Monday, September 8
Poll dancing, week 2: a few corrections.
Week two, as is so often the case, involves some, uh, "corrections" of varying degrees of severity as some teams atone for shoddy opening-week performances while some more successful squads fall victim to the dreaded post-victory hangover, exposing the stinker within. And still others do neither, but get jerked around anyway, because that's just how life is sometimes. Let's begin . . .
Games watched: Auburn-Southern Miss, Georgia-Central Michigan, Florida-Miami, substantial parts of Vanderbilt-South Carolina and East Carolina-West Virginia, and the tail end of Wake Forest-Ole Miss.
Waiting room: Texas Christian, UCLA, Boise State, Tennessee, Cincinnati.
Dropped out: South Carolina (21), Cincinnati (24), UCLA (25).
• Ohio State is invited to leave the #1 spot thanks to a shoddy performance against a team they should've blown to smithereens even without the services of Beanie Wells. And yet I'm still not convinced they won't beat USC this weekend. In fact, I'm kind of even hoping for it. Damn you, Buckeyes, and your powers of sweater-vested, styrofoam-cooler-pooping seduction!
• Other teams gettin' their plummet on: Alabama, for reacting to their big win over Clemson exactly the way they usually react to big wins and turning in a half-assed -- no, make that one-quarter-assed -- performance against a Tulane team I'm still not convinced actually fields 11 players on defense; West Virginia, who answered the question "Could they ever turn in an offensive performance as bad as last year's Pittsburgh game?" with a resounding, "Hells yes we can!" and offering themselves up as another scalp on Skip Holtz's (Skip! Holtz's!) increasingly crowded belt; and South Florida, for frittering away a 14-point lead and getting taken to overtime by UCF. Opening up opportunities for George O'Leary to look good, Bulls, is not a way to curry favor around these parts.
• I don't know how Wisconsin earned five spots for pounding Marshall, nor why I apparently felt dropping a 66-bomb on Utah State merited a four-point jump for the Oregon Ducks, but there you have it. Some people above them got dropped down; live with it. Oregon looks particularly precarious here, for some reason, but maybe it's high time that I ended the official Hey Jenny Slater policy of not having any faith in any Pac-10 team other than Southern Cal to accomplish anything.
• Welcome, East Carolina, California, and Illinois, for some reason. Of the teams whose spots they stole, I don't feel guilty about any of them save for UCLA, who gets "corrected" right out of the #25 spot they earned for spoiling the debut of Tennessee's new offense. Well, maybe they'll get it back by whacking BYU this weekend and avenging the poor Washington Huskies.
And now for the SEC Power Poll:
1. Georgia -- Broke -- or some might say hurdled -- the half-century mark on the scoreboard for the first time since 2004, but the most impressive aspect of the win over CMU, I thought, was the way the first-team defense straight-up dominated the Chippewas' tricky spread attack until the fix was more or less in. Now the assignment is to keep from getting lulled into a false sense of security against the Gamecocks. I want a second straight shutout in Columbia, dammit.
2. Florida -- Looked lost for the first half against Miami but adjusted beautifully in the second, particularly against the Hurricane pass rush. Still looking for that "running game" we've been hearing so much about, though.
3. LSU -- Game against Troy was postponed because of Hurricane Gustav. So now we know of one way to stop the defending national champions, at least, though I'm not sure how much practical benefit that's going to be for the rest of the conference.
4. Auburn -- The margin of victory over Southern Miss isn't giving anyone the vapors, nor should it, but it would've been a lot more impressive had the Tigers' running backs been able to hold onto the damn ball in the red zone. The "Spread Eagle" still isn't running anywhere near full speed, but the passing part, at least, looked a lot better with only one quarterback running it.
5. Alabama -- Got the win against Tulane, but in about as ugly a fashion as possible; I could smell their performance all the way from Birmingham. So they drop a spot anyway for being just inept enough against the Green Wave to make me wonder if the Clemson win was a fluke.
6. Tennessee -- Yeah, they go up one spot for doing nothing; I can't vault Ole Miss or Vandy over them just yet, if for no other reason than because I can't believe that their offense is going to look as bad as it did against UCLA for the entire season. Of course, I can always hope.
7. Ole Miss -- Get bumped up one notch despite a heartbreaking last-second loss to Wake Forest because, well, I never dreamed that they were going to be in it anywhere near the last second, and neither did you. That defense doesn't look like it's going to be doing them a lot of favors this year, though.
8. Vanderbilt -- Holy crap, what if these guys are for real? I would've bumped them up another notch if I wasn't still afraid that they're gonna start 5-0 and then piss away their bowl chances against teams like Mississippi State and Duke.
9. Kentucky -- Defense once again dominated, though it probably hurts that they needed two quarterbacks to piece together 147 passing yards. The one hurting the most, though, is Louisville, who now know that their offense was less effective against their in-state rival than Norfolk State's.
10. South Carolina -- You can take the Gamecocks out of the basement, but you can't take the basement out of the Gamecocks . . . or something like that. Not to go out on a precarious limb here, but I'm betting that Spurrier retires by the end of the calendar year. He didn't take this job so that he could field "Are y'all ever gonna beat Vanderbilt again?" questions on the golf course.
11. Mississippi State -- Broke the 400-yard mark against Southeastern Louisiana. Huzzah. Now let's see you do it against a team with a pulse.
12. Arkansas -- Ladies and gentlemen, if this isn't the worst 2-0 team in Division I-A, then find me a worse one. Rice? Minnesota? Please -- either one would have their way with the Hogs' defense. If Arkansas needs the full 60 minutes to escape teams like Western Illinois and ULM, they're dog food once conference play starts.