Georgia finally put another W on the board -- a conference W at that -- and so for one week I get to count myself among the beautiful people who get to toast their team and regale one another with tales of awesome plays rather than the unwashed masses huddling with crumpled depth charts and/or betting slips, wondering why God craves their unhappiness. All things considered, I prefer the former.
By the way, since I know some of you are curious, Holly and I didn't break up. Didn't really come close, actually; she was the perfect lady, gracious in defeat, and I the perfect gentlemen, magnanimous in victory so long as she's out of earshot.
Games watched: Parts of UCF-UAB, Nebraska-Kansas State, and Rutgers-UConn; all of Georgia-Tennessee, South Carolina-Alabama, and LSU-Florida.
The next five: Michigan, Air Force, West Virginia, Missouri, California.
· Why Oregon in the top spot and not Ohio State? Simple: As I pointed out yesterday, Oregon's wins have been bigger and better than OSU's. Also I had them ranked higher than the Buckeyes last week, so.
· Past the top five, things get a little shaky; Auburn probably doesn't deserve to be #6, but they beat the team that just knocked off the former #1, and as the more solid of the two remaining SEC unbeatens, they deserve some credit until they get knocked off. South Carolina jumps way up too, of course, since they had Auburn dead to rights until the fourth quarter. I scratched my head when I heard Alabama had been knocked down to #8 in the mainstream polls until I had to do my own rankings, and I obviously couldn't put Bama above the Gamecocks, so there they are. Stanford takes a four-spot tumble partly for needing a last-second field goal to beat USC, and partly as a belated correction for not having dropped them enough after getting blown up in the second half at Oregon. (Still think they're a pretty good team, though.)
· Other big droppers: Miami takes the biggest tumble, because honestly, what's their marquee win right now? Blowing out a team that might only be second- or third-best in the Big East? Florida also drops, as does Arizona for losing at home to Oregon State.
· Risers: Michigan State, for one, since if you can hold Michigan to just 17 points -- in the Big House, no less -- you must be a pretty good team (same goes if you're 6-0, of course, which the Spartans currently are). Florida State also jumps up for blowing Miami out on the road. Minor jumps for Virginia Tech, Nevada, and Oklahoma, who leapfrogs Arkansas more because of the Razorbacks' blah win over a defense-free Texas A&M team than anything the Sooners did.
· Welcome Oregon State, N.C. State, Wisconsin and Oklahoma State into the top 25, at the expense of Michigan, Clemson, Kansas State and UCLA. Michigan, I think, has the best chance to work its way back into the rankings; Kansas State might, too, since it's not like they're going to have to face any more Nebraskas this season, but I wouldn't bet much on the others. UCLA, in particular, is a complete puzzle, but if you look at the win over Texas as a fluke victory by a team playing absolutely out of its ass, the puzzle becomes a lot less complicated.
And the SEC Power Poll ballot:
1. Auburn -- Debated over whether to put them or South Carolina here, went with the undefeated team. Ted Roof's defense is gonna ruin a game for them one of these days, but until that happens, this is a team nobody should want to play. Cameron Newton all by himself vs. your team's defensive starting 11 might still be a tossup.
2. South Carolina -- If they can avoid the November self-immolation that has become every bit as much of a Gamecock tradition as entering the stadium to the music from "2001," they're going to be your SEC East champs. Speaking of self-immolation, after reading back over that comment I think I need to find some matches.
3. Alabama -- That's three games in a row where the Tide's talented, experienced offense has really sputtered, and that was supposed to be the strength of their team this year. They'll bounce back, but they'll only bounce so high if Ingram and Richardson can't regain their status as the focal points of the offense.
4. LSU -- I feel kind of funny putting a 6-0 team in the number-four slot, so if you want to make the case they should be higher, have at it. I will admit that the "Les Miles is just lucky" caveat seems to hold less and less relevance as the weeks wear on.
5. Arkansas -- For a 4-1 team boasting what was supposed to be the league's most exciting offense, the Razorbacks sure haven't been a terribly interesting team to watch lately.
6. Florida -- Not much new you can say about them, even after the LSU loss. Tim Tebow's departure was a big blow; Dan Mullen's may have proven to be the even bigger one.
7. Mississippi State -- The season's half over and they're already two-thirds of the way toward bowl eligibility -- and they probably have another upset of a brand-name SEC program lurking in them somewhere.
8. Georgia -- Re-learned how to not just win but dominate. The next two games (Vandy and UK) are hardly the layups they once were, but they still offer the Dawgs to ascend to 4-4 and regain a more-or-less even keel by the time the Cocktail Party rolls around to kick off the season's home stretch.
9. Ole Miss -- Bama fans complained all summer about a schedule that gave so many of their opponents byes before they faced the Tide, but I can think of a worse situation: having to play Nick Saban the week after he's lost to someone.
10. Kentucky -- I suppose I should give them more credit for taking Auburn right down to the wire, but it's pretty telling how they seem to have hit a brick wall now that they're no longer playing cupcakes.
11. Vanderbilt -- Had to roll a functional I-AA team to get that second win, but that's still twice as many as I thought they'd get all season.
12. Tennessee -- The Vols may have lost to Florida and LSU, but they at least played lights-out for the full four quarters. So it was weird to see how quickly they devolved into the Keystone Kops against Georgia. They could pull four more wins out of their remaining schedule, but it's looking less and less likely.