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Blog Pollin': Final 2007/08 Ballot

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Final BlogPoll Ballot
This is not a power poll.
1. LSU (12-2)
2. Georgia (11-2)
3. Missouri (12-2)
4. Southern Cal (11-2)
5. West Virginia (11-2)
6. Kansas (12-1)
7. Oklahoma (11-3)
8. Ohio State (11-2)
9. Florida (9-4)
10. Tennessee (10-4)
11. Oregon (9-4)
12. Boston College (11-3)
13. Arizona State (10-3)
14. Virginia Tech (11-3)
15. BYU (11-2)
16. Auburn (9-4)
17. Texas (10-3)
18. South Florida (9-4)
19. Michigan (9-4)
20. Oregon State (9-4)
21. Cincinnati (10-3)
22. Clemson (9-4)
23. Kentucky (8-5)
24. Illinois (9-4)
25. Wake Forest (9-4)
Waiting: Hawaii, Penn St., Virginia, Arkansas, Miss. State, Wisconsin, Utah, UConn, Florida St., Texas Tech.

Got to make this one count. Remember, as always: this ballot operates on a strict resumé approach based on the value and demerits of games won and lost; no "what would happen on a neutral field?" or "who do I think is better?" handwringing here – the results are the results and speak for themselves. Just add 'em up.

All season, I’ve taken each team game by game, weighing the value of wins and losses on the scales of my own good judgment, and I use the side-by-side resumé comparison here with one difference: instead of determining how ‘valuable’ or injurous any individual win or loss should be via my own calibration, I let the machines weigh the evidence, taking the average of five of the six BCS computers (all except Richard Billingsley’s, because Richard Billingsley’s poll is a joke), letting that average stand as the value of winning or losing against any given team and plugging that number into the schedules of the teams I deemed worthy of consideration.

First result: all of these polls except Anderson&Hester rank I-AA teams alongside the Bowl Subdivision, meaning I was able to include more accurate I-AA results instead of lumping every I-AA team into one big bag of scorn (because Appalachian State actually came out in the mid-forties overall, this really helped soften the blow against Michigan for losing to the Mountaineers). It also meant there were more than 120 teams in each poll, so I added an admittedly arbitrary restriction: if a team happened to be among the small handful of I-A teams that did not finish in the top 120, said team was ignored. Ergo, results against bottomdwellers Kent State, Northern Illinois, Temple, Florida International, North Texas, UL-Lafayette, Idaho (the Vandals were ranked as low as No. 271 by Peter Wolfe), New Mexico State, Utah State, Rice, SMU and UAB were deemed worthless victories and weren’t counted. At most , this cost Oklahoma (wins against North Texas and Utah State) a shot at challenging Kansas for number six. But no worthy-looking team I considered lost or was even to any such hapless outfits as that (Appalachian State and Stanford very easily cleared the bar), and there is no value in beating a team that can’t wiggle its way into the top 120, anyway.

Under any method, though, the crown would fall to LSU, which accumulated generous heaps of point for playing ten bowl eligible teams, eight with at least eight wins, and beating five teams (Ohio State, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Auburn) ultimately ranked in my top sixteen, completely obliterating one of them (Tech, a 48-7 victim in September) and mostly de-pantsing another (OSU) in the winner-take-all game of the year.

Compared to the five teams immediately below LSU, all with some reasonable incentive to bitch about their exclusion (again, teams are roughly ordered by their computer average, with the exception of Virginia Tech under LSU's column because of the extent of the devastation of that game):

LSU Missouri WVU Georgia Oklahoma Kansas
Va. Tech Kansas Missouri
Ohio State Oklahoma Florida Missouri Va. Tech
Florida Auburn Texas
Tennessee Cincinnati Hawaii
Auburn Illinois Kentucky
Tx. Tech Miss. State
Miss. State Arkansas UConn Okla. State Okla. State Okla. State
Alabama Texas A&M Alabama Texas A&M Texas A&M
So. Carolina Rutgers
Louisville Troy
Colorado Maryland Ga. Tech Tulsa Colorado
Nebraska E. Carolina Vandy Nebraska
Kansas St. Kansas St.
Ole Miss Ole Miss Ole Miss Miami C. Michigan
Iowa State Iowa State Iowa State
MTSU West. Mich. West. Mich. Toledo
La. Tech Syracuse Baylor Baylor
Oklahoma Missouri
Oklahoma So. Florida Tennessee W. Virginia
So. Carolina Tx. Tech

LSU played the schedule. No contender that wound up with the same number of losses can also match the Tigers’ big wins, just a pair of triple overtimes away, of course, from perfection. When nobdoy does it, pick the team that came the closest.

Kansas, you can see, just didn’t have enough big wins to overtake with any of the two-loss teams immediately in front of it – without the win over Virginia Tech, the Jayhwaks’ slate was weak enough to land KU outside of the top ten altogether, and it’s not enough to get them into the top five against teams that each had at least three victories better than KU’s second-best win. If the program is able to establish itself as a consistent winner, it has to get more game on the top half of that graph.

Tennessee came out slightly ahead of Florida, but I stick by the old eyeball rule: when two teams that have played are sitting next to one another a poll, and they have the same or nearly the same record, the head-to-head winner always takes precedence.

Midseason favorites Oregon and Boston College finish in the top dozen after bowl wins despite each teetering dangerously near the brink of collapse in November. The Ducks’ Sun Bowl beatdown of South Florida salvaged two disappointing months of post-Dixon cruelty; B.C. got a good game from Michigan State, but the Eagles deserved a better bowl game and have a reasonable argument for inclusion in the top ten, almost certainly (I cannot confirm) a school first.

South Florida ahead of Cincinnati, a team in the same conference which beat the Bulls head-to-head: hypocritical or what? Only partly – Cincy did beat USF, UConn and Rutgers in-conference, but the Bulls ride in on still-gleaming wins over West Virginia and Auburn and no loss, even after being humiliated in El Paso, matching the depths of the Bearcats’ lapse against Pittsburgh.That is, while it has fewer wins, USF has better wins, and while it has more losses, it has "better" losses.

Kentucky is somewhat of an odd leap at the bottom, especially over a team that made the Rose Bowl (regardless of what happened when it got there) because the Wildcats finished a meager 3-5 in the SEC. But UK beat LSU, which counts for a double bonus score or something, and also took care of Arkansas and decimated Florida State, good enough to push it past Wake Forest and Penn State, whose best wins were Wisconsin and UConn, respectably. Three of the Wildcats’ five losses: Georgia, Florida, Tennessee.

That’s it for 2007 – book it! Only eight and a half months to put together a better plan for next year.