Not late this time, but not exactly early. -HB
Tomorrow looks like a divisional-champion elimination round for the SEC East and the Big 12 South. Texas could sneak in despite a loss to Tech, but it would require Tech falling to both OSU and OU (or screwing themselves against Baylor). Georgia, Florida, and Texas don't seem to have much in their way after Saturday, as long as they keep their wits about them down the stretch.
Don't confuse the two games, though. Penn State will tell you that the winner of the Florida Georgia tilt is irrelevant unless you think one of these teams is more likely to knock off Alabama in the SEC championship game. Assuming Penn State finishes out their schedule unbeaten (Likely but not assured by any means), each weekend that passes without Texas or Alabama going down is a nail in JoePa's (as a football coach, mind you) coffin (Yech, for some reason that sounded like something an Aggie would say). Texas has two high hurdles (Tech and a likely rematch with Mizzou), one water hazard (Kansas), a wrinkled rug (Baylor), and a points-up dirt rake (unlikely, but boy would we look stupid if we hit that one just right...) to go. Alabama has a bunch of cruddy SEC teams (I'll get to you later, LSU) and then the championship game. So when JoePa reads the tea leaves in the BCS numbers waiting for the annoying Big Ten season to end, what does he see (aside from brains, which he just sees anyway)?
You know what this is? Good, because I'm sick of explaining it.
Weirdos this week are Oklahoma (A bit), USC, Texas Tech (Sigmas UP!), Florida, Ball State, Minnesota (For one glaringly stupid reason), The stupid tigers, BYU, and UNC. I'll try to group these together into different categories. There are also teams that are weird because everyone completely agrees on their rankings. Ohio State, TCU, Mizzou, and maybe Michigan State. I can't figure out what this is telling me. If anyone has a clue, please, please email me or leave a comment below. For now, let's play...
Why Are You High?
Oklahoma - Checking the standings will show that the computers have OU just a little lower than the humans. Both human polls have them at #4, but all the computers have them at #5 or worse. I'm with the computers, here. OU isn't a complete team, it's a bunch of really neat parts that someone slapped together. I used to play a game called Mechwarrior in high school (I have a point, stay with me), where you could build these weird robotic fighting vehicles with all these crazy weapons. At first I always got some huge goliath monster and loaded it with huge lasers and cannons and junk. That worked great for blowing up someone's base, but when I got to a point where I needed to fight tons of little fast guys, I'd blow one up on the first hit, then overheat and shutdown while they surrounded me with their cruddy little "pew-pew" lasers and wore me down. I was like Phil Loadholt trying to play point guard (or block Orakpo for four quarters). Aside from the fact that OU's defense is just average, their offense is a big, overheated robot that tried to knock you out with five giant laser blasts all at once. If you're still alive, you can run circles around them and pew-pew them to death. I told you I had a point.
USC - Sort of the same thing as OU in terms of why their deviation is high, but not for the same reasons. USC is freaky scary on defense, but I think their offensive line is holding them back offensively. No video game metaphors here, but I will say that Mark Sanchez could have played the bad guy from Gladiator easily.
Texas Tech - These guys haven't played anyone. We have no idea how good they are, but we are about to be thoroughly enlightened. The humans have given them the benefit of the doubt, but the computers don't have that option, and so are kind of bearish on them until they show something against the other three South contenders. Let's hope they don't.
Florida - Computers don't like them at all, which is weird, because they did last week. I'm not sure how they dropped three computer average spots by winning a game, but them's computers for you. My guess is that LSU losing to Georgia has crushed their only "good" win. They've played basically no one of any value considering how LSU has looked recently. Despite the shelackings they gave Kentucky and LSU, my gut on these numbers says to pick Georgia this Saturday. Georgia has at least been in the presence of a hard-nosed football team against Alabama, and I think that gives them a small edge. As talented as Florida is, though, I'll consider it a victory for this analysis if the 'Dawgs lose a squeaker. Still, I'm picking Georgia for now.
The Stupid Tigers - I know they aren't next, but the other teams are too far down the ballots to really read much from their numbers. LSU, on the other hand, juts its moonlight chainsaw way out there like Billingsley usually does when I do graphs of poll-wackiness. Naturally, RB has them at #11, while not even the humans are stubborn enough to keep them above #15. The rest of the computers either don't rank them, or rank them #20 or worse. This is why I'm writing off the Tide's visit to Death Valley as just another SEC road trip. Joe Paterno better not get his hopes up.
Billingsley Report Card:
Once again we delve into the computational brilliance that is Richard Billingsley's bias-laden computer poll...
Billingsley is remarkably consistent. Thrown out 14 times out of 25, exactly the same as last week. After being briefly saved by Peter Wolf's ratings from being the only poll with a standard deviation above the average last week, RB is back to his old ways this time with a huge deviance, just shy of twice the average disagreement among all the computer polls. As previously mentioned, he's the only poll, human or computer, to rank LSU higher than #15, and he's the only computer to rank them higher than #20, and he has them at #11! One spot out of the Top Ten! He's also got Oregon at #17 (next highest: #23) and refuses to rank Minnesota, probably because they had such a bad season last year, and he starts teams in the preseason where they were at the end of last season, while also limiting the mobility of teams from one week to the next. If Minnesota has to climb up from where they finished last season, they may never reach the top 50, and Billingsley thinks that that's a good thing. As GFTC likes to say: "WTF, BILLINGSLEY?!?"
I pick Georgia over Florida and Texas over Tech based on these numbers. Yowza! Anyone else nervous?