October 08, 2008
Now in its fourth year, the Blog Poll is a weekly effort of dozens of college football-centric Web sites representing a wide array of schools under the oversight of founder/manager/guru Brian Cook at MGoBlog, and now appears on CBS Sportsline. It’s an effort to provide a more rigorous check on the mainstream polls that actually, like, count toward the mythical championship, and enthusiastically shines a light on its voters' biases. But mainly, it’s fun.
Some significant spreadsheet-based elbow grease went into this week's ballot, which turns on three factors: strength of schedule (as calculated by Jeff Sagarin, for shorthand), "big" wins and, to a lesser extent, margin of victory. I won't share them, but there are specific numbers in each of these categories; I'll pass along the grids to anyone who e-mails me. As ever, the lineup is entirely resumé-based, takes every game into account, and gives priority to playing and beating teams worth playing and beating, as opposed to handing Florida International its head.
On the latter scale, Alabama still reigns -- Georgia, Kentucky and Clemson remains the best trio of "quality wins" in the country, and final score notwithstanding against the Wildcats, none was really close -- but the big mover this week is Missouri, for two reasons: a) The Tigers added a ridiculous blowout over a decent team, Nebraska, on the road; and b) Mizzou also got a boost from Illinois, which looked like a serious Big Ten contender in a 25-point butt-kicking at Michigan, dramatically increasing the value of the Tigers' 10-point win over the Illini in the opener. Rounding out the top five, Vanderbilt added its best win, over Auburn, but doesn't move much as the Tigers' stock was rapidly dropping even before Saturday, and the margin of victory category isn't very kind to the Commodores, either. Auburn is also the only win of any note on LSU's schedule to date, accounting for the Bayou Bengals' drop to No. 10. Know this, though: a win at Florida Saturday will put LSU in contention for the top spot next week.
The Big XII contenders have a real statement weekend: both Missouri, dangerously assuming it handles undefeated Oklahoma State, and the winner of the Texas-Oklahoma blockbuster will be right in the mix for No. 1 next week. Alabama takes the week off, and will likely pay for it.
Georgia, California and Florida interrupt "ACC Row" from spots 11-17. There's not much difference between Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest, except that the Hokies happen to have beaten G-Tech and UNC, as well as handled Nebraska on the road. If not for the breakdown by the punt team against East Carolina way back in week one, Va Tech would be getting a bit of mythical championship buzz, and at the rate top teams are going down, it might have a chance to make that move if there are no letdowns.
I didn't set out for it to be this way, but on the heels of Monday's skepticism over the Cougars' rock-bottom schedule, I guess I'm the "Anti-BYU Guy" from here forward. This comes mainly from a complete re-evaluation -- i.e., significant de-valuation -- of the blowout win over UCLA, which is virtually singlehandedly propping up the Cougar hype until they get some better-looking skins on the wall. Memo to fellow pollsters: instead of thinking "Well, BYU was in my top 12 last week, so ... " take a fresh look at their victims. The Bruins are a confirmed Bad Team, as is Washington, whose near-upset in Seattle must be a liability for BYU as the Huskies sink farther into the tank. Otherwise, it's filler: Northern Iowa, Wyoming and Utah State.
So the Cougars take a massive tumble this week, all the way out of the poll until they take down someone worth noticing -- TCU, maybe? Until then, they're stuck with Northwestern, Ball State and Tulsa in the "whoop de doo" section of the undefeated club, which the Wildcats will escape in one direction or the other after they face Michigan State this weekend.
As always, I'll begin from scratch, and everything will be completely different next week.