After the jump, reasoning.
- LSU and Alabama are the obligatory No. 1 and No. 2. Arkansas shouldn't be the obligatory No. 3, because that is a team that didn't compete for a full game against Alabama and hasn't deigned to do that against the rest of its schedule, either; the Razorbacks just have the passing game and Joe Adams-fueled voodoo to make up for that. One of my guiding principles in doing this is ranking teams by trying to answer the questions "Which of these teams would win on a neutral field at 7 p.m. tomorrow?" and "Which team would win 100 games between these two teams more often?" For me, the answers to those questions at No. 3 is Oklahoma State.
- Oregon's only falling two spots because I know Oregon beats Stanford and saw it, and also because the Ducks' two losses are to an LSU team that I honestly think will go undefeated and win a national title and to a USC team that would probably compete for 2012's national title if Matt Barkley chose to stick around, and even those losses were aberrational, considering the players on the field (reminder: Cliff Harris was not part of either loss), the fumbles in the LSU game, and the horrific clock management by Chip Kelly against USC. Also, Oregon might be the answer to those two questions against Oklahoma State and Arkansas, but I have to penalize the Ducks for losing twice somehow.
- I think Stanford-Boise State would be an absolutely fascinating bowl game that could never happen. I loathe the BCS for many reasons, like this one.
- Yeah, Georgia should be ahead of Virginia Tech. I'll fix that when I do my final ballot, promise.
- USC is really, really good. I don't know how much you saw from that game, but I saw a team that had Oregon dead to rights before a couple of fluky plays and a kick return by a future Heisman contender (De'Anthony Thomas, learn the name and love DAT), and one that stiffened enough in the final seconds to stave off a massive rally. I don't want to give too much credit to Lane Kiffin, who I still find weirdly repugnant, personally, but he's recruited an incredible amount of offensive talent, and he's managed not to screw all of it up. USC may not have picked the best Pete Carroll successor, but it certainly didn't tab the worst one.
- If you think USC wouldn't beat Oklahoma right now, you are lying to yourself.
- Michigan probably wouldn't have risen 10 spots here if I didn't honestly think that the Wolverines figured something out against Nebraska. Denard Robinson throwing that well could be a mirage, I'll admit, and the defense allowing fewer than five yards per play to a ranked team for the first time since 2009 might be a factor of Taylor Martinez being a work in never-actually-going-to-get-there-so-why-even-call-it-progress? and not a sudden epiphany. But Michigan housed a Nebraska team with things to play for, and that was a distinctly un-Michigan thing to do.
- South Carolina is not appreciably better than a lot of these Big Ten teams, and is still in the teens of the rankings in part because its schedule was front-loaded with Georgia and because losing to Arkansas sans Marcus Lattimore was not seen as the sort of loss that wrecks a team's ranking. There's a chance the Gamecocks fall even further when I do my final ballot.
- That's partly because I think Clemson's actually going to blast South Carolina weekend. It would make as much sense as anything with those two teams, right?
- TCU got pushed down in part by Baylor's rise, and in part by Clemson falling to the spot ahead of it. Poor Horned Frogs. At least you don't have to go to the Big East wasteland anymore!
- I didn't write a BlogPoll post at all last week, so I couldn't explain my Northern Illinois faith, but the Huskies have averaged 44.6 points per game against the MAC, and won three games by three or fewer points, and this college football season seems to be all about whether an offense can come through in the clutch, and I figured I could be contrarian with one team, even if it lost to Kansas.
- Watch Notre Dame beat Stanford this weekend.
I wrote this at 3:30 a.m. because I couldn't sleep. Do you have any better ideas?