November 29, 2011
Now in its seventh year, the College Football BlogPoll is a weekly effort of dozens of college football-centric Web sites representing a wide array of schools under the oversight of SB Nation. 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 subjective, but ideally, it's not a guess: It's a judgment on the evidence that actually exists. It is not a power poll.
I'll have plenty more to say about this, but if LSU adds Georgia to its trophy case on Saturday, the Tigers' resumé will be so far ahead of everyone else's — including Alabama's — that I'm almost tempted to write of the BCS Championship Game itself as meaningless. A win over the Bulldogs will give LSU four victories over teams with at least 10 wins (Alabama, Oregon, Arkansas and Georgia), compared to a single 10-win victim apiece for Alabama (over Arkansas), Stanford (USC) and Boise State (Georgia). Oklahoma State can add one 10-win victim this weekend (Kansas State, if the Wildcats beat Iowa State); Virginia Tech hasn't even beaten a team ranked in any current poll.
In other words, at 13-0, LSU will be in a 2007 New England Patriots scenario: So far ahead of the competition that it will be guaranteed the best resumé even it loses the championship game. And (like the '07 Patriots) if the championship game happens to be a rematch against a team the Tigers have already defeated in the regular season, it will only drive home the point. LSU is No. 1, and short of two consecutive defeats to close the season, I'm not sure there's anything it can do to not be No. 1 at the end. We'll see what happens this weekend.
The Cowboys are also ranked behind Stanford in those polls, which I disagree with but can accept; the Cardinal's overtime win over USC on Oct. 29 is looking a lot better now than it did at the time, and a loss to Oregon isn't a bad one as far as losses go. Oklahoma State's loss to Iowa State is a bad one, and it obviously remained fresh in voters' memory during OSU's week off. But Oklahoma State also has at least three victims to its credit — you could argue as many as five — more impressive than Virginia Tech's best (Georgia Tech), and the way Clemson has played down the stretch, an overtime loss at Iowa State may not be all that much worse than the 23-3 beatdown Clemson put on the Hokies in Blacksburg back in October.
Jeff Sagarin ranks Oklahoma State's schedule to date as the eighth-toughest in the nation; he ranks Virginia Tech's as the 60th. Oklahoma State has six wins over teams currently sporting winning records, not including then-ranked Texas A&M in College Stateion; Virginia Tech has four. Etc. How badly do the Cowboys have to beat Oklahoma just to hop a team with a marquee non-conference win over Arkansas State?
• Don't mind the gap. I'm a little bothered by the distance between Boise State at No. 5 and Houston at No. 17, because it vastly overstates how far apart I think those two teams actually are: Boise's only advantage, resumé-wise, is a quality win over Georgia, and that's essentially negated by the Broncos' loss to TCU. But I'm also not willing to flip out on Houston for dominating a schedule highlighted by a trip to Tulsa. It's hard to put the Cougars' success into context when it's defined entirely by the absence of failure.
The only answer I have there is to say that the distance between Boise at No. 5 and TCU at No. 20 is a lot smaller than it looks. Like last week, the two-loss teams in between are ordered categorically (Pac-12 heavies, Big Ten bloc, SEC East, etc.) as much as they are by merit.
• 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.