So, last week we looked at the résumés of the remaining undefeated teams in Division I-A. Today, we'll look at the résumés of those waiting in line behind Alabama and Texas Tech: the one-loss teams. (Ignoring, of course, Penn State, who was undefeated last week but couldn't make it out of Ames Iowa City, Iowa unscathed.)
Personally, I feel that many of these one-loss teams are better than their undefeated counterparts. Of course, saying that USC is better than Ball State is hardly a controversial position, but even amongst major-conference teams, perfection does not necessarily mean superiority. Alabama and Florida will meet in the SEC title game; who would you pick to win? Should 'Bama be ranked ahead of Florida simply because the Tide have yet to lose? And in the Big XII, Texas Tech beat Texas who beat Oklahoma, so Tech will beat Oklahoma, right? Frankly, if Texas and Tech met again on a neutral field, I'd probably bet on Texas.
Of course, we've had this discussion before about whether we should rank based on 'who would win on a neutral field?' or by what teams have actually accomplished on the fields they have played on. Still, I think these are some interesting questions worth raising. Anyway, here are your one-loss contenders:
Best win: 59-0 vs. UCLA (3-6)
Loss: 7-32 @ TCU (9-2)
Close calls: 28-27 @ Washington (0-9), 42-35 vs. UNLV (4-6), 45-42 @ Colorado State (4-6)
Until I sat down to write this post, I had no idea BYU's résumé was so mediocre. Their "best" win? A 59-0 whitewashing of a thoroughly mediocre UCLA team. Their only win over a team with a winning record is over I-AA Northern Iowa. They lost badly at TCU, and haven't yet played the other two Mountain West teams with winning records, Air Force and Utah. Additionally, close calls against UNLV and Colorado State are hardly inspiring, and a controversial one-point victory over woeful, winless Washington is about as worrisome as wins get. Frankly, the Negative Nancy in me wonders whether the Cougars should be ranked at all.
Best wins: 49-10 @ Georgia (8-2), 51-21 vs. LSU (6-3)
Loss: 30-31 vs. Mississippi (5-4)
Close calls: None
Florida, on the other hand, has been cruising along and crushing the SEC competition. Neither LSU nor Georgia provided much resistance, and nobody else has come close to beating them either. Except Mississippi. A home loss to 5-4 Ole Miss is really rather puzzling, a result that suggests that either Mississippi is better than any of us realize, or the result is some sort of freakish outlier that can be pretty safely ignored. Perhaps Florida State can provide a better barometer going into the SEC title game.
Best wins: 52-26 vs. Cincinnati (7-2), 35-10 vs. TCU (9-2)
Loss: 35-45 vs. Texas (9-1)
Close calls: None
Oklahoma's best performance to date is actually its close loss to Texas in the Red River Shootout. None of their wins are quite as impressive, although beatdowns of Cincinnati, TCU, Kansas and Nebraska all featured impressively high scores and margins of victory. Fact remains, though, that the Sooners have just one win over a currently-ranked team (TCU), and the Horned Frogs are just barely ranked after losing at Utah last Thursday. [Edit: Apparently, Cincinnati is currently ranked as well. Thanks to Rishi for pointing this out.] Texas Tech at Oklahoma should be fun though, eh?
Best wins: 45-35 vs. Oklahoma (9-1), 56-31 vs. Missouri (8-2)
Loss: 33-39 @ Texas Tech (10-0)
Close calls: 28-24 vs. Oklahoma State (8-2)
Texas may have the most impressive résumé in the country, despite the loss. Wins over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Missouri all resonate well, and their only loss was a close, last-second affair on the road against a still-undefeated team. You would have liked to see a tougher non-conference schedule, but wins over Florida Atlantic, Rice and Arkansas by identical 52-10 scores is an impressive bit of symmetry.
Best win: 63-28 vs. Rice (7-3)
Loss: 23-30 @ Arkansas (4-6)
Close calls: 37-31 @ SMU (1-9)
Ah, Tulsa. When you were undefeated, you could make an argument about being a great team, having smacked around everyone on your very weak schedule. But losing at Arkansas? The Razorbacks not only have a losing record, but they only have a single SEC win. Basically, there is nothing on the Golden Hurricane's résumé that provides any evidence that they're Top 25 material. Rice is their only win over a winning Division I-A team, and almost losing at 1-9 SMU is probably worse than actually losing at Arkansas. Next.
Best win: 35-3 vs. Ohio State (8-2)
Loss: 21-27 @ Oregon State (6-3)
Close calls: 17-10 @ Arizona (6-3)
And then there's USC. They may have the best defense in the country, but a loss at Oregon State is almost as puzzling as Florida's loss to Ole Miss. Beating up on an overrated Ohio State team just isn't the résumé booster it used to be, and a blowout of erratic Virginia is hard to read when the Cavaliers are challenging Maryland for 'most schizophrenic team in the ACC'. It hasn't helped that the Pac-10 is way down this year, so wins over Oregon and Cal just don't provide sufficient counterbalance to a puzzling loss to the Beavers. The Trojans might be able to win the National Title game should they be invited, but do they deserve to be considered?
Finally, before we get to our actual Top 25, I have one small thing to add about our Bears. I just had this conversation with a friend of mine (who posts here as Morpheus7148):
Morpheus7148: Q: why did we drop out of the polls when we 1: lost to a team ranked ahead of us. 2: beat the spread. 3: played away
ragnarok: A: Because pollsters are reactionary, and most of the country only got to see Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech instead. Also, they probably didn't see that it was a one possession game until the final 3 minutes.
But mostly because they're stupid.
If they thought we were worth ranking last week, i see no reason not to rank us this week.
Morpheus7148: i like the 2nd part
What do you think?
Dropped Out: Maryland (#21), West Virginia (#23), Georgia Tech (#24), South Carolina (#25).