Ole Miss was actually just a single point short of being a unanimous #1, such was our panel impressed with the quality of their win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Only Nick had the Rebels at #2 behind Michigan State. In the middle of the ballot, we all had the same teams mostly ranked, but disagreed wildly as to where they should be ranked. I had Oklahoma and Texas A&M fairly low on my ballot, but Berkelium, Nick, and fiatlux had them pretty high, with PerryScope and mpeters10 in between. Berkelium didn't rank Baylor at all. Granted, they haven't played anyone, but then he also ranked Iowa and Syracuse somehow after an overtime field goal win against Central Michigan (go Orange!). Ragnarok gave the cold shoulder to Alabama and Oregon, presumably because he's only ranking undefeated teams at this point for some reason. So on the one hand, we have folks dinging undefeated teams for easy schedules, and on the other hand we have folks dinging teams who have played serious opponents and lost. Clearly, the differing methodologies mean our ballots aren't going to start coalescing until we have some more data points.
Other tidbits... I was more impressed with Oklahoma State routing UTSA (with Arizona as a reference point) than the others. Ragnarok was very impressed with Texas Tech's win over Arkansas. Lots of general agreement about roughly where our California Golden Bears deserve to be in the poll this week. Miami (FL) got some love for their win over Nebraska, but not everybody is convinced that the Hurricanes are back just yet.
Anyway, let's get to the explanations:
Ole Miss gets the top spot on my ballot this week for having the best win of the season so far, beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa. I have a lot of respect for Georgia Tech, so I'm giving Notre Dame a lot of credit for a solid win over the Yellow Jackets. I might knock TCU in upcoming weeks after a bit of struggle against SMU and some injuries, but I'll keep them for now. Georgia gets bumped up for humiliating South Carolina. Ohio State gets pushed down for struggling with Northern Illinois. I moved LSU in for absolutely throttling Auburn and for Fournette being amazing. Northwestern moves up after a solid win at Duke. Oklahoma State comes in and leapfrogs Arizona after destroying UTSA like the Wildcats were not able to. USC barely hangs on to #25 on my ballot after losing to Stanford. We'll see how they respond against Arizona State.
-Florida State and Clemson both got dropped pretty heavily for struggling with mediocre teams. Both will either need to beat a legit good team or put in an impressive beatdown on a mediocre team to stick around. Same goes for Baylor. At least TCU took down Minnesota on the road.
-Northwestern, Ole Miss, and Miami all made huge jumps in my poll - Miami and Ole Miss for earning impressive wins, Northwestern because their earlier win over Stanford looks much much better.
-Oregon and Alabama are both hovering at the edge of the top 10. Alabama gets the nod over Oregon because their win over Wisconsin is more impressive than anything the Ducks have done, but that will change if Oregon beats Utah next week. Either way, I'm not going to punish them much for losing one score games against playoff worthy opponents.
-So far, I'm comfortable in Michigan State, Ole Miss, and Notre Dame as three playoff teams. All three have looked really good and notched impressive wins. The 4th slot? Much harder to decide. UCLA's win over BYU gives them my 4th slot for now, but it's pretty darn fluid right now.
Ole Miss looks to be the team to beat this year (so far) as they squeaked by Alabama. However on the road against seemingly the best defense in football, they put up 43 points.
ACC looks weak once again with Florida State beating BC 14-0, Clemson edging Louisville 20-17, and Georgia Tech losing to a good Norte Dame football team nonetheless. There is no way that any of these 3 teams go undefeated in conference play this year. I do not see an ACC team making the playoff unless Clemson or FSU figure out their offense.
Pac 12 took a blow this week with USC getting upset by Stanford. This does not bode well for the chance of a Pac 12 playoff team with Oregon and USC both losing. The good news for the Pac 12 is that UCLA is still undefeated and Oregon can still potentially run the table and make the 4 team playoff. My California Golden Bears are 3-0 heading into conference play and I'm liking their chances to win 8-9 games this year.
LSU looked really, really good at home against a struggling Auburn team. Leonard Fournette is an absolute animal and the Tigers have a great chance to have success in the nightmare that the SEC West is.
OK, so the first thing I do is see which teams have the most impressive wins, and that is clearly Ole Miss because while the final score was only a 6 point difference, they were STOMPING Alabama, and then Michigan State. Then I look at teams who have beat three Power 5 conferences – UCLA and Notre Dame come to mind. And then it gets tough. By the 3rd week we should start looking at results on the field / resume a little bit. Astoundingly, Atoms has Georgia 4th, since Georgia has beaten laughably bad Vandy, South Carolina and Louisiana Monroe. But wait a second, somehow Clemson’s big wins over Appalachian State, Wofford and their close win over Louisville has Atoms thinking they’re 7th - AHEAD of Michigan State, who’s only beat a little school named Oregon and also beat Air Force. So Atoms thinks Clemon’s 3-0 record is better than Michigan State's… sigh. Atoms will convolutedly argue this 8 ways to Sunday so there’s really no point.
