All in all, this wasn’t a fantastic week for the league, but it wasn’t all that bad either. UCLA’s loss was really ugly, and neither Washington nor Arizona should be thrilled with how things went, but USC had a good win at Nebraska, Oregon looked great again versus Fresno, Cal and ASU looked good again, and Stanford had a coming out party against San Jose State.
Stanford: After last year’s disaster, this was a huge win for the Cardinal
USC: A very strong win at Nebraska.
Oregon St: Just a scrimmage, but still a good confidence-builder.
Oregon: Another big win for the Ducks, but it’s almost expected now.
Cal: Solid win against LA Tech, but it’s not enough competition to draw much of a conclusion from.
Arizona St: Not a great showing against SD St, but not that big of a deal either.
Washington St: Ditto.
Arizona: Exposed for lack of coaching (the 15-yard penalty on Stoops at the end of the first half was especially bad)
Washington: Exposed for lack of talent (they simply couldn't keep up with Ohio State)
UCLA: Exposed for lack of heart (they gave up after the end zone fumble)
USC (-9.5) 49, @ Nebraska 31
(my pick: USC 28, @ Nebraska 14)
Ohio St 33, @ Washington (+3.5) 14
(my pick: Ohio St 17, @ Washington 10)
@ Utah 44, UCLA (-15) 6
(my pick: UCLA 31, @ Utah 10)
@ Oregon (-16) 52, Fresno St 21
(my pick: @ Oregon 35, Fresno St 21)
@ Stanford (-7.5) 31, San Jose St 0
(my pick: @ Stanford 31, San Jose St 24)
New Mexico 29, @ Arizona (-10) 27
(my pick: @ Arizona 17, New Mexico 13)
@ Cal (-33.5) 42, Louisiana Tech 12
(my pick: @ Cal 42, LA Tech 13)
@ Arizona State (-28.5) 34, San Diego St 13
(my pick: @ ASU 45, SD St 7)
@ Washington St (-24.5) 45, Idaho 28
(my pick: @ Washington State 38, Idaho 10)
@ Oregon St (NL) 61, Idaho St 10
(my pick: @ Oregon State 48, @ Idaho St 3)
Pac-10 Games Record:
This Week: 8-2 SU, 4-5 ATS
Season: 22-5 SU, 13-12 ATS
National Games of the Week:
@ Florida (-7.5) 59, Tennessee 20
(my pick: Tennessee 28, @ Florida 24)
Boston College 24, @ Georgia Tech (-6.5) 10
(my pick: @ Georgia Tech 27, Boston College 17)
National Games Record:
This Week: 0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS
Season: 6-5 SU, 5-6 ATS
Iowa St +17.5
Covered by 19.5 points and outright upset.
Covered by 7 points.
Missed by 10 points and outright upset.
Bad Lines Record
This week: 2-1
My Top 25:
At this point, we’ve seen enough from pretty much everyone that we ought to throw the preseason expectations out the window and just judge from what we’ve seen on the field.
1) LSU (3-0): vs MTSU: W 44-0
If they’re not your #1 right now, you’re judging based off of your preseason pick and not what’s on the field.
2) Oklahoma (3-0): vs Utah St: W 54-3
3) USC (2-0): @ Nebraska: W 49-31
Both USC and Oklahoma have played great, but the Sooners have been a bit better.
4) Florida (3-0): vs Tenn: W 59-20
This would have been more impressive if it wasn’t still tight late.
5) WV (3-0): @ Maryland: W 31-14
6) Ohio St (3-0): @ Washington: W 33-14
7) Oregon (3-0): vs Fresno St: W 52-12
Another good win, and after Michigan bounced back, that blowout looks even better.
8) BC (3-0): @ GT: W 24-10
9) Penn St (3-0): vs Buffalo: W 45-24
Not an incredible effort, but the rest of the resume is fine.
10) South Carolina (3-0): vs SC St: W 38-3
Basically a bye week.
11) Cal (3-0): vs LA Tech: W 42-12
The Tennessee win doesn’t look as good anymore, so it’s tough to bump the Bears much until they play higher-level opposition.
12) Texas (3-0): @ UCF: W 35-32
It’s now two crummy efforts by the Longhorns in three games. If they hadn’t had that solid showing against TCU, they’d be a lot lower right now.
13) Georgia Tech (2-1): vs BC: L 10-24
The Jackets have still been good overall, so it’s tough to drop them too far.
14) Georgia (2-1): vs WCU: W 45-16
15) USF (2-0): BYE
16) Texas A&M (3-0): vs ULM: W 54-14
17) Alabama (3-0): vs Arkansas: W 41-38
18) Wisconsin (3-0): vs Citadel: W 45-31
Another shaky performance by the Badgers drops them even further. When a game against a AA team is in doubt in the fourth quarter, that’s never a good thing.
19) Cincinnati (3-0): @ Miami (OH) W 47-10
20) Rutgers (3-0): vs Norfolk: W 59-0
Running it up isn’t very nice.
21)Arizona St (3-0): vs SD St: W 34-13
They join the poll because of other teams dropping out rather than doing anything special themselves. We’ll know more about this team after they’ve played better competition.
