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The good Senator is wrapping the season up like all good pollsters, by tallying one last round of votes. Here’s mine:
Cry, bitch, or applaud, but they won it. For all of you who refer to the national championship as mythical, the Gators hoisted a real crystal football last night. Regardless of what any other team (or pundit) says that claims a share of it, it doesn’t get any more real. Who cares if you don’t acknowledge it. The history books won’t have an asterisk by this one and even more importantly when Florida stumps to recruits they don’t have to say, “we should have won it that year”. That’s because they did… win it.
I believe USC to be the best out of that group. There is no doubt in my mind that they could beat Florida, but that conference plays such bad football – at least from the perception standpoint – it’s hard to forgive the loss. Had the Trojans had better competition down the stretch and the benefit of a conference championship game it could have been different. Were there a playoff they would be the favorite. Bottom line: USC’s loss to the Beavers looked much worse than Florida’s, or Texas, or Oklahoma’s then and now.
Texas probably would have fared as well against the Gators but to me there still is not that much difference between the two reps from the Big XII South. I don’t believe their road to accolades was any tougher than Utah’s – going 1-3 in bowl games somewhat reaffirms my belief that the Sooner’s and Longhorn’s division was overrated – but they have the perception. I would predict semi-final losses for either of those teams in a playoff scenario. On the whole though, a pretty good body of work.
Utah had a tremendous season and deserves much credit. If you look at the paradigm that says, based on the “body of work” view, Alabama’s bright season was dimmed by a poor showing in the bowl game, but they still fared well overall, then Utah, despite their tremendous showing in the bowl game still has a very mediocre season based on their relative body of work. Mainly, barley beating a bunch of mediocre teams. Meaning, if we cannot deflate a team too much fore poor showing in a bowl then we cannot elevate a team too much either.
I still think Utah is a good but not great team. They would have not stayed on the field with either of those teams last night. USC would mop the paint off the turf with them. They would easily be out in the first round of a playoff – in essence they should be loving the bowl system because it kept them form being exposed this year.
The Utes deserve much credit for a good year, but they didn’t beat the Alabama team that beat Georgia at home, or LSU. They beat the team that put up 188 yards on Tulane in contest that meant little more. That’s not their fault, I’m just saying they did not take the best shot of a great team, all year, and therefore in no way, shape, form, or fashion are they the best team in the country.
Sorry for the tangent, but that’s my problem with playoffs. Not that Utah did, but teams will dumb down their schedules to make their records look good and then get put out in the first round, laughably. That’s not good football. Cinderella’s are great in basketball. They suck in football. You’ll just have to trust me on that.
Finally, I believe Alabama to be, overall, a better team than Utah. Just like I believe Florida to be a better team than Ole Miss. The better team does not always win. I ranked Utah ahead of Alabama. They deserve it and that’s what rankings are about – somewhat. Florida obviously had the better body of work than Ole Miss. Utah had about the same as Alabama but the head-to-head makes it a no-brainer.
That’s the thing about this sport; series aren’t played and thus you will never get a true picture of who the best team is. It’s always going to be an “on this day” kind of thing. Thus a team that is better than yours might be ranked lower and a team that is not as good could be higher – even a team you beat. Just don’t act like a playoff will solve all of that. Hell, if it weren’t for debate this sport wouldn’t be half as fun.
Penn State (11-2)
Boise State (12-1)
Virginia Tech (10-4)
That’s my group of the rest. As always a few of those could be interchanged with a few others. More might be garnered from who I left off that list. I’ll say though that Virginia Tech is the only four-loss team I had. They finished the season strong with a bowl and a championship win, just the opposite of their ’09 season opening opponent, Alabama (see what I did there). Ole Miss (9-4) finished strong too, but the 10 in the W column for the Hokies looks better than the 9. Plus if I included Ole Miss that would be giving credit to Texas Tech (11-2).
If you take away the two FPS teams that the Red Raiders played in the pre-season (which in the Big XII South this year was anything prior to conference play) then they would not be at ten wins. The overrated standing of the Big XII South and Missouri makes the body of work not near as impressive. The biggest Red Raider win was against Texas but had Ohio State not allowed Texas to do the same thing to them that Texas Tech did against the Longhorns then they would be even less impressive. Which doesn’t say much for Texas.
Ohio State (10-3) was not impressive all year. Now that Notre Dame won in the post-season, will the Buckeyes take the mantle of the team that can’t get it done after November?
Cincinnati (11-33) and Georgia Tech (9-4) both had tenuous holds on the polls in my last ballot and bowl losses didn’t help that much.
