards: LSU’s lead in the top spot has been large enough the last two weeks, even with one loss, that losses by almost all of teams representing the Tigers’ "quality wins" and undeniably good wins by five of the six teams immediately below them only narrowed the gap. Before we get to the chart, I should stress that LSU’s future as a frontrunner is not bright here: Alabama might be a good enough win, if the Tigers can get it, to keep them ahead of the Arizona State-Oregon winner next week, but once Louisiana Tech and Ole Miss get thrown into that equation, it’s likely LSU is on its way out as the competition’s schedules start catching up. The Pac Ten continues and will continue to reap the benefit of the ninth conference game, especially since all the teams at the bottom of the league (Stanford, Washington, Washington State) have very good-to-decent wins (USC, Boise State, UCLA) that separate them somewhat from the completely merit-less chaffe at the bottom of other conferences (Baylor, Iowa State, Minnesota, Duke...Notre Dame). The ninth game’s main benefit in this kind of comparison will always be that it prevents Pac Ten teams from playing that extra shitty game that only serves as a liability for virtually every other team in every other major conference, who overwhelmingly used the twelfth regular season game to schedule another I-AA or I-AA-level patsy. This is the sole reason for Arizona State and Oregon over B.C. and OSU at 2-3, and the reason either (especially ASU) has a good chance of taking over number one next week.
Anyway, this is how I take the top five:
|LSU||Ariz. State||Oregon||Boston Coll.||Ohio State|
|Auburn||California||Southern Cal||Virginia Tech||Penn State|
|S. Carolina||Colorado||Wake Forest||Purdue|
|Miss. State||Fresno State||Georgia Tech||Mich. State|
|Wash. State||Wash. State||NC State|
|MTSU||S.D. State||Notre Dame||Kent State|
Remember of course that this is a rough guide – Oregon's string of mediocre wins should be condensed (there is not that much difference at all between whipping Fresno State and whipping Houston), as is LSU's better-looking set at the top. But it gets to the point: LSU still has the best set of high end wins in the country, still enough, even, to offset the close loss to Kentucky as long as the nearest competition has still dealt mostly with the lower and middle tiers. It's getting closer by the week, though, and doesn't look sustainable any more as those wins lose luster.
After Big 12 Row at 7-9, I would say anything outside the top ten here is no man’s land. Auburn, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina all feel especially dirty in the top 20 with three losses apiece, but sizing them up against Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Clemson, for example, or against Wisconsin and Penn State, or USC, Oregon State and UCLA, the SEC teams have better wins and "better" losses, in my opinion – that is, all of them have multiple wins over winning teams and none have lost to a losing team, which is not the case for most of the competition. Because of the massive attrition all around it, California actually goes up from last week, to fifteenth, because its loss at Arizona State was the "least bad" loss of the lot, and the Bears are still living off the increasingly impressive win at Oregon. That keeps them ahead of Michigan, barely, because Michigan lost to Appalachian State.
But the Bears are out of this week’s overall poll, and again, I can’t really disagree.
The ACC looks like filler, and so it is: the conference has more teams than any other in this ballot except the SEC, but four of the five are holding down every other spot from 19 on out. I’m not enthusiastic about this, but then, it is the ACC.
Everything will be completely different next week.