The ballots are going up a little late this week because, among other reasons, I was visiting family in West Virginia all weekend and I'm still trying to catch up on all the Intertubes action I missed while I was up on top of a mountain. Full disclosure: While I did get to see plenty of football on Saturday (hooray satellite!), I didn't get to see more than a few minutes of the Alabama-LSU game; I have a cousin who went to Ohio State and a cousin who went to Georgia Tech, so that's what we watched, because I'm selfless like that. Actually it's because they're both bigger and taller than me, but I'm still selfless.
Games watched: Flipped back and forth between Miami-Virginia and Arkansas-South Carolina; also flipped back and forth between Georgia Tech-Wake Forest and Ohio State-Penn State; caught a little bit of Clemson-Florida State.
The next five: Utah, South Florida, West Virginia, California, Oklahoma.
Dropped out: Oklahoma (18), California (19), Notre Dame (24).
· Another flip-flop between Alabama and Florida in the top three, for reasons explained below. I suppose I could've dropped Texas lower than Florida for starting so slowly against UCF, but it's not like they haven't been doing that all year, and were probably due for such a sleepwalk after having dismantled Oklahoma State last week.
· The top 10 looks quite a bit different with Iowa gone, Oregon down, and TCU having leapfrogged Cincinnati after the Bearcats had to survive UConn on Saturday. I could've dropped Oregon more for having laid down and let Stanford's offense run all over them, but there was no way they were going below USC. (On that note, what's the sportswriters' and coaches' excuse?)
· Oklahoma, California, and Notre Dame are all gone thanks to fairly embarrassing (or, in ND's case, reeeeally embarrassing) losses; in their places are BYU, who destroyed Wyoming on the road and are probably headed to their 5,436th straight Las Vegas Bowl; Stanford, who dished out the aforementioned ass-beating to the Oregon Ducks; and Tennessee, who's probably a shaky Top 25 candidate at only 5-4 but has looked as hot as anyone over the past few weeks. Based on the performance of my previous predictions, they will probably repay me for this kindness by going down in flames at Ole Miss this weekend.
And the SEC Power Poll ballot:
1. Alabama -- I feel like I've flip-flopped Bama and Florida in the 1-2 spots on nearly a weekly basis, but the Tide took a big step toward righting their offensive ship against LSU on Saturday . . .
2. Florida -- . . . while Florida's offensive struggles all came thudding back against Vandy despite the beatdown UF laid on Georgia the previous week. If the SEC title game were played this week, I have a feeling Bama would be favored, and they'd deserve to be. But the Gators did manage not to blind anybody this week, so there's that, at least.
3. LSU -- And poof go the Tigers' shot at an SEC West title, which doubly sucks for them because the loser of the conference championship game is almost certain to certain to claim an at-large BCS bid (as far as I know, each conference is still limited to two such berths).
4. Auburn -- Furman scored 28 points on AU in the second half . . . is that an indictment of the Tigers' defensive depth, or am I really reaching for reasons to have hope for Georgia this weekend?
5. Tennessee -- Crompton has been damn near unstoppable for the last month. Yep, I actually typed that sentence, and you really just read it.
6. Georgia -- Even without any fruity uniform changes, they handled Tennessee Tech even more easily than I anticipated, enough that a bowl-eligibility-clinching sixth win against Kentucky goes from "toss-up" to "likely" in my book. Anything more than that this season, though, will be a gift from God.
7. Ole Miss -- Since Saturday's win was their second this season over a DI-AA opponent, the Rebs still need another W to go bowling . . . and with Tennessee, LSU, and Missy State remaining, it's conceivable that they might not get it.
8. Arkansas -- Probably clinch bowl eligibility this week against Troy, with a shot at a seventh win against MSU the following week, which would be a big step forward for the program under Petrino.
9. South Carolina -- Didn't think the Gamecocks could go into another tailspin as bad as their late-2007 collapse; I may be in the process of being proven wrong.
10. Mississippi State -- If the Bizarro Bulldogs take two out of their last three and make a bowl, Dan Mullen walks away with SEC Coach of the Year. Heck, he may even deserve it already.
11. Kentucky -- Struggled with Eastern Kentucky well into the third quarter, but Morgan Newton looks like a solid choice to be the Wildcats' QB of the future.
12. Vanderbilt -- Beat the spread against the Gators, which is exactly the kind of moral victory that represented the Commodores' ceiling during the Widenhofer years.