I thought I would give a few reactions and explain a couple of things this week now that we are starting to have just a little bit of context.
Obviously week 1 was half of the season so far, but now that prior opponents also have another game under their belts, there is more reason to reward and punish teams based on Week 1, so some of the rankings are partly a result of improved perspective.
I have moved a couple of teams as a result of close games, which I think is appropriate this early. Last week, I took out Wisconsin and Stanford. I definitely feel vindicated about Wisconsin. I don’t know about Stanford, but I guess we’ll see this week against USC.
Speaking of the Trojans, they didn’t look too good against the Orange of Syracuse, but I’m not seeing anything too troubling yet. Northwestern may well be a decent team, and they’re 2-0. They beat the Orange by a single point in Week 1, followed by defeating Vanderbilt by 10. Northwestern did better against Vandy than did South Carolina, although the Gamecocks played the Commodores in Nashville. Not that that’s the most intimidating place in the SEC (or even the Northern SEC East).
I moved South Carolina down a single spot, but I will keep an eye on both USC’s and also on Vandy, Syracuse, and Northwestern.
Going back to the top, now that LSU beat Washington just as easily as they did North Texas, I think that provides enough information to knock Oklahoma down a spot for the UTEP game (17-point win in Week 1). Even if UTEP and Washington are equal (a dubious proposition), I’m comfortable giving LSU the edge for #2 this week.
Kansas St. benefited for taking a chance scheduling and still beating the tar out of the team (the Miami Hurricanes). This is an instance of giving the benefit of the doubt to an impressive score against a historically strong program, although that won’t (and shouldn’t) carry any weight later. Last year, Miami finished 6-6, beating Ohio St. and just barely losing to Kansas St. Also, the ’Canes appeared to improve in Week 1 by beating Boston College, to whom they’d lost in their prior game back in November. Nos. 8-12 certainly hadn’t done anything to justify continuing to rank them ahead of K-State.
Why did I put Mississippi St. roughly where Kansas St. used to be? Well, they played Auburn and beat them more easily than Clemson had. Rather than baselessly concluding Auburn is bad, I thought the solution was to move Mississippi St. up. They both get credit for having played what appeared to be a decent team going in but not so much that the move ahead of the teams I liked enough going in to put them higher than Clemson. I didn’t want to knock Michigan St. down either, although I don’t think Boise St. will have a good season by their standards.
I don’t have to explain why Arkansas is no longer ranked. As for ULM, they were on their way to losing and got breaks with a couple of injuries. They took advantage and that’s nice, but would you really rather your team have to beat them or a team I did rank?
Why did I just take out Oklahoma St. and not rank Arizona. Simple. Arizona had to go to OT to beat Toledo in Week 1. Maybe Oklahoma St.’s losses, at least at this point, have made them not deserving of a spot instead of the game making Arizona deserving of one.
I don’t know if Nebraska going to the Rose Bowl and losing is so bad until we have more information about UCLA. Knocking them down 11 spots seems sufficient. USM was a decent team last year too, and Nebraska beat them by 29 in Week 1. Also, UCLA did a good job by dominating Rice on the road on the first Thursday of the season. I’m not saying Rice is good, but a more mediocre team could have struggled more in that situation. There was a bad stretch on defense in the Rice game (17 points given up in 8 minutes, with a turnover given up by the UCLA punt-receiving team), but I think that by itself isn’t cause for alarm enough not to rank the Bruins after the win in Week 2. UCLA is two games above .500 for the first time since Oct. 2009.
The new Nos. 17-23 got the two-spot bumps for Arkansas and Oklahoma St. getting out of the way. Notre Dame’s win over Purdue wasn’t impressive, but just like my policy with similar teams, I’m not going to conclude a close result is a negative just yet. I was tempted to move Florida up even more for going to A&M and winning, but since that was close too, I thought it was more fair not to. For all we know, Purdue may be better than A&M is.
Texas was between Clemson and Virginia Tech, and I just didn’t see a reason to change this.
rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 LSU 3
3 Oklahoma 2
4 USC 4
5 Georgia 5
6 Oregon 6
7 Kansas St. 13
8 S Carolina 7
9 Michigan 8
10 W Virginia 10
11 Florida St. 11
12 TCU 12
13 Mich St. 15
14 Miss. St. —
15 Clemson 16
16 Texas 17
17 Va. Tech 19
18 Ohio St. 20
19 Notre Dame 21
20 Cincinnati 22
21 Florida 23
22 Baylor 24
23 Tennessee 25
24 UCLA —
25 Nebraska 14
Out of rankings: (9) Arkansas, (18) Okie St.