Last Saturday was a pretty quiet one, football-wise, in this particular part of the world; when the second-biggest news story of the weekend was Florida unloading 70 points on the Citadel in a glorified scrimmage, you know it was a pretty weak slate, overall, for the SEC. Georgia, obviously, didn't play, which after the previous few weeks was a weird kind of blessing -- instead of screaming at the TV and mentally counting up all the rushing yards we were handing to the other team, I got to sit back, revel in some other teams' misfortunes, and perhaps most importantly, try Archibald's in Tuscaloosa for the first time. Todd Blackledge was exactly right: The barbecue is awesome, and my face and fingers afterward were about as messy as this BlogPoll ballot's probably going to be.
Games watched: Ball State-Central Michigan, enough of Georgia Tech-Miami to be very worried, most of Ohio State-Michigan, Ole Miss-LSU.
Waiting room: Maryland, Pittsburgh, Miami, Brigham Young, South Carolina.
Dropped out: Maryland (17), Brigham Young (18), LSU (19), Pittsburgh (21), Connecticut (22), Miami (23).
· Florida and Alabama take the top two spots, natch, but below that we've got three incredibly good Big 12 South teams all jockeying for position, and they're all 1-1 against the other two. How to sort this out? Well, Roll Bama Roll has a particularly interesting way of looking at the situation, as does Dr. Saturday -- basically, they're both advising the "Texas beat OU head-to-head, therefore Texas should be highest, case closed" crowd to pump their brakes. I think so too, and here's my rationale, as simple as I can make it, by analyzing each team's victory in this little round robin:
Oct. 11: #5 Texas beat #1 Oklahoma 45-35 on a neutral field.
Nov. 1: #7 Texas Tech beat #1 Texas 39-33 at home.
Nov. 22: #5 Oklahoma beat #2 Texas Tech 65-21 at home.
Of those three, Oklahoma's win was not only arguably the biggest accomplishment -- it was certainly the biggest beatdown -- but also the most recent. As such, I can rank the Sooners #3 -- above Texas -- with a clear conscience.
· On the other hand, dropping TTU only four spots for sustaining a 44-point ass-whipping didn't quite seem like enough, but I can't put them below Southern Cal at this point, and I certainly can't put them below Oklahoma State, whom they whacked by 36 a couple weeks ago. Maybe Utah deserves to go above them?
· All the other movement in the top echelon is pretty much minor statistical noise until you get to Georgia Tech, charging up out of the "others receiving votes" level back up to #16 after eviscerating a Miami squad that supposedly had a defense. (Don't worry, 'Canes; my team supposedly had one too. It happens.) Is this just pre-emptive projected sandbaggery by a fan of the team GT plays this weekend? Probably, but I'll tell you what: You want the Jackets to drop down to the mediocrity you feel they deserve, then root for the Dawgs to kick their asses on Saturday.
· Cincinnati also moves up big for taking another huge step toward the Big East title -- all that stands in front of them at this point is a home date against 3-8 Syracuse -- as does Florida State, who destroyed a ranked Maryland team on the road but now, ironically, has to root for that same Maryland team to beat Boston College in Chestnut Hill this weekend for the 'Noles to go back to the ACC title game. (Georgia Tech, incidentally, has some funky rooting interests this weekend as well -- they'll be watching Virginia and Virginia Tech, both of whom beat the Jackets, in the hopes that the Wahoos can notch the upset and shove the Jackets into the conference championship bout.)
· After Georgia Tech and FSU, the other newcomers to the ballot this week are: Ole Miss, who handled a flatlining LSU team in Baton Rouge and likely earned a Cotton Bowl invite for their troubles; Northwestern, who's had the stealthiest run to nine wins of perhaps any team in the country; West Virginia, who took care of Louisville on the road and, improbably, still has a shot at squeezing 10 wins out of Bill Stewart's rookie season; and . . .
· . . . Ball State, as promised, checking in at #23 after knocking off Central Michigan in the snow on Wednesday night and preserving their thus-far perfect season. This set up a de facto MAC West title game in Muncie tomorrow night, which could actually be pretty interesting.
· Euthanized: Maryland, who will probably be right back in the top 25 next week after beating a Boston College team that'll be missing its starting QB; BYU, the latest team to have the cleat-prints of BCS-bound Utah applied to their faces; LSU, who's suffering life without Ryan Perrilloux every bit as painfully as we thought they would, after all; Pittsburgh, who will no longer be taunting us with the prospect of seeing Dave Wannstedt coaching in a BCS bowl; UConn, who found a way to lose to resolutely mediocre South Florida; and aforementioned Miami, who shall hereby be referred to as a cautionary tale for any Georgia fans who think Eight In A Row, Bitch is a done deal.
Everybody up to speed? OK, here's the SEC Power Poll ballot:
1. Florida -- Florida may have dropped 49 on my Bulldogs and 70 on the Citadel, but at least Cam Newton never got anywhere near my laptop.
2. Alabama -- A lot of people in the vicinity of Tuscaloosa are talking like the Iron Bowl is signed, sealed, and delivered for the Tide. As bad as Auburn has looked this season, I'd advise against that.
3. Georgia -- Our defense finally regained its early-season form, as the Dawgs allowed 0 rushing yards this past Saturday. Woohoo!
4. Ole Miss -- It's really incredible how far Houston Nutt has brought this team in less than a full season -- as in "four straight losing seasons" to "right back to the Cotton Bowl."
5. South Carolina -- Yet another "better watch out this weekend" team. They've improved a great deal over the course of the season, but as the second half against LSU and both halves against Florida showed us, they're not good enough yet to take Clemson completely for granted.
6. LSU -- Last year, a heartbreaking loss to eventual national champion LSU started Alabama off on their season-ending four-game losing streak. This year it looks like karma may be returning the favor: Ever since losing in OT to the undefeated Tide, the Tigers have looked awful.
7. Tennessee -- Probably don't deserve to be this high, but these are power rankings, and the Vols just beat a bowl-eligible team on the road -- pretty impressive for a team that looked like they'd completely given up a couple weeks ago.
8. Vanderbilt -- What was that all about? You figured, great, we're bowl-eligible, we can just switch on the cruise control between now and the Liberty Bowl?
9. Kentucky -- All of a sudden I'm not convinced they're going to beat Tennessee anymore.
10. Auburn -- All right, guys, just how interesting are you prepared to make the Iron Bowl this year?
11. Mississippi State -- About every third game they pop their heads up above the ground and come up with some offense. Still don't know how Woody McCorvey has managed to maintain his employment, though.
12. Arkansas -- Back to the drawing board after losing to the Bizarro Bulldogs . . . and yet would it be that much of a shocker for them to beat LSU at home this Friday?