Tide getting poll respect

Blow out a Top 25 team on national television, and voters simply can't ignore you. Such was the case with Alabama, as the Tide parlayed a dominating win over Ole Miss into some well-deserved poll respectability. <br><br>The Associated ranks Alabama No. 19, two spots below our ballot. And that's not the only place we differ.

Not surprisingly, the AP poll reveals a bias in favor of traditional powers---Florida State, Michigan and Southern Cal, for example. While at the same time the sportswriters display a disinclination to recognize teams like North Carolina State and Iowa.

The AP Top 25

Rank     Team        Record   Points
 1.  Miami, Fla. (61) 6-0     1,837
 2.  Oklahoma (13)    7-0     1,787
 3.  Virginia Tech    7-0     1,675
 4.  Ohio State       8-0     1,604
 5.  GEORGIA          7-0     1,584
 6.  Notre Dame       7-0     1,479
 7.  Texas            6-1     1,325
 8.  Michigan         6-1     1,217
 9.  Washington State 6-1     1,211
10.  LSU              6-1     1,110
11.  Florida State    5-2     1,105
12.  N.C. State       8-0     1,028
13.  Iowa             7-1     977
14.  Oregon           6-1     966
15.  Southern Cal     5-2     751
16.  TENNESSEE        4-2     681
17.  Iowa State       6-2     626
18.  Penn State       5-2     614
19.  ALABAMA          5-2     459
20.  Kansas State     5-2     426
21.  Colorado         5-2     419
22.  Air Force        6-1     360
23.  Arizona State    6-2     202
24.  Bowling Green    6-0     167
25.  Minnesota        7-1     118

Given the (generally) understandable regional bias involved with the Associated Press poll, I don't have a great deal to quarrel with. Teams like Texas and Michigan are riding name recognition (and regional voting) to their ranking, while North Carolina State and Iowa (smaller names that deserve more recognition) continue to be slighted. But most of that is both arguable and understandable.

However, the voter infatuation with Bowling Green is frankly foolish. Ranking them ahead of genuine football teams like Kentucky and Ole Miss is embarrassing. Do those mid-western voters genuinely believe the BGs would be undefeated if they played in a major conference?

Really?

Our ballot follows:

Rank     Team        Record
 1.  Oklahoma         7-0
 2.  Miami, Fla.      6-0
 3.  GEORGIA          7-0
 4.  Virginia Tech    7-0
 5.  Ohio State       8-0
 6.  Notre Dame       7-0
 7.  N.C. State       8-0
 8.  LSU              6-1
 9.  Iowa             7-1
10.  Texas            6-1
11.  Washington State 6-1
12.  Oregon           6-1
13.  Michigan         6-1
14.  Florida State    5-2
15.  Penn State       5-2
16.  TENNESSEE        4-2
17.  ALABAMA          5-2
18.  Kansas State     5-2
19.  Iowa State       6-2
20.  Southern Cal     5-2
21.  Colorado         5-2
22.  Arizona State    6-2
23.  KENTUCKY         5-2
24.  Minnesota        7-1
25.  OLE MISS         5-2

So how can we put Oklahoma ahead of Miami?

Simple. Both the Sooners and the Hurricanes have faced off against top-flight, traditional rivals this year. Miami escaped with a one-point win over Florida State. Oklahoma embarrassed Texas. And which is the stronger team, the Seminoles or Longhorns?

We placed Georgia third. The Bulldogs get the edge over Virginia Tech because they can both run and pass the football, and we're frankly not convinced that the Buckeyes are "all that."

Why is NC State seventh on our list? Because they deserve to be.

We differ somewhat from the AP voters on eight through 15, but none of it is out of the ordinary. We like LSU and Iowa; the sportswriters don't. The AP poll likes Texas and Michigan; we don't very much.

Alabama comes in at 17 in our poll, while the sportswriters put them at 19. Frankly we'd have put Bama ahead of Tennessee, but given recent history between the two teams, Alabama won't deserve that until they win the game Saturday.

Was our Southern bias showing by placing Kentucky and Ole Miss in our Top 25? Perhaps. But Guy Morriss deserves Coach of the Year honors in the SEC--and consideration for the award nationally. Kentucky is a solid team.

Air Force and Colorado State were the two teams we most regretted leaving out of our poll. You've got to love the Air Force offense, but given time to prepare other Division 1A teams simply have better athletes.


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