Prognostocenti par excellence Phil Steele rolled out a feature in his national magazine this year called "Snapshot," chronicling how quickly fortunes and opinions change concerning the same set of players. On the first weekend of November - I mean, damn, people, two-thirds of the way through the regular season - it's appropriate to step back and look at what we thought we thought at the start of our latest, greatest October Revolution, and more evidence that we really don't have a clue. Doodly doo doodly doo doodly doo...
October 1st: A full third of the top twelve teams in the AP poll played in the SEC East: Kentucky (#8), Florida (#9), South Carolina (#11) and Georgia (#12). Those teams were 17-3 between them, one of the losses coming to another member of the group (Georgia's field goal defeat against South Carolina) and another to the number one team in the country (Carolina at LSU). Almost 19 percent of the poll's points were concentrated in one division.
November 1st: The East has one team left in the top 15, Georgia - a case of the dreaded "Double Snapshot" after the Bulldogs' ugly, left-for-dead sort of loss at Tennessee on Oct. 6 - and is led via tiebreaker by the three-loss Vols, who didn't receive a single point in the Oct. 1 poll. South Carolina has lost two in a row and Florida and Kentucky have each lost three out of four - those three teams were a combined 4-7 in the month of October, four of the losses coming as a favorite.
It's bad now, sure, but just wait another month.
- - -
October 1st: The Pac Ten held two spots in the top five: USC at number two and California at number three. The Trojans were bringing in half of the number one votes in the AP poll (32, to LSU's 33) and Cal faced three unranked teams in four weeks between its affirming win at Oregon and the Pac Ten Armageddon game with SC on Nov. 10. Jim Harbaugh just notched his first win as head coach at Stanford, over San Jose State, and was kind of a laughingstock.
November 1st: The Pac Ten still holds two spots in the top five: Arizona State and the once-vanquished Ducks, who get the Pac Ten Armageddon game instead Saturday in Autzen. The second and third-ranked teams on Oct. 1 went 2-5 the rest of the month with three losses to unranked teams, two of them at home.
October 1st: Nebraska was 4-1 and ranked 25th by the AP after the Huskers beat Iowa State for their first conference win. Entering its jockeying match with Missouri for the role of North frontrunner, tackle Carl Nicks bristled at the suggestion the defending champs weren't still the cream of the division, and Bill Callahan talked to reporters about what the Huskers still "want to be":
- - -
Most people pointed to the Missouri- Nebraska game this coming week as the big one for the Big 12 North with the winner taking the North title. I didn't believe that then and still don't. The Nebraska - Kansas State game will say more about who wins the North because Missouri will collapse towards the end of the season. It's in their blood.
- - -
When it rains, coach, you know it pours.
- - -
Missouri was 4-0 and 17th in the AP poll. Kansas, 4-0 against the lowest of the low non-conference schedules, had 3 points in the "Also Receiving Votes" section of the AP poll.
November 1st: Through "the most important part of [the] season," Callahan's team allowed 540 yards and 38 points per game in four straight losses, during which opposing backs averaged 6.1 per carry and the "Blackshirts" logged three sacks and one interception and were gashed for 300 yards rushing three weeks in a row, most recently on the strength of a 200-yard, three-touchdown quarter by Jamaal Charles. Callahan, whose win total jumped from five to seven to nine in his first three years, is en route to guiding both of Nebraska's only two losing seasons in 40 years and all but actually doused in flames to symbolize his eminent demise as boss. Kansas and Missouri are a combined 15-1 and ranked eighth and ninth, respectively, in both the AP and BCS polls. The Jayhawks are a 20-point favorite to win in Lawrence Saturday.
October 1st: Perennial bottom-dwellers Buffalo and Temple were a combined 1-9, the only win between them coming when Buffalo "upset" the Owls in the second week of the season. The Bulls' latest exercise in futility was a 35-point loss to Ball State, Temple's a 16-point defeat at the hands of Army, the Academy's first I-A win of the season.
November 1st: Perennial bottom-dwellers Buffalo and Temple are enjoying the sweet taste of success, in first and third place in the MAC East, respectively, after combining to go 6-0 in-conference for the month of October. Temple enters tonight's game with Ohio U. of Ohio on its first three-game winning streak since 1990 and first three-game conference winning streak since the Johnson Administration; Buffalo boss Turner Gill, with a chance to clinch the division Saturday against Miami, Ohio, will soon be Nebraska boss Turner Gill.
I'm going to make my weekly picks this afternoon, and they will be impeccably justified, researched and polished to shine as always in the face of conventional wisdom and naysaying nuttery alike. As always, I will look like a fool.