I'm really going to have to explain myself this week.
Yeah, Texas Christian University at #1. Really. All four of the top teams were close (though all four of us had Alabama over Florida), but in the end, both Yellow Fever and I put TCU on top, and that was just enough.
But, why TCU? Well, ignoring the natural bias against TCU (face it, even if we hate Texas or Alabama, on the first glace, we're ALWAYS going to regard an undefeated Crimson Tide over an undefeated Horned Frogs team; it's a perfectly natural conditioned reaction, and we should all accept it so we can move forward), if we actually consider what each team has accomplished this year, they're all pretty comparable.Comparing Texas' record to TCU's we find that although the Longhorn's best win (vs. Oklahoma State) might be better than anything the Horned Frogs have done (though how good the Cowboys really are is still plenty debatable), the rest of Texas' schedule is full of blah. The Big XII is really down this year -- neither Oklahoma nor Texas Tech are really very good, and there's nothing in the Longhorn's non-conference schedule to really recommend them. Meanwhile, not only has TCU dominated the Mountain West, winning going away vs. both BYU and Utah, but they've also got that little forgotten matter of a win at Clemson, something hardly thought of at the time, but more impressive now that the Tigers have locked up a spot in the ACC title game.
But what about Alabama and Florida? Well, what about them? Turns out, their undefeated run through the SEC is really not much more impressive than an undefeated run through the Big XII, or even the Mountain West. Outside of the Gators and the Tide, good as they might be, the SEC collectively has been a huge collection of mediocrity. LSU, owners of zero wins of note, was previously thought to be the next best team, but a loss at Ole Miss (however much you want to blame Les Miles' inability to manage a football game) really shows that they're no better than the Rebels, who themselves are one of the largest disappointments on the season.
In fact, I went through and tallied up all the SEC's collective non-conference record to this point. The 12 teams involved have collectively played a total (TOTAL) of seven non-conference road games. Yes, they went 6-1 in those games (the only loss was Georgia at Oklahoma State), but the conference's only road win over a team with a winning record thus far has been Mississippi State's stirring victory at 8-3 Middle Tennessee State. In contrast, they've played 11 games against I-AA competition (LSU and Tennessee didn't play an FCS school, but Ole Miss partially made up for it by playing TWO of them). Collectively, I count exactly one SEC non-conference win over a Top 25 team, that of Alabama over 8-3 Virginia Tech to open the season, and just two others over BCS-conference schools with winning records (Auburn over 7-3 West Virginia, and Arkansas over 6-5 -- soon to be 6-6 -- Texas A&M). Overall, they have nine victories over teams with winning records. The others six? Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Ohio, Middle Tennessee, and Troy (twice). Woo.
So, how good are Alabama and Florida, really? I have no friggin' clue. They might be great, but they might be just beating up on mediocrity. I can tell you one thing -- playing Chattanooga and Florida International on the third weekend in November sure isn't going to help their cases.
I really, honestly believe Ohio State isn't a Top 10-caliber team, but who else are you going to put up here? Seriously? I'm still a little skeptical of Pitt, too (and the whole Big East in general). Might be great, might be scheduling well.
USC this high is my fault, but I really think their non-conference record should give them some benefit of the doubt regarding their performance of late. In no way is this a vintage Trojans team, true, and previous editions would have been able to plug-and-play through the various injuries they've suffered, but they're still good enough to beat most of the teams below them (Stanford excepted, obviously).
Why do we continue to vote for Penn State? I suspect it's inertia. Ten wins, none of them over anyone remotely impressive. Losses to both Iowa and Ohio State, neither one close. The best argument you can make for them is that they've been able to win when they're supposed to, and I suppose that's something.
|Last week's ballot|
LSU is still ranked, but barely. I wanted to eject them entirely, but had trouble finding 25 teams I wanted to include more than them. Arizona up 2 after a loss? Well, a double-OT loss to a Top 10 team is nothing to be ashamed of. Their fan's behaviour at the game? Now that's something else entirely.
Dropped Out: Wisconsin (#20), Houston (#25).
Wisky lost to Northwestern, and is rightly ejected from our poll. Houston, on the other hand, mostly got lost in the shuffle. They're still hanging around in the Top 30, waiting for Clemson or Arizona or someone else to eat it in ignominious fashion.