Not too much of interest this week, other than my regular complaint that when a team loses a close game against a higher-ranked team, then they should not drop. LSU played #1 Alabama at home, out-gained them by a significant margin, led into the final minute, and this is a reason to drop them? If you want to know why I like computers, then this is a good illustration. (One counter: the Sagarin Predictor has LSU at #11, penalizing the Tigers for close games against inferior opponents, most notably the inexplicable 12-10 win over Auburn. I gave consideration to putting LSU above Notre Dame before remembering the Auburn game.)
I’ll also renew my point about Michigan and Ohio State. Ohio State is #5 in the AP poll, while Michigan is #28. Sagarin has the teams as being totally even. Again, here’s the question: if you flipped the two teams’ schedules and then knocked Braxton Miller out of a game in Lincoln in the second quarter, what would the two teams’ record be? (One counter: Ohio State fans can make the legitimate point that Miller is a bigger guy than Denard Robinson and is therefore less likely to get knocked out for an extended period of time. Also, Ohio State was not totally unprepared for an injury to their quarterback as Michigan was when their offense ground to a halt against the Huskers.)
By the end of my ballot, I was just alternating Pac 12 and Big XII teams. Both conferences are just packed with good, but not great teams. If Oregon and Kansas State both stay unbeaten, then we are going to get a lot of parsing between the middle classes of those two conferences. I haven’t given a great deal of thought to the resumes of Oregon and K-State; I’ve kept the Ducks at #2 because they look great every week. If the time comes, then I’ll give the two teams a harder look. One thing that I will say is that Oregon deserves to be punished for their non-conference schedule, almost as a moral matter. Without any central entity to force teams to play quality opponents, we rely on the programs themselves to do the honorable thing and schedule attractive games. This is important for both maintaining fan interest and allowing voters and computers to draw meaningful connections between conferences at the end of the year. In a startling reversal of fortune, Kansas State actually comes across as the more respectable program in a comparison with Oregon because the Wildcats scheduled Miami. The Canes are not a good team this year, but there is at least a visible intent on the part of K-State to play a game that fans around the country would watch. If the Ducks and Wildcats remain unbeaten, then I suspect that we will hear the names Arkansas State, Fresno State, and Tennessee Tech a lot during the month of December. I’ll also add in a note to Mike Slive: both K-State and Oregon are going to get a bounce from the fact that they played nine-game conference schedules. What would Alabama’s schedule look like with another conference game instead of Florida Atlantic?