FYI, the Delta in my ratings is screwed up because I was swamped at work last week and didn't get a ballot in.
I wanted to be the guy who ranked LSU #1 for the entire season, but as I wrote on Saturday night, this LSU team is living right now more on reputation and the effects of its domination of Virginia Tech and South Carolina than it is on actual performance on the field right now. The defense seems to be less than the sum of its parts and Matt Flynn does not exactly inspire confidence. I bet they struggle at Oxford in two weeks. That said, I also bet that they look good against Arkansas and then really good in the SEC Championship Game. If I were an LSU fan, Florida would be the one team that would scare me in Atlanta because they could compel LSU to play a shootout. Kentucky doesn't have the depth to be excellent in December and I'm not sold on either Georgia or Tennessee standing much of a chance if LSU is really paying attention.
The bottom of my ballot was a difficult proposition. As I went through the list of teams alphabetically, I kept putting teams into the poll and saying "they'll be #25" so by the end, I had about eight candidates for that spot. I leaned on the Sagarin Predictor rankings pretty heavily, although I should have had the guts to put Texas Tech (Sagarin #15) ahead of Virginia (Sagarin #50) in the #25 spot. Consider Virginia's ranking this week to be the equivalent of Spurrier ranking Duke at #25 before each season.
If you want an example of the imperfection of human rankings, when I put Arkansas in the poll, all I was thinking about in my mind was Darren McFadden's Bo/Herschel impersonation on his 80-yard touchdown run on Saturday night. I forgot about Arkansas's suspect defense, their negligible passing game, and the fact that they haven't beaten a top 30 team all year. All my mind could see was Humanity Advanced and that thought went directly to my keyboard. Speaking of the flaws of mortal man, here are some teams that are rated significantly higher by humans than by Sagarin's Predictor and vice versa:
Test Group One
Boston College - 8 AP, 24 Sagarin
Georgia - 10 AP, 28 Sagarin
Virginia Tech - 11 AP, 29 Sagarin
Hawaii - 14 AP, 32 Sagarin
Virginia - 23 AP, 50 Sagarin
Test Group Two
Florida - 17 AP, 7 Sagarin
Auburn - 18 AP, 11 Sagarin
Cincinnati - 27 AP, 13 Sagarin
Arkansas - 31 AP, 12 Sagarin
South Florida - 33 AP, 14 Sagarin
Texas Tech - unranked AP, 15 Sagarin
Kansas State - unranked AP, 17 Sagarin
Pay attention to how these teams perform over the last month of the season. We'll have a nice, unscientific mini-test as to how humans perform as compared to one particular computer.