Debating Ohio State's claim to top spot in polls; more Mailbag
If it's mid-October, and if the consensus preseason No. 1 team just lost, that can only mean one thing: That all other topics go out the window, and the Mailbag dost overfloweth with e-mails complaining about the polls.
First of all, there's a very simple reason why Ohio State is No. 1: The Buckeyes had been No. 2 since the preseason, they've won all their games and the team ahead of them lost. End of story. But I'd hardly call them "consensus." They received barely half (34 of 60) of the first-place votes in this week's AP poll, with four other teams (Oregon, Boise State, TCU and Oklahoma) garnering nods as well. The Buckeyes haven't done anything to merit dropping them, but I won't argue that there are more deserving teams at the present time. In fact, according to
Mind you, I didn't hear a single gripe about Ohio State's schedule before Sunday. That may be because no one was focused on the then No. 2 team, or it may be because of what happened to several of its previous and future opponents. Miami, the source of the Buckeyes' signature win to date, got crushed by Florida State. Michigan not only lost its first game, but lost to now 6-0 Michigan State, bringing to light the fact that the Spartans and Buckeyes don't play this year. And Penn State, normally one of the marquee opponents on OSU's schedule, clearly stinks. In August, Ohio State was looking at a schedule that included four preseason Top 25 teams (Iowa, Wisconsin, Miami and Penn State). Now that number's down to two (Wisconsin and Iowa).
If one were to vote for a new No. 1 team based purely on résumé-to-date, it'd be hard to argue against Oklahoma. The Sooners scheduled ambitiously out-of-conference, and are undefeated against Sagarin's No. 15 schedule. That SOS is higher than for any of the other undefeated teams. And OU's 47-17 rout of Florida State looks that much more impressive now that FSU crushed Miami last weekend. But the Sooners' defense has been shaky and they had trouble closing out teams like Cincinnati and Utah State. Because these are humans voting and not computers, they've shown more confidence so far in No. 4/5 Nebraska -- which hasn't played anyone of note, but is blowing people out behind
That's why we hear so much talk about "style points." Note that in Sagarin's "politically correct" power rankings -- the version used by the BCS, which leaves out victory margin -- Oklahoma ranks third, Nebraska 10th. In his regular rankings, which do take into account the scores, it's almost the opposite: Nebraska sixth, Oklahoma 12th. As for Ohio State: 15th straight-up, 23rd modified. Clearly, Sagarin's computer hasn't properly taken into account
This was a pretty popular topic in the ol' inbox. And no, I can't "justify" the Utes falling from No. 10 to No. 11 following a 68-27 win. But this brings up a common misconception with the polls: Just because your team moves down a spot in a given week doesn't mean 60 voters consciously decided to "drop" it. I highly doubt a single voter looked at his ballot and said, "68-27? Nah, not good enough." Utah was an unintentional victim of the voters' attempt to address the South Carolina-Alabama victory. Obviously, they felt the Gamecocks deserved to move into the top 10, but they didn't feel the Tide deserved to drop out of the top 10, either. (Why they didn't jump South Carolina
They also moved No. 12 LSU up three spots for winning at Florida, which seems a bit unnecessary, but together, the two SEC teams' moves upward caused the Utes to lose a spot. And while that may seem dumb, it's nothing compared to the reasons why Utah
Just think: A year from now, when Utah becomes a Pac-10 team, beating a Big 12 team 68-27 -- even with the exact same players -- will probably cause it to move up five spots.
Like with the spread-option, I think you'll see more and more teams go to the Pistol over the next couple of years, but my guess is it will more often be as part of a wider package than a full-time offense. That's not an indictment against the Pistol, it's just where the sport is headed in general. As I wrote about
I can see why you'd come to me with this request. I am, after all, a notorious party-pooper, railing against the use of "we" and admonishing fans who root for their hometown team against their alma mater. But Matthew, I've got to tell you -- I'm down with "Nation." If anything, the more obscure the better. During Idaho's bowl season last year, I remember seeing (and perhaps even making) references to "Vandal Nation." And surely Oregon State fans are proud to be part of "Beaver Nation."
The more, the merrier, I say. Although it would certainly be amusing if someone actually drew a physical map of Boiler Nation.
There's no question he'd be getting more attention than he does at Kentucky (though the Wildcats do seem to be on TV every week playing
With or without Cobb, this is becoming one of the more stacked Heisman races in recent memory. Each week, I submit my top three candidates "if the award was handed out today" for the HeismanPundit.com poll. This week I had
I don't know if I'd go that far, but no question, UNC could have been the best team in the ACC and a top 10 team nationally. We knew the Heels had the potential to field one of the best defenses in the country, with projected high-round draft picks (including the dismissed
But don't mistake my analysis for sympathy. Based on the allegations reported so far at UNC, we're looking at one of the most egregious college sports scandals in recent memory. A staff member who's actively recruiting for an agent with whom he has a financial relationship? Not just for the Tar Heels, but for players at other schools? And an academic fraud scandal on top of that? One in which the tutor at the center of it had direct ties to the head coach? UNC better enjoy whatever bowl it goes to this year, because it could be its last for a long, long time.
Several games a season? Try several games every Saturday. It used to be a rare novelty when you saw a player's helmet come off during a play, but now it seems almost commonplace.
I've been seeing helmets fly off about four or five teams every weekend, and I'm only watching parts of about one-third of the games played around the country on a given Saturday. During Oregon State's game last weekend,
It's a serious issue, considering the increased awareness and emphasis on the dangers of concussions and other brain-related injuries, but one officials are only beginning to address. In recent articles by
Helmets have also become a growing concern in the NFL, which instituted new protective rules this offseason and now
What -- one loss and you're off the bandwagon?
As bad as Michigan's defense has played, it's nothing we didn't see coming before the season. With the amount of attrition that program has gone through -- including losing seven defensive backs that would have played on this team in the last year alone due to injuries, disciplinary reasons, the NFL draft, etc. -- there's simply no way it could stack up numbers-wise. The Wolverines have played as many as five true freshmen on defense at the same time. Talented as they may be, they're going to be limited, and they're going to screw up. Perhaps Rodriguez should have been better prepared for this void. Perhaps he hasn't recruited well enough. Perhaps it's a lot of bad luck. It's probably a little of all of that. The only thing you can do is wait and hope the young guys get better.
As for Rodriguez's job status, even if the Wolverines don't finish any better than 7-5, it seems to me he's now got an ace in his pocket: Robinson. You want to fire the coach? OK. Who are you going to bring in who knows better what to do with a supremely gifted running quarterback? Not
It's pretty much inherent to any program in a major, pro-sports city. Miami has the same problem. If you're winning national championships, you're the toast of the town. If not ... when does the Lakers' season start? There are plenty of very passionate Trojans fans who are there through thick and thin, but it's not a place like Alabama or Nebraska where the entire community revolves around the local university.
See what I mean? There aren't a lot of Karens walking around Los Angeles.