September 08, 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, the first regular-season ballot of the year is brought to you by '70s folk-pop martyr Jim Croce, who reminds readers that, "After all, it's what we've done/that makes us what we are."
• We're just warming up here, folks. The first week always throws off newcomers because, as it says, it's not a power poll, and pays as little heed to preseason assumptions as possible. From the first week to the last, all of my top-25 ballots will judge every team exclusively on its existing resumé with no regard to my guess as to what would happen in a make-believe game "on a neutral field." We're not guessing: We're judging on the evidence that actually exists.
After one week, that's not much. Only 13 teams opened with a win over an opponent from a "Big Six" conference, and three of those came against perennial sad sacks Washington State (trounced at Oklahoma State), Vanderbilt (Northwestern) and Illinois (Missouri). Three others came against alleged Big East frontrunners, Pittsburgh (felled by Utah), Cincinnati (Fresno State) and UConn (Michigan). Of the rest, Washington (victim of BYU), Purdue (Notre Dame) and UCLA (Kansas State) looked like their typically mediocre selves, and North Carolina (a dramatic loser at the hands of LSU) was missing half its starting lineup.
That leaves Boise State, an edge-of-your-seat winner Monday night against Virginia Tech, and TCU, fresh from a borderline dominant effort over Oregon State, as the clear winners of the weekend, ambitious upstarts who took on ranked outfits on neutral ground and came away with the marquee, springboard wins to take into their runs back to the BCS.
• If you opened with a I-AA/FCS team, you are out of the poll. That should be pretty self-explanatory. Strength of schedule is a major component of the poll at all times – this week, its basically the only component – and beating Samford (Florida State) and Youngstown Stat (Texas A&M) will get you nowhere.
That also goes for beating I-A/FBS bottom feeders on the order of San Jose State (Alabama), Rice (Texas) and Louisiana-Lafayette (Georgia) that probably should be dropped down a division – especially if it was anything less than a grisly blowout, as with the offensive and defensive meltdowns, respectively, in Florida and Oklahoma's too-close-for-comfort win over Miami, Ohio and Utah State. Oregon blistered hapless New Mexico badly enough in the course of a 72-0 incineration that I felt compelled to include the Ducks, but I'm not proud of it.
• A token nod to Jacksonville State. On the other side of that coin, the Gamecocks aren't even eligible for the ballot. But their ridiculous overtime win at Ole Miss would realistically land them somewhere from No. 6 to No. 9 if they were eligible.
• At least they kind of tried. Outside of the top 10 (and even in the top 10, to a large extent) none of the teams ranked from 12-20 beat what you'd call a truly "quality" opponent. But South Carolina, Maryland, Ohio State, Iowa State, Texas Tech, USC and Troy did all manage to at least dispatch 2009 bowl teams from the lesser conferences by double digits. After that, I'm more willing to tip the cap to the weekend's most competitive losers – Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Oregon State – than to anything anyone else did against the remaining rabble.
As always, everything will be completely different next week.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.