Poll Time

Steve Townsend was like a lot of college football fans Saturday. He couldn't believe his eyes as he watched fantastic finish after fantastic finish. "I just about OD'd on football this weekend," said Townsend, one of 114 voters in the Harris Poll. "It was an unbelieveable weekend of games with unbelievable finishes, starting with Alabama over Mississippi and lasting far into the night. I've never seen anything like it."

Steve Townsend is a conscientious Harris Poll voter who makes an effort to watch as many games as possible. He is one of 114 voters. Once again this week, the Harris Poll had one participant fail to make his selection as 113 voted.

There were no changes in the first four places in the Harris Poll. Virtually every poll has the first four as 1. USC, 2. Texas, 3. Virginia Tech, and 4. Georgia.

Moving into the number five spot in the Harris Poll and in virtually every other rankings this week is Alabama. The top five teams are all 6-0.

Additionally, the Bowl Championship Series released its first rankings of the year this week. The BCS standings are determined by the Coaches Poll conducted by USA Today as one third, the Harris Poll as one third, and a combination of six computer rankings as one third. The BCS rankings had the same first five in the same order as the Harris Poll.

Townsend notes that "There is still a lot of football to be played, but right now it's hard to argue with Southern Cal and Texas being the top two." He said he can see a scenario where if neither of the top two loses that there could be one or more other undefeated teams left out of the championship game, as was the case for Auburn last year.

But, he said, "If Virginia Tech or Alabama or Georgia runs the table, then I think you have to give them a look because of the schedules."

Townsend said, "The Southern Cal-Notre Dame game was wild. I thought it was poorly officiated. I think the game cried for replays. But Southern Cal has that great ability to pull the games out. You have to give them credit for that. I think Notre Dame was last team with a chance to beat them. I watched UCLA and don't think they can stop Southern Cal. And California lost to Oregon State. It was a big win for (former Alabama player and Oregon State Coach) Mike Riley. They are 4-2 now."

Townsend added, "I can't see anyone beating Texas. They don't have as much challenge as Southern Cal. Just can't imagine the Big 12 being this weak. And that's not taking anything away from Texas."

Townsend noted that Texas Tech is ninth in the Harris Poll and seventh in the BCS standings. The Red Raiders will be at Texas Saturday. Townsend said, "I haven't had Texas Tech in my top 10. I've thought they had the benefit of a week schedule. They may surprise me against Texas, but frankly I think Texas will take it to them pretty well."

Townsend said he still has Alabama as the top Southeastern Conference team. "A lot of people expected Alabama to have an easy win at Ole Miss Saturday, but I didn't expect that," Townsend said. "I didn't expect it to be quite the struggle it was, but historically Alabama has struggled at Ole Miss. It didn't surprise me it was a tough game."

He said that he still has Georgia as his number two team from the SEC, and said both are in his top five. He said Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley "is playing a lot better than I expected. From a schedule standpoint, Georgia is set up fairly well. They have Auburn in Athens and I don't think Florida can beat them."

Townsend said he was sorry he did not get to see Auburn play at Arkansas. The 34-17 Auburn win was not televised. "Obviously, Auburn played well. The margin of victory surprised me."

Townsend has not been impressed with LSU's play. "They have a bunch of talent, but they are making a bunch of mistakes," he said. "They have outstanding personnel, but they are not playing well. They had double the yardage of Florida, but had to hang on to win."

Speaking of Florida, Townsend said, "They are probably a top 20 team, but it's towards the back of the top 20. Either that offense won't work in the SEC or they don't have the right guy running it. It looks like (Alabama Defensive Coordinator) Joe Kines delivered the game plan to play Florida to the rest of the country."

Townsend knows that some things could begin to shake out Saturday. He said, "I don't know if there are any bigger games in the country than two in the SEC: Tennessee at Alabama and Auburn at LSU." Tennessee is 18th in the Harris Poll, LSU seventh, and Auburn 15th.

The big games this weekend get started Thursday. Townsend said, "Virginia Tech plays Thursday night at Maryland and lot of people think Maryland has a chance, but I don't think Maryland can play with them. But in the big picture, Virginia Tech has a big game coming up in a few weeks against Miami."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Steve Townsend, an independent consultant for college football, is one of 114 voters in the Harris Interactive College Football Poll, which is part of the equation for choosing teams for the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games at the end of the season. The BCS formula also consists of the USA Today Coaches Poll, and an average of six computer rankings (Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin and Peter Wolfe). The first BCS standings will be released on October 17

Steve Townsend previously served as media relations director at Alabama (1988-98) and for the Southeastern Conference, co-publisher of Tiger Rag (the LSU equivalent of ‘BAMA Magazine), and as a graduate assistant under famed LSU Sports Information Director Paul Manasseh.

He shares his thoughts on his vote with BamaMag.com on a regular basis.

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