September 30, 2009
Now in its fifth 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. The entire poll will be released later today.
As always, the criteria remains concerned exclusively with results to date, not preseason assumptions or predictions, and is heavily influenced by strength of schedule and, to a much lesser extent, margin of victory.
September champs. The Tide helped their case with a thorough beatdown of Arkansas, but got an even bigger jolt from Virginia Tech's own woodshed job on Miami; rejuvenation of the Hokies' status as reigning ACC overlord makes 'Bama's opening-night triumph over Tech in the Georgia Dome possibly the best win anyone has on its resumé to date. In more aesthetic, "power poll" terms, Alabama seems to be the most complete team in the country, but you could have said that at this time last year, too.
Boise State gets a similar bump from Oregon's Frankenstein moment against Cal, dramatically raising the value of BSU's win over the Ducks for the time-being. With Fresno State still hanging on to the edge of respectability, as well, Boise's schedule holds up well at the moment, but the Broncos will be falling soon as they hit I-AA UC-Davis Saturday and then the dregs of the WAC through the end of the year. Ditto Houston, which with wins over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to its name has maybe the best 1-2 punch of any team in the poll, but won't be able to sustain an elite spot long against its very forgiving companions in Conference USA.
Absolution. The second half of the top 10 consists of teams that have offset a respectable loss with at least two quality wins, which is more impressive to me now than one notable victory combined with two or three mostly ignorable triumphs, which describes the resumés of teams 11-18. The one-loss teams from 19-25 are hanging on with one decent win and losses of various acceptability.
Welcome to the Matrix. This ballot represents our first cases this year of "A > B on the field but B > A in the poll," with Georgia rising ahead of Oklahoma State by virtue of a) Beating a (presumably) respectable Arizona State outfit, the Bulldogs' third good-looking win in a row, while OSU was toying with Grambling State, and b) A huge big boost in strength of schedule by virtue of South Carolina's win over Ole Miss, which instantly made the Gamecocks' head on Georgia's wall one of the more impressive trophies in the country at the moment.
Florida State also falls below BYU despite the 'Noles' romp in Provo, because FSU's losses to Miami and South Florida can't hold up against the Cougars' still-golden win over Oklahoma; and Washington tumbles below USC, courtesy of a loss to Stanford. Such head-to-head violations will soon be too common to warrant any attention.
Come back when your schedule grows up. Texas escapes this fate by virtue of the oddball September conference date with Texas Tech, but the other three remaining undefeated teams in the Big 12 -- Missouri, Kansas and Texas A&M -- are all relegated to the "Waiting" category without a really quality win among them. Missouri has suffered from the burgeoning collapses of its two best victims, Illinois and Nevada; if not for Bowling Green's win over Troy, the Tigers' first four opponents wouldn't have a single victory over another I-A team. The Jayhawks and Aggies are putting up impressive numbers, but haven't beaten anyone better than Southern Miss between them. That changes for A&M this week, against Arkansas in the Jerry Dome, but Kansas is still a couple weeks away from its first real test against Oklahoma.
By then, as always, everything will be complete different.