Now that we've played some actual games, it's time to draw up the first regular-season ballots for the BlogPoll and SEC Power Poll, thereby correcting the multitude of erroneous predictions, inferences, and ass-out-of-you-and-me assumptions I made in the preseason. First, the BlogPoll ballot.
Games watched: South Carolina-N.C. State, Boise State-Oregon, Tennessee-Western Kentucky, Oklahoma State-Georgia, most of Alabama-Virginia Tech, Ole Miss-Memphis, the second half of Miami-Florida State.
The next five: Kansas, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Georgia, Arkansas.
Dropped out: Georgia (13), North Carolina State (19), Oregon (22), Clemson (23).
· The biggest dilemma at the top of the poll has been answered -- we now know who deserves to be elevated to the top of the Alabama/LSU/Ole Miss trifecta in the SEC West, and it's the Crimson Tide. LSU got handled in nearly every statistical category by a team riding a 14-game losing streak, while Ole Miss spent three quarters dicking around with a midpack Conference USA squad, but Bama came within spitting distance of unloading 500 yards on a top-10 team sporting one of the country's best defenses. If Bama can play like that for the rest of the season, they might even make the SEC title game interesting.
· I've probably overreacted to Oklahoma State's and BYU's big wins on Saturday, but it might be time to start seriously considering the idea that the Cowboys might actually be pretty good this year as opposed to the arbitrary beneficiary of a ton of media hype. BYU, meanwhile, deserves at least a little bump in respect for holding Oklahoma solidly in check even before Sam Bradford's shoulder got messed up. There's a loooong way to go before I'm willing to entertain the idea of the Cougars as a potential national-title contender -- seriously, we've played one weekend of football and we're already plotting out paths to the BCS National Championship Game for a Mountain West team? -- but they're clearly better than I gave them credit for in my original ballot.
· LSU and Ohio State both drop after closer-than-expected wins over teams they should've handled. I think that's fair, and honestly, I'm kind of looking for a way to drop LSU even further -- that performance against Washington does not bode particularly well for expectations that last year's defensive collapse was a huge anomaly.
· Welcome to the poll: Missouri, who went a long way toward showing that their offense may not miss a beat after all despite losing the two Chases, Daniel and Coffman; Miami, who won probably the best game of the entire weekend last night; Cincinnati, who only returns one starter on defense but still managed to destroy Rutgers on the road and climbed right back into the position of Big East favorite; and, yes, Notre Dame, who deserves more than a little credit for shutting out a pretty good Nevada offense and handily winning a game that many people (myself included) had considered a possible upset opportunity.
· Wave goodbye to Georgia, North Carolina State, and Oregon, all of whom forfeited any "dark horse" cred by losing in fairly embarrassing fashion, and Clemson, whom I felt funny about including in the top 25 to begin with and who didn't do anything against MTSU on Saturday that seemed particularly top-25-worthy.
· Honorable mention: If I could've given IHOP's new football-themed stuffed French toast a spot in the top 25, I would have. One of the few instances in which something arrived on my table looking and tasting every bit as awesome as it did in the picture on the menu. Well played, IHOP.
Comments and "How can you be so stupid"s are welcome on the BlogPoll ballot, as I can make changes right up until 10 a.m. or so Wednesday. Any substantial revisions will be re-posted here.
And here's the first SEC Power Poll ballot of the season (the results will be posted at Team Speed Kills tomorrow):
1. Florida -- Even Gator fans had to have been monstrously bored by that exhibition against Charleston Southern.
2. Alabama -- My doubts about the Tide's validity as a potential SEC West favorite centered mainly around their substantially retooled offense, but those doubts pretty much disappeared once they went over 30 points against Virginia Tech's defense. If I were a Tiger or Rebel fan, I'd be real, real worried about what I saw in the Georgia Dome on Saturday night.
3. LSU -- They won, but that was a lot of yards to give up to a team that hasn't won a game in nearly 22 months. Hope it was just the jet lag, Tigers.
4. Ole Miss -- Took their sweet time pulling away from Memphis, didn't they? Jevan Snead had a sub-mediocre day against last year's 52d-ranked pass defense.
5. Tennessee -- OK, it was just Western Kentucky, but last year's UT offense couldn't have scored 63 points if you gave them two games to do it. At the very least, the Vols showed some fire that they haven't had in their bellies in quite a while.
6. Georgia -- I want to have faith that our coaches can light a fire under this offense, but Georgia's schedule is not conducive to allowing a QB to learn anything he doesn't know already. And losing Trinton Sturdivant (again) was about the last thing we needed.
7. Arkansas -- Decent debut for Ryan Mallett, but there's not a lot you can really glean from a win over a D-IAA team that went 4-7 last year.
8. South Carolina -- Thank God for the Gamecocks, the one SEC team whose offense looked even worse than Georgia's on opening weekend. We could have another 3-2 game on our hands when USC comes to Athens this week.
9. Auburn -- Took their time putting LaTech away but still looked far, far better on offense than I could've ever predicted. Looks like this program ain't dead yet.
10. Kentucky -- Dominated Miami-Ohio pretty comprehensively, but let's remember this wasn't Ben Roethlisberger Miami-Ohio, this was 10-and-27-over-the-last-three-seasons Miami-Ohio.
11. Vanderbilt -- Probably played the weakest opponent any SEC squad faced all weekend, so it's hard to draw too many conclusions. When was the last time they rolled up 620 yards on anybody?
12. Mississippi State -- Nice win to open the Dan Mullen era. The clock strikes midnight and the offense turns back into a pumpkin, though, when they go to Auburn this week.