Our blogpoll ballot for week one follows. The requisite attempts to justify a hodgepodge of power polling and gut instinct follow, as well as some serious jiu-jitsu in wrestling with the relative import of non-conference games, first-game stumbles/moonshots, and what the hell to do with the Kansas and Wisconsin bracket of teams in our poll.
Pay no attention to the deltas. They busted, yo. Illinois did not move up two spots.
Polling note: there's nothing hidden here. In short, the method is to take the evidence from the field and make it jibe as realistically as possible with the gut feeling left over from preseason estimates. This is especially true of teams we think overperformed--Alabama and UCLA, for example--and teams who underperformed relative to their preseason ranking. So, if a ranking looks wonky to you, it's probably in light of present performance either clashing with expectation or because the fine gradations between teams are often a judgment call based on the only available data about [TEAM NAME HERE] 2008.
Take USC, por ejemplo. They move to number one because they gave zero room for UVA to upset them, hang with them, or even think about not peeing sitting down for the next three days because Rey Maualuga told them to do so. The remaining top eight all faced opponents arguably weaker than the Cavaliers (FAU probably being the toughest of the lot) and annihilated them for the most part. Note WVU's wobble down slightly, though: allowing 399 yards to Villanova doesn't bode well for the security of WVU's defense. (Next up: ECU, fresh off upsetting Virginia Tech! Could it happen again? Certainly! Not! Maybeprobablyno!)
Juice Williams tattoos you with a tramp stamp of yardage and we will not touch your booty now. Jeremy Maclin jitters aside, letting Juice Williams rend you asunder for 400 yards deserves some kind of penalty. Mizzou is deeply flawed defensively; quantitatively, there's little but strength of schedule separating them from Texas Tech in our mind.
Crazypants slightly belted: We started Wake Forest higher, so they won't drop behind Alabama, who yes looked juggernautish against Clemson, but let's not go totally mad Saban-woozy now, shall we: Clemson was beaten in every phase of the game, but how indicative a Tommy Bowden teamflop is of a team's quality should be evaluated fairly. If it's a certainty that they will flop, it's now part of the rule that they will recover and look really good at the end of the year. Additionally, John Parker Wilson was called on to do very, very little in the game. LSU will be a fascinating game for evaluating Bama; LSU's defensive line will likely force Alabama to pass more, something Tide fans (euphoric as they are right now) DO. NOT. WANT.
The rest, as usual, is a mess. Dropped: Virginia Tech (obvs), Tennessee (Claweyesoutfense,) Oregon State (indulge us our requisite horrendous preseason mistake. All fifteen of them.) UCLA's in on the basis of their defense, but hell oh hell did they get an assist from a brainlocked Tennessee team. We mean, um, yes! Please, Cap'n Glazeworthy: keep Jonathan Crompton in forever and ever and ever.
Texas Tech had a school record 18 penalties in their opener, and did little to change any perception of them not being normal, exciting, shot-through-with-points-all-over-the-place defense-wise. Illinois' probably on their way out, but at least they showed fight, unlike Clemson, who wrapped their lips around the gun barrel and grabbed for the trigger themselves.
UCLA appears, though for how long, who knows--after last night's miraculous opening statement, they could lose the next 11 or win the national title. We'll honor their stellar effort and back away slowly, anticipating liftoff or explosion on the launch pad. Utah is in there for Brian Johnson's senior savvy; Kansas, Arizona State, and Oregon get credit for drilling chumps like they should. Finally, South Carolina looked horrible and still pasted NC State 34-0