|Last week's ballot|
Tackle Eligible: Kansas, Cal, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Central Michigan.
A brief BlogpLOL breakdown this week, as the poll gains some semblance of stability. Record and schedule strength eclipse victory margin more and more with each week; the universal advance by the lower ranked undefeateds (Boise and Cincinnati up 5 each, TCU up 4) wasn't the result of any adjustment per se, but instead comes solely from their ability to avoid crippling losses.
The top 4 -- Alabama, Iowa, Texas, and Florida -- are head and shoulders above the remainder of the poll. I won't get into the specifics of the formula, but the gap between #4 Florida and #5 Boise is only slightly less than that between Boise and #15 Arizona. Within those tiers, there is little margin for error. For instance, there is virtually no breathing room between the top 4. Similarly, numbers 5 through 11 are separated by the most minute of differences; if Miami had scored two more touchdowns so far this season, or if one of Georgia Tech's opponents had picked up an extra win, each would vault ahead of Boise. By the time you get to #15, the poll is a crapshoot.
One of my favorite pastimes is reading reviews of really bad movies. The thinly-veiled fury and condescension is intoxicating. Much in the same vein, let's look at the worst schedules of poll contenders (teams with two losses or less are currently in consideration, with select three-loss teams added next week and all three-loss teams by week nine):
1. BYU (Opp. record: 15-29, no I-AA) -- This is just a case of bad luck: Brigham Young, tired of hearing how bad its schedule is, goes and gets Oklahoma and Florida State, then watches their two premiere non-conference opponents start a combined 5-7 (and gets shellacked by Florida State to boot). Throw in Tulane and the low end of the Mountain West (almost identical to third-worst Utah) and the Cougars are number one with a bullet.
2. South Florida (Opp. record: 13-22, 2 I-AA) -- Here's how bad the Bulls' slate has been: Of USF's opponents' 13 wins, 6 belong to Cincinnati. South Florida's first opponent, Wofford, is 1-5 in I-AA. Their only win? Charleston Southern, who happened to be USF's other I-AA opponent.
3. Utah (Opp. record 14-24, no I-AA) -- The Utes have yet to dive into the deep end of the Mountain West, but are another example of a team with a loss to a top 10 team (Oregon) with little else of consequence: 1-5 Utah State, 1-5 SJSU, 2-4 Louisville, 3-4 Colorado State, and 2-5 UNLV. Of course, that hasn't stopped the voters from putting them in the top 25 to the detriment of more worthy teams (I'm looking at you, Hlas.)
4. Tulsa (Opp. record 15-24, 1 I-AA) -- Once more, things could be so much worse if it weren't for the Golden Hurricanes' loss to 6-0 Boise. Tulsa has had the rare privilege of playing two different winless teams, beating both the Rice Owls and the "Iron" Mike Locksley-led (or at least sometimes-led) New Mexico Lobos, and none of Tulsa's other opponents are currently over .500 (though Oklahoma is included, so there is some room for improvement).
5. Arizona State (Opp. record 16-23, 1 I-AA) -- While their in-state rivals have played arguably the nation's toughest schedule to date, Arizona State has racked up four wins over teams that are a combined 8-18, including arguably the worst team in the BCS conferences and almost unquestionably the worst team in D-IAA. Bravo, you magnificent volcano-jumping bastard. Bravo.