Games watched: Pretty light workload this time around, particularly after last week's open-date couch-potato-palooza -- just parts of Texas-Oklahoma and the live version of Georgia-Tennessee.
(Sorry, one of my helpful commenters pointed my attention to the fact that I had Vanderbilt both in the top 25 and in the "waiting room." I'm apparently just obsessed with them.)
· I agonized over whether to put Texas or Alabama in the top spot, and while Alabama's résumé is probably a wee bit stronger, I think Texas would win a head-to-head matchup based on a better quarterback and greater defensive depth. I could be wrong, though, and I'm sure all of you will tell me if I am in the politest and most reasoned fashion possible.
· The Longhorns' Big 12 South stablemates Oklahoma State get a huge bump up, not just because they knocked off Mizzou but because of the way they did it -- holding that offense to 23 points? Forcing them to actually have three-and-outs? The horror! Florida also gets bumped back up into the top five by virtue of dropping half-a-hundred on LSU.
· This week's big droppers are aforementioned half-a-hundred droppee LSU and suddenly stoppable Missouri, both down six spots. I only dropped Oklahoma three because they lost to a higher-ranked team than either of the others and actually led for a substantial part of the game, unlike the other two. I could be convinced, though, that they should drop below Florida.
· Vanderbilt also plummets for repaying my reluctant confidence in them by horking one up to Mississippi State. I can't even look at you right now, Commodores. Go. Just go. With any luck you'll lose to Georgia this week and we can end this charade once and for all.
· A whole bunch of teams from #13 down either drop one or go up four for what appears to be no reason whatsoever, but mainly has to do with either Oklahoma State leaping ahead of a bunch of folks or other teams dropping.
· Gone are Illinois and Wisconsin, left to sink into the La Brea tar pit that is the middle of the Big Ten. In their place, please welcome Michigan State and Tulsa to the poll -- MSU is a returner, Tulsa is here for the first time. I wasn't thrilled about putting Tulsa in here after the Golden Hurricane needed to come from behind against 1-5 SMU, nor was I crazy about keeping Georgia Tech after their godawful hideous game against Gardner-Webb, so readers, this is your chance: Make a strong case for some other team, any other team, in the #24 and #25 spots and I'll consider it.
· Seriously. Any team. Make me an offer.
And here's the SEC Power Poll Ballot, which, thanks to some upsets perpetrated this past week by conference bottom-feeders, is guaranteed to not make a lick of sense after about #4 or so.
1. Alabama -- How Tide fans spent their bye week: 1) Watch Auburn get knocked off by Arkansas; gloat. 2) Watch LSU get pounded by Florida; gloat more. 3) Get on the Internet and buy SEC championship game tickets.
2. Florida -- If you have to pick a midseason game to finally get both your offense and defense clicking, a night home game against the defending national champions is actually a pretty good one to pick.
3. Georgia -- Whupped the Vols far worse than the final score indicated. Looking like they might hold their own despite an infuriating raft of injuries.
4. LSU -- The defensive breakdowns that took place against Auburn and MSU are looking less like isolated instances and more like an ongoing syndrome. And Auburn's collapse pretty much takes their "marquee win" off the board.
5. South Carolina -- Make no mistake, there's a biiiig dropoff from 4 to 5 on this list, but the Gamecocks have still worked their way back up to .500 in SEC play and are one win away from bowl-eligibility. It looks like they're back to the "start off sucking, then get markedly better over the course of the season" blueprint they followed in Spurrier's first two years as coach; if he could just turn one of his QBs into a consistent producer, the 'Cocks would have a chance at a pretty respectable season.
6. Vanderbilt -- Thanks for making me look like a jackass in my picks column last week, Commodores. Take my number out of your cell phone and don't ever call me again.
7. Kentucky -- Not exactly a great way to follow up their gutty performance against the Crimson Tide. That Wildcat defense we all thought was so strong made Stephen Garcia look like Tom Brady.
8. Ole Miss -- The Rebels have alternated wins with losses with British-palace-guard-like regularity this season, and I wouldn't put it past them to knock off Alabama in Tuscaloosa this week, only to go out to Arkansas the very next week and get punked.
9. Arkansas -- Had their way with what was supposed to be a pretty solid Auburn defense. I still wouldn't trust them to stop any offense with a pulse, but you can see signs of that wide-open Petrino offense slowly creaking into gear.
10. Auburn -- Q. What's worse than an Auburn offense directed by Tony Franklin? A. An Auburn offense without Tony Franklin. The buck stops with Tuberville, though, and it'll be really interesting to see whether he ever ends up paying a price for that.
11. Mississippi State -- Benefitted from Vanderbilt's court-ordered midseason slump, but I still don't see this team stringing together more than four wins when all is said and done.
12. Tennessee -- Nick Stephens appears to be the answer at QB, but if the Vols were an MLB team they'd be trading away Arian Foster and Montario Hardesty right now to try and shore up their roster for 2009.