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Blog Pollin': Final Regular Season Ballot

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The penultimate poll of the season – we know about as much as we’re going to know.

BlogPoll Ballot, Final
This is not a power poll.
1. LSU (11-2)
2. Ohio State (11-1)
3. Oklahoma (11-2)
4. Missouri (11-2)
5. Georgia (10-2)
6. Kansas (11-1)
7. Virginia Tech (11-2)
8. West Virginia (10-2)
9. Southern Cal (10-2)
10. Boston College (10-3)
11. Arizona State (10-2)
12. Florida (9-3)
13. Illinois (9-3)
14. South Florida (9-3)
15. Hawaii (12-0)
16. Tennessee (9-4)
17. Clemson (9-3)
18. Oregon (8-4)
19. Wisconsin (9-3)
20. Cincinnati (9-3)
21. Virginia (9-3)
22. Texas (9-3)
23. Auburn (8-4)
24. BYU (10-2)
25. Connecticut (9-3)
Waiting: Michigan, Penn State, Florida State, Boise State, Wake Forest, Central Florida, Arkansas, Michigan State, Oregon State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M.
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Ohio State in front of LSU is a philosophical choice: OSU has fewer demerits because it only lost to Illinois, a relatively respectable defeat, and certainly less damaging that LSU’s pair of losses to unranked Kentucky and Arkansas, close as they may have been. But the Tigers’ schedule has been the strongest at the top all season, start to finish, since it added the single best performance of the year against Virginia Tech in September – the Hokies’ only loss since is the last-second heartbreak to Boston College – and then put Florida, Auburn and Tennessee on top for good measure. All four of those wins equal or rival Ohio State’s most valuable victory, against Wisconsin, and SMQ always rewards accomplishment above simple lack of failure. This is completely semantic.

If I was the Associated Press, and this were pre-1968, LSU would be mythical champion. But I’m not, and it’s not. So calm down, coach.
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I’ll also immediately contradict myself to keep Missouri in front of Georgia, based on no on the Tigers’ collection of wins (which are about equal to UGA’s, in my estimation), but on the non-severity of Mizzou’s pair of losses to Oklahoma, vastly less damaging to the resumé that Georgia’s slips against South Carolina and Tennessee. Oklahoma is only able to overcome its tepid failures at Colorado and Texas Tech by virtue of, you know, beating Missouri twice when no other team on the Tigers’ schedule could pull it off once.

I’m pained by bumping Hawaii all the way to 15th, up seven slots from last week after mediocre, last-second win over oft-whipped Pac Ten lump Washington, but atrocious as the Warriors’ schedule was and is and will still be even following the Sugar Bowl, it’s a motley series of would-have-beens behind them. Tennessee and Oregon each lost Saturday for the fourth time apiece, the third L in a row for the post-Dixon Ducks, and Virginia’s habit of tripping ahead of its opponent at the finish line is well documented. Clemson, Wisconsin, Cincinnati and Auburn each have one pretty good win (Florida State, Michigan, South Florida) but also one inexcusable loss (Georgia Tech, Penn State by a mile, Louisville, and Mississippi State), and little else to fully cancel out the multiple losses to more competent teams. Texas, in addition to losing to Kansas State and Texas A&M, did not beat any team better than Texas Tech. Hawaii is still completely dubious but finally a modest benefactor of its consistency (it also helps that Fresno State hammered KSU for its eighth win, adding another quasi-quality team to Boise State and, uh, Washington).

Bad news for the Big Ten, which, with Michigan and Penn State looking on from the "Waiting..." section, only landed four three teams in the poll itself, half as many as the Big East or ACC, for crying out loud. This is probably largely due to the conference’s dreadful mark outside of the conference, which may not be totally fair but is what it is. Which is bad: with Notre Dame creating an unexpectedly worthless void on the slates of Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State and Purdue, the conference’s best non-conference win was probably MSU over Pittsburgh, or Wisconsin’s opening day win over Washington State. Illinois and Michigan were the only teams with the chance to deliver anything meatier than that, and both came up short against Illinois and Oregon, respectively. No team other team in the Big Ten even played another BCS conference team wth a winning record. I don’t hold this against the entire league, just, you know, every individual team in it. You reap what you sow, and the Big Ten reaped a little too much MAC – still, do not even think about trying to conflate a weak set of three-four games per team with the weak set of opponents Hawaii saw every week all season long. All of the Big Ten teams appearing in the poll and in the "Waiting..." section have quality wins over one another, and I won’t turn back on that.

As always, everything will be different next time, which is like, a month. Stay tuned.