October 20, 2010
Now in its fifth year, the Blog Poll is a weekly effort of dozens of college football-centric websites representing a wide array of schools under the oversight of founder/manager/guru Brian Cook at MGoBlog, and now appears on SB Nation. 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.
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. Ideally, it's not a guess: It's a judgment on the evidence that actually exists, with a heavy bias toward strength of schedule.
• Auburn is only 1(a), etc. This is another week I wish I could split my first-place vote at least four different ways, and maybe as many as seven. There's no way to reconcile a clear order among the top half-dozen undefeated teams across all the possible criteria: Oregon, Boise State and TCU have clearly been more dominant, including double-digit wins over quality competition by all three, but Auburn, Oklahoma and LSU all have a better, deeper resumé of wins that's almost devoid of outright cupcakes. Last week, I went with the gaudier numbers; this week, with road upsets by Mississippi State and Texas adding major value to Auburn and Oklahoma's slates and Oregon State's overtime loss at Washington taking a huge bite out of the best win by both Boise and TCU, this week's effort defers to the schedules.
There's no right answer at this point, but the weekly flip-flopping is likely at an end: As the schedules continue to diverge, the gap between the Broncos and Horned Frogs and the teams in front of them is only going to widen unless there's some serious carnage in the top five – in which case the teams in a position to inflict that carnage to the current top five (see: Alabama, Arizona, Iowa, Missouri) will obviously be rocketing up their own selves.
• Green Fever. Michigan State is very much a part of that rotation, with Wisconsin's solid win over Ohio State casting the Spartans' equally convincing win over the Badgers in an even more impressive light. If MSU get out of back-to-back road trips to Northwestern and Iowa at 9-0 without too much damage to the credibility of the wins over Wisconsin, Michigan and Notre Dame, it will be time to start thinking of the Spartans as legitimate national contenders.
• Wherefore art thou, Big East? This is my seventh ballot since the start of the season, and the sixth to feature exactly zero teams from the Conference of (Basketball) Champions. Barring a stunning South Florida upset over Miami in November, the Big East is going to close the season with a single win over one of its "Big Six" brethren, West Virginia's easy takedown of Maryland on Sept. 18. The Mountaineers' second-best win came last Thursday, over South Florida, which was only a few days from losing to Syracuse at home, a week before the Orange were pounded at home by struggling Pittsburgh, and so forth. WVU is probably in with one more win, which ought to come Saturday when 'Cuse comes to Morgantown. Well, maybe two more wins.
• Proof. This week's resumé grid for public consumption:
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 Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.