|Last week's ballot|
Dropped Out: Southern Cal (#16).
Thoughts on the rankings:
- I wanted to put TCU at #2 in the country. I really did. I wanted to punish Texas for some of the worst clock management in recorded history. I wanted to reward TCU for dominating their schedule like a true national title contender (as opposed to 2008 Utah). In the end, I couldn't justify doing so when Texas's schedule was so much stronger than TCU's and they have the same record. Sagarin has Texas ahead of TCU, as does the FEI. In the end, I'm left lamenting about a foolish system that forces voters to parse differences between teams with very similar resumes. I'm left lamenting that a Plus One would pit Texas and TCU against one another and then we could have a definitive result as to who should play Alabama after the Tide whack Cincinnati.
- And while I'm complaining about the BCS, the statistically indefensible decision to forbid computers from taking margin of victory into account is what would have pushed Cincinnati into the title game ahead of TCU. It's bad enough that voters and computers have limited data sets with which to compare teams; the BCS then requires that the computer throw out a source of data that everyone with a brain agrees is relevant.
- One criticism that I'm not buying: the one that the TCU-Boise State pairing is a terrible idea and designed to protect major conference teams from being embarrassed. My question to people making that criticism is this: who else would you want TCU and Boise State to play? Florida is the only credible option, but they are performing a useful function by playing Cincinnati, another upstart team that went unbeaten against a somewhat questionable schedule. The only other options would be Iowa or Georgia Tech, neither of whom would be described as elite. Sorry, but I don't think that TCU would be getting the test that we all crave against an Iowa team that mastered the narrow win against bad opponents or a Georgia Tech team that has nothing approximating a defense. Iowa and Georgia Tech are both 8-9 win teams masquerading as BCS teams because of clutch/lucky (clutchky?) play. TCU will prove as much or more against Boise State as they would against either of those teams. And really, how embarrassing would it be for the BCS for TCU to mangle two teams that the college football cognoscenti view as good, but not great?
- Speaking of which, what happens when the Iowa offense (87th in the nation in yards per play) takes the field against the Georgia Tech defense (100th in the nation in yards per play allowed) in a BCS Bowl? As interesting as the Paul Johnson-Norm Parker chess match will be (I'm going with Johnson because I've made the mistake too many times of confusing Big Ten defensive success in conference games with an actual good defense), I suspect that the Iowa offense and Georgia Tech defense will rend the space-time continuum when they oppose one another.
- I think it's time for someone to do an iPod shuffle on the bowl matchups. We're getting to the point where we have seen everything before. Penn State-LSU should be entertaining, but that's an exception. Arizona-Nebraska? Clemson-Kentucky? West Virginia-Florida State? We've seen this all before. And has there ever been a weaker Outback Bowl than Auburn-Northwestern? I guess that's more a criticism of the Big Ten and SEC for not being especially deep this year as opposed to the bowl match-ups.
- The final insult for the ACC would be for Virginia Tech, the highest rated team in the conference, to lose to SEC mid-table Tennessee. This might be one of those rare instances in which I root for the Vols. (In the interest of full disclosure, the teams I will not root for except in special circumstances: Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, and Florida State. This might need to be a post of its own.)