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Top 25: LSU puts down roots

Matt Hinton
Dr. Saturday

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Now in its seventh year, the College Football BlogPoll is a weekly effort of dozens of college football-centric Web sites representing a wide array of schools under the oversight of SB Nation. As always, this is an ever-evolving snapshot meant to judge teams exclusively on their existing resumés. It pays as little regard as possible to my guess as to what's going to happen over the course of the season, or what would happen in a make-believe game "on a neutral field" or anywhere else. It's subjective, but ideally, it's not a guess: It's a judgment on the evidence that actually exists. It is not a power poll.

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After a month of splitting top billing in a weekly rotation with Alabama, it's LSU's turn on top this week, this time all by itself. The Tigers' ode to the field goal in Tuscaloosa wasn't pretty, but it was effective, and it eliminated any and all doubts about No. 1 from here on out: With two elite heads on its wall from conquests of Alabama and Oregon, as long as LSU keeps winning, it keeps its crown.

What happened back there? I spent a few minutes looking at Boise State's schedule, then at Oklahoma's, and very seriously considered jumping the Sooners into the top five. After all, how can I justify having a team that counts Tulsa as its second-best win of the season (see below) ranked in front of a team that counts Tulsa as its sixth-best win? The answer is: Because the former didn't lose to Texas Tech.

Honestly, I'm still not sure how Oklahoma lost to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders' upset in Norman is the most inexplicable of the year, coming on the heels of back-to-back Raider losses to Texas A&M and Kansas State and followed by back-to-back Raider losses to Iowa State (!) and Texas, both blowouts. At best, Tech is schizophrenic; at worst, it's just another bad team that got unfathomably lucky on the Sooners' worst day. Either way, that solitary lapse negates any claim Oklahoma has to anything until it redeems itself at Oklahoma State.

B1G time. I'm admittedly feeling a little hostile toward the Big Ten this week, relegating a full third of the conference — Michigan State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan, all 7-2 — into one block from No. 18 to No. 21, because they really do belong together: All four have suffered a loss to one of the other three, and all but Michigan have beaten at least one of the three. (And the Wolverines have beaten Notre Dame outside the conference, more or less the equivalent of a solid Big Ten win that the others do not have.) The only question was where to put the block: At the front of the line of two-loss teams that dominates the middle of the poll, or at the back?{YSP:MORE}

Based mainly on the mediocre strengths of schedule in the Big Ten (see below) but also on my general weariness with a conference nobody wants to win, I chose the back end. And I moved unbeaten-but-untested Houston into the middle of the two-loss of the lineup just to drive the point home: Somebody needs to take command of this league.

On the other hand, with Penn State sneaking up on the top ten and suddenly competent Ohio State slipping into the bottom of the poll for the first time, the Big Ten also has more teams in the top 25 (6) than any other conference for the second week in a row. So parity has its virtues, I guess.

Wow, Penn State is on the verge of the top ten? After struggling to put away Temple, Indiana and Illinois with one of the most low-octane offenses in the country, I know. What can you do? It's just that kind of year.

Proof. This week's resumé grid for public consumption:

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L: Losses
PPG: Average margin of victory (points per game)
YPP: Average margin per play (yards per play)
Sked: Strength of schedule (as calculated by Jeff Sagarin)

As always, everything will be completely different next week.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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