Yeah, so this is getting really hard. I will remind you, though, that this is heavily based on what a team has accomplished to date. It does not consider, for example, the rest of USC's schedule, or whether I personally believe the Trojans will win those games. So, yeah: not a power poll.
1. Michigan (2) No whining about this, please. The top two teams on this ballot play one another on Saturday afternoon. Clearly, the winner gets the top spot. Really matters not whether they're 1a or 1b heading in. I just think, after putting together these two teams' "Under The Hood" segments, that Michigan's got the slightly better resume. The two wins over Notre Dame and Wisconsin are better than what Ohio State's got at this point. Again, though, it really matters not.
2. Ohio State (1) See: above. Buckeyes can lock up spot to Glendale with win, or join the one-loss contenders with a loss. I'll say this, though, Buckeye fans: if you can get a run game going at all against Michigan, which no one's been able (or hardly bothered trying) to do, then you'll have a good chance to win. If not, you're asking an awful lot of Troy Smith.
3. Rutgers (13) I'm sort of putting my pinky toe in the water here, but I found these arguments to be persuasive. There wouldn't be near this much disagreement about where to place Rutgers were the team in question Virginia Tech. But even just ranking stritctly on resume, Rutgers has gotten the job done against some good teams: Navy, Pittsburgh, South Florida, and of course Louisville. Can they hold this spot just by winning out? That question becomes much more difficult, but for now, placing them ahead USC, Florida, Arkansas, and Notre Dame is not that hard to justify.
4. Southern California (6) They already possess wins over Arkansas, Nebraska, Oregon, Arizona State, and Washington State. They close with California, Notre Dame, and UCLA? So, if they win out, that'd be eight quality wins? Even if you don't want to count UCLA and Arizona State - both of whom are borderline - that's six quality wins. You can pretty much write USC into Glendale if they win out.
5. Florida (3) If we assume that Florida can and will handle Western Carolina (WTF? November?) and Florida State, that leaves them one last opportunity to prove their title game worthiness: the SEC championship game. That also means they probably ought to be rooting for the Razorbacks to handle Mississippi State and LSU. And some chaos out in Southern California.
6. Arkansas (8) The team is certainly peaking at the right time, and though the Hogs are certainly treating viewers' eyes to what appears to be some of the best football in the entire country, the elephant in the room is the 36 points home loss to a team ranked in front of them. How do you make up that ground? When there's only one spot left in the title game? Another team hoping for some dominoes to fall out west.
7. Notre Dame (10) Wins over Navy, UCLA, Penn State, and Georgia Tech: that's not a bad haul. It's not a great one, and it lacks a "signature" win, but the Irish haven't waltzed through a schedule of cupcakes as much as some folks would have you believe. Still, they need a ridiculous amount of help to get in the title game. They'd need USC to beat Cal; they need to beat USC, plus LSU over Arkansas; Arkansas over Florida; West Virginia over Rutgers; and, finally, of course, Michigan over Ohio State. Got all that? Yeah, it ain't happenin'.
8. Louisville (7) Hold the funeral, folks. The Cardinals are still a great team with a big win and a solid non-conference schedule. The win at Kansas State, even, looks better this week. They lost their shot at a title game berth, but they're still in good position and playing good football. They just ran into the juggernaut that is Rutgers Football.
9 - 17: LSU, Texas, California, Wake Forest, Oklahoma, Boise State, Auburn, West Virginia, Wisconsin Seriously, order these however you please. We won't argue. There's no right or wrong here, and is a good example of why a playoff system - were it ever adopted - should be capped at eight teams, if not four.
18 - 25: Boston College, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, BYU, Nebraska, Maryland, Clemson Again, shuffling these teams around is easily justified. And, really, who cares? Everyone's going to a solid, but not great, bowl. Well, Georgia Tech might just yet. But we still think Reggie Ball's got some awful football left in him this season.