Now in its seventh year, the College Football BlogPoll is a weekly effort of dozens of college football-centric Web sites representing a wide array of schools under the oversight of SB Nation. As always, this is an ever-evolving snapshot meant to judge teams exclusively on their existing resumés. It pays as little regard as possible to my guess as to what’s going to happen over the course of the season, or what would happen in a make-believe game “on a neutral field” or anywhere else. It’s subjective, but ideally, it’s not a guess: It’s a judgment on the evidence that actually exists. It is not a power poll.
LSU alternates back to the top in my weekly rotation between the Tigers and Crimson Tide, which (mercifully) has just one more week remaining before there’s a reason to actually rank one ahead of the other. For now, for the fourth edition in a row, they remain 1a and 1b, in no particular order. They have clearly been the two most dominant teams in the country over the first eight weeks and attempting to discern between them before they play is an exercise in futility.
• Cowboys are aliens. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State slides up another spot into Oklahoma‘s vacated No. 3 position, and I’m beginning to understand what the computers see in the Cowboys. I think some human pollsters have been a little slower to come around on OSU because a) They’re not a traditional power, a la Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma, and weren’t considered serious national contenders coming into the season, and b) They’re considered vulnerable defensively, a perfectly valid criticism for an outfit yielding well in excess of 400 yards per game.
On paper, though, Oklahoma State is competitive: Like Alabama and LSU, they’re winning by more than three touchdowns per game, have wins over a pair of teams currently ranked in every major poll (Texas A&M and Texas) and three “secondary” wins (over Missouri, Tulsa and UL-Lafayette) that easily rank alongside the Crimson Tide/Tiger routs over the bottom half of the SEC — the computers, in fact, tend to view the Cowboys’ schedule as the toughest of any ranked team except Texas A&M (see below). Caveats about the defense remain going forward, but they haven’t stopped OSU from putting together a first-rate resumé to date.
• Movin’ on up. Texas Tech and USC vault from out of the poll altogether to the mid-teens on the strength of big wins over Oklahoma and Notre Dame, respectively, and the Red Raiders may be my Restrospectively Overvalued Pick of the Week. I feel better about the Trojans, though, on the heels of what feels like a breakthrough win in South Bend: After a month of squeaking by the likes of Minnesota, Utah and Arizona, SC finally delivered its first legitimately impressive win of the Kiffin era. At the same time, it got a strength-of-schedule boost from Syracuse‘s surprising blowout over West Virginia, good enough to rocket it into its highest standing of the year — just in time to trashed by Stanford this weekend in the L.A. Coliseum.
• Parity before the storm. The Big 12 is the big winner this week with seven of ten teams in the poll at large, better than its nearest competition in the top-heavy SEC and muddled Big Ten (five teams apiece) and dramatically better per capita. Of course, those seven teams also have 13 games left to play against one another, and unbeaten Kansas State alone is about to embark on a four-week gauntlet against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas that could eject the Wildcats from the rankings in short order. But considering it’s going to survive the current round of conference realignment, after all, this isn’t a bad time to be in that league, unless you happen to be a defensive coordinator.
• Proof. This week’s resumé grid for public consumption:
L: Losses PPG: Average margin of victory (points per game) YPP: Average margin per play (yards per play) Sked: Strength of schedule (as calculated by Jeff Sagarin)