Blogpoll: When There's Nothing Left to Burn, You Have To Set Yourself on Fire Edition
Dropped Out: Boston College (#15), Houston (#25).
It's interesting how the difficulty of ranking teams changes over the course of the year. At the beginning of the season, you can mostly wing it on your prejudices, the small sample size of games you can easily keep in your head, plus the stray head-to-head matchup which neatly form a heirarchy of teams. As the year progresses, you have to start judging quality of wins, quality of losses, subjectively judge "improvement", and deal with agonizing circuitous victory chains (LSU beat Arkansas, Arkansas beat Auburn, Auburn beat LSU. All teams have two losses now. Auuuughh!!! Fightinamish angry! Fightinamish smash things!)
Making a blogpoll: Half art, half primate destroying computer with a cattle femur.
As we get to this late part of the season with its crazy and inconsistent data sets, you lose the luxury of having an objective resume-based system and more or less have to turn it into pure opinion, especially with the bottom 15 of the rankings. At this point in time, I think there's a pretty solid consensus between the top five or eight teams, but then you delve into a muckety-muck of also-rans, all of whom have had brief moments of glory combined with some collosal failures and glaring weaknesses exposed by the teams in the top of the pack. At the end of the day, you have to suck it up and go with your gut with their rankings. Some more subtext:
- Two teams have shown they're the best of the best. Michigan, I love you guys, but what USC has accomplished this season makes it impossible to deny them of the crown for best one-loss team. A big hat tip to USC's Athletic Director, who, sensing that the team would draw the typical criticisms from east coast media types for playing in a "soft conference", just went out and scheduled (and beat the pine tar out of) Arkansas, Notre Dame, and Nebraska. All three of their out of conference games were teams that have a shot to be in a BCS bowl.
Brian @ mgo did the heavy lifting and broke down the resumes of the three contenders for the number two slot, and there's really no logical way to argue against the Trojans being in that number two spot.
- LSU + Auburn + Arkansas = Pollster Insanity. No clue what to do with them... all 3 teams beat each other and all have two losses. I had to go to the dreaded "win when it counts" axiom to break this nutbuster. Forgive me, polling gods.
- I can't in good conscience rank Wisconsin above Notre Dame. I'm trying to be as realistic as possible with ranking the Irish, who have taken care of business with their lesser foes, but really haven't made a statement in a big game all year (or, perhaps more appropriately, have made loud, embarassing statements in their big games this year). With that in mind, I have moved up teams that have proven a bit more, but after taking another look at Wisconsin's schedule, I simply cannot put Wisconsin ahead of Notre Dame. The Badgers' best win? Penn State, which happens to be Notre Dame's second best win. And whereas the Badgers scraped by a 13-3 victory, the Irish mangled and disfigured the Nittany Lions to the tune of 41-3 before the second string came in. The Badgers' second best win is Purdue, which is the Irish's third best win, and the margin of victory is pretty much the same (save for cosmetic touchdowns). After that, Wisconsin's slate is like a who's who of rural midwest liberal arts colleges. Say what you will about Sagarin's rankings, the 85th toughest schedule is the 85th toughest schedule, no matter how you slice it.
If Wisconsin played a few more football games and a few less ultimate frisbee games, maybe it's a different story.
- And, again, a shit salad at the bottom. Why do they even make a "Top 25"? Is it that painfully important to honor the 25th best team in the country when everybody after about 20 or so is completely interchangeable? I shall never know.
As you can see, Western Illinois' football team was not up to the challenge. Hell, they didn't even bring pads or footballs to the game.
So there you have it. Enjoy.