Mon Sep 28 07:45pm EDT
It is September, and earnest poll-gazing is premature, to say the least. But a month into the season, is it too much to ask the AP, coaches and Harris polls reflect the slightest shred of common sense?
• LSU is No. 4. Because ... ? The Tigers are not only playing mediocre football right now, going to the wire to beat Washington and Mississippi State on either end of ho-hum wins over Vanderbilt and Louisiana-Lafayette, but they don't even have that much inertia in their favor: This was an 8-5 team that had to stage a frantic comeback against Troy to fend off a full-fledged, four-game November slide last year, had a losing conference record and didn't even make it into the final top 25. This year, the Tiger offense currently ranks 105th nationally and needed an interception return, a punt return and a goal line stand to get out of Starkville unscathed.
How does a statistically average team with no particularly impressive wins to offset two extremely sketchy ones, coming off a thoroughly mediocre season, land in everyone's top five? Is anyone paying attention?
• Oklahoma is No. 8. Because ... ? Those are some impressive wins over Idaho State and, uh, Tulsa. But until further notice (i.e. this Saturday's game at Miami), the Sooners should be defined mainly right now by their loss to BYU; they rank at least 10 positions ahead of the Cougars in all three polls, and I can't think of any persuasive argument based on anything that's happened on the field that they should be even one spot ahead.
• The coaches rank Oklahoma State ahead of Houston. Obviously they weren't very impressed by the Cougars' win against Texas Tech, nor the Cougars' win at -- Who was that again? Oh, right -- Oklahoma State. Tulsa: That's where ya make yer move, kids.
• The coaches and Harris polls rank Penn State ahead of Iowa. One-loss Penn State, which has beaten Akron, Syracuse and Temple in State College, is No. 13 in the coaches' ballots; undefeated Iowa, which has beaten Penn State in State College, is No. 17. They're No. 12 and No. 14, respectively, in the Harris Poll.
• The coaches and Harris rank Cal ahead of Oregon. The coaches and/or the SIDs filling out their ballots clearly do not care about the results of actual games. These people determine two-thirds of the final BCS standings, folks.
• All three polls rank Ole Miss ahead of South Carolina. The demons of inertia strike again. Carolina not only thoroughly outplayed Ole Miss in a convincing win last Thursday, but also has two other wins (over N.C. State and Florida Atlantic) better than either of the Rebels' two victories (over Memphis and Southeast Louisiana). Hell, I'd take the Gamecocks' last-second loss at Georgia over beating Memphis and Southeast Louisiana, too, but I've always been too interested in obscure details like "quality of opponents." The 3-1 Gamecocks don't appear in any of the polls.
• Kansas State has two points in the Harris Poll. Somebody is either very good buddies with Bill Snyder or very impressed with the 2-2 Wildcats' victories over I-AA UMass and Tennessee Tech.
Okay, so you had a bad week, filled the form a little hastily, misread a final score or two. There's always next week to turn things around. One ballot at a time, gentlemen. One ballot at a time.