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Blog Pollin': Week Thirteen Ballot

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This week’s poll is brought to you, dear reader, by Old Blue Eyes, who posthumously reminds us as the season lurches towards its close,

And now, the end is near; And so I face the final curtain. My friend, Ill say it clear, Ill state my case, of which I’m certain.

Regrets, Ive had a few; But then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course; Each careful step along the byway, But more, much more than this, I did it my way.
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What, no Hawaii? This ballot's got class, baby.
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Ballots this time of year tend to look suspiciously similar across the board, based on actual evidence and the like rather than speculation, but through it all, when there was doubt, at least I can say: I always ranked ‘em my way.
BlogPoll Ballot, Week 13
This is not a power poll.
1. LSU (10-1)
2. Ohio State (11-1)
3. Missouri (10-1)
4. West Virginia (9-1)
5. Oregon (8-2)
6. Kansas (11-0)
7. Georgia (9-2)
8. Arizona State (9-1)
9. Oklahoma (9-2)
10. Virginia Tech (9-2)
11. Illinois (9-3)
12. Boston College (9-2)
13. Virginia (9-2)
14. Texas (9-2)
15. Southern Cal (8-2)
16. Florida (8-3)
17. Tennessee (8-3)
18. Connecticut (9-2)
19. South Florida (8-3)
20. Wisconsin (9-3)
21. Clemson (8-3)
22. Cincinnati (8-3)
23. Auburn (7-4)
24. Penn State (8-4)
25. Florida State (7-4)
Waiting: Texas Tech, Hawaii, Boise State, Michigan, BYU, Kentucky, Wake Forest, Arkansas, Oregon State, Michigan State.
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LSU moves back to the front of the line by default, essentially, as the overall value of the Tigers’ resumé was hardly helped by beating Ole Miss and took significant hits with bad losses by Alabama, Mississippi State and Kentucky. The win over Florida still looks pretty good, but the separation from the next five teams on the ballot hinges almost entirely on the wipeout of Virginia Tech back in September – there’s a notion that the Hokies "weren’t the same team" then, but as the season goes on and Tech keeps winning (it’s an onside kick against Boston College from being undefeated since), the Tigers’ substantially-endowed beatdown that night looks more and more like the single most impressive performance of the season.

Below them, Kansas = leapt, by big winners Ohio State – any mythical championship discussion in this muddled season that doesn’t at least include the Buckeyes, who closed the year with their fifth win over a BCS team with at least seven wins (LSU has three), is a pretty transparent sham – and West Virginia, and bumped, as well, by sliding Oregon. The Jayhawks’ schedule to date remains unceasingly lame, buttressed by a pair of 6-5 teams (Oklahoma State and Texas A&M) keeping it from sliding into really embarrassing territory; even leaving aside the historically atrocious nonconference fare, KU’s seven Big 12 pelts their own selves are collectively 18 games below .500 in conference play alone. The whole thing dipped below USC’s schedule this week as the weakest in the country among BCS conference teams based on opponents’ winning percentage.

Given that, and the chance the ‘Hawks have for significant advancement against Missouri Saturday and in the Big 12 Championship beyond that, I kept them behind last week’s top team, Oregon – Nike U’s second loss brings the two resumés are neck-to-neck, in my estimation, but the Ducks have beaten good teams (Arizona State, USC, Michigan) that Kansas has not and has a schedule almost completely devoid of the Toledo-Florida International-FCS fluff that makes up the bottom of half of Kansas’ slate, so consider this a nod to what could have been if Dennis Dixon’s knee hadn’te re-exploded on him last Thursday. The order will not hold, obviously, if the Jayhwaks take care of Missouri, and that probably goes for West Virginia, as well. Ohio State? LSU? We’ll see where a 12-0 Kansas falls next week, but let it get there first. Missouri has a lot of the same problems with its schedule, with the saving grace of having beaten Illinois outside the conference, and the Tigers will clearly be aiming for number one Saturday, too.

Georgia over Arizona State: I parenthetically scoffed at the AP poll’s elevation of the Dawgs Sunday, but side-by-side, Georgia has three wins (Florida, Auburn, Kentucky, none of them very close) better than ASU’s best win to date, over Oregon State. In fact, the Devils have vanquished two currently bowl-eligible teams, OSU and fast-fading Cal, to UGA’s six, which is not nearly erased by the Bulldogs’ additional loss at the bottom. I disagree with the BCS computers that collectively rank Arizona State in a tie for third with Ohio State and Missouri, especially about ASU’s schedule, a relative favorite of the algorithms – the Devils need badly to beat USC Thursday and set themselves up for the Rose Bowl, or risk a pretty substantial freefall.

The week’s toughest decision fell again at the bottom of the poll, where recent losers Penn State and Michigan and meh Florida State and Texas Tech look like unworthy stragglers, but the best alternatives are Hawaii and Boise State. I eliminated Michigan based on, you know, the whole Appalachian State thing, and then looked at it like this:

Penn State Florida State Hawaii Boise State
Wisconsin Boston College
Purdue Alabama
Iowa Colorado
N.C. State
Maryland Fresno State Fresno State
Southern Miss
Notre Dame Nevada Nevada
N.M. State N.M. State
Buffalo UNLV
Temple Duke La. Tech (OT) La. Tech
UAB S.J. State (OT) S.J. State
Idaho Idaho
Fla. Int'l. Utah State Utah State
Chrlstn. South. Weber State
N. Colorado
Ohio State
Illinois Virginia Tech
Michigan Clemson
Mich. State Wake Forest

This is the question: should wins over hopeless bottom dwellers like New Mexico State, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech and Idaho have more value than losses to top 25 and fringe top 25 teams? I think they should not. I can’t bring myself to reward a schedule like the ones on the right, the two worst schedules in the country based on opponents' winning percentage. I’m almost pained to know I won’t have much of a choice but rank Friday’s Boise-Hawaii winner next week.

When, as always, everything will be completely different.