Here's the ballot for Week 2:
|3||Alabama Crimson Tide||--|
|4||Oklahoma St. Cowboys||1|
|5||Boise St. Broncos||2|
|10||TCU Horned Frogs||-4|
|11||Florida St. Seminoles||--|
|12||Texas A&M Aggies||--|
|13||Virginia Tech Hokies||3|
|15||Michigan St. Spartans||2|
|16||Mississippi St. Bulldogs||4|
|17||Penn St. Nittany Lions||4|
|19||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||--|
|20||West Virginia Mountaineers||2|
|21||Ohio St. Buckeyes||-3|
|22||Arizona St. Sun Devils||1|
|23||South Carolina Gamecocks||-10|
|25||South Florida Bulls||--|
Explanation / rationale / excuses / justification for rocks being thrown at my office are after the jump.
1. Oklahoma - Following their first game, can you give me a reason NOT to? Is there any reason to believe that this isn't the usual incarnation of the Sooners that pops up every few seasons, and looks unbeatable (until they get kneecapped by an uppity A&M / Tech / Kansas State team, that is)? Landray Jones was consistent, if not impressive (only 1 TD pass, but 35 of 47 for 375 yards), and Tulsa was held to seven points. Given how their schedule shakes out, I've got to give them the nod over the teams right below them.
2. LSU - Raise your hand if you honestly thought that LSU was going to storm out of the gates looking as good as they did against the MNC runner-up. Okay, those of you with your hands up may now excuse yourselves, because you are liars -- at least on this site. Sure, some folks on TET knew they were going to be good. Several picked them to win the SEC West. No one doubted that at the very least they'd be a wildcard (make that a VERY wild card). But Saturday's performance over Oregon showed everything that kept us from buying up taffy and bluegrass futures from Mad Hatter, Inc. -- namely flashes of competence from Jarrett Lee (who knew?) and a defense that was far above average in its tenacity and strength.
3. Alabama - While Alabama continues to get dinged one spot (by me) for not having a resolved quarterback situation, I will say this: if any coach can tame the two-headed QB monster, it's Nick Saban. With that said, the possible-if-improbable redux of Ainge-Clausen or Robinson-Forcier keeps me in a state of perpetual optimism. Unfortunately for those among us who loathe all things crimson, there's more than enough firepower at key positions (e.g.: Richardson, Maze, Hightower, etc.) to keep them afloat long after the first volleys of in-conference play have been fired.
4. Oklahoma State - This team is here to fulfill an obligation that I, myself, had been unaware of, until opting to vote on behalf of TET in this poll. As it turns out, no matter what level of poll you're voting for -- be it SBNation or the AP -- each voter has a mandate to adopt a team that in which they see great potential. It is then the voter's obligation to elevate said team on their ballot, to reflect their unwavering belief that this REALLY COULD BE THEIR YEAR. And while this sounds like a simple enough matter, there's the catch -- it has to REALLY tick off the primary readership of whatever site / publication / constituency you serve. This is that pick.
(...and I DO believe. See? I told you.)
5. Boise State - See: above. The same applies to mid-majors. The sole difference is that pollsters are split into two groups immediate -- those that promote the BCS Busters, and those that hate them. The little guys get enough contempt on here (BCS team fanbases make for a tough crowd), so I figured I'd take up arms for them, contrarian that I am. In all seriousness, though, I do believe that Boise State belongs here -- for now -- and would point to Utah State as an example of just how good a team can get with the right combination of veteran leadership, coaching, and hard work. Take Utah State, and multiply that by however many years Boise State's been the BCS spoiler, and add the amount of anger that they have at trying to work up the conference food chain (read: WAC to MWC) only to watch it crumble (BYU goes indy, TCU flees to the Big East, Utah finds greener pastures). Yeah, that's about where they are.
Some thoughts on the rest (lest this hit 3,000 words or something):
6. Arkansas - I'm still high on them, and will be, until they prove otherwise. I'll also use this as supporting evidence for my personal adoption of Oklahoma State as a dark horse pick.
8. Oregon - Dropped because of their loss; but not dropped on their head, because they've got some weak, fattened members of the PAC-12 herd coming up, and I think LSU caught them unawares, to a certain degree. Despite what WEA says, I think this team will go a long way.
10. TCU - This may prove to be my second-most controversial pick, but I stand by it. They were ranked high to start -- by both this poll and others -- and though their loss was to unranked Baylor, there are a few considerations, namely: 1) Baylor was a team that everyone was sleeping on, and they acquitted themselves much better than SOME teams in the Top 25 this past weekend; and 2) the amount of skill and perseverance that they showed in mounting a comeback drive is remarkable. The latter of these two points should not be lost upon Auburn fans.
11. Florida State - SIT Osceola. Good boy. Now STAY...until you beat someone (yes, Oklahoma most definitely counts).
12. Texas A&M - Sloppy enough against SMU at times, that I wanted to drop them a spot or two; talented enough for me to give them the opening-week benefit of the doubt and not do so. "Will continue to monitor progress"; much like when I see that phrase on my son's assignment planner from school, this suggests a high amount of skepticism and caution.
16. Mississippi State - While I agree that Memphis was really just THAT bad...I also saw enough to suggestwthat Mississippi State is just THAT good. Well, not THAT good, but good. Better than we thought. Maybe. We'll see. Or not, and we'll be back here in a week, wondering if they maybe shouldn't be tested against a tougher defense before promoting them through the ranks.
18. Florida - Call me crazy, but FAU didn't strike me as horrendous. You can also call me crazy because I'm about to suggest that the Weis and Brantley thing can work. Have at.
23. South Carolina - Made me look bad after I spent all offseason banging the drum for the talent and desire this team has -- so I had to punish them for the first half of Saturday's debacle somehow. Even before kickoff, he only way I could have been less surprised by the eventual insertion of Stephen Garcia into that game...would be if I were Steve Spurrier himself. Back to the brah-some ways.
24, 25. Baylor, South Florida - Were on my longshot, "also under consideration" list last week -- and stepped up on Saturday. Duly noted and rewarded.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot... - Notre Dame, Auburn, USC. All spit the bit, although Notre Dame at least has the benefit of doing so against an opponent that was reasonably foreseen to have presented a challenge. I'll admit that dropping Auburn was tough (and probably my LEAST popular pick). Similarly, I'll admit to a certain smug satisfaction in seeing USC struggle against Minnesota -- much the way that a teacher begins to relish watching the biggest troublemaker in the class start to dig himself a hole with his behavior...so sorry, USC, but you've left me no choice.
Agree? Disagree? Sound off below.