[column]Because of the weird college football schedule this week, which ended with a marquee Monday night game, this will be my final poll unless someone finds a horribly egregious error before tomorrow morning. My top five stands pat except for Boise State, who jumps up to No. 2 after their impressive win against Virginia Tech last night, and Florida, who drop to No. 7 after having a great deal of trouble moving the ball against Miami of Ohio. Full breakdown is below:
Games Watched: Michigan-UConn (duh), Pitt-Utah, USC-Hawaii, TCU-Oregon State, LSU-UNC, Arizona-Toledo, Boise State-Virginia Tech
Moving Up: Boise State gets the aforementioned bump, and fellow BCS-buster TCU moves up the board as well after a decent, but not great, performance against Oregon State — that move up has as much to do with the teams that were in front of them as anything else. Nebraska, Wisconsin, Miami (FL), and Iowa all move up slightly after handling business convincingly against cupcakes this week.
Utah leaps from unranked (not a terrible oversight on my preseason ballot, but I was probably underrating them a bit) up to No. 13 after edging Pitt in overtime. The game really should not have been that close, as Utah outgained the Panthers 405-266, and their offense looked very strong. With very few impressive victories (or opponents, for that matter) this week, that gets the Utes near the top ten.
Penn State gets a nice four-spot jump after a good performance by true freshman quarterback Robert Bolden — albeit against Youngstown State — eased preseason fears that the Nittany Lions would have major issues at QB this year. While Bolden probably won’t be a star this year, he probably won’t be awful, either, and that should be enough to make Penn State a very good football team. We’ll learn a lot more about them this weekend when they face Alabama in the marquee game of Week 2.
Also entering the poll are Arizona, Georgia, Auburn, and yes, Michigan. The first three teams all looked good against inferior competition, especially the Wildcats, who thumped Toledo 41-2 and looked strong on both sides of the ball. I tried to find a reason to keep Michigan out of the poll, but I couldn’t find one good enough — they’re No. 25 with a bullet after one of the most impressive opening performances of the year.
I was tempted to throw in Notre Dame in the last spot for reverse jinxing purposes, but frankly their victory over Purdue was not as convincing as the Wolverines’ win over a UConn team that I believe is better than the Boilermakers.
Moving Down: Florida, as mentioned, moves down to No. 7 after finishing dead-even in total yards with the wrong Miami to have those type of stats against. If it wasn’t for four RedHawk turnovers, we could be talking about Florida exiting the poll entirely (in fairness, Florida coughed up three turnovers of their own, but that isn’t exactly a good thing either).
Virginia Tech drops down to No. 11 after their loss, but I still believe they’re one of the better teams in the country, which is why you see an 0-1 squad hanging just outside the top ten. Meanwhile, Oklahoma and USC both drop precipitously after very uninspiring Week 1 victories against Utah State and Hawaii, respectively. The Sooners outgained Utah State, a perennial WAC doormat who finished 4-8 last season, by a mere one yard. That’s better than what the Trojans can say after giving up 588 yards to Hawaii — USC finished with 524 yards themselves, but that defense does not look good.
LSU drops a spot, and nearly exits the poll entirely, after eking out a 30-24 win over No. 18 North Carolina, which would be impressive if (1) they weren’t outgained by over 100 yards and (2) UNC wasn’t missing over half their starting defense and a couple key starters on offense due to suspension.
Every team that dropped out of the poll lost except for Missouri, who had to rally from a ten-point halftime deficit to beat Ron Zook’s Illinois squad, 23-13. Rivalry game or not, that’s just not a good way to start the season.
As I said earlier, critiques and comments are welcome, but keep in mind that the poll locks in tomorrow morning — I’ll do by best to make major changes if needed before the poll goes official, but unless something is really off expect this to be my final poll this week.