Brownlow's Top 25: Head-to-head isn't everything
Posted October 9
To get this out of the way: yes, I am aware that Oklahoma won at Ohio State – and handily, for that matter. I have Ohio State ahead of Oklahoma (albeit barely). Since that win at the horseshoe, Oklahoma has blown out Tulane (after a first-half struggle), then struggled with a bad Baylor team and lost at home to a bad Iowa State team. Since the loss, Ohio State blew out Army and UNLV (whatever), then absolutely destroyed the soul of Rutgers and Maryland in successive weeks.
What's more important is that the Buckeyes are playing much better on both sides of the ball. The way they're playing, they're the higher-ranked team to me – at least for right now. If Oklahoma gets it back together, I'm willing to consider the head-to-head more. But I don't like the way the Sooners are trending and that worry was validated this weekend.
And yes, I'm also aware that Michigan State beat Michigan. I am willing to admit I perhaps have Michigan a touch too high still. If you want to argue I should have dropped Michigan from my top 10 into barely hanging on status because they lost by four at home after having better wins than the team that beat them at home, OK. You win.
Michigan State got blown out at home by a team that I have at 19. Maybe there should be less space between them, and I'll hear that argument. But Michigan State did get obliterated at home by Notre Dame. Maybe, by transitive property, I should have