There you have it. This was a lot of fun and certainly made me think through the process of who I voted for – for better or worse. Having my team in the mix all year helped with the motivation – I believe that my voting was fair all the way through. Plus, I’ve learned that when a person votes there will be some bias. That’s OK. There are many voters and the more there are the more bias works itself out.
Also, I really enjoyed the block voting aspect of this. I typically ranked teams as I put them down, but in the end the debate over a couple of positions – who should be ahead or behind someone else – is eliminated when you vote in groups.
Finally, I learned that polls are not about a direct correlation of who beat who (see above). Those are the domain of conference standings. With the size of the pool of teams, that would be impossible to keep up with and justify. Polls are based on perception (a strictly human trait) of record. The biggest factor of that is wins and losses. But record also has a component of the competition that was involved in compiling those wins ans losses. No matter what your formula, the opinion of that competition is going to vary form person to person.
I’ll close with this:
Football is not a type of race where there is a finite measuring point to determine victory. There is a winner of each contest, but even that comes into debate from time to time. It is also not a match or meet type of competition where a tally of many factors, including form and technical abilities, are recorded and exercised into a formula for determining champion.
It is a mixture of both.
It probably is most closely analogous to a boxing match.
Some rounds are clearly won by one of the opponents. Some are too close to accurately determine. Sometimes technical aspects come into play and while they may detract from the physicality of the contest, they are fatefully crucial to determining the outcome. Sometimes one opponent is clearly superior to the other and the knock-out only underscores that.
The blow that finishes it all is always the preferred method. There is little to argue then. But a winner is determined nonetheless (usually – a draw serves no one). And, just because the ending blow wasn’t delivered and the contest ends with questions, the promoters and patrons rush to deliver and view the next match.
But if the fighters are somewhat closely matched, the competition is fierce and the fight goes the distance. At the end of it all a winner is crowned. He is not always the favorite or the clear winner, but he walks away from the ring with some type of satisfaction. His fans are ecstatic and will defend his victory.
For the loser there is always the “what could have been thoughts”. He may fell cheated and begrudge the judged victor. His fans cry, “foul” and bemoan the system, the competition, and the judges. But for him there are two options; quit or preferably return to the gym to prepare harder and do everything in his power to not only earn the right to that fight again but to vanquish his opponent so badly that no one can say he doesn’t deserve the victory.
However you describe it, I’m hooked.
My last vote, at least until post-bowl season, in Senator Blutarsky’s Mumme Poll.
The Top Five:
Remember this is not supposed to be in order, but I’m listing them as I would a top five. However, this (poll) seems to be a good way to do this because this year there are several ways to look at this.
Florida: They were No. 2 and beat the previous No. 1 and thus should be No. 1. This might be he most complete football team in the country. Tim Tebow is the best football player in America. Period.
Alabama: Their only loss is to the best team in the country and call me homer, but if they played that game ten time, I believe Alabama could win five of them – alright at least four – but come on, unless you were a Gator fan, when the Tide was controlling the third quarter, you were thinking, “Alabama is gonna win this thing.”
Texas: The Longhorn’s record and head-to-head win over the Sooner’s put them in an elite group. I wish that the Big XII South had a better out-of-conference resume as a whole, and then we could tell more about them, as a whole, but we should all know much more about them after the bowl season.
Oklahoma: The same things from the Longhorns’ description above, with the exception that they lost the head-to-head.
USC: The moral of this story is, you can’t afford a loss if you’re in a crappy conference. This is a really good team regardless of how bad the competition is.
The Next Seven:
Penn State: Big Ten Champion should be worth something, right?
Texas Tech: Had they not beat Texas, I would not even use the words Red Raiders and poll in the same sentence.
Ohio State: I’ve felt meh about them all season, but if not them, who?
Boise State: Undefeated is still worth something, even if they would take the spot of a better team in a playoff format that saw them exit the first round.
Utah: They’re playing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. I’ve got to rank them, right? The same thing goes for the Utes as the Broncos, but in this instance, my beloved Tide can prove me right.
Cincinnati: Played pretty good down the stretch, winning their last six and the Big East title in the process.
Georgia Tech: They have the same record as the division champions and are playing better ball at the end of the season.
- Of course a lot could happen but I don’t believe that a four-team playoff would work this year. Eight teams might make it a little better.
- This is also the first year that my favorite model of all conferences having a championship game as a conclusion to the regular season, due to the joke of an OOC schedule shared by the aforementioned Big XII South. I am worried that we’ll see more of that as teams seek to jockey for the more lucrative bowls.
