So, that happened. Just when Alabama looks vulnerable, coming off a near-defeat and preparing for a suddenly competent Florida offense, Saban shuts the door on Steve Addazio again, and the Gators fold quicker than Ken O'Keefe at the World Series of Poker. Alabama sits astride the SEC and, by virtue of that perch, astride the nation.
Alabama's lead atop the poll is massive; the margin between the Crimson Tide and #2 Oregon is greater than the gap between Oregon and #14 Stanford. They have the best win of the season by far, the previously-mentioned methodical dismantling of Florida it managed over the weekend. With South Carolina, LSU, and Auburn still left to play, an undefeated Alabama will be Leviathan.
Oregon's win over poll darling Stanford catapults them to the second spot. Not only are the Ducks the highest scoring team in the nation, but they are the only team with a composite margin of victory over 200 (OSU is closest at +160 MOV, a full 48 points behind Oregon). Arizona and LSU stay put after a bye and a should-be loss, respectively, based largely on strength of schedule.
Which brings us to Missouri, which, yes, makes no sense at first blush. Look deeper, though, and Mizzou has done as much as anyone around them. With an opponents' combined record of 10-7, the Tigers have played the second-most difficult schedule of any undefeated team (only LSU, at 14-9, is better), with wins over Illinois, San Diego State, Miami (OH), and McNeese State. Even when adjusted for the I-AA opponent, Mizzou's schedule is only passed by Oklahoma. Illinois (2-2) has only lost to Mizzou and #9 Ohio State. Similarly, Miami (OH) has two losses to top 10 teams (Mizzou and Florida) and three wins (against some pretty bad opposition). San Diego State sits at 3-1 (again, to be fair, with three cupcake wins). It's doubtful those teams will hold up through the year, but the BlogpLOL doesn't take what we think will happen into consideration; what has happened is that matters.
The teams below Mizzou are comparable, but not superior. TCU has done essentially the same thing, with a slightly higher margin against a slightly worse schedule (11-13) in five games. Florida lost badly. Michigan, with a comparable 14-10 opponents' record, can't match Missouri's margin of victory despite an extra game. Ohio State's schedule, at 8-15, is awful. No, there's no clear-cut team ahead of Mizzou by our standards, and so there Mizzou sits.
This post comes after the Blogpoll-at-large has been posted (my apologies), so let's address some of the points Brian makes, most of which are valid:
Arizona: Their average margin of victory of 23.25 is twelfth nationally, ahead of such poll darlings as Oklahoma and Auburn. Better yet, that mark comes against an 11-8 schedule. In fact, of the eleven teams with a better average margin of victory than Arizona, only one has done that against a schedule with a winning record. That team: Missouri. Of course. The Wildcats also have the fourth-best victory in the country, at least according to BlogpLOL, with their win over Iowa and a dominant win on the road over a Toledo team that is 3-2 and holds a win over Purdue (not a great accomplishment, I know, but not a total cupcake).
Florida: The Gators got destroyed by Alabama, but until then had been dominant against a strong schedule. Even if Alabama's five wins are removed, Florida's vanquished opponents are 11-4 in other games, and Florida outscored them 151-57. It was impressive enough to put them at #2 last week, and it's impressive enough to keep them ahead of cupcake-fueled undefeateds like, oh, let's say...
Utah: The Utes are 4-0 after having beaten the following: Pitt, who was a preseason top 25 team but lost to Miami by four touchdowns and has wins over Florida International and I-AA New Hampshire; two conference opponents with a combined record of 1-9 (and that one win was one team beating the other); and San Jose State, who just lost to UC-Davis. That's a 4-15 schedule, and Utah's +126 margin of victory is barely more than would be expected against a similar slate by a .500 squad.
Nebraska: OK, well, we got that one wrong. But up until last night, the Huskers' biggest win had probably been over Idaho. They were unfairly skewed downward by the fact that they played two winless teams: Western Kentucky and I-AA South Dakota State. The blowout of 4-1 Kansas State will rocket them upward next week.
This week's big BlogpLOL games: #4 LSU at #7 Florida, #1 Alabama at #22 South Carolina, #8 Michigan vs. #19 Michigan State, and #15 Miami hosts #18 Florida State.