Blog Poll: Week Nine

The Bootleg has been honored with a vote in the national SportsNation Blog Poll, which features over 100 voters from blogs representing virtually every team in Division I-A, capturing a true national snapshot of fans' perception of college football. Every week, we'll post our ballot, and you get to help us fix it before we submit it for good on Wednesday!

Shh, we're not really a blog. Don't tell anyone, because your author was nonetheless able to finagle The Bootleg a vote in the weekly Blog Poll, helping ensure that Stanford and the Pac-10, both woefully underrepresented in this national poll and throughout college football, would have a voter who was familiar with West Coast college football (and, unlike some of our local voters in the AP poll, actually didn't abhor it).

Feel free to comment on the poll on our Boot Board Plus, and we'll incorporate that feedback into our ballot before submitting it for good Wednesday.

Between the opportunity for revision and constructive criticism, the fact that every voter's every ballot is transparent (unlike in the coaches' poll, which is used by the BCS) and the fact that us diehards might follow the sport a little harder than people for whom it's just a job, and can watch more games than a coach who cares obsessively about his team and his team only, the Blog Poll has acquitted itself pretty well in its short history. Voters here seem more likely to think for themselves, and not just keep voting a team No. 1 just because the team was No. 1 last week. Quoting from the poll's explanation, "the BlogPoll has an explicitly declared poll philosophy that voters are directed to follow. Not every voter and every ballot manages to do so, but the philosophy affects the poll as a whole. This usually manifests itself in a skepticism of teams that play very weak schedules. The 2007 Hawaii team, which cruised through its regular season and was crushed by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, is the most obvious example."

Very well then, enough with the overview: we'll be voting weekly in this poll for the rest of the season, posting draft ballots, welcoming your feedback and incorporating it into our final ballots Wednesday. On to our actual rankings for this week, with commentary below:

SB Nation BlogPoll Top 25 College Football Rankings

The Bootleg - Stanford's Unofficial Sports Authority Ballot - Week 9

Rank Team Delta
1 Auburn Tigers --
2 Oregon Ducks Arrow_up 1
3 Michigan St. Spartans Arrow_up 1
4 Missouri Tigers Arrow_up 9
5 TCU Horned Frogs Arrow_up 1
6 LSU Tigers Arrow_down -4
7 Boise St. Broncos Arrow_up 3
8 Utah Utes Arrow_up 8
9 Wisconsin Badgers Arrow_up 2
10 Alabama Crimson Tide Arrow_down -3
11 Oklahoma Sooners Arrow_down -6
12 Stanford Cardinal Arrow_down -4
13 Arizona Wildcats Arrow_up 7
14 Ohio St. Buckeyes Arrow_down -5
15 Nebraska Cornhuskers Arrow_up 2
16 South Carolina Gamecocks Arrow_up 3
17 Arkansas Razorbacks Arrow_up 1
18 Florida St. Seminoles Arrow_down -3
19 Mississippi St. Bulldogs Arrow_up 5
20 Oklahoma St. Cowboys Arrow_down -8
21 Iowa Hawkeyes Arrow_down -7
22 USC Trojans --
23 Miami Hurricanes --
24 Michigan Wolverines Arrow_up 1
25 Virginia Tech Hokies --
Dropouts: West Virginia Mountaineers, Texas Longhorns

SB Nation BlogPoll College Football Top 25 Rankings »

As always, my rankings come entirely from here, a listing of each team's resume. I'm not ranking based on the name on the front of the jersey, or what we thought of the teams preseason – it's 100 percent who you have beaten this year and how. And, strangely enough, the BCS has its rankings about right. I think Auburn and Oregon, in that order, have accumulated the most impressive results this season to-date, and sure enough, the BCS would have those two playing in the national championship game right now. Furthermore, no team differs in my resume-based rankings more than four positions from its actual BCS slot. The weighted average of one-third computer and two-thirds human rankings appears to be doing a pretty good job of ordering the teams, all in all. (It still can't help us when we have three worthy, undefeated teams at season's end, but that's a larger problem.) Still, the BCS is slightly overvaluing and undervaluing some teams around the country:

Overrated

Boise State No. 7 Blog ballot, No. 3 BCS – This is a simple case of human pollsters not wanting to admit that their preseason take on a team was wrong, and adjust their rankings accordingly. Not so much the high preseason ranking for Boise State, which is undefeated and has looked dominant against the teams it was supposed to dominate, but the high preseason rankings for Virginia Tech and Oregon State. The Hokies just made it back into the No. 25 spot this week after losing to James Madison, and Oregon State is just 3-3. Suddenly, Boise State's resume is mighty thin at the top – its best win is over the barely-No. 25 team in the country – and so the Broncos have proven less to date than Michigan State and Missouri, and fellow mid-majors TCU and (arguably) Utah. Still, because the VT and Oregon State wins felt big at the time, the Broncos continue to benefit unfairly.

AlabamaNo. 10 Blog ballot, No. 7 BCS – Same idea. Lofty preseason ranking, like the Broncos. Two seemingly marquee wins (against Penn State and Florida) that look less impressive in retrospect than they did at the time. Even their loss to South Carolina is sullied by the Gamecocks' subsequent flop at Kentucky. Alabama still has Auburn and LSU on the schedule, and so if they win out and two of three of Michigan State, Missouri and Oregon lose, it will be a very interesting question of whether a one-loss ‘Bama or an undefeated TCU/Boise gets the final National Title Game slot.

Ohio StateNo. 14 Blog ballot, No. 11 BCS – Ditto. High preseason ranking, and their signature win, 36-24 win over Miami, looks less impressive now that the Canes stunk it up against Florida State. After the Hurricanes, the next-best team Ohio State has beat is Illinois, so we really don't know a lot about these guys yet.

Underrated

Meanwhile, the Broncos, Buckeyes and Tide are taking the slots of teams far more-deserving. First up is Michigan State, No. 5 in the BCS and No. 3 in our blog ballot. The Spartans have beat Wisconsin, Michigan, Notre Dame, Northwestern and Illinois, which is a solid slate of top-40 teams. (Well, save for Notre Dame. I'm shedding crocodile tears here.) I don't think they're that good, and they haven't beaten anyone earth-shattering, but it's a far better resume than Boise State or TCU.

Next is Missouri, No. 4 in our blog ballot and No. 6 in the BCS. The Tigers have taken down Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Illinois, and while they're underdogs at Nebraska this week, right now, they've also done more to justify a high ranking than any of the mid-majors.

Finally, we have two SEC teams, LSU and South Carolina. The Tigers, No. 6 in our blog ballot but just No. 12 in the BCS, should be the top one-loss team in the country, with their only loss by one score at No. 1 Auburn, and wins against six BCS conference teams. With its win over Alabama, South Carolina should be the nation's top two-loss team at No. 16 in our blog poll, but is just No. 20 in the BCS.

Additionally, USC is coming on pretty strong all of a sudden, and is underrated by – oh wait, never mind, they're ineligible. Sorry, Trojans.

That's our take for this week. We look forward to reading and responding to your comments, and adjusting our ballot for its Wednesday submission.


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