I apologize for this being so late. I’ve been without home internet most of the week. Please check out my blogs about Vanderbilt‘s accomplishments in general and Georgia‘s lack thereof relative to Florida. The Georgia one was just published today, but I thought all of this should be published before games start tomorrow morning.
rank / team / prior
1 Notre Dame 1
2 Kansas St. 4
3 Alabama 2
4 Florida 6
5 Oregon 5
6 Ohio St. 3
7 Georgia 7
8 S Carolina 10
9 LSU 14
10 Nebraska 12
11 Stanford 16
12 TX A&M 15
13 Clemson 11
14 Florida St. 13
15 Oregon St. 8
16 Texas 18
17 Oklahoma 19
18 La. Tech 20
19 Louisville 9
20 Rutgers 22
21 Toledo 17
22 Michigan —
23 SJSU 23
24 UCLA 24
25 Utah St. —
Out of rankings: (21) Northwestern, (25) Mississippi St.
I’m not going to do a separate SEC entry this time since talking about the top 10 is for the most-part a discussion of SEC teams.
If only Alabama had choked with a chance to win last week.
But as it stands, the SEC’s best chance is still the Crimson Tide. I have them behind only Kansas St. and Notre Dame, although Oregon may close the gap and even surpass them in the next couple of weeks.
I have 5 SEC teams in the top 9 and 6 in the top 12 but shut out of the top 2, and as mentioned, the SEC may not even continue to have a team in the top 3.
Florida, who was #2 in the BCS before losing to Georgia, would have been a really good one-loss possibility, but due to the wonders of head-to-head (which disregards strength of schedule and benefits the team that loses to the lesser opponent), Georgia has clinched the SEC East (follow link for my thoughts on this).
It is in the realm of possibility for Georgia to end up in the top two, but that would require two teams among the BCS top 3 (Kansas St., Notre Dame, and Oregon) losing. I’m only slightly less sure that’s necessary with Alabama, but the best chances for a one-loss SEC champion would have been Florida or LSU. I would have enjoyed seeing that happen, by the way, but we’ll never know if this kind of strength at the top of the SEC would have been enough for either team.
Apart from Florida’s pending contest against Florida St., none of the four have any really high-quality out-of-conference games, but the key is the interdivisional games. Alabama played Missouri and Tennessee, Georgia played Ole Miss and Auburn, LSU played South Carolina and Florida, and Florida played Texas A&M and LSU. So Florida is 3-1 against the SEC top 6. I think that should merit being considered the best team in the SEC right now, and going into the SEC Championship game, there is a good chance my rankings will support that.
By the way, I think it’s outlandish that people are acting like Texas A&M is a better team than LSU when they lost to the Tigers at home. So much for head-to-head. Of course, if that were the only reason, that wouldn’t be good enough, but LSU also beat South Carolina. Texas A&M doesn’t have a strong interdivisional win (no, Missouri doesn’t qualify). As to the Alabama game, the Tide made the play it needed against LSU but not against A&M. I don’t see that as over-riding the A&M/LSU result just because LSU has lost more recently as a result of these events. Not to mention that LSU has been a more serious top team lately with a total of 3 losses in the last two seasons combined and 6 losses in the last three seasons combined. Also, LSU finally found a well-rounded offense against Alabama.
I read somewhere that if Oregon is in the BCS title game and the Rose Bowl opts not to pick another Pac-12 team (which seems like something they’d do, given that they picked Illinois of all teams a few years ago), they would pick Texas A&M to play Nebraska (for instance). Why would a potential Big XII title game a couple of years ago be more compelling than Florida/Nebraska or LSU/Nebraska? I don’t see it.
Anyway, speaking of the BCS top 3, I can definitely see Oregon moving into the top 2. USC, Wake Forest and a bye doesn’t stack up to Stanford, Oregon St., and a Pac-12 South champion (probably USC). Kansas St. may be stuck behind Notre Dame—both teams’ best win is over Oklahoma, Kansas St. also has a bye and a mediocre opponent (Baylor). Texas is better than USC, but not by much (especially since USC would improve somewhat by beating UCLA). USC can improve by upsetting Oregon or Notre Dame of course (and would improve at least somewhat by beating UCLA), but that would make this all a moot point. If I were Kansas St., I would be cheering for UCLA this weekend for sure. It might be counter-intuitive, but I also suspect it would be better for Oklahoma to lose Bedlam since Kansas St. beat Oklahoma St. and Notre Dame did not.
Too bad Texas isn’t playing Texas A&M this year. That could have been a contentious event for all involved in this discussion.
