Three weeks under our belt now, and things are starting to come into focus. Most teams have played at least one real opponent by now, so while things will continue to jump around in the coming weeks, the overall oscillation should lessen. 'Bama and the Buckeyes retain our top two spots, but the top 3 has a party-crasher in Nebraska.
Elsewhere, while Arizona's victory over Iowa surprised many (not me! I voted the Wildcats above the Hawkeyes last week, and have an email to prove it), and Arkansas beats Georgia between the Hedges as the Ryan Mallett bandwagon starts to fill. More justifications for these varied opinions after the jump.
Yellow Fever: No real change in my top 5, the biggest thing here was how high to move Arizona after they defeated Iowa (and the way in which they managed four straight sacks to close the game) - I also bumped down Wisconsin given the trouble they had in winning an eminently losable game against the Sun Devils.
I also bumped up the Furd, because they did look impressive. I had no idea Andrew Luck had wheels like that. Look for him to be motoring straight to the 49ers next year after Locker spit the bit again!
The other shifts were mostly minor; I did move Michigan State into the edges of my poll because I love trick plays, and some teams shuffled a few spots because of impressive or lackluster performances, but nothing severe. And of course, our sturdy Golden Bears fell out after Riley reverted to a pumpkin again.
· It’s a shame Oregon doesn’t get into the meat of its schedule for a while. They look as impressive as anyone in the nation. We just don’t know if that actually means anything until they play Stanford, USC, Arizona, and Oregon State.
· Arizona had the biggest jump this week—I didn’t think they would look this good after losing two coordinators. Let’s hope they don’t rise any further next week.
· I omitted USC again. They are a talented team, but are sloppy, poorly coached, and undisciplined. I wouldn’t be surprised if they go 5-4 in the conference again.
· Oregon State doesn’t really deserve to be ranked, but I have to give Mike Riley some credit for winning a non-conference game.
· I put Nevada at 25th because they might have a legitimate shot at dethroning Boise State this year. If that offense runs with that kind of precision all season, they will be very tough to stop.
· Florida continues to be shockingly mediocre (by their standards).
· Overall, nothing major happened in my poll this week (except Arizona’s rise). The ranked teams generally took care of business. Choosing 20th-25th is still similar to drawing names out of a hat.
-Air Force and Iowa are the only two teams I ranked who have losses. Air Force's beat down of BYU is a solid win, and frankly, losing to Oklahoma IN Norman by 3 is more impressive than any of USC's wins. Similarly, Iowa only lost by 7 on the road. Those two losses are two of the most justifiably close losses thus far this season. But both teams will have to justify their inclusion in the coming weeks.
-USC barely holds onto a spot in the ballot purely on the strength of beating two BCS teams (crummy as they may be) rather than 2 FCS teams and a MAC team. They will also need to impress soon to stick around.
-I have three WAC teams on my ballot and only two MWC teams. Perhaps TCU should be the team changing conferences?
-For as much crap as the SEC gets for wimpy scheduling, I think the Big 12 should get more. Consider the following schedules of these undefeated teams:
Texas A&M - Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana Tech, Florida International
Oklahoma St. - Washington St., Troy, Tulsa
Missouri - Illinois, McNeese St., San Diego St.
Can you guess how many road games these three teams have played? That would be zero. Needless to say, none of them get ranked. But when Oklahoma St. plays TA&M next week, one of those teams will win and somebody will think that the winner has earned a rank because they beat an undefeated BCS team! Sigh.
-I probably ranked Michigan too high. Their two wins have been very devalued (Uconn lost to Temple?!?) and their defense is going to cost them multiple games this year. But that problem will fix itself soon enough.
-I really hope Wake Forest's defense is horrible, because I'm not happy about Stanford at #13. Go Notre Dame? Go Notre Dame!