I just got back from Baton Rouge a few hours ago. I want to do a write-up that is worthy of the greatest place to experience college football in the country, but for now I’m going to focus on my ballot and do it just a little bit different this week. Without further ado:
The Top Five:
- Alabama – (10-0) Ended a five-game, series losing streak in Baton Rouge in overtime. Overcame three first-half turnovers, two missed field goals (one blocked as time expired) and the worst rush-defensive effort of the season to win the game in overtime. In the process they punched their own ticket to Atlanta and the championship game. This is a gritty, physical football team. They don’t look pretty but they found a way to win this weekend, which in all fairness, is the first time this season they have had to do that. They have Mississippi State up next weekend and Auburn on the last weekend of November. Neither of the final two opponents have winning records but sport streaks over the Tide. Alabama can expect the effort they saw from LSU from the next two opponents. They should be unbeaten when they play Florida in the championship game, but then again Penn State should still be undefeated as well.
- Texas Tech (10-0) Beat up on Oklahoma State Saturday night and now get a week to rest up and get ready for Oklahoma in Norman. The Red Raiders defense gave up 368 yards and 19 points but their 38 points and 629 yards of offense were more than enough to keep the game from being close. After the game in Norman they finish with Baylor. Win both of those and they play in the conference championship for not only the Big 12 title but also a shot at the national title.
- Florida (8-1) Routed Vanderbilt this weekend and host former coach Steve Spurrier and his Gamecocks from South Carolina this weekend. Then host the Citadel before traveling to Tallahassee for their annual intra-state showdown with the Noles. Will play Alabama in Atlanta the first week of December regardless of what happen the next three weeks. Might be the most complete team in the country right now with excellent defense and special teams play to complement their offense that seems to be hitting on all cylinders. Just like Texas Tech people want to see what other teams defenses can do to stop their offense. My thought is that it takes a good, time-churning type offense in unison with a good defense, to keep their excellent offense off the field and out of rhythm if there is a chance for them to be beaten. They are playing at a high level. Can they keep it up? I expect that should they win the last three they will be a favorite, by at least a touchdown, over Alabama when they meet. I believe that the national pundits will side with the few sore-loser Tiger fans we saw last night that won’t give Alabama a chance in that game.
- Texas (9-1) Hammered Baylor 45-21 yesterday and close out with a trip to Kansas and by hosting Texas A&M in Austin. If Tech slips up they might get back in to the conference title but that seems unlikely at this point. They are still a good team and deserve a real good bowl game.
- Oklahoma (9-1) Destroyed Texas A&M yesterday. They close out with Texas Tech in two weeks and at Oklahoma State for the bedlam game. Like Texas they are a good team but look to be out of the big-time title hunt by virtue of their loss to Texas.
- I really don’t like having three teams from the Big 12 South in the top five. The more I look at this the more I think it is a product of weak early-season scheduling. The only quality win that any of these three teams have – including Oklahoma State, who now has two losses that both game from the three teams in the top five – is Oklahoma’s win over two-loss TCU. That’s it. Their wins over each other are what is giving them the appearance of quality. My only real hope to solve this is some good bowl match-ups.
The Next Five
- Penn State (9-1) Fell from the ranks of the unbeaten by a last second field goal at Iowa in a game they were favored in. Texas Tech and Alabama, take note.
- USC (8-1) Got by Cal on Saturday night 17-3. I learned something interesting this morning. Oregon State (6-3) who lost to Penn State, Stanford, and Utah, could win the conference by virtue of their head-to-head win over the Trojans if they win out against Cal, Arizona and Oregon. The Beaver are playing better ball and could conceivably do that. That would put them in the Rose Bowl, probably against Penn State. Where would that put the Trojans? Should they win out they would be a lock for a BCS game based on their ranking. Or would they? That would put two teams from the dismal Pac-10 into BCS games. The SEC will certainly put in two, as will the Big 12. That’s six teams plus one each, automatically, from the ACC, Big East and Big Ten. If Ohio State makes a strong case for admittance, what would happen to a Utah or Boise State. I forget the rules for this but Oregon State could make things tough on some team that thinks its in.
- Georgia (8-2) Squeaked by Kentucky. Play Auburn this weekend before finishing out with Georgia Tech. The defense seem to be underachieving and I’m wondering if the loss of the pre-season goal of conference and national titles have taken the motivation away from the Bulldogs.
- Ohio State (8-2) Hammered Northwestern. Will finish out with Illinois in a payback type game to avenge the loss form last year and what should look similar to clubbing baby seals with a finale against Michigan.
- Pittsburgh (7-2) Beat Lousiville and have three games remaining to win the Big East. Thought about Michigan State for this spot but there is no way the Big Ten can have three of my twelve.
