October 25, 2005

My Top 25

For me, the Top 25 ranking represents using a bit of situational logic. The only objective of any poll is getting #1 and #2 right. For me, I take the "body of work" approach. I am taking this poll from a stance of not having a prior ranking.

1. Southern California (7-0)
The BCS folks have demoted the Trojans to #2 in their poll and I cannot figure out why, other than to ensure that SC will be super-motivated to reach the Rose Bowl. You don't think Pete Carroll has used this as motivation behind closed doors? I feel sorry for Washington State this weekend.

2. Texas (7-0)
The path is clear for the Longhorns: at Oklahoma State, at Baylor, Kansas, at Texas A&M, Big 12 Championship (likely Missouri or Colorado - two teams UT dominated already). Texas' big win is still the one over 2-loss Ohio State. Texas Tech was described as a fraud by those who follow college football, yet they provided the juice for Texas to leap USC in the BCS poll. Texas will make the Rose Bowl only to rue the day they got this #1 ranking.

3. Virginia Tech (7-0)
The Hokies have games left against Boston College, Miami, at Virginia (same place FSU lost), and then the ACC Championship Game (likely Florida State) to zoom their ratings. The Hokies get through that (they also play UNC at home to close the year) and they will have a better argument than Auburn did last year being left out.

4. Georgia (7-0)
The Dawgs are in trouble this weekend against Florida without D.J. Shockley. Should they pull through, they will have games with Florida, Auburn, at Georgia Tech, and the SEC Championship Game (Alabama or LSU). See Virginia Tech...

5. Alabama (7-0)
This team has gone in the tank offensively and now they await a team that can make them pay for it. The Tide play Utah State and at Mississippi State next, so no threats there. However, they close the year home with LSU, at Auburn, and the SEC Championship Game (Georgia). I don't think they make it through those three unscathed.

6. UCLA (7-0)
Here is where the illogical mindset begins with the polls. I dont think UCLA is truly the sixth best team in the country, but I think being undefeated this late in the season causes you to be stacked near the top. UCLA will have all the chance in the world to prove their mettle with three out of the last four on the road. (at Stanford, at Arizona, at USC - with Arizona State at home). I think UCLA makes it to the Dec. 3rd USC game unbeaten, then gets taken out - yet earning the BCS at-large bid.

7. Florida State (6-1)
The Noles raise the age old debate: are their 2 wins against Miami and BC more important or is that bad loss more telling? FSU is the only team in college football sporting those 2 wins over teams in the top 12 of the BCS poll. However, their lone loss to unranked Virginia stands out as well with other 1-loss teams having their setback to ranked teams. The deciding factor for me were those wins...other one-loss teams have no wins over even ranked teams to speak of, yet the Noles have those two.

8. Penn State (7-1)
Penn State gets #8 due to their method of losing at Michigan. It took an executed play from a Michigan team that hasn't been performing well lately to beat the Nittany Lions. Penn State has their one ranked win having beaten Ohio State at home.

9. LSU (6-1)
The Tigers win over Arizona State has been muted, but for me that is still a standout win when you consider that the Tigers had to pack everything up and play on the road all in a week's notice. Their true best win was over Florida at home. Their loss was at home to a below-for-their-average Tennessee.

10. Miami, FL (5-1)
Here I stick with the method of losing. Miami is a botched FG attempt away from OT with Florida State. Since then the Canes dont have a ranked win to speak of, but at this point only 2-loss Northwestern in my breakdown remains as having a true ranked win. I have to rank the one-loss teams first for the most part. Miami gets here because their game was also way back on Labor Day.

11. Oregon (7-1)
I combine two things for the Ducks. They last lost on September 24th and that loss was against #1 USC when the media had focused that game as the Trojans first challenge. They were buried in the second half, but the Ducks did hold a 13-10 halftime edge. They also own a solid win over Fresno State at home. At this point, ranked wins are gone for the 1-loss crowd. That Fresno State win is as solid as some others.

12. Boston College (6-1)
BC gets more juice from their lone loss being Florida State than any of their wins. Their best win to date would probably be their overtime win at Clemson. However, the Eagles will get all the chance in the world to prove themselves traveling to Virginia Tech on Thursday.

13. Wisconsin (7-1)
The Badgers land here with their best win coming against Michigan at home. Their lone loss to Northwestern gained a bit of luster last weekend with the Wildcats blowing out Michigan State in East Lansing. Bucky however is in a quandry this weekend when you look at their opponents with Northwestern facing Michigan at home. One side of Wisconsin's ledger will improve while another side will decrease.

14. Ohio State (5-2)
A bit of comparative logic here with No's. 14 & 15. The Buckeyes beat Michigan State at home whereas the Irish lost to Michigan State at home. The bad part for Ohio State is that the Spartans represent their best win. However losses to Texas and at Penn State help the Buckeyes greatly.

15. Notre Dame (5-2)
I am a Domer homer, however I wanted to take a fair, objective look at the Irish and I come up close to what the BCS computer reflects. Had the Irish beaten Michigan State in overtime they would be closer to their AP ranking (#9), maybe even pushing Florida State as the best 1-loss team in the country. If this were a power poll I would have the Irish higher. List them under the heading of "If College Football had a Playoff, this is the Team You Wouldn't Want to Face".

16. West Virginia (6-1)
Best win is over Louisville which in the preseason would have been a great win. The lone loss however is helping the Mountaineers, who lost to Virginia Tech back on October 1st at home.

17. Florida (5-2)
Florida's best win is over a struggling Tennessee team at home in the Swamp. Their losses however are both on the road at Alabama and at LSU. This weekend against Georgia without Shockley finds Florida needing a win. A loss in that situation would probably end the Gators in my rankings.

18. Texas Tech (6-1)
If Florida State at #7 is the best 1-loss team in America, then the Red Raiders are the weakest one-loss team. The problem is that Texas Tech has absolutely no good win worth mentioning. Their incredibly weak non-conference schedule (Florida International, Sam Houston State, and Indiana State) did nothing to capitalize off their win last year against California in the Holiday Bowl.

19. Northwestern (5-2)
The Wildcats are the only 2-loss team left with a win over a ranked team (Wisconsin). Their losses are mixed with a loss at fading Arizona State earlier in the year combined with a last-minute home loss to Penn State. The Wildcats get Michigan this weekend and a win over the Wolverines would be another quality win, not ranked win, however.

20. Minnesota (5-2)
Understand that my rankings from #20-25 are purely interchangable. Heck, you could even have an unranked team in my poll ranked here in your poll. I am solid about my Top 19, but here begins the quest of the best teams with the better losses and maybe a quality win (win over team with winning record). Here Minnesota qualifies winning at the Big House and losing at one-loss Penn State and Wisconsin.

21. Colorado (5-2)
The Buffaloes are purely here because their losses are to Miami and Texas.

22. Auburn (5-2)
I do live in SEC country, so call this a homer pick. I think Auburn has a big win in them down the stretch.

23. Missouri (5-2)
The difference between Mizzou being here and not in the Top 15 is a head-scratching loss earlier in the year at home to New Mexico.

24. Georgia Tech (4-2)
The Yellow Jackets did beat Auburn on the road to begin the year...

25. Michigan (5-3)
3 losses by 13 points. Michigan also owns a nice win at home over Penn State.

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Heavenly time period: College football season until the championship game of March Madness.