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BlogPoll Top 25 Draft Ballot

As always, your comments considered through Tuesday. I'm most interested in how to sort through the teams still considered viable candidates for the national title game. I've laid out my own reasoning, but welcome thoughtful critiques for alternative views. There's no Right Way here. I'm open to persuasive chatter.

1. Arizona State (2) Meaningful games: Colorado (+19), Oregon State (+12), at Stanford (+38), at Washington State (+3), Washington (+24), California (+11). If this were a power poll, I wouldn't rank the Sun Devils #1. Looking just at the on-field accomplishments, though, I think they've got the goods right now. While LSU's resume took a bye week hit (Virginia Tech, Florida, South Carolina, and Kentucky all losers), Arizona State dispatched California while past victims Colorado, Oregon State, and Washington State all picked up wins. Reasonable minds can disagree here, but I'm comfortable with this. And ASU can firm the hold here on Saturday when they travel to Eugene. [Next: at Oregon]

2. LSU (1) Meaningful games: at Mississippi State (+45), Virginia Tech (+41), South Carolina (+12), Florida (+4), at Kentucky (-6), Auburn (+4). See above. LSU's got some fine pelts on the wall, but as the SEC continues to cannibalize, they'll need to assert their primacy vigorously with convincing wins down the stretch. [Next: at Alabama]

3. Kansas (3) Meaningful games: at Kansas State (+6), at Colorado (+5), at Texas A&M (+8). Kansas whipped the Aggies pretty thoroughly - more so than the 8 point final margin indicates. They hold off Ohio State for now, though the Buckeyes were as impressive as anyone Saturday night. I'm in the minority on Kansas here - most folks have them down at least a couple spots, if not more. Consider me (overly?) impressed with the way that they so thoroughly dismantled their weak opponents, while handling conference business on the road with aplomb. [Next: vs Nebraska]

4. Ohio State (4) Meaningful games: at Washington (+19), at Purdue (+16), Michigan State (+7), at Penn State (+20). The Nittany Lions are hardly a top tier test, but Ohio State so completely beat down Penn State that I came away impressed. Still, they've got work to do to catch and hold off their competitors. (Not in real life, mind you, where they'll play for it all if they win out.) [Next: at Penn State]

5. Oregon (7) Meaningful games: at Michigan (+32), at Stanford (+24), California (-7), Washington State (+46), Washington (+21), USC (+7). The Ducks are right on the cusp already and now get to host undefeated Arizona State. Their best case scenario: beat Arizona State handily and have the Sun Devils win out their remaining games. [Next: vs Arizona State]

6. Boston College (5) Meaningful games: Wake Forest (+10), NC State (+20), at Georgia Tech (+14), at Virginia Tech (+4). A win is a win, but it sure was ugly. In real life, the Golden Eagles needn't worry about style points too much, though. Their strength with the computers virtually assures them a national title shot if they win out. Florida State should not be considered a gimme win. [Next: vs Florida State]

7. Oklahoma (8) Meaningful games: Miami (+38), at Tulsa (+41), at Colorado (-3), Texas (+7), Missouri (+10). A bye week for the Sooners, who are very much on the outside looking in on the BCS Title Game without help. Not only must they win, but they need quite a few dominoes to fall. First things first, though: they must stay in the national conversation with wins that impress voters. [Next: vs Texas A&M]

8. West Virginia (13) Meaningful games: at Maryland (+17), at South Florida (-8), Mississippi State (+25), Rutgers (+28). West Virginia has yet to put together a full season of its Best Football, but few teams are more explosive when everything's working. Like Oklahoma, they need a lot of help to be considered for the Title Game. Winning the Big East should be the primary focus. [Next: Bye]

9. Missouri (11) Meaningful games: at Illinois (+6), at Oklahoma (-10), Texas Tech (+31). Missouri's win over Iowa State was sloppy, but it'll do. The team who really needs to root hard for the Tigers until the final weekend is Kansas. That game has to be a clash of the titans draw for a national audience if anyone's going to pay any attention to the Jayhawks. [Next: at Colorado]

10. Georgia (19) Meaningful games: Oklahoma State (+21), South Carolina (-4), at Alabama (+3), at Tennessee (-21), Florida (+12). As impressive a victory as Mark Richt's ever had, the Bulldogs benefit from everyone else's struggles as much as they do from beating UF. [Next: vs Troy]

The rest of the Top 25:

Rank Team Delta
1 Arizona State 1
2 LSU 1
3 Kansas --
4 Ohio State --
5 Oregon 2
6 Boston College 1
7 Oklahoma 1
8 West Virginia 5
9 Missouri 2
10 Georgia 9
11 Auburn 1
12 Alabama 8
13 Michigan 9
14 Connecticut 12
15 South Florida 9
16 Florida 7
17 Tennessee 9
18 Texas 3
19 South Carolina 4
20 Kentucky 10
21 Hawaii 3
22 Illinois 4
23 Virginia 6
24 Wake Forest 2
25 Colorado 1

Dropped Out: Virginia Tech (#14), Southern Cal (#16), California (#18), UCLA (#23), Penn State (#25).