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BlogPoll Ballot, Week Nine

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Post-SC loss, no week could have been a better fit for the "range" voting system for which SMQ lobbied in the preseason in order to allow voters to distribute points rather than rank teams. The idea is that teams fall into groups and categories with fairly clear schisms, and teams within a certain group should be rewarded roughly equally.

This week, for example, spots 1 and 2 remain way, way above the pack, while 3-14 are a toss-em-up mess that could be justifiably ordered in pretty much any fashion; as a voter, SMQ doesn't think there is very much difference between the resume of the team he's ranked third and that of the one he's ranked eleventh. But there is a pretty significant drop-off this week beginning with the 15 slot. Ranking, therefore, sometimes forces a lot of distance between teams a voter believes are pretty equal, and shortens the distance between "gaps" from the margins of one group to the one below it.

Anyway, last week's effort is thrown out for a fresh look, as always. No methodology this week, just the "eyeball test" of each team's accumulated performance to date:

BlogPoll Ballot, Week Nine
This is not a power poll...
1. Ohio State
2. Michigan
3. Auburn
4. Florida
5. Tennessee
6. California
7. Southern Cal
8. Notre Dame
9. Texas
10. West Virginia
11. Louisville
12. Rutgers
13. Boston College
14. Arkansas
15. Boise State
16. Wisconsin
17. Texas A&M
18. Clemson
19. Georgia Tech
20. Virginia Tech
21. Wake Forest
22. LSU
23. Washington State
24. Oregon
25. Oklahoma

Waiting: BYU, Tulsa, Missouri, Iowa

This is getting kinda hard. As mentioned, SMQ has a difficult time justifying Auburn at three. But not as difficult as he would ranking the Tigers below Florida, or the Gators below Tennessee or the Vols below California, for absurd victory chain linker reasons. Every team 3-9 has two to three quality wins, some crazy blowouts of random rabble, a worrisome and unncessary close call or two and a devastating loss. Of those losses, the defeats of Florida and Tennessee have been the least devastating; Auburn gets a nudge by the increasing value of its opening smashup of Washington State, but beyond that, it's back to the crudity of victory chain linking. And we are quite a way from clarity in that league.

One team SMQ will not raise into that mix yet is Arkansas, which is elevated by its Auburn win but is otherwise akin to Tulsa - the increasingly bad SC debacle and close calls against Vanderbilt and Alabama (especially 'Bama, which had to pull out every conservative, fundamental-butchering stop known to Shula to manage to lose to the Hogs) prevent a higher rise. But again, every selection has its warts, and few (probably none) have a better sparkly star than a beatdown at Auburn.

Boise State: catapulted by the increased value of crushing Oregon State and the softening stigma of only beating Hawaii by a touchdown at home.

Clemson, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech present an even greater problem than the SEC teams in the top ten because of the "A beat B beat C beat A" thing. And none of those games were even close. Given their three games against each other are a wash, Clemson and Georgia Tech are going to get the nod here because they have solid wins (Wake Forest and Miami, respectively) Virginia Tech doesn't, and "better" losses (close to Boston College and Notre Dame) than the Hokies (who were embarassed by B.C.). All of which, along with beating BYU and Florida State, makes B.C. look better by the week - good enough, at least, to take a huge leap over at least the West Virginia-Louisville loser this week. The winner of that game, coincidentally, probably gets a boost all the way to three, depending on the fashion in which it wins.

LSU needs to beat a live body for a change to stay in this thing, and Tennessee is the chance. The Vols, if impressive enough, can make a real case for the third spot.