Dropped Out: Brigham Young (#19), Pittsburgh (#20), Boston College (#23), Ball State (#25).
The question has been raised by countless pundits over the past week: does the winner of the BCS Championship Game (Florida) deserve to be #1? What about Utah, USC, or even Texas? Let's run down the arguments:
Well, after barely squeaking by Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl (coupled with Ole Miss' beatdown of Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl and Oklahoma's loss in the NCG), it's fairly clear to me that Texas is not the best team in the country. While the Longhorns did provide the lone bright spot for the Big XII South in the postseason, I think it's now pretty clear that the main reason that Big XII offenses are so prolific is that Big XII defenses are just not that good.
USC has a better case to make. It's proven conclusively that it is the class of both the Pac-10 and the Big 10, and its road loss to Oregon State is at least no worse than Florida's home loss to Ole Miss, and perhaps quite a bit better. But are the Trojans better than Florida? I really couldn't say, and I think I would need better justification than that to vote them #1.
Undefeated Utah, however, has a great case. A very good win over 'Bama in the Sugar Bowl provides ample evidence that the Utes, at least every few years, can compete with the biggest of big boys. Comparing head-to-head matchups, Utah defeated the Tide in a more dominating fashion than the Florida did, and I think they would hold up well against the Gators. But do I think they're the #1 team in the nation? Alas, I do not.
The perfect record looks nice, but let's be honest: the Utes were far less challenged this year than Florida was. They squeaked by the worst Michigan team in history and has some close calls in a Mountain West conference that, while it contains some quality, is hardly the SEC. I don't honestly believe that Utah would be undefeated had they played Florida's schedule (or even USC's, or Texas'), and I don't believe that, given the schedule they did play, they accomplished as much as Florida did, even with their unblemished record. The Utes had a very nice season, and they deserve a shot at it all, but as things stand now, I can't vote them #1.
Actually, the top 9 on this poll was pretty easy for me to fill out, but as soon as I got to #10, I started struggling. Every team past that point is very good but seriously flawed, and all have major résumé pock-marks. Maybe you think Ole Miss is a couple spots too high, or Iowa a few too low, or whatever. I can see your point, I just happen to not agree with you.
#25 LSU made it onto my ballot, but both Fever and CBKWit had West Virginia instead. The Bayou Bengals won out due to the workings of the Borda Count, but should they have? Who would you end your ballot with? Did we leave someone else off who deserves some Top 25 love?