Meanwhile, following suit from last year, Nick loves him some SEC… as he still has Alabama in the Top 10, even though they not only lost at home, but for anyone watching the game, they lost convincingly.
PerryScope is pretty reasonable, with some things just on the fringe of annoying me, so skates by for the week.
Ohio State’s pathetic performance against Northern Illinois drops them. LSU moves up due to wins over two power 5 (conf) opponents, albeit both overrated. Alabama’s loss is FAR worse than Oregon’s so they’re behind the Ducks. And then the rest is sort of a mishmash. As usual, even though they have the 3rd longest winning streak in the country, this board doesn’t realize there’s am FBS team in Memphis. Clearly, the most common sense rankings, as of Week 3, are mine (and these of course are still very fluid).
I love the SEC so much that I ranked the same 5 SEC teams fiatlux did, with an average poll position of 8.8 rather than 9.2. That 0.4 is pretty critical this time of year.
I'm sitting here putting together my ballot like
I'm glad I got my ballot in after fiatlux!
Now that we're in week three, I'm starting to reincorporate one-loss teams into my ballot. Also, anyone who hasn't played a Power 5 team (sorry, Baylor, Arizona) gets dropped.
-Is Georgia a top-10 team? Their resume doesn't say so. But I'll reward them for a spectacular 24/25 passing game from their QB.
-I included Texas Tech mostly because Kingsbury laid a verbal smackdown on noted neanderthal Bret Bielema.
-If I had to pick four playoff teams right now, I'd pick Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Michigan State, and the Pac-12 winner (right now I'd pick Oregon over UCLA or USC, despite my rankings)
Don't be so glad!
How can you have Georgia 6th???? It makes exactly zero sense. Zero. It's zero to the infinity sense.
Alabama still in the top 10 after getting smacked down at home? Do you and Nick own a cute little place together on the Gulf in Fairhope or something???
Come on Rags... you're next.
It's still early enough that there are more than 30 undefeated teams, so I'm going to continue to ignore good one-loss teams (such as Oregon). As others have mentioned, Ole Miss' resume stands out in the early going, as does Notre Dame's. I'm probably still giving Ohio State a bit of the benefit of the doubt for being defending champs, as their resume is strong but perhaps not top-5 strong anymore. I don't feel great about the bottom half of my ballot, as it's filled with teams that probably wouldn't be favored against about a dozen one-loss teams, but I still think that it's early enough in the year that I'm projecting as much as I'm analyzing, so I'll at least reward teams that have yet to lose for now. Once conference play really gets underway, I imagine these rankings will start to look a lot more like the AP Top 25.
Also, Arizona's non-conference resume is so weak that they were one of a handful of teams I declined to rank despite their unblemished record. Play somebody, anybody, dang it!
Re: Georgia. I have them 4th because even though Vandy and South Carolina aren't exactly top-10 teams, they are major conference teams with a decent amount of talent, and Georgia's wins over them were pretty dominant. Also, the fact that the Bulldogs have a fantastic talent like Nick Chubb, and a QB playing so well, makes me inclined to think highly of them. Besides, I had Georgia at #9 last week, and although Notre Dame and Ole Miss leapfrogged them this week due to their quality wins over highly ranked opponents, on the flipside, Alabama, Georgia Tech, and USC dropped below them with losses. I also moved the Bulldogs ahead of Clemson, Ohio State and UCLA, all of whom struggled in their wins. So they went up a few spots this week. Margin of victory is a factor for me.
And yes, I have Georgia ahead of Michigan State. In fact, if you recall what I wrote earlier, I had dropped Michigan State off my ballot entirely after the Spartans took forever to put away lowly Western Michigan in Week 1. As promised, I brought them back onto my poll once they beat Oregon, but I'm also not sure exactly how good Oregon is this year, just yet.... and unlike you, I didn't have Air Force ranked, so while I moved Michigan State up from #13 last week to #9 this week, you probably are giving them more credit for beating the Falcons than I am right now. It's an iterative process for me, and as we get more data points, we'll get a better picture.
I actually did have my eye on Memphis this week and was ready to rank them, but alas, a 3-point win against Bowling Green wasn't enough to convince me. They'll get another chance to impress next week.
Ole Miss vaults to the top of the poll after a great performance on the road against Alabama. Four teams drop out this week: USC, BYU, Auburn and Temple. I fully expect to see USC and BYU back in the top 25 after a few weeks. Auburn has looked like junk the entire season. I dropped Temple because of a poor performance against UMass. I've had Temple in my top 25 since the preseason, but I feel as though some other undefeated teams are more deserving at this point. The four teams that jump into the poll are Miami, Northwestern, Oklahoma State and Toledo. Toledo is 2-0 with wins against Arkansas and Iowa State. Northwestern has impressive victories over Stanford and Duke. Miami is 3-0 and beat Nebraska. Oklahoma State is in because they're undefeated and did a much better job against UTSA than Arizona did.