BlogpLOL Week Nine: The Glass Ceiling

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Rank Team Delta
1 Texas 1
2 Florida 2
3 Iowa
4 TCU 2
5 Alabama 4
6 Penn State 2
7 Boise State 2
8 Oregon 1
9 Cincinnati 4
10 Miami (Florida) 5
11 Pittsburgh 1
12 Southern Cal 3
13 Arizona 1
14 Georgia Tech 3
15 Ohio State 1
16 Wisconsin 4
17 Virginia Tech 5
18 Oklahoma 6
19 LSU 1
20 Houston 5
21 Oklahoma State 4
22 Texas Tech
23 California
24 South Florida
25 Notre Dame 4
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: South Carolina (#19), West Virginia (#22), Mississippi (#23).


Tackle Eligible:  West Virginia, Ole Miss, Boston College, BYU, Utah


There are certainly some interesting results in this week's blogpoll, not the least of which being Oregon's downward movement despite its victory over Southern Cal.  Part of the reason for this phenomenon is the recent predictiveness of the BlogpLOL; last week's poll had Oregon already in place two spots above USC, and expected the victory far more than traditional predictive voters (it's as ironic as rain on your wedding day).  Getting Oregon and USC to their proper post-Pac-10 Apocalypse positioning took far less heavy lifting than most others.

But Oregon is also a victim of internal consistency.  Part of what distinguishes BlogpLOL from a pure computer ranking is a respect for head-to-head results and a desire to reflect those results whenever possible.  By this point in the season, that possibility is rare; 94% of Division I squads have lost a game, and the transitive property would leave us grasping at straws:  If you account for Ohio State's victory over Wisconsin, you then need to factor in Purdue's win over Ohio State, and then Wisconsin's win over Purdue, and then you need to lock yourself away like Salinger because the illogical world has finally driven you to hermit-esque madness.

Where that logic has yet to break down, however, is where an undefeated team is involved, and therein lies Oregon's dilemma:  As long as their sole vanquisher remains undefeated, the Ducks are inexorably tied to Boise State.  I won't bore you with the specifics of the calculation, but the BlogpLOL rule for head-to-head adjustments is to split the difference.  In other words, if Team A is ranked 20 points ahead of Team B, who is undefeated with a win over Team A, 11 points are deducted from Team A and 11 points are given to Team B.  By this standard, no win this season was bigger than Boise's win over Oregon on opening night, as the Broncos and Ducks swap a staggering 60 points on top of adjustments for quality wins and losses, moving Oregon down four spots and Boise up seven.  And yet, Boise's strength of schedule is so incredibly poor -- at 12 games under .500, the worst of the top 35, by a wide margin -- that it creates a glass ceiling for Oregon through which the Ducks cannot pass.  Barring a catastrophe at the top, Oregon couldn't move higher even if they had beaten the 49ers Saturday.

The other odd result is Alabama, which places fifth despite their clear positioning in the typical voter's top three.  The reason for Alabama's fall from grace is far simpler: Their schedule blows.  The Crimson Tide is the only undefeated squad whose vanquished opponents have all lost three or more games.  In fact, Alabama's schedule (Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas) is precisely the type of schedule BlogpLOL is designed to destroy: Big on names, light on wins.  Alabama's "premiere" wins so far, ostensibly against Virginia Tech and Ole Miss, are worth less with every passing week as those teams continue to fade.  Florida has one-loss LSU (discounted severely by the poll, as their schedule is even worse than 'Bama).  Texas has Oklahoma State (with its two losses each against top 20 opposition).  Iowa has Penn State (whose powderpuff schedule improves with each passing week).  TCU has that curbstomping of BYU. Alabama has nothing that stacks up, and so their fall is inevitable.

There is little else of note inside the poll this week.  Cincinnati, while remaining the lowest-ranked of the unbeatens, gains back some ground as its wins over South Florida and Rutgers look better (and teams like Virginia Tech keep imploding).  Georgia Tech and Notre Dame take 'Bama-like dips as their quality wins lost quality (or, in Notre Dame's case, their conquerors lost badly to Illinois).  Houston continues to gain ground as Texas Tech and Okie State remain afloat on little more than the staggering mediocrity beneath them.

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