- Utah (10-0) Beat TCU to earn their way back in after a weeks absence. Travel to San Diego State before hosting Brigham Young to finish the season.
- Boise State (9-0) Punished Utah State to remain perfect. Close out with three relative cupcakes.
LSU and Oklahoma State dropped because they lost. I still think LSU is better than at least three of the teams in the bottom five, but they don’t have the record to prove it. I hate Boise and Utah, they are taking room that real football teams deserve.
My Top Five:
Alabama, Penn State, Texas Tech, Florida, Texas
The Next Seven:
USC, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Boise State
Dropped Out: Florida State, Utah
Moved In: LSU, Ohio State
- We lost Texas and Tulsa, to Arkansas of all teams, form the ranks of the unbeaten, leaving six. This should go to show that unbeaten does not necessarily mean a whole lot if your schedule doesn’t back it up.
- Utah going down to the wire with the Lobos of UNM, and the loss of Tulsa dropped them. Boise State was the only non-con to survive this week. I considered dropping Boise but I had no idea who to replace them with.
- At this point I am certain of the legitimacy of seven teams – Alabama, Penn State, Texas Tech, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, and USC. The rest are absolute toss ups. If I could have stopped at those seven I would have.
- Boise, Uath, and Ball could not beat the top half of the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, ACC or Big East. I am certain that Georgia, LSU, and Ohio State would beat them.
- There are still five one-loss BCS conference teams.
- I wanted to rank teams from the ACC and Big East but they are really so schizo that there is just no way to reward anybody. Maybe the eventual champions will make the cut.
- Georgia and LSU are certainly disappointments but I still think they are decent teams, certainly better than the rest of the conference.
- USC is a good team but their loss at Oregon State coupled with the horrible nature of the Pac-10 are hurting them in the nation’s eyes. Well, at least mine anyway.
- Look at Ball State, Utah, and Boise State all of you playoff proponents. These mediocre teams being unbeaten is what the BSC guaranteeing one spot to non-cons has created. They play a weak schedule to … screw it. I’m doing a separate post on it.
My Top Five:
TEXAS, ALABAMA, PENN STATE, FLORIDA, USC
The Next Seven:
Georgia, Oklahoma State, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia Tech, Uath
Michigan State, Missouri
Georgia Tech, LSU
Boston College, Florida State, Pittsburgh
Notes and Comments:
- With BYU losing on Thursday night there are now nine unbeaten teams
- The number of one-loss BCS teams fell to fourteen
- Oklahoma State’s win over Mizzou looked a little less impressive since Texas dismantled the Tigers
- Still not sold on Utah, but didn’t feel like bumping them this week since I haven’t yet
- The last two spots in the top five (Florida and USC) could have gone to Ohio State, Oklahoma, or Georgia. It’s really a toss-up between them but I felt that the impressive wins – Florida’s last week and USC this week – gave them the edge.
- Alabama didn’t look good after Cody went down but… they did remain unbeaten and despite shooting themselves in the foot beat a team that beat Florida two weeks ago and they ran off 24 unanswered after trailing for the first time this season.
- The last three spots in the “second tier” were a little bit harder. I saw a lot of Georgia Tech and Clemson and that (coupled with a loyalty to my grandfather’s rooting interest) gave them the edge beating out Florida State – who is looking better, even if Bowden wasn’t (did anyone else notice that Erin Andrews was doing her best no to crack up as she interviewed him the other night?).
- Somebody please, please beat Utah, Boise State, Ball State, and Tulsa. I’m tired of even having to consider them.
- Spending my day both on the Quad, and in a bottle of Maker’s I saw probably less football than I had all year. It made it a little harder to pick, fortunately a lot of the one-loss team added a second loss.
- I spent about twenty minutes researching (my season low) and twenty minutes on the post
Update (10/14/08): Senator Blutarsky has the full poll up.
Anyone from the Big East that can distinguish themselves
- Number of unbeaten teams fell from twenty to fifteen this week.
- All five non-BCS unbeatens remained that way – I want to show some love but the resumes are just so blah. Utah got the nod but even winning may change that soon. I just don’t think they could beat LSU, for example, who I dropped from the poll for that horrendous showing in Gainesville.
- Three of the unbeatens are in the Big 12 South – that will work itself out.
- Texas Tech’s overtime victory over a mediocre Nebraska, at home, coupled with their horrible resume is keeping me from saying they are for real. They have a chance to fix that.
- Twenty-three one-loss teams this week. That’s up from twenty last week, not counting Notre Dame, who I don’t have to worry about counting now. Within the next two weeks there could be several two-loss teams that deserve more credit than some unbeaten teams.
