Tuesday, January 13

Road Games Top 25

I'm not part of the Blogpoll (and really, it would be unforgivable if I were considering how hard it was to see games from Buenos Aires this year), but I'm putting together my own Top 25 anyway. As I said last year, these rankings are based on season-long performance, not “who would win right now.” Because that would be an exercise in conjecture and inherently debatable. Explanation at the bottom:

1) USC
2) Florida
3) Texas
4) Utah
5) Oklahoma
6) Penn State
7) TCU
8) Alabama
9) Texas Tech
10) Oregon
11) Ole Miss
12) Boise State
13) Ohio State
14) Oregon State
15) Georgia
16) California
17) Florida State
18) Virginia Tech
19) Oklahoma State
20) Iowa
21) LSU
22) Cincinnati
23) Missouri
24) West Virginia
25) Arizona

Here's the thing. The way the schedules are nowadays, most of the teams play a pretty weak slate. A great team should win all its games. But teams either have off days or happen to schedule opponents who are equal to the task. These days, such dream matchups are all the more rare. When multiple teams are tied in the loss column, some choose to disregard the loss and only look at the wins on their resumé. I tend to go the opposite way. Some losses are more forgivable than others.

USC was penalized for losing to a perceived lousy team. But as the season progressed, it became clear that Oregon State was much improved after their first two performances (thanks largely to the discovery of tailback Jacquizz Rogers). In addition, nobody seems to recall the Trojans' loss was a Thursday night road game. Year in, year out, we see more road teams struggle on weeknights than in any other type of game. There must be a backlash against them after all the rampant pro-USC coverage because I don't hear anyone pleading their case. I don't particularly like 'em, but to me, USC played the best football this year, including their absolutely flawless performance in the Rose Bowl. Penn State made a bunch of mistakes, but even with a perfect game would not have seen victory. Florida had a great season, but a home loss to Ole Miss is clearly worse, and USC generally dominated every game they played afterwards. Plus, I don't think that Oklahoma is that much better than Penn State anyway (one slot to be precise).

What to do about Utah? Like it or not, style points matter in college football. Utah barely escaped against Oregon State, Air Force, New Mexico, TCU and, um, Michigan. Nobody was lamenting the supposed shoddy treatment for Utah until they handled Alabama. Now they're national champions? Alabama was overrated all season thanks to their opening-weekend victory over Clemson (who, incidentally, ended up at 7-6 and fired their coach). 'Bama played a schedule with few heavyweights, but included Arkansas State and Western Kentucky. They failed to dominate any of their stronger opponents. Yes, I know they're the SEC West Champion, but this was the weakest SEC year in a while. In my mind, the result of the Sugar Bowl did more to validate the notion that 'Bama wasn't that good than the fact that Utah is the best in the land.

I feel like I have TCU too high (credit for the bowl win, but what else did they really accomplish this year?), but I don't know who else to put in that slot, so they remain #7.

I'm left feeling very disappointed by this season, and not just because Michigan was terrible. As I said in the aforementioned posting, I have come around on the playoff debate. It is inevitable (eventually), and at this point it is best for the game, as long as they keep it to six teams or fewer (as many others have noted, look no further than this week's NFC championship game for supportive evidence). Given the current system, Oklahoma didn't deserve the BCS nod, and I can't fathom why any voter outside of Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer would have put them where they did. Sure, their schedule was slightly stronger than that of Texas, but they were beaten by the Longhorns, whereas Texas lost a road night game to a strong team by one second. Haven't we now learned about teams rolling up extravagant point totals yet not having a consistent defense. I said no conjecture, but I do believe that Texas could take Florida head to head. As it stands, they each played Oklahoma evenly, though the Sooners made a lot more errors against Florida. So we must yet again lament the matchup that should have been, just like we do seemingly every other year.


cmack said...


Reed said...

Yeah, seems high, huh? All those teams suck. I don't know how to figure it out, but Iowa finished really strong so I gave them the benefit of the doubt over the remaining five.

I should note that I used the Sagarin ratings as a guideline, and they're 22 on his list. So there is some math to back up their inclusion.

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