Monday, November 3
Poll dancing, week 10: Well, that sucked.
Florida took Georgia to the woodshed; Virginia lost a heartbreaker; Georgia Tech won; UAB and Wofford each got 70 points dropped on them. In other words, it was about as godawful a Saturday of college football as I've ever experienced. I can't even take that much pleasure in Tennessee losing anymore -- their losses have become like the equivalent of George W. Bush's tanking approval ratings: We've come to expect it, their own fans don't even like them anymore, so whatever.
Fortunately, my fantasy team has a 22-point lead going into the Monday night game, which, incidentally, is Washington-Pittsburgh. If it weren't for that, I'd probably be opening a vein.
Games watched: Most of Ole Miss-Auburn, the entire festering horror of Florida-Georgia, the first quarter of South Carolina-Tennessee, Texas Tech-Texas.
Waiting room: Pittsburgh, Brigham Young, Maryland, California, Cincinnati.
Dropped out: Oregon (16), Brigham Young (20), Connecticut (22), Tulsa (23).
· My original top four, if memory serves, was Penn State, Florida, Texas Tech, Alabama. I don't know what made me want to jump Penn State (who didn't play last week) over Alabama (who breezed past Arkansas State); my reasons for jumping Florida and TTU over the Tide probably would've been a little more clear. In the end, as much as I wanted to move Florida higher -- has anybody in the country had a more impressive last four weeks than the Gators? -- I think the three remaining major-conference undefeateds have a reasonable claim to the top three spots. You'll note, however, that my SEC Power Poll ballot below -- which is biased less toward record or résumé and more toward a strict who-would-beat-whom-at-this-exact-moment judgment -- puts Florida in the top spot. That dilemma will eventually be resolved, of course, but we're going to have to wait for the SEC title game.
· I also felt like a 39-point shellacking from the Gators should've been enough, on paper, to drop the Dawgs out of the top ten -- but whom do I put above them that isn't there already? Texas Christian, who got housed by Oklahoma and has played a so-so Mountain West schedule since then? Missouri, who has two losses and a lousy defense? LSU, whom we shelled just a week ago?
· Everything below 16 is the usual muddle of also-rans and nearly-greats, but it's a little easier to justify than the last couple weeks' worth, at least.
· All the dropouts earned their fall from the top 25 by actually losing, except for Brigham Young -- but the Cougars' résumé over the last three weeks includes a pounding by TCU and wins over the fifth-place and eighth-place teams in the Mountain West, both in the final two minutes of the game, by a total of 10 points. Performances like those do not an elite team make.
· Replacing them: Georgia Tech (beat FSU for the first time ever), Kansas (blew out K-State), Northwestern (survived a trip to Minnesota despite losing their top offensive playmaker), and North Carolina (who knows).
And the SEC Power Poll ballot:
1. Florida -- Despite their one loss, they grab the top spot from Alabama thanks to four consecutive wins by a combined score of 201-43, the most recent, of course, being an open-handed bitch slap of the Bulldogs down in Jacksonville. At this point, the Gators have every reason to think they can take down Alabama in the Georgia Dome and sneak into the national championship game for the second time in three years.
2. Alabama -- They should beat LSU this weekend and, on paper, they're as much of a lock as anybody to be 12-0 headed into conference-championship Saturday. But nobody's had a more impressive last four weeks than the Gators.
3. Georgia -- Everyone in the SEC who's a serious national-title contender, take a step forward. Not so fast, Bulldogs. You're playing for 2009 at this point.
4. LSU -- Beat Tulane a lot more convincingly than Alabama did, though I doubt that's going to mean much in Baton Rouge this weekend.
5. South Carolina -- Appear to be headed for eight wins and maybe even a New Year's bowl game, which I never would've predicted back in September.
6. Ole Miss -- Posted back-to-back wins for the first time this year, and while they've been winning 'em ugly, I dare say that Ole Miss fans will take that gladly after three miserable years under Ed Orgeron.
7. Arkansas -- Don't look now, but one more upset by the Razorbacks and a bowl bid is entirely plausible. The Hogs have shown more improvement over the course of the season than any team in the conference.
8. Kentucky -- Squeaked by Missy State to become bowl-eligible for the third year in a row, assuming Papajohns.com meets your definition of a "bowl."
9. Vanderbilt -- An open date this past weekend was a momentary respite from what's starting to look an awful lot like a slide to 6-6 -- or worse.
10. Auburn -- So much for the Tigers holding a halftime lead in every single game this season. If they haven't given up yet, they're doing an awfully good impression of a bunch of guys who have.
11. Tennessee -- Yanking Nick Stephens after the first interception of his career and replacing him with Fumbles the Clown called to mind the worst and most inexplicable moments of Fulmer's season-long game of QB roulette from 2005, but that annus horribilis may end up making this season look like an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese by the time December rolls around.
12. Mississippi State -- I've never been a big fan of the whole head-coach-unloads-an-assistant-to-save-his-own-job strategy, but seriously, there's no reason for Woody McCorvey to still be employed in Starkville at this point. State would've been better off hiring Tony Franklin at the beginning of the season.