Ballots are a little tardy this week because, like Kyle, I'm still recovering from Georgia-Auburn weekend. In the midst of my euphoria over our first relevant win in what seems like forever, I temporarily forgot that there were other games this past weekend, but then I remembered that I'd actually watched a few of them, so here's what I've concluded for this week . . .
Games watched: Bits of Rutgers-South Florida and Georgia Tech-Duke, Ole Miss-Tennessee, bits of Kentucky-Vanderbilt, most of Florida-South Carolina, ALL of Georgia-Auburn, the end of Pittsburgh-Notre Dame.
The next five: Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Nebraska.
Dropped out: Texas Tech (20), Auburn (21), Brigham Young (22), Tennessee (25).
· Most obvious change to the top 10 is Stanford rocketing up in there after bludgeoning Southern Cal with a shovel, dismembering them, and setting fire to their sliced-up corpses. Now, I am a student of history, enough of one to know that all this means is Cal is going to punk the Cardinal next week and make me look like a fool for putting them this high. But for right now, Stanford has just unloaded a total of 106 points on top-10 Oregon and USC teams in back-to-back wins. If that doesn't earn you a spot in the top 10 yourself, tell me what does.
· Otherwise, everything is pretty static in the top 14 (outside of Iowa somehow rising two spots for losing at Ohio State -- guess they put in a way better showing than I expected from a team taking the wrapper off a new starting QB in the Horseshoe). Below that, though, it's kind of a Chinese fire drill. Yes, I've still got Southern Cal in the top 20 -- loss to Stanford aside, they've still got a comparable W-L record to anyone below them, and have played a tougher schedule to boot. North Carolina looks kind of funny sitting right below them, too, but the Tarheels are now 7-3 and have knocked off ranked squads from Virginia Tech and Miami, the two teams we thought would be neck-and-neck at this point for the Coastal Division title. Pitt might deserve to be higher than #15, what with a 9-1 record and all, but if they can get it done against West Virginia and Cincinnati in the next two weeks, they'll get their due.
· Falling out of the poll: losers Texas Tech, Auburn, and Tennessee, joined by BYU, who had to sneak past a resolutely awful New Mexico team and really don't have any kind of real marquee win on their record despite being 8-2. Unless you think the season-opening upset of Oklahoma qualifies, and I don't quite think that it does anymore.
· Replacing them: North Carolina; Clemson, who just clinched the ACC Atlantic title by shredding North Carolina State; California, who finally won a big game last week (over #17 Arizona); and Ole Miss, who probably hasn't signed a long-term lease on a top-25 ranking for reasons I'll explain below.
SEC Power Poll ballot follows:
1. Alabama -- Back to rolling over opponents and get the next best thing to a bye (UT-Chattanooga) before heading off to the Iron Bowl.
2. Florida -- Are they just toying with people at this point? There's a part of me that believes they're going to go through the motions against FIU and Florida State but then rise up and annihilate Bama in the Georgia Dome.
3. LSU -- Seriously, guys, Louisiana Tech? It's not too late for the Capital One Bowl to give their invite to Ole Miss, you know.
4. Ole Miss -- Even in light of Tennessee's injuries on defense, that was a shocking performance by Dexter McCluster. But the Rebels' seeming inability to put together two big games in a row makes me dubious about their chances this week.
5. Georgia -- Plus-two in turnover margin? Only four penalties? The Bulldogs clearly haven't solved all their problems, but they're making tangible progress on a few of them.
6. Auburn -- Gotta tell you, Tiger fans, of all the people who could've figured out how to slow down a Malzahn offense, I didn't think Willie Martinez was gonna be one of them. Very innovative work with the offensive-tackle screen pass, though.
7. Arkansas -- Bowl-eligible and looking to rise in the pecking order. I'm starting to be grateful that we caught them as early in the season (and in Petrino's tenure period) as we did.
8. Tennessee -- Should put away Vandy and Kentucky like they always do, but if Saturday is any indication of how their banged-up defense is going to perform, neither game will necessarily be the usual cakewalk.
9. South Carolina -- As close as they played Florida, do you think the Gators ever thought they were in any serious danger of losing that game? At this point the late-season Gamecock swoon is as big a November tradition as the malls being packed the day after Thanksgiving.
10. Mississippi State -- Tough (though not unexpected) loss to Bama, but they could very well have one more win in them before the season's over.
11. Kentucky -- If the 'Cats lose at Georgia this weekend, it'll be the second straight year they've gone 2-6 in SEC play and earned a bowl bid anyway. Gotta love those supermarket-brand non-conference schedules.
12. Vanderbilt -- At this point it almost seems unfair to actually make them play the Vols. On the other hand, at least they don't have to game-plan around Nu'Keese Richardson.