This year the blogpoll voting has been handed to yours truly here at Maize n' Brew. While I am the one who will hit the final submit button, I will post a prelim poll up here before the final one is due so that you, oh faithful reader, can give
vicious attacks on my credibility input. This should be an interactive type exercise, so please, use the comments section. We'll discuss, then I'll post the final ballot for each week.
I suppose, however, if we're to come to any kind of consensus, we should define how, exactly, I'll be ranking these teams. A few things:
1) My poll is meant to be a snapshot of which team is the BEST TEAM in the country at that specific point of time in the season.
This disqualifies the "team A beat team B, so team A must be ranked higher" argument, but obviously given a choice in similar rankings, this will hold true. To take an example from last season: USC lost to Oregon State but that doesn't mean that I believed OSU was a better team given what I'd seen from them vs. what I'd seen from USC. USC, week in and week out, is a better football team, and thus, they would still be ranked higher than Oregon State.
2) I am not a resume zealot.
Last year, East Carolina came out and beat Virginia Tech (then #17) and then smoked West Virginia (then #8). Suddenly, the resume of East Carolina - in the patsy-filled college preseason scheduling world we live in - was the strongest of anyone's in the country. As a result, the resume zealots had to vote them close to #1, if not #1. Did anyone actually believe that East Carolina was going to win it all? Again, the goal of my poll is to look at who the best team in the country is at a specific point in time. Just because East Carolina upset a few ranked opponents doesn't mean they're more impressive than, say, a Florida team who is beating Citadel (or whoever) by 70 points. Says more about VT and WVU than ECU, if you ask me.
3) My poll will do its best to ignore the USC/SEC media-inflation
Note: this is not meant to be a shot at any of those teams. You'll notice that I've ranked SEC teams very highly in my poll. However, I will try to ignore the "even record, even OOC SOS, give the nod to the SEC team" type stuff. Sometimes, it's warranted, and I'll do my best to be transparent about this type of situation. If you want to call me a homer or anti-SEC, go for it. I'll try to explain.
4) "Mid Majors" are not title contenders...except when they are!
As a mid-major, you have to prove above and beyond the scope of winning your conference that you belong with the big boys. This means a mediocre team from a BCS conference will probably be ranked higher than an awesome MAC team, even if that MAC team is undefeated. Boise State and Utah have earned their way out of this quagmire, but even that only takes them so far.
5) I am human
If my prelim poll goes up and neglects to mention, say, Texas when Texas was #2 in my previous poll, SAY SOMETHING. I have fat fingers. Sometimes they mis-key things.
On with the shew
There is virtually no one in existence who isn't going to vote Florida #1, and if they aren't it's out of sheer ornerytude rather than actual fact. Can a case be made for Texas? Sure. But Texas doesn't return EVERY SINGLE DEFENSIVE STARTER from last year, the Heisman's (and God's) favorite quarterback, and a schedule that only produces one butterfly inducing road trip to LSU.
If Tebow is 1a, Colt McCoy is 1b. They return 9 starters on offense, and 7 on defense from a team that went 11-1 only to miss the BXII title game because of a flukey tie-break system.
The defense, which was 3rd in the nation last year in yards allowed, returns 9 of 11 starters, including Terrance Cody, who is an absolute terror at nose-tackle. The question marks surround the offense, but they've got the best receiver in the game (Julio Jones). The defense should be able to allow the offense some breathing room early while they get their feet under them. They're toughest game is a road test in October against Mississippi. A fairly favorable schedule makes Bama the favorites in the SEC West.
I would have put them higher, but injuries to Aaron Corp and the stellar play of freshman Matt Barkley have put a question mark on the QB position for the first time...what? This decade? I don't expect that to hold them back, especially with Taylor Mays - who I believe to be the best player in NCAA football this year - back.
Offensive line questions are why Oklahoma is dropped a little in my poll compared to the coaches poll. Sam Bradford is awesome, but Florida proved that he, just like any other quarterback at any other level, becomes mortal if enough pressure is supplied. Florida did that last year before they lost 4 of their 5 starting O linemen. The showdown with Texas...
6) Ohio State
Ohio State is, if nothing else, deep (except, oddly, at QB) and talented. The defense should be reloaded, and the offense will feature Pryor, who will probably have matured and probably be even more awesome than he was last year. Because that's how it goes. On paper, which is all we have to go on at this point, I can't move Ohio State lower than this. However, they are one Pryor knee away from being 2008 Michigan-esque at the QB position.
The rest of the Poll After the Jump....
7) Penn State
This is probably a bit high for Penn State, who must rebuild their entire offensive line and receiving corp. However, Clark and Royster return, along with
Maybin at DE Latham and Crawford as monster DT's. As of right now, this slot is occupied by Penn State because I believe they are better than Virginia Tech, who is an ACC team.
8) Virginia tech
Oh, hi there. I see you're from the ACC. I am, therefore, loath to put you in the top ten. Tyrod Taylor could be the next Vick on the football field though, and he has the nickname of T-Mobile. That alone gets you into the top ten. Barely. Also, per our contract with Frank Beamer: SPECIAL TEAMS!!!!!
LSU should be much better this year given the experience returning on the offensive line, and in the backfield. Jerrett Lee was really good at throwing to the other team last year, and finds himself on the bench. Players and coaches alike are saying that they're going to look to establish the ground game early and often, which should take the pressure off new QB Jordan Jefferson. A home tilt against Florida and an away game to Alabama will determine the pecking order of SEC teams here.
This is a risky selection. However, they beat the tar out of Texas Tech in the bowl game last year (not to mention Florida), they have a very good QB in Jevan Snead, and Houston Nutt seems to have the pieces together for a top-ten finish. I do not think they will be in contention for an SEC title, but damn, who else should go here? I'm open to suggestions.
I probably have Iowa a bit high, but in looking at their returning strength, I see them as a very viable Big Ten contender. I might have Georgia Tech low, which would be a real divergence from the coaches poll. They return a ton of starters though, and have one of those offenses that just beats the hell out of you while scoring 24 points. You'll see a bunch of mid-majors who probably deserve to be ranked, but aren't ranked higher because they're mid-majors (see point 4 above). Michigan State is probably ranked too high (as in, ranked at all) given their question marks, but I like their receiving corp and I like their defense. Finally, can this be the year that Nebraska makes some noise out of the BXII North? Probably not.
Well, next "week" we'll have games to go on. And if Michigan beats Western, they're going to be ranked #10 and will probably go to the Rose Bowl.