Who... Is... Best...?
That really should be the primary determining factor with poll voters. But it's not. So instead we have the most unusual results, mostly determined by slotting teams by number of losses.
Why is LSU #3, and ahead of Virginia Tech? They were embarrassed by ASU, only to cobble together two rare special teams scores and a miracle last minute touchdown. Meanwhile, ASU's scratching its head as their offense continues to roll... good enough for a #17/#18 rank. The Hokies have gone out and punched in consecutive 45-0 shutouts, have a real defense, and can also score. Who is better? How can anyone argue LSU? And you wonder why I come off as anti-SEC, when a lot of little things break that conference's way.
This is just a hunch, but one based on watching all these teams---LSU will be somewhere from second to fourth best in the conference. Georgia is less structurally flawed. Same with Florida. And LSU looks to be closer to Tennessee's league. But somehow they're good enough for the #3 rank. Go figure.
Here's another poll head-scratcher: Ohio State #8/#9. Yes, they played Texas close at home. Yes, they have Ted Ginn. No, they don't have a competent quarterback. Kind of important, no? Generally top ten teams are the most likely ones to contend for a national championship. Generally... these teams don't have major offensive issues and can blow away teams like San Diego State at home.
Purdue is at #11/#10. This is a team that almost lost to Arizona. Its a team that cannot effectively run the ball against nominal competition. Its a team slotted in here almost completely in anticipation of their non Michigan/OSU schedule. Are the Boilermakers really the 10th best team in America? This is a down year in college football if that's your conclusion.
Where is Michigan State? #17 or #22 depending on the poll. They cleaned Notre Dame's clock, watched Notre Dame pull its usual South Bend magic act to tie the game in OT before reality set in and the Spartans won on the first play of the first overtime. Looks to me like a top 15 team, at least.
Oh, I almost forgot. Florida State comes in at #6 and #7. Here's another school with a horrible, clumsy, disjointed, no-good offense and a defense that cannot completely shut down a fairly pedestrian opponent offense. By having the Noles here we're saying that a team with a crappy offense, run by a shaky redshirt freshman, a team that has no clue how to make use of unnatural offensive talents in Lorenzo Booker and Fred Rouse, a team whose supposedly dominant defense let B.C. get to 17 and nearly 24 on them, is knocking at the door of the top five teams in America?
What a mess. Unfortunately, the system is now such that voters are scared into a certain kind of behavior, falling back on untrue public perceptions about certain institutions (i.e. FSU) and conferences (i.e. SEC) to dictate how they determine a top 25 ranking. The inputs are bad, which means the outputs are bad.
Time to start demanding of voters that they answer the simple question: who is best? Put that team #1. Follow that choice with your #2 team, etc. I have a hard time believing that this week's poll (and many similar polls before and after) reflects the collective view of people entrusted to determine the game's best teams. I have to believe they know better, that they aren't completely mailing this in, falling back on dusty, time-gone-by logic to make their picks.
Maybe next week will be better... yeah right.