THE RANKS: A mess.
For the first time this year, I'm totally bewildered. Below No. 8, this whole thing might as well be written with an Etch-A-Sketch.
Now, if I can just hook it up to the computer...
So I'm going to go with a new approach. This is a weeklong, temporary poll. Next week, after the conference championships, I will raze it to the ground and rebuild it -- relying on this poll but moving dramatically when I feel so inclined. But until then, it is what it is.
To the ranks:
1 (Last week: 1) Ohio State: IDLE. Waiting for an opponent to emerge from the scrum below them. But you can bet Tressel’s watching game tape from last year’s Rose Bowl.
2-T (2) Michigan: IDLE. Also waiting, but waiting with the hope that UCLA does the improbably and Arkansas pulls the plug on Florida’s ninth life.
2-T (3) Southern California: def. Notre Dame, 44-24. I’m close. If they beat UCLA, I’ll bang my head on the desk, take a sedative, and put them at No. 2.
4 (3) Florida: def. FSU, 21-14. I still say a win over Arkansas is a win over Arkansas, and denying a qualified SEC champion a play in the title game -- should USC-West lose -- would be a crime.
5 (7) Wisconsin: IDLE. They look better simply by not taking the field.
6 (10) LSU: def. Arkansas, 31-26. You know, a few plays here, a few bounces there, and we might be watching them against Florida in a battle royal in Atlanta. But it wasn’t meant to be.
7 (3) Arkansas: lost to LSU, 31-26. I can’t believe they were looking past LSU. So I think the Bengals are probably just a better team with more losses.
8 (15) Oklahoma: def. Oklahoma State, 27-21. I’m impressed. One loss away from being a topic of conversation and angst for the BCS.
9 (11) Tennessee: def. Kentucky, 17-12. Despite an underwhelming win in Kentucky, they are the beneficiaries of horrendous play below them. Getting punished in other polls for losing, without attention to who and how much.
10 (8) Texas: lost to Texas A&M, 12-7. I still believe everything below about No. 8 is complete mediocrity. So what do you want me to do?
11 (6) Notre Dame: lost to Southern Cal, 44-24. Okay, this team just isn’t great. It’s a good team, but not a great one. Argument settled.
12 (13) Rutgers: def. Syracuse, 38-7. Syracuse is the new Rutgers. You have to beat them.
13 (14) Louisville: def. Pittsburgh, 48-24. Still not impressed by Louisville. When someone can tell me why this team is in the top 10, I’ll put them there. Otherwise, it’s just inertia.
14 (9) West Virginia: lost to South Florida, 24-19. The MIGHTY BIG EAST strikes again. It’s beginning to resemble the ACC. And who thought, a couple of years ago, that that would be an insult.
15 (16) Auburn: IDLE. Again, a team that impresses by not being able to be unimpressive.
16 (19) Boise State: def. Nevada, 38-7. I moved them up some for the undefeated season. I still don’t think they’re a good team, but they get a BCS bowl to prove me wrong.
17 (17) California: IDLE. Their best week in a while.
18 (18) Virginia Tech: def. Virginia, 17-0. It’s a rivalry game, so I don’t punish. But it’s an unimpressive win, so I don’t reward.
19 (12) Georgia Tech: lost to Georgia, 15-12. Georgia is still bad. This was just Reggie being Reggie. But he can’t be Reggie if they want to win the ACC.
20 (20) Wake Forest: def. Maryland, 38-24. They might just beat Georgia Tech with their innovative, quintuple-option formation. I’m not saying they will, I’m saying they might.
Fear the ... whatever caused this.
21 (24) Nebraska: def. Colorado, 37-14. I don’t really want to move them above the ACC teams -- yet. But it won’t take much to convince me.
22 (NR) Texas A&M: def. Texas, 12-7. A squeaker win puts them back on the list.
23 (23) BYU: def. Utah, 33-31. Again, a rivalry game. Otherwise, they’d be gone.
24 (NR) Oregon State: def. Oregon, 30-28. Looks like the USC-West game wasn’t a fluke. It was an overachievement, but not a fluke.
25 (NR) Hawaii: def. Purdue, 42-35. Men of the Square Table: That whole OFF-FENCE thing? Way ahead of you.
DROPPED OFF: Clemson takes a fall after they lose to the Gamecocks, 31-28 (Funny, it never gets old saying that) ... Boston College slips off with the loss to Miami ... Arizona can’t beat the Sun Devils ...
ON THE BUBBLE: Call me a homer, but if South Carolina wins a bowl game over a quality opponent convincingly -- and I’ll hold myself to that -- I might put them at No. 25 if so low-ranked teams lose ...