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.


Holly said...

Hey, not playing is SUBSTANTIALLY better than the performance we turned in last week. I'll take it.

Anonymous said...

Not saying that Alabama didn't play bad, because they did on offense, but 12 spots? The defense still has not allowed a touchdown and a 14 point win is still a 14 point win. You didn't drop Auburn for winning by 14. Ohio State mailed it in and you only dropped them 2. This is BS Gillette. You said you didn't even watch the game, how do you know how bad they stunk anyway?

Anonymous said...

Mark my words...

If we don't get into the MNC game and we wind up playing East Carolina in the Sugar Bowl, I am gonna fucking strangle Thom Brennaman...before he has a chance to extol the virtues of Skip Holtz and the Pirates and pick them to win.

Although in all fairness to EC, they have played somebody. But that would be the ultimate screw-job after last year. I'm sick of lose-lose situations.

Ivory Tower said...

You know who is not a worse 2-0 team than the Razorbacks, their in-state ... rival(?) Arkansas State.

Jerry Hinnen said...

PMR: there's an easy way to tell how bad the Tide stunk out the joint last Saturday. It's called a Box Score. And it shows that Tulane outgained the Tide by more than 140 yards and picked up 11 more first downs. Remember: Tulane. Considering that Auburn was playing a team at least twice as good and was better than the scoreboard indicated--as opposed to substantially, substantially worse--there's no point in comparing the two games even with the same 14-point margins. Maybe 12 spots is a tiny bit extreme, but in some cases it's not "still a 14-point win."

Anonymous said...

You noticed that Notre Dame DID still show up under the "Also Mentioned" category of the Coaches Poll? I am waiting for you to go take them out, as promised! "If I see Notre Dame anywhere in the Others Receiving Votes category later on today, even if it's just one vote, I'm coming after every one of you, every last mother's son."

Anonymous said...

Jerry, I agree that the Tide did not look as they should have and certainly agree that a drop was warranted. My point though was that twelve was too many spots in comparison to other teams; namely Auburn (which moved up and should have cruised but didn't because of early turnovers, soft defense late, and the offense going anemic in the second half) and Ohio State (who trailed at one point and only dropped two). The pattern did not hold with Alabama. As someone who was in attendance I can safely say that the game was never in question and while the special teams scores were huge in the game - they effectively ended it in the first quarter - they also caused the defense to go right back on the field. The offense - who was also using three lineman in different position with two backups - never got in a rhythm early but did come together for a drive late. It was a poor performance but it was in fact a win and the last time I checked that was the only box score that really matters. To temper Tulane's offensive numbers, Alabama held them to a little more than 2 yards per play and never allowed them in the end zone. For 80 snaps that's pretty impressive no matter what their name is.To conclude I'd like to say that Alabama deserved a drop just not that much, especially in comparison to the way other team were handled (there seems to be a lack of consistency as I look through my, admittedly, crimson colored glasses). Of course, part of this is just giving Doug a hard time - I'll be the first to admit that it is his poll and therefore he can do anything he damn well pleases.

Jerry Hinnen said...

PMR: I'll admit that not allowing an offensive touchdown through eight quarters is impressive and that the Tide's o-line issues played a role they may not play again.

But still, if we're talking about trying to project future performance--and isn't that what pollsters have to do two weeks in?--you simply can't argue that being outgained by 140 yards (and according to allowing 3.9 yards a play, rather than the 2.something you cite) by Tulane is in any way similar to outgaining Southern Miss by 80. You can't project Alabama to score two ST TD's every week; it's not happening. It's about how good a team Alabama is, and if you go by the evidence of the Tulane game, they're at the very least going to be crazy inconsistent again. I'll admit I could have been less snarky in my last comment--sorry--and that it might be a total one-off, but trying to argue that performance isn't a cause for worry sure strikes me as an effort to put lipstick on a pig.

Doug, I'd apologize for running away with your comment thread here, but a) comments were invented for Auburn-Alabama threadjacks, right? b) I seem to remember several political threads here that went on for, oh, approximately 10 times the length of the post, so I'm assuming you're not sweating it.

Will said...

Good news though: Arky gets to play Texas @ Texas this weekend, and Mack W., Brown, he has no qualms about hanging serious beatdowns on teams. Throw in the fact that its an old SWC rival, and I wouldn't be shocked to see Arky's D try and reproduce a box score from one of their smushings at USC's hands.

Anonymous said...

Dammit Jerry! I'll have to admit that you are dead on in your assessment (and citation; I wasn't trying to exaggerate, I just remembered it wrong and have since read the 3.9 which is exactly the same yrds/play that the Tide D had against Clemson). I honestly don't believe that the offense is that bad (I am hopeful anyway) because the play calls were so drastically different between the two contests - there was very little dink and dunk like we were promised and showed in Game 1 - I also believe that it was a serious case of hangover from a dominating performance - Clemson may not be all that but they are certainly better than Tulane - but I think you have hit on the fears of all Alabama fans, that our team will be as schizo as last year. We all need to see evidence otherwise to call them better. I still think 12 points was too big a drop - 6 maybe, but every team should be allowed a hangover game and I see your point that based on available information you could still assume that Alabama will play erratic at best. No need for apologies but thanks anyway.
I'm sure if Doug is pissed it's because we are being civil to one another - they love it when we call each other names.

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

Actually, I'm kind of amazed that the Alabama and Auburn fans are being more reasoned and civil toward one another than the liberals and conservatives usually are. I don't know what that says about this country, but I'm pretty sure it ain't good.