EDIT: The ballot now reflects updates based on discussions with commenters. Keep the suggestions coming until Tuesday, and I'll adjust the ballot if you can convince me - Mark
It's back! I've posted a Blogpoll Ballot, and will continue to do so for the rest of the season. Here's a quick thing about how I do the ballot. I go based on what teams have done thus far, not how I think they will do later in the season. I take the teams with the best records and award, or penalize based on strength of schedule. Where do I get strength of schedule from? My man Jeff Sagarin. Sagarin has several different ratings, but I look at the schedule one. Lastly, I try to factor how teams win. Are they just scraping by, or are they dominating? The hard thing about the last factor is most of the play has been non-conference, and some teams haven't really been tested.
Teams do not move up and down only based on whether they win or lose, but it's also based on who they are beating. For example, Utah is undefeated, but has the 112th hardest schedule, so they are ranked relatively low. They could keep winning and leapfrog teams ahead of them, even if they are still winning, if Utah's schedule gets tougher.
Lastly, if I feel like teams are pretty close, I go based on power. Who I think would win on a neutral field in a game. And that's pretty much it. It's part science, part gut-feel. It's RPI-ish with a qualitative twist.
Without further ado, here's the ballot. On the next page, I'll explain how I came up with the rankings:
I'll start from the top and work my way to the bottom in explaining how I did this:
#1 Alabama. 34th toughest schedule and are 2-0 against Top 30 teams. Have looked really good as well.
#2 Oklahoma. They've played the 27th toughest schedule and are 2-0 against Top 30 teams as well. Just squeaking by teams, doesn't get them the #1 spot though. They've gotten the W, but need to work on consistency
#3 LSU. 13th toughest schedule, 1-0 against Top 30 teams. With Les Miles, it's all an adventure for the Tigers. Going to be hard to stay undefeated, but SOS will be there throughout the year
#4 Boise State. 19th toughest schedule, 1-0 against Top 30 teams. Schedule gets easier from here on out, so they gotta roll people
#5 Florida. 32nd toughest schedule, but haven't looked great.
#6 Oregon. 90th toughest schedule, but it's an offense that looks tough to slow down.
#7 Ohio State. 118th toughest schedule, but Prior looks like a different QB. As they get into Big 10 play, the wins will mean more, and they will move up
#8 Arizona. 51st toughest schedule and a win against a very good Iowa team. Almost got picked off by Cal, but a letdown was expected. They are on notice, but I expect them to challenge Oregon for the Rose Bowl
#9 Stanford. 54th toughest schedule, and have been laying the whoopin' on teams, including Notre Dame, and shutting out a UCLA squad that rolled the Longhorns
#10 USC. 57th toughest schedule. They may not be as good as the USC teams of old, but it's a talented team
#11 TCU. 72nd toughest schedule, and looked very beatable on Friday before pulling ahead against SMU
#12 Auburn. They're 4-0, and have the 26th toughest schedule, what gives? They very easily could be 2-2 right now.
#13 Miami. 25th toughest schedule, including a loss against Ohio State. Inconsistency is the issue with a team that has BCS-Bowl talent
#14 Utah. 4-0, but 112th SOS, including barely beating Pitt. On paper, probably better than the other 4-0 teams rated lower.
#15 Florida State. 65th toughest schedule, but lost to the #2 team. It's an athletic team that needs to play better on the road
#16 Nebraska. The good, they're 4-0. They bad: they've played the 137th toughest schedule and struggled to score against South Dakota State
#17 Arkansas. Almost beat 'Bama. As they get deeper in SEC play, better chances to move up
#18 Iowa. 3-1, lost to the #8 team.
#19 Penn State. 3-1, and lost to the #1 team. I'd expect a team ranked in the teens to lose to the #1 team on the road
#20 South Carolina. A talented team, that just blew it against Auburn
#21 Texas. 3-1 with a win over a very good Texas Tech team. UCLA loss leaves a stink though
#22 NC State. 4-0, 76th toughest schedule. Have a solid test against VA Tech next week
#23 Michigan. 4-0, 77th toughest schedule, could have easily lost to a crap Notre Dame team.
#24 Nevada. 4-0, 89th toughest schedule.
#25 Oklahoma State. 3-0, but only 107th toughest schedule. Have a tough one with A&M this Thursday
Air Force. 3-1, 78th toughest schedule, and made it a game against my #2 team, OU
Wisconsin. 4-0, but 133 SOS, and had to block an XP to win one of those games.
West Virginia. 3-1 They lost to LSU, which isn't that surprising. But don't forget, they played horribly against Marshall.
Texas Tech. 2-1 with a loss to a Texas team that is better than how they played yesterday. This team will have its chances to move up when they get into the Big 12
Missouri. 4-0, but have looked iffy at times. I gotta see what they do in the Big 12 before I can rank them.
Northwestern. 4-0, 96th toughest schedule. I have to wait and see a bit more before I rank Northwestern.
Michigan State. 4-0 as well, but triple digit SOS, including a near OT loss against Notre Dame. Need to see more here also
There's a handful of 2 loss teams and 1 loss teams that have only played 3 games that are on the cusp of being in the discussion. Another week should tell us more.
Overall, we're in for a year where everybody is beatable, and after the top couple teams, teams #3-40 are pretty equal. It will be interesting, but I expect some volatility. Now that we'll be getting into conference play, we will learn more about how good these teams really are.