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BLOG POLLIN': ROUNDTABLE NO. 3

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Courtesy the Sooner-centric My Opinion on Sports:

The Battle for #1 - USC and LSU are separated by one vote in the AP poll. We made the switch in last week's blogpoll by putting the Tigers in our top spot. State your case for who should be the top team in the country.

My BlogPoll ballot will feature LSU at the top, but this isn't really a relevant question right now. The Tigers have played the best football to date, or have the best body pf work, at least, for routing Virginia Tech and South Carolina to various extents and also cruising against a borderline Mississippi State outfit (which beat Auburn which beat Florida...), but that guarantees them nothing Saturday against Florida. I tentatively think LSU should be favored to beat the Gators, barely, but I'm very far from certain about it. So it wouldn't make much sense to call LSU the top team when I give it a roughly 51:49 chance of losing its next game, after which everyone will wonder, "OMG what went wrong? We thought those bastards were the best!"

I am willing to say LSU has accomplished the most so far, if that fits the spirit of the question. I'm not going to make any case  only a month into the season about it finishing that way, though, if that's the point. Southern Cal still has the best chance of winning out because of its schedule, but everyone is vulnerable and optimistic by the same turn. Threre are still 8-12 teams with a chance to work their way into the mythical championship game with the right breaks, and none of them would surprise me if they got there. So a lot of teams still have an opportunity to be the top team, and who am I to deny the One True Victor's destiny two days into October?


Give Les Miles another week, then we'll see about a "top team."
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Oklahoma, Florida, West Virginia, Texas and Rutgers were all upset this weekend. Of those teams, who has the best shot of getting back into the national title hunt?

West Virginia and Rutgers, as noted elsewhere are kaput. I like the Big East, but its reputation (especially post-Syracuse-over-Louisville) still will not allow a once-beaten conference champion to sneak into the corporate championship. Both non-conference schedules are too weak to even consider such an insurgency; the conference's best hope now is South Florida and its highly suspect offense.

The winner of Saturday's Oklahoma-Texas game will still have an outside opportunity to make a run at No. 2 (not to steal any thunder from "Friday Morning Quarterback," but I think we all assume that's going to be Oklahoma), but only if Florida suffers another loss. That might happen in Baton Rouge this weekend, or Tebow might rattle the geology department's seismographs his own self. I do know the Gators will be an instant favorite again in they do manage to beat LSU on the road, though, and coming from the almighty SEC, they control their destiny in a way a one-loss team from the ACC or Big 12 cannot. If it wins the rest of the way, thus ejecting LSU from its privileged seat, I think Florida is in. Otherwse, Oklahoma should be in position to win the rest of the way. All contingent on USC or LSU - and Boston College and South Florida and Ohio State and Wisconsin and Kentucky - actually losing.

Looking at the current AP Top 10, who is grossly overrated and who should be in there that isn't?

I don't know that Wisconsin is "grossly" overrated, as 5-0 is 5-0, but let's just agree that, at this point, it's a less impressive 5-0 than that of Purdue, Cincinnati or Arizona State, at least. The Badgers' best win was Saturday's squeaker over Michigan State, which barely beat lame duck Pittsburgh two weeks ago and ran up an absurd 564 yards in Camp-Randall. Arizona had a bigger win over Washington State; lowly UNLV led the Badgers late in the fourth quarter. As resilient as it's been, Wisconsin has coasted into the top five exclusively on preseason hype and automatic promotion past the poor saps from those polls that had the nerve to lose a game. In reality, I don't know that it's been all that much better than UConn.


Let's hang on to what we've got
Don't let go, coach, we've got a lot
Got a lot of votes between us
Hang on hang on hang on
To what we've got

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The reaction against Oregon's killer loss to a very highly regarded Cal team was a little severe, but again, mainstream polls are still working from the perception of mainstream polls, which looked at a 7-6 record last year and didn't bother to rank the Ducks at all. Most smart observers saw a clear challenger in the Pac Ten, though, and UO's demolition of Michigan grows in value by the week. As far as mid-major wins go, the Ducks' over Houston and Fresno State are solid dismantlings. Even after the loss to Cal - about as devastating a way to lose a game as any dungeon master could draw up - UO looks like a challenger to USC, and a ten-game winner in either case.

What is the worst coaching mistake you've seen this season?

I want very badly to diss Charlie Weis for the hamfisted way he juggled Notre Dame's quarterback situation and the instantly scrapped spread option package in the preseason, at the apparent expense of every element of the team and Demtrius Jones in particular, but there will never be an excuse for Michigan's loss to Appalachian State. Without reviewing anything in-depth, it's clear Lloyd Carr's staff did not take the game seriously and hadn't put much thought into defending the Mountaineers' spread running game. And when someone does bother to go in-depth, he finds ASU ran the same basic running play 21 times, to murderous effect against a defense continually slanting and twisting its way out of the path of runners for an entire half before adjusting and later still finding a way to lose, even after its offensive star had returned from his mysterious stint on the bench to save the day. Brian Cook in the despair of emo week UFR: "Ron English no longer seems fit to coach a Pop Warner team." And he can document that.

Runner-up: Mike Gundy. It was a cheap, crap article. But a professional can't act like that in public. And Tom O'Brien, just for bailing on Boston College for N.C. State. He might be rethinking that one.