Dropped Out: Pittsburgh (#21), Miami (Florida) (#22), North Carolina (#25).
Random Thoughts on the Weekend:
I struggled with the top three on my ballot. Ultimately, I put Texas on top because they've played the toughest schedule of the three top teams. That is subject to change after this weekend, as Oklahoma and Florida both face more challenging opponents. I did not put Texas ahead of Oklahoma because of their head-to-head result because I hate per se rules in ranking teams. At various points this year, I've seen people advocate rules like: (1) only conference champions should play for the national title; (2) no one-loss major conference team should be ranked ahead of an unbeaten major conference team; or (3) when two teams finished tied, the winner of the head-to-head match-up should win the tie-breaker. These are all cop-outs to allow pollsters to avoid engaging in the hard analysis of comparing resumes. There are a variety of reductio ad absurdums that can show the weakness of each rule. The Big XII South could end up illustrating a major flaw in the head-to-head rule. Right now, just about everyone has Texas Tech as the third-ranked team in the division. The consensus is that Oklahoma and Texas are both better teams, which is a reasonable conclusion in light of the fact that the Horns and Sooners have played tougher schedules and didn't get blown out like the Red Raiders did on Saturday night. Now, assume for the moment that Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma on Saturday. Does Texas Tech jump Texas because of an Oklahoma loss? Put another way, if Texas Tech is the third-best team in a three-way tie, how can they be the best team in a two-way tie?
Can someone explain to me what meaningful difference exists between 2007 Illinois and 2008 Michigan State, other than the fact that Illinois showed that they were capable of playing with a top ten team? Mark Dantonio's very basic approach to scheming would be fine (but sub-optimal) for a team with great talent. Going vanilla with second-tier talent is a recipe to get hammered by teams with better talent. But hey, he stopped Michigan State's tradition of losing to inferior opponents and he hates Michigan so much that he'd rather see the Wolverines lose than the Spartans make the Rose Bowl, so good for him!
Memo to ESPN: this weekend wasn't rivalry week in any conference other than the Big Ten. Most of the end-of-season rivalry games take place this weekend and next.
I thought about docking Utah solely out of spite because of the Mountain West hiding the biggest game in conference history on a network that no one gets, but I ultimately decided not to let loose my vengeful Old Testament G-d. I've also considered docking the Utes for the Mormon Church's role in funding Amendment 8 in California, but that would open a whole can of worms that I'd prefer to save for fishing season. I did root for the Utes over BYU for that reason, along with my general per se rule against rooting for teams whose fans believe that G-d wants them to win (Notre Dame, Al Qaeda, etc.) Wow, this was a lot more theology than I intended when I started this post.
Don't ask me why I got so mad at Oregon when I was doing my rankings. I don't look at my rankings from the prior week when I'm filling out my ballot and this week, I was not feeling it for the Ducks. Part of their drop can be explained by some teams above them putting in some excellent performances (Iowa, Georgia Tech, and Ole Miss).
I pity the poor souls in Charlottesville who devoted three hours of their lives to watching Virginia and Clemson combine for 382 yards of offense at less than three yards per play.
I'm grasping at straws to try to feel better about Michigan's epic fail this season. One such straw is a comparison to LSU. The Tigers have had a miserable season for two primary reasons: (1) they failed to replace Bo Pelini properly; and (2) an inept quarterback can have a cascading effect throughout the team. Both of these factors are fixable and can make a team look a lot worse than it is.