We like the top ten, at least. The rest, as usual, is a sad mess.
Notes, Clarifications, and Mistakes We Made. Again.
--The hardest thing about hybrid polling--where you blend the results of matchups in the HYPOTHETICAL DEATH THEATER in your head plus a vague notion of a team's absolute value at that point in the year--is settling on which factor to lean on for moving a team up or down.
Keeping USC at three instead of four makes the brain quake a little after watching Notre Dame blasted into teeny pieces by a team clearly intent on giving them a 10 point handicap. (The sign of a true predator: toying with its prey cruelly! The comment brought to you by David Attenborough.)
Playing with your food--something David Attenborough would approve of. Seen here vacationing with Ed Orgeron.
But yet...without a head to head or conference foes, we have to go on absolute valuation and their one shared opponent.
USC and Michigan both alpha-rolled the Trojans Irish, leaving us going to the losses, which is where USC gets the analytical shaft. Michigan gets a 3 point loss on the road to the guys upstairs, and USC gets a scraping defeat to Oregon State, who contrary to popular opinion does not suck.
The top three are the top three for a reason: they're all three standard deviations away from the norm, the best in the country not by margins, but by leagues. Everyone below them is a degree worse in terms of quality.
The next group. Call them the "merely very good." Florida's still winning games a la mode de Belichick, finding some way to turn every game into a 21-14ish struggle where men you've never heard of suddenly cause fumbles, make crucial tackles, or score touchdowns. No field goals, yet, though, since our kicker's turned into the Rick Ankiel of the uprights. Once we get that cranking, we might win games by six points. Then there's a jumble of other very good teams, including Louisville, the best team in the Big East, followed by LSU, a team who should have destroyed all in its wake this year but inexplicably didn't.
Again, take the teams from 5-10 and rearrange them in random order, and this could make as much sense as our rankings. We just think Louisville wins most of the hypotheticals between these teams because of their ability to score, hold serve on defense, and their relative lack of injury at this point.
Oklahoma got up here courtesy of Pac-10 officiating and Bob Stoops' amazing softshoe work this year. His magicianship has been truly Gob Bluth-esque. It's been like...pennies from heaven! Losing his starting qb and running back and still [poof!]ing into the Big 12 championship game...it's like they're Wake Forest, except with a schedule.
The rest.......is a bleeding mess. Notre Dame has two huge losses to good competition, but has two huge losses to good competition. They beat Georgia Tech, who has Reggie Ball, who lost a pickup game of four square this morning to an eight-year old after fumbling the ball and throwing it away on back-to-back plays. And Auburn's offense regressed as the year went on, with even their victory over Florida (blinding pain...between...the...eyes...) coming without an offensive touchdown.
There's also the little clot of Tennessee, Texas, and Nebraska, all teams misfiring, misvalued, or just plain difficult to read. Until someone picks up that new shoulder for Colt at Home Depot, the Longhorns will remain here; until Bill Callahan dons an eyepatch and a fake mustache and convinces us that his evil twin Will Callahan is coaching the Huskers, they'll stay down, too.
The rest is mushwork, especially the ACC teams. Virginia Tech is 10-2? How the hell does that happpen every year? They're just setting us up for another high ranking, stunning loss, totally forgetting about them until midseason-Beamerball comeback-to-finish-10-2 again. It's a process as regular as the Krebs Cycle, just with better special teams. And we'll no doubt fall for it again next year.
We hate Georgia Tech because Ball looked horrible, but they probably don't deserve the tossing they get this week. Boise State is up there because they earned a BCS slot, but will lose wretchedly to whomever they face; viewers who root for the bear in mauling videos, tune in! BYU beats Utah on a nutsoid last heave--two steps closer to heaven for them.
Finally, USF gets the official U Go Girl! 25 slot for beating West Virginia at home. Somewhere, a sixth-year business major pounded a kamikaze at a strip mall bar in celebration. Rock on, Tampa.
Google "Tampa fashion," and this is result number one. No lie.