Dropped Out: Texas A&M (#21).
I had a hard time with LSU vs. USC for the #2 spot, but I ultimately decided that USC beat a better team in their bowl game. I also think that if they played on a neutral field, USC is one of the few teams in the country with more talent than LSU and I have doubts about Les Miles' ability to beat a more talented team.
I fail to see how the human polls have Wisconsin ahead of Michigan, given that: (1) Michigan beat Wisconsin handily; and (2) Michigan's two losses were to teams that were better than anyone on Wisconsin's schedule. Finally, Wisconsin was more than a little fortunate to win a bowl game in which they were badly outgained. Score one for the human voters relying on recency and record over any other consideration.
I had a final rapprochement with the Big East as I decided to bump Rutgers and West Virginia way up from where I had them before. Ultimately, I don't think there's any rational way to dispute the notion that the Big East was good this year. Their teams all took care of business in their bowl games (admittedly against less than sterling opposition as a result of their weak bowl tie-ins). I gave South Florida some serious consideration for the top 25 before deciding that I didn't have room for them, but depending on what they have returning, they should be an excellent sleeper team next year.
I know that it makes little sense to have Penn State unranked and Tennessee #19 after the bowl games, but I try not to put too much credence into the bowl games and over the course of the season, Tennessee was a little better. Also, the Outback Bowl was totally even until a stroke of luck: a fumble bouncing right to a Penn State defensive back standing next to the pile. Penn State didn't have a win of the quality of Tennessee's thrashing of Cal. That brings me to one of the ironies of the bowl season: during the year, the common wisdom was that the Big Ten was top heavy and the SEC was well-balanced, but the results of the bowl games reflected that the depth of the Big Ten was a little better than we thought and that the top of the SEC was outstanding.
I'm also uncomfortable with the fact that I have Texas ranked after a ho-hum win over a bad Iowa team and I'm not ranking Texas A&M, which beat Texas in Austin and lost a bowl game to a quality opponent.
It amuses me to see voters bump Boise State up to #2 on the backs of an overtime win over a team that most votes are slotting somewhere in the middle of the second ten. Does anyone really think that Boise State could hang with USC or LSU on a neutral field? And if so, shouldn't said voters be bumping Oklahoma up after being a hook-and-ladder away from beating the Broncos?
I punished Virginia Tech severely not so much because they lost to Georgia, but rather because I was unimpressed by their defense, which was my whole reason for ranking them #13. I know that field position was a major factor in Georgia scoring 31 points on them, but there's no excuse for them to leave Georgia's tight end and backs totally uncovered on a number of second half plays. The Peach Bowl left me with the impression that the Hokies' defense was exploitable by any offense with a modicum of creativity.