So, our final ballot looks like our draft ballot, although atomsareenough pointed out to me that I've left out West Virginia; I suppose their dominating wins over Marshall and BYE have yet to impress me, but I seem to be the only one. I'll be on the lookout for an impressive performance this weekend against...James Madison? Oh well.
As always, thoughts and justifications after the jump:
atomsareenough: Lots of questionable performances by (formerly) ranked teams this week, and since it's early in the season, I decided to be fairly merciless about it. From my ballot last week, #8 Arkansas, #9 Oklahoma State, #12 Nebraska, and #13 Utah all lost to what were then unranked teams. Also Michigan just squeaked by Air Force at home, so they drop out from #20. You can't get by on name alone. I had already punished Wisconsin heavily last week by dropping them to #25, and they vindicated my decision with their poor showing at Oregon State, losing 7-10 in Corvallis. So, the Badgers are gone as well, making it six teams that I kicked off my ballot this week.
Let's go through the losses a bit here; by far the most embarrassing performance this week was then-#8 Arkansas' overtime loss to not Louisiana State, not Louisiana Tech, not even the Ragin' Cajuns of Lousiana-Lafayette, but the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. How many of you could have named their mascot before Saturday? I'd heard of ULM, but I couldn't have told you what their mascot was. Anyway, we get the lulz, Arkansas gets the boot. Will ULM continue to embarrass the SEC when they play Auburn next? One can only hope.
Anyway, there wasn't a lot of movement in the top 20 or so. I dropped the Trojans a little for not dominating Syracuse, and brought LSU up to #2 for humiliating Washington (heheheh). I didn't mention Louisville last week, but I've had my eye on them and Cincinnati as underrated teams to watch since the preseason, and so far, they're living up to my expectations. Kansas State surprisingly wiped the floor with the Miami Hurricanes
, so they get bumped up to #9 this week. Other than that, the other ranked teams mostly did their jobs and just floated up through attrition.
I was surprised not only that Oklahoma State lost to RichRod's Arizona squad, but that Arizona seemed to by able to impose their will on the Cowboys by the end of the game. I know RichRod is a good coach and all, but I had marked Arizona for a painful rebuilding year while he implements his system. I look to have been quite mistaken. The defense is probably still a little suspect (though they seem to be opportunistic enough to get by), but the offense was clicking on all cylinders this week; senior QB Matt Scott and sophomore RB Ka'Deem Carey both shone on Saturday. The Wildcats' dominant performance was enough to make me forget about Toledo and put them at #19 this week.
Nebraska lost to an invigorated-looking UCLA squad - the talent has been there in Westwood, but Mora seems to have the Bruins focused and hungry for a change. I wish I could apply "focused and hungry" to Cal. Anyway, the Bruin win was good enough for a spot at #21.
Northwestern may seem like a strange pick for #22, but not too many teams can claim 2 wins against BCS conference schools at this point. Its squeaker against Syracuse looks a little better after Syracuse hung with USC and only lost by 12 to the Trojans. Even though Vandy is now 0-2, I still think they're pretty decent, and they only lost to #11 South Carolina by 4 points.
Arizona State has dominated in 2 wins against bad teams, but one of them was a BCS school, at least. I'll be honest, there aren't a lot of compelling teams to fill the bottom of the list with at this point. So, I'll stick the Sun Devils at #23 for now.
Utah State beat the Utes in Logan, and destroyed Jordan Wynn
in the process. I think the Aggies are looking pretty decent. They beat Southern Utah a lot more thoroughly than Cal did. They had an up and down year last year in terms of wins and losses, but were competitive in every game, including a game @Auburn, and they finished strong down the stretch. They make the list at #24 this week.
The Ohio Bobcats are in my wildcard #25 spot because they beat Penn State and dominated New Mexico State. They won 9 games last year, they're probably the best team in the MAC... plus there just aren't a ton of teams with great résumés right now. So, why not try to find some hidden gems? I'm willing to take a flyer on a team with that last spot.
Norcalnick: Florida & Georgia both rise with big conference road wins. UCLA, Arizona, Arizona St. and Oregon St. all rise with huge home wins over legit BCS competition. Boise St. and Georgia Tech are still both hanging around at the end of my poll for excellent performances against top 10 teams, but they'll need to beat somebody good soon to stay there.
Michigan, Louisville, Tennessee and Notre Dame are all ranked by the AP but absent from my poll because none of those teams have had impressive performances against a legit good team yet. At least three of those teams are ranked because of the brand.
I doubt ULM will stick around in the poll for long, but when you beat the #8 team in the country the least you deserve is a one week cameo. Congrats, Warhawks.
: I’m not sure what to make of several Pac-12 teams. UCLA (16) looked like the strongest of the previously unranked bunch in a solid win over Nebraska. Oregon State (25) posted an impressive win, but this Wisconsin team may simply be a mediocre team riding the coattails of two consecutive Rose Bowl seasons. Likewise, Oklahoma State may not be all that great now that Brandon Weeden has left. Still, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to several of these Pac-12 teams. Since most of the ballot is still pretty meaningless, I’ll be a Pac-12 homer and include 7 teams from the conference.
LSU (2) leapfrogs USC (3) after a dominant win over UW
I’m still skeptical about Oklahoma (17) and Florida State (18). Oklahoma should get stomped by Kansas State (11) next week and the Seminoles will have their hands full with Clemson (8) in two weeks. A pair of upsets would restore my faith in them.
The only team in my ballot with a loss is Boise State (21). Since this is mostly a resume ballot, I’m ruthless about losses so far.