September 08, 2009
The (Labor Day-delayed) polls are out, and there is no news at the top: Florida lost a couple first place votes to Alabama in the AP and actually gained a couple No. 1 nods from Texas in the coaches' poll, for some mysterious reason, and the Gators predictably remain on top of both by a huge margin. 'Bama and USC move up to fill the void left by fast-dropping Oklahoma. No alarms, no surprises.
Elsewhere, though, it's all shook up, and the main beneficiaries of the tectonics are clearly Oklahoma State and BYU: The Cowboys move up five full spots in both polls for finishing off Georgia, to No. 5 in the AP and No. 6 according to the coaches, hopping Ohio State, Penn State and Ole Miss in both cases as well as LSU in the latter. That's one spot better in both polls than the Cowboys' peak position during their 7-0 start last year, and as far as I can tell, the highest position in school history; if they've been ranked higher, it hasn't been in Mike Gundy's lifetime. If OSU handles Missouri in Stillwater on Oct. 17, the Halloween visit from Texas should be a colossal tilt that pretty much directly mirrors the Longhorns' trip to Lubbock for Texas Tech's shining moment almost a year ago to the day.
But the Cowboys' leap pales in comparison to the weekend's biggest winner, BYU, which rocketed up 11 spots (from 20 to No. 9) in the AP and 12 spots (from 24 to 12) in the coaches' ballots, confirming my assumption on Monday that the Cougars are one home win over Florida State from legitimate national contention. Given the guaranteed attrition among the other teams in the top 10, the worst the Cougars can conceivably do if they manage to run the table is No. 5; a couple upsets at the top will put them on the doorstep of the championship game and certainly in the thick of the discussion -- if, of course, the Y avoids falling victim itself. On second thought, as it's still early September, we probably shouldn't be talking about this. (What, with East Carolina and all.)
Pollin' shout-out to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Doug Lesmerises, who dared to drop Florida from No. 1 on his preseason ballot to No. 4 this week in favor of -- gasp! -- teams that actually performed well in games of substance: Alabama, BYU and Oklahoma State move in front of the Gators for beating preseason top-15 teams instead of Charleston Southern. What a novel concept. Next time, he may even take it all the way and exclude devourers of I-AA cupcakes from his first ballot entirely.