SMQ asked for some advice Tuesday, and put some of it to use in this week's ballot, which is a delicate dance, an intricate weaving of undefeated, one-loss, two-loss, unbeaten, unproven, powerhouse and underdog, a fragile collaboration that falls to the floor in a futile fracas. A for effort, though.
Very Official BlogPoll Ballot, Week Twelve
This is not a power poll
2. Ohio State
3. Southern Cal
7. Notre Dame
11. West Virginia
16. Boise State
17. Georgia Tech
18. Wake Forest
19. Boston College
21. Virginia Tech
Waiting; Hawaii, TCU, Texas A&M, Oregon, Missouri, Penn State, Kansas State
? Texas loses, Wisconsin keeps winning, etc., ergo Michigan takes the short step up to one. Into that, read nothing.
? Spirited debate on the relative merits of Arkansas and Notre Dame following Tuesday's request for guidance, but no changes in the order there or anywhere above. Many commenters wanted to trash the Razorbacks for playing Southwest Missouri State and Utah State, and of course turned their barbs to SEC scheduling in general (the tempation, it is too great), but SMQ was more swayed by a valiant defender of the Southland, Raymond, who saw two teams with big early losses to teams currently in everyone's top 3-4, but more positive evidence in the Razorbacks' big wins over Auburn and Tennessee than in Notre Dame's close win over Georgia Tech (he failed to account for ND's walloping of Penn State, which is still an asset to the Irish, but the general point remains). SMQ would say the games against limping bottom dwellers are irrelevant unless close; more damning to the Hogs are the close shaves with Vanderbilt and Alabama. But Arkansas' wins over various Hobo States have been appropriately huge, and the Razorbacks have proven themselves now multiple times against top competition - and if you don't believe Auburn and Tennessee are top competition, SMQ would suggest the Razorbacks are primarily responsible for that odd opinion. So they are one ahead of Notre Dame, and likely to hop Rutgers and - because they, like, play - Florida with continued victory.
? Back to revamped Wisconsin-related thinking: SMQ elevated the Badgers into the top ten this morning after keeping them one spot out Tuesday, both of which represent a big jump from 17 last week. It's a tough call, because there's a conspicuous lack of really quality wins (Penn State, currently 7-4 with no big victories its own self, is the most valuable pelt), but it's also tough to hold back rewards to a team that has consistently taken care of its business, sometimes by wide margins, when its only loss is against the team SMQ judges to have the best resume in the nation at this point. This bump could be a mistake, could be reconsidered - where the schedule is concerned, are the Badgers that much different than West Virginia? Than Boise State? - but for the time being, pointed similarities to Notre Dame, whose merits SMQ respects as top ten-worthy, move Wiscon on up. That thinking could change in a week. In a lot less than a week, actually.
As long as they're happy, that's all that really matters.
? One commenter argued there was no reason to have LSU ahead of Auburn, because AU won head-to-head as part of Football Nirvana in September, and SMQ did drop LSU a slot to accomodate the oft-scorned Badgers. Consider dropping the bottom from the Alabama-based Tigers SMQ's act of contrition for ranking them third last week; Auburn didn't look right there, but it fits just fine at 15 following its second complete blowout loss of the season in its own stadium. Say what you will about LSU's schedule, but, like Arkansas, it has handily trashed the rabble. The Tigers' two losses were close, tough games on the road to quality opponents, and no one has come anywhere near upsetting them. Auburn, on the other hand, has been twice beaten soundly at home and was lackluster in near-upsets against South Carolina and Ole Miss; its punishment is appropriate. If the thin ice maestros at Florida manage to lose again, their fate will be the same.
? Texas will stay in front of Oklahoma after some consideration, but narrowly, and only as a result of head-to-head considerations. Neither teams has a really big win under its belt, but - unlike Cal and Auburn behind them - no awful defeats, either (Kansas State is bad, but, so long as it was close, not awful. The Wildcats are now 7-4.). Even if it's only half a loss, the Oregon situation costs the Sooners more and more with every lopsided Duck defeat.
? Weird how people interpret events very differently: SMQ looked at Boise State's last second, skin-of-the-teeth win over San Jose State as validation of the 6-3 Spartans' surprising competence in the WAC against the league's obviously dominant bellweather. Everyone else wonders, "How can you raise Boise State after it almost lost to San Jose?" It's like a Rorschact test for gridiron optimism: is Boise State fundamentally good, or is San Jose State fundamentally bad? Your answer to that question is revealing, though SMQ knows not of what. The Broncos are back down to 16 after initially coming in at 12 Tuesday; consider it a compromise. They're still on their way to the Fiesta Bowl unless disaster strikes at Nevada in two weeks.
What do you see? Looks like victory to SMQ.
? ACC Row remains more or less stagnant, though Tennessee falls in its midst as Oregon drops off, replaced by Nebraska. SMQ isn't jumping on the Wake Forest bandwagon because Florida State has come to be defined on the field by bad, bad things; Boston College remains at least as impressive a win for the Deacons. There's still the one-point game with Duke, too. It's tempting to say Wake would be Rutgers if it got a play or two back against Clemson, but who is supposed to be its Louisville? The top ten likely opens up only by winning out and taking the conference championship, and closes again if the BCS game makes the Deacs - or whoever else trips into it - look like frauds.