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Dr. Saturday

Top 25: The usual suspects, full speed ahead

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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Alabama rotates back into the top spot in the weekly swap as we count down the Saturdays to the Day of the Crimson Tiger on Nov. 5. Otherwise, nothing has changed: Both 'Bama and LSU have won big road games outside of the conference, both have blown Florida to smithereens, both have avoided anything resembling a letdown. Between them, they represent the only loss over the first seven weeks for four different teams in this week's top 20: Arkansas, Oregon, Penn State and West Virginia. So both remain 1a and 1b until further notice — that is, until one of them beats the other in three weeks.

We're still here. The initial BCS standings cast the national championship race as a four-team gauntlet to be decided by a pair de facto "semifinal" games, LSU at Alabama on Nov. 5 and Oklahoma at Oklahoma State on Dec. 3. If it plays out that way, it will be to the never-ending shame of the BCS if it also comes at the expense of Boise State, Stanford and/or Wisconsin, all of whom continue to grind inferior competition to dust in weekly bloodbaths. Georgia, a 35-21 loser to Boise State on opening night, is the only opponent the Broncos, Badgers or Cardinal have failed to dispatch by at least 20 points.

Unlike Boise, Wisconsin and Stanford's schedules will improve dramatically down the stretch — the Badgers still have to go through Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Illinois; Stanford gets Washington, USC, Oregon and Notre Dame, and both teams also have their respective conference championship games, if they get there — but they will not have a realistic opportunity to jump an undefeated Big 12 or SEC champion. A Badger-Cardinal showdown in Pasadena would be one of the greatest Rose Bowls of all-time, and easily the strongest indictment yet of a system that cuts off the championship credentials after two. Which is saying something.

B1G Time. In retrospect, I'm regretting Penn State at 14 — I over-valued the Lions' win over Iowa and their "good" loss to Alabama, and overlooked the fact that they've beaten Temple, Indiana and Purdue by a combined 15 points — but it's a strong showing by the Big Ten at large this week in the middle of the poll. Michigan State's defense looked like the real thing against Michigan; Nebraska's win over otherwise unbeaten Washington continues to hold up, while the 'Huskers' comeback over Ohio State got a little more valuable with the Buckeyes' win over Illinois; and Michigan still gets a lot of credit for beating surging Notre Dame, even it was in disconcertingly X-Box-ian fashion. Illinois' still hanging on at No. 23, too, to give the Big Ten six teams here altogether — more than any other conference.{YSP:MORE}

Nice pair of Ls you got there. I may look back on this on Friday and think, "What was I thinking?" but for the moment I'm feeling very magnanimous toward two-loss Texas A&M on the heels of the Aggies' win over Baylor, considering a) Those two losses came by a combined four points against a pair of top-10 outfits (Arkansas and Oklahoma State) that are a combined 11-0 against opponents that aren't Alabama, and b) The Aggies' three most impressive victims (Baylor, Texas Tech and SMU) are 13-2 against the rest of their schedules — and both of those losses came courtesy of 6-0 Kansas State.

I'm not going to vouch for the teams Baylor, Texas Tech and SMU have actually beaten, but I think that means Texas A&M is pretty good. And now that they've finally closed out a halftime lead against a respectable opponent, maybe they're on track to make things a little interesting for Oklahoma in a few weeks.

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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