This week's Blog Poll draft ballot after the jump, where your feedback is always appreciated and considered. Bear in mind that my methodology seeks to reward the team with the best resume to date, as opposed to project how the remainder of the season will unfold or who would win on a neutral field.
In trying to fairly treat the teams at the top, I thought I'd put together one more chart to help sort through the top seven teams jumbled in various orders across the many ballots. Though more has to go into the analysis than what's charted below, I think it illuminating to see the top contenders side-by-side strength of schedule and Best Three Wins, as decided on by me using margin of victory, location of game, and strength of opponent.
Each win is labeled by the Opponent, margin, and Sagarin Predictor rating, such that TX +6 (4) is a six point home victory over Texas, the #4 ranked team by Predictor.
|Win #1||TX +6 (4)||@ UGA +11 (14)||@ Ohio St +7 (15)||n-UGA +39 (14)||n-OU +10 (5)||TCU +24 (9)||Ohio St +32 (15)|
|Win #2||KU +41 (29)||MISS +4 (31)||Ore St +31 (19)||LSU +30 (23)||Mizzou +25 (10)||Neb +34 (25)||@ AZ +7 (12)|
|Win #3||Neb +6 (25)||@ TN +20 (52)||Illinois +14 (27)||Miami +23 (24)||Okie St +4 (8)||KU +14 (29)||@ UVA +45 (40)|
|Loss?||No||No||No||MISS -1 (31)||@ Tech -6 (7)||n-TX -10 (4)||@ Ore St -6 (19)|
Ballot and chatter after the jump. Suggested revisions considered through Tuesday evening.
Dropped Out: Minnesota (#19), Virginia (#20), Tulsa (#22), Duke (#23), Oregon (#24), Florida State (#25).
- I give Texas Tech the nod for having the second-best win on the board (behind Texas over OU), no losses, a monstrous rout of Kansas, and equivalent SOS to Penn State and Alabama. There's room to quibble here, but won't be if the Red Raiders beat a very dangerous Oklahoma State team in Lubbock on Saturday night.
- Alabama used their big win and Clemson's preseason expectations to springboard into contention, but the resume itself is now pretty thin, their road win at Georgia impressive but not what it could have been had the Dawgs won in Jacksonville. A convincing road win at LSU this week could be enough to jump Penn State.
- Speaking of whom: The Nittany Lions have a nice road win at Ohio State, an impressive home thumping of Oregon State, and a two-touchdown victory over a good-not-great Illinois team. Good enough, at this moment, to keep them above Alabama. But the road ahead could bring trouble. Penn State's remaining schedule (at Iowa, Indiana, Michigan State) adds little value. What happens if Oregon State tanks down the stretch? If Michigan State's luck runs out? If Illinois drops its final two to Ohio State and Northwestern?
Penn State is doing well enough with human voters right now, but the soft schedule which gives them the best chance at finishing with a perfect record is also what makes them vulnerable to finishing without much of a Miami case to make. Moreover, if everything breaks against Penn State, it's theoretically possible--though highly, highly unlikely--they could at 12-0 wind up fifth or sixth in the computers, behind a swarm of one-loss teams from the Big 12 and SEC (Texas, OU, Tech, Florida, and Alabama). Of greater concern would be finishing 3rd or 4th in the computers--not outside the realm of possibilities. At 12-0, human voters would almost assuredly give Penn State enough juice to overcome any such computer crisis... unless, of course, the voters asked critically why PSU was languishing in the computers to begin with.
Which... ha. ha. ha. Not a chance. If Penn State's the lone unbeaten team, they'll get enough human love to play for it all.
- I'm seeing Florida rocket up a lot of ballots, including a #1 vote from Mike at Braves and Birds, who lays out a Power Poll case for the Gators on the top line. Which is fine by me: It's not a huge leap to get from Florida's current work-to-date, add some projected love, and wind up with "Why not UF?" But on a more resume-based approach, I see their body of work as less impressive than Texas', which features three outstanding wins and a less damaging loss.
- USC's top three wins aren't sexy names at this point of the season, but each team is better than generally credited and the Trojans' huge margins of victory over both Ohio State and Virginia help the cause. Still, this is a resume going nowhere fast. Cal offers one more solid notch on the belt, but it's overall slim pickins, with Ohio State the Big 10's second fiddle, Virginia fading, and the Pac 10 plodding along in good-not-great mode this year.
- Though Oklahoma is in my view just on the outside of the conversation, the Tech-Oklahoma State finishing punch provides potential to make noise late. The Sooners really need to root for Tech over OSU, then dispatch of the Red Raiders and Cowboys in order, setting up a three-way tie with Texas (if it wins out) and Texas Tech. Should they slide into Kansas City, they'll have the chance to be the red-hot one-loss Big 12 team with a chance at Miami.
- Most of the rest of the ballot is a mess, I'm sure, and though Oklahoma State gets the short end of the analysis stick this week--clearly behind OU and USC at the moment--if they win on Saturday in Lubbock, they get a seat at the grown up table, very much in the one-loss mix club fighting for Kansas City/Miami.