When we last left off our Top 25 ballot, the regular season had just ended, and while LSU was a clear, obvious No. 1, the question of who should be No. 2 was unresolved in many minds. Should Alabama have gotten the No. 2 spot, even though they had already lost to the top-ranked Tigers earlier in the season (at home), or should Oklahoma State have been given a shot at the title? Had LSU prevailed in the rematch, I'm sure many Oklahoma State fans would be left wondering what they could have done if only they had been given a shot (life lesson: you don't win National Championships by losing to Iowa State). As it is, Alabama soundly beat the Tigers, which opened up a different sort of question: should there be a split national title?
Thoughts and justifications after the jump:
Norcalnick: Generally speaking, this is always the easiest poll to do. For one, you’ve got the most evidence to work with since every team has played a full schedule. For another, bowl season involves 10 or so out of conference games between ranked teams, providing one last massive piece of evidence to inform poll voters. With all of that evidence, it’s no surprise that my poll is more similar to the mainstream polls than any other effort of the season. When everybody has played 13 or 14 games, there becomes less and less to argue about. If only schools played so many meaningful games like that early in the season to help us out.
Berkelium97: Alabama clearly outplayed LSU, so they earn the #1 spot. Sure, LSU has the better schedule and a more impressive resume (and a win over Alabama), but LSU had no chance in that game. It felt like 21 points was an insurmountable deficit.
Norcalnick: Choosing from between Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma St. is a futile exercise. All three teams have one loss. If your tie breaker is strength of schedule it undoubtedly means LSU is the best team in the country. If your tie-breaker is based on performance on the field (the ‘eye-test’) you’d have to award the title to Alabama because the Tide barely lost to LSU earlier because they couldn’t make a field goal, then dominated the Tigers in New Orleans.
If only Oklahoma St. had beaten Stanford more decisively, if only LSU had played ‘Bama close in the Natty . . . but after much thought and even after declaring after the game that I would likely still vote for LSU . . . I don’t think I can honestly say that Alabama shouldn’t be the #1 team in the country. But that doesn’t mean the system works. Imagine if instead it was LSU vs. Oklahoma St. and Alabama vs. Stanford in a plus one or even as one-off bowl games. Wouldn’t that have been 1,000,000x more entertaining AND insightful?
Berkelium97: While I had USC (6) as the top Pac-12 team in my last regular season ballot, Oregon (4) and Stanford (5) pass the Trojans after solid bowl performances. Sure, Stanford lost. But they went toe-to-toe with an excellent Okie State team.
Norcalnick: Because USC didn’t play in a bowl we’re missing a massive piece of evidence to help sort between the Pac-12 triumvirate of Oregon, Stanford and USC. I don’t like being fair to Stanford, but it’s not fair to punish them for losing in overtime to a great team when USC couldn’t even play a bowl game. Still, I had USC ahead of Stanford in my poll before bowl season, and it would be weird to move Stanford up after losing. Regardless, Oregon moves to the top of the heap for winning the Rose Bowl. The tie breaker becomes Stanford’s win over USC in L.A. Sorry, Trojans, no reward for bowl ineligibility.
Berkelium97: Clemson drops out of the top-25. No one who gives up 70 points in a BCS game deserves to be ranked.
Speaking of which, Baylor drops to 19th after giving up 56 points to Washington.
Finally, I still don’t think Oklahoma (21) is a top-15 team. Nothing I have seen from them over the past three months tells me that they are a great team.