September 15, 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 of 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. It's not a guess: It's a judgment on the evidence that actually exists, with a heavy bias toward strength of schedule.
• So: Michigan? After two weeks, we still don't know much, aside from the fact that Denard Robinson is alarmingly good. Not good enough yet that I have faith in the papier maché-thin secondary or the non-Denardian elements of the Wolverine offense to project them above .500 in Big Ten play just yet, but the poll will take those shortcomings into account when they actually begin resulting in losses.
As it stands, Michigan is the only team in the country with two wins over non-cupcakes from the right side of the BCS tracks (UConn and Notre Dame), one of which I considered a top-20 team before the season, with the other lagging not very far behind as a potential darkhorse in the Big East. With UMass, Bowling Green and Indiana coming up over the next three weeks, the Wolverines will be tumbling fast, but for now, their combination of early wins is the most valuable to date.
• Moving on down... Behind Michigan, 19 of the next 20 teams in the poll (all but Air Force, which just smoked top-25 mainstay BYU by three touchdowns) have each beaten one "Big Six" conference opponent apiece, most of them pairing that win with another of the fluffier variety. They're listed here roughly in order of the value of the "Big Six" win, beginning with Ohio State and South Carolina's triumphs over Miami and Georgia, respectively, through Missouri's opening-day victory over Illinois, with a slight boost for Oregon thanks to the Ducks' record-breaking margin of victory Saturday in one of the most hostile environments in the country.
• Argh Notre Dame why? In keeping with the emphasis on strength of schedule, I considered the Irish's narrow loss to Michigan slightly better than a functional bye against a I-AA/FCS patsy. With its opening-day win over Purdue, then, ND still comes out ahead of Iowa, Stanford, Kansas State, California and Missouri, all of which have descended into the lower division for a quick snack to accompany a more substantial win of equal or slightly lesser value than beating Purdue. Don't worry: The Irish will get dinged for the nougaty stretch of their own schedule – against Western Michigan, Navy and Tulsa in consecutive weeks – in late October.
But no other team with a "respectable" enough loss to trump a bottom-of-the-barrel win by the competition – Miami, Georgia, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Oregon State, Virginia – has a semi-respectable win to go along with it.
• Uh, ACC? Yeah, sorry. The most impressive entry on the ACC's resumé after a catastrophic weekend is either Wake Forest's shootout win over Duke, N.C. State's 28-21 escape from Central Florida or Virginia's valiant effort in a non-blowout at USC. Arguing on behalf of your most competitive losses – Virginia Tech and North Carolina took Boise State and LSU down to the final seconds, dawg! – is no way to get yourself ranked. The exile won't last long: Somebody has to win the conference games. (Unless, of course, they all go 4-4, which is a distinct possibility.)
• Big East? See above. When your major selling point as a conference is a dramatic overtime comeback at Marshall, your time has not come.
As always, everything will be completely different next week.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.