I can already see people asking me why Texas A&M is so low, and with the Aggies playing Sam Houston St. this weekend, I expect even more such questions next week. First of all, it doesn’t help much to play two FCS teams and SMU out of conference. Louisiana Tech is nice, but the Bulldogs have a very weak strength of schedule, so they count less as an opponent than they do in their own right. Also, the Aggies are going to play Missouri Thanksgiving weekend. This won’t help much either. Of course, my ratings don’t differentiate winning a big game last week from winning a big game (in hindsight) in Week 1. So how high would Texas A&M realistically be in that situation?
I think it’s pretty clear why Texas A&M is 6th in the SEC here if you think about it that way. And also, they followed the same script, go out to a big lead, then run into a wall. Alabama just wasn’t as competent against the A&M defense as they have been against defenses all year.
But it’s not as clear why Nebraska and Stanford are ahead. It’s having that good second or third win, I think. #2 and #3 for A&M are probably Louisiana Tech and Mississippi St. That’s not a top-10 resume. Granted no one outside of the top 9 really has one anyway, but Nebraska has good enough depth of wins: Wisconsin, Michigan St., Michigan, Northwestern, Penn St. The Big Ten has had better seasons, but Nebraska played all the desirable games against the other division, even though of course Ohio St. didn’t have a desirable result for the Huskers. The other loss was to UCLA, which of course is a much worse loss than any Texas A&M has suffered, but I think when you get toward the middle of the top 25, it’s fair to rank teams higher that have good (but not great competition) on a regular basis given that there may only be one win or no wins against the top 10 and perhaps only a couple against the top 25.
Stanford’s schedule lags behind Nebraska’s for the moment, but with the potential to steal the Pac-12 North from Oregon by beating the Ducks and Bruins, that’s going to change. Of course if they lose and Nebraska doesn’t, the Huskers will probably stay ahead though.
What can you say about the top of the ACC? Ball St., Auburn, and Furman don’t knock your socks off as non-conference opponents, but that just tells you how poor the Noles’ non-conference schedule is thus far that a team who played that slate and lost to the Seminoles is still ahead. But don’t forget that losing to Florida St. doesn’t hurt as much as losing to North Carolina St. does.
Oregon St. has fairly similar results as Stanford, but the Beavers didn’t play USC and Notre Dame. Wisconsin might make up for USC, but it doesn’t make up for both.
Texas also has two losses, but the ’Horns are being more and more weighed down by West Virginia. I mentioned Bedlam. A Cowboys win would also hurt Texas. Also, their best non-conference win is Ole Miss, which has a fair chance of losing to LSU and Mississippi St., although I wouldn’t bet the farm on the latter.
Oklahoma doesn’t even have a non-conference win as good as the one Texas has, but they should pass up the ’Horns due to playing West Virginia this week while Texas is idle. The tables might turn once again if Texas upsets Kansas St.
I don’t think Nos. 18-20 are likely to beat any of these teams (although La. Tech sure put a scare into A&M), but the important part is despite their respective records, they’re nowhere near national-championship consideration. I would much rather have the top 5 be in a satisfactory order than ensure the most deserving teams are in the top 20. But a three-loss team like Michigan being even farther away doesn’t bother me too much anyway. If Michigan shocks me and wins the Big Ten, they’ll be rewarded though.
Toledo is ahead of Michigan, but the MAC is strong enough this year to put a team with one conference loss in the top 25 when that team played a strong non-conference schedule, even though that schedule included a loss.
And then the WAC is strong enough to put a second and third team in the top 25. Utah St. is undefeated in conference with respectable losses to Wisconsin and BYU. San Jose St.’s only conference loss is to Utah St. and their non-conference loss is to Stanford.
I mentioned that UCLA has to play USC, the Bruins will also play Stanford, so two wins there would allow them to pass up several of these second-tier-conference schools. UCLA also has a shot at playing for the Pac-12 title. But (in Veruca Salt voice) why aren’t they higher now? For one thing, they could have picked a better team to lose to than Cal. Bad losses hurt, that’s done on purpose. If there are two teams in the top 5 with comparable wins, I want to knock out the one with a bad loss. Again, I’d rather make sure the teams 1-5 are the way I want them instead of teams 16-20 or 21-25. They also lost to Oregon St. and chose to play both sides of the Houston Derby. Nebraska was a really good win for them, but it’s not a cure-all.
#27 USC has the best chance of making it back into the top 25 with a win, but that would likely open up a spot for someone else. #26 Boise St. is idle and #28 Northwestern plays Illinois. #29 Texas Tech may jump both if it can get past Oklahoma St. The MAC had a big game this week between #30 Northern Illinois and Toledo, so they may essentially switch spots, although the Huskies may not get quite as high.
The next 5 out are Arizona, Washington, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma St. This gives a little more context to the parts where I talk about these teams in respectful terms. I kind of left it assumed the people know LSU beat Washington and Washington beat Stanford, but I guess it’s worth mentioning more explicitly.