22) Kentucky (3-0): vs Louisville: W 40-34
23) Louisville (2-1): @ Kentucky: L 34-40
A shootout win at home that went down to the final play didn’t create any separation between these two teams, but I’ll give an edge to UK due to Louisville’s earlier issues against Middle Tennesse, and because they still do deserve some extra credit for actually coming out on top.
24) Air Force (3-0): vs TCU: W 20-17
Why not? They’ve played decent competition and still kept on winning.
25) Clemson (3-0): vs Furman: W 38-10
On the Cusp:
Hawaii, Michigan St, Purdue, Virginia Tech
1) LSU (2-0)
2) Oklahoma (2-0)
3) USC (1-0)
4) Georgia Tech (2-0)
5) WV (2-0)
6) Texas (2-0)
7) Penn St (2-0)
8) South Carolina (2-0)
9) UCLA (2-0)
10) Louisville (2-0)
11) Ohio St (2-0)
12) Cal (2-0)
13) Oregon (2-0)
14) Georgia (1-1)
15) Wisconsin (2-0)
16) USF (2-0)
17) BC (2-0)
18) Tennessee (1-1)
19) Florida (2-0)
20) Texas A&M (2-0)
21) Alabama (2-0)
22) Rutgers (2-0)
23) Nebraska (2-0)
24) BYU (1-1)
25) Cincinnati (2-0)
It’s time again to rail against the stupidity of the polls. The first, and most obvious, is that both Texas and Wisconsin are ranked above Oregon, and apparently by a fair amount, in the coaches’ poll. Really? I’ve got to ask, why? Texas got taken to the brink twice by lousy teams in Ark St and UCF, and only played well against TCU (now 1-2). Wisconsin has been even worse (although apparently a lot of coaches disagree, since they’re neck and neck with the Longhorns), going to the wire against a lousy UNLV team and laying an egg against the Citadel (21-21 at the half, only pulling away late). Meanwhile, the Ducks have been on fire, obliterating both Michigan and Fresno and having a comfortable win against Houston.
It’s obvious that Oregon has been playing significantly better than the aforementioned two teams, but the polls disagree. And lest you feel that I’m just tooting a Pac-10 team’s horn, let’s include BC in this analysis as well. The Eagles have played three ACC games, one on the road against a very good Georgia Tech team (who’s light years better than anyone Texas or Wisconsin have played), and they’re 3-0, with better-looking scores than either of the two. It’s just as dumb to have Texas or Wisconsin (let alone both) above BC as it is to have them above Oregon. So why do they do it?
The reason is simple: the voters are married to their preseason rankings, and will only change their minds when the evidence is overwhelming (for example, what Michigan pulled). This is laziness, pure and simple. The voters simply don’t want to take the time to think things through beyond taking last week’s ballot and making a couple adjustments for teams that lose. And this is why we get into the “you can’t get bumped if you don’t lose” mindset, which inevitably poisons the process even more, and turns preseason rankings into a angst-fest, where fans are furious when anyone “disrespects” a team before the year even begins. And, most disturbingly, they’re right: since a team’s ranking this week depends on the ranking last week, which depends on the ranking the week before, mistakes inevitably accumulate over time rather than “working themselves out”, as the apologists like to say.
Obviously, it’s good to have human votes as part of the process (computer polls have their own issues too), but the human voters need to do their part and actually take the time to think through their ballot rather than just churn out what they did last week or what they think everyone else will be voting for.
Here’s another example where people need to take the time to think things through: how do you rank Louisville versus how you rank Kentucky? The Wildcats won, but they were at home, it was a shootout, and it went to the final play. I don’t have a monumental problem with someone who thinks that the game would have been different at Louisville (they’re probably right), and keeps them a bit higher because of that. I don’t agree, but I don’t have a big problem with it either. However, when voters get lazy, like Stewart Mandel (link here), who in his mailbag said:
Basically, the problem was ... Nebraska. Last week, I had Louisville 10th, Nebraska 11th. I didn't think it would be fair to drop the Huskers inordinately low for losing to the No. 1 team in the country, even by a lopsided nature, so the biggest drop I could rationalize was down to 19th. Meanwhile, Louisville's losing on the road in the final seconds against a bitter rival is not exactly galling, but I felt like I probably had the Cardinals too high to begin with the week before, so I ended up dropping them the same amount of spots (to 18th).
, then I have a problem. Why am I angry? Because instead of basing his ranking on what happened on the field, instead of basing it on the actual game played, he based it on last week’s ranking and simply made an adjustment (and what exactly does how far you drop Nebraska have to do with how far you drop Louisville?). And you know what last week’s Louisville ranking was based on? Nothing but reputation.
So why in the world would anyone be married to it? Why not just say, “they played well enough to be the X-th best team in the country”, whatever X might be, instead of “I only want to drop them a few spots from where I had them last week”?
The first statement is legitimate and defensible, no matter where they are put. The second statement is totally arbitrary and indefensible, because it’s only based on the arbitrary preseason predictions (since they hadn’t played anyone good, and had actually struggled quite a bit against MTSU).
In all fairness, I don’t want to pile on Mandel, who I think generally does a good job (and if anything, he falls into this trap a lot less than many others). Rather, I want to use this as an example of what is wrong with the system and how most people approach the process. Hopefully we can one day get to the point where the voters take their responsibility more seriously and stop being lazy about their ballots. If that happens, I think the process as a whole will be much better off.
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