- Florida got the top-five nod for the big win over LSU. It could just as easily have been USC or Ohio State. We’re getting to the point of the season where you have a team perform real well in a game and it’s like they are saying, “we want a do-over from the Ole Miss/Oregon State game etc., etc”. I’m just not a fan of that. This could very well be the textbook season where the BCS is doomed. It’s hard to see any one of the Big 12 trio, Alabama, or Penn State going undefeated (forgive me Tide fans; I hope I’m wrong). Imagine a log jam of really good one-loss teams and three non-BCS undefeated teams. I know the season still has to play out… I’m just saying.
- I spent about an hour on this, research, ballot, and post.
- The ACC, top to bottom is not a good conference.
As I have mentioned before I am voting in Senator Blutarsky’s Mumme Poll. You can read the basics about it here and check his site for the results. In a nutshell is doesn’t begin until this week (week six of the season) and voters vote on twelve teams without ranking them only designating which five are the top five, although in no particular order.
It is a performance based poll and therefore other polls, especially ones that started in the pre-season have no bearing on this.
I did it like this:
I perused the conference standings focusing on record because it was an easy place to see all the information. At this point there are fifteen unbeaten teams in the country; five from the Big 12, two from the Big 10, three from the SEC, and five from the non-BCS conferences (the Pac 10, Big East and ACC have none). To make sure I didn’t exclude a deserving team I also looked at the one-loss teams from the BCS conferences only (sorry other conferences). There were twenty one-loss BCS teams; one from the Big 12, three from the Big Ten, three from the SEC, three form the Pac-10, four from the Big East, and six from the ACC.
Next I looked at total record of opponents and while I thought this would give a better indication than it did I found that of the unbeaten teams only two have played opponents that have a composite winning record, Alabama (17-14) and Vanderbilt (15-14) and one had a break-even opponent record, Missouri (13-13). The other seventeen’s opponents had composite losing records.
Another startling trend was that all of the non-BCS unbeatens had wins over two-A opponents. Of the BCS unbeatens, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, LSU had wins against two-A competition. Texas Tech had wins over two FCS teams and they became a poll exclusion as did all the others with inter-division wins with the exception of LSU, who had a quality win against a ranked opponent* and Utah, whose opponent composite was the best of all the non-BCS unbeatens (15-18).
This is hard stuff. You can’t just put in the unbeaten teams. First of all there are too many and second, the road that they took to get to unbeaten was not near as hard as that of others. You have to be able to make comparisons. Out of the five non-BCS teams – Utah, BYU, Ball State, Boise State, and Tulsa – you can’t make me believe that they are more deserving to be ranked than at least half of the BCS one-loss guys.
I was beginning to get confused so I put in the teams that I knew were in. Of the unbeatens there were seven obvious choices; Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Penn State, Alabama, Vandy, and LSU. All these teams except Texas have beaten a ranked team and LSU was the only one with a FCS opponent.
I next chose the top five out of the seven and that was relatively easy. Missouri, Oklahoma, Penn State, Alabama, and LSU. LSU does have the Appalachian State game on their resume but their lines and skill players are phenomenal, I don’t know how you can not include them.
Next I looked at the one-loss teams and tried to determine the best teams from that group. Georgia was easy, their one loss was to Alabama and they never gave up in that contest. USC, despite their loss to Oregon State is a solid football team. Florida’s loss to Ole Miss hurts them but I believe that they could beat any of the teams I had chosen and I am certain they would beat any of the unbeaten non-BCS guys (really, their schedules are abhorrent) and the same could be said for Ohio State, so I included them (their victory over Wisconsin helped them). After including those four I was left with one spot for twenty-three candidates. I watched Utah’s come-from-behind win last Thursday and I gave them the nod.
This was my ballot (top five in all CAPS):
Next week will be easier as more teams lose (LSU plays Florida, Texas plays Oklahoma, plays Oklahoma State plays Missouri) and I already have a pool established of likely candidates. Some of the teams that are on the waiting list are: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Northwestern, BYU, Michigan State, Florida State, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech. A loss by Florida or Georgia would send them to purgatory.
I’m really interested in how this progresses. The thing I learned this week is that your resume can hurt you as well as help you. Playing weak competition can bring you down or keep you from getting the benefit of the doubt. That, whether fair or unfair, is what separates the BCS schools from the non-BCS schools and the power conferences from the weak conferences. Every 5-0 does not compare to every 5-0, 4-1 or whatever.
It’s also a good thing that just oner person does not decide a poll. There are opinions out there that will counteract mine and likewise and that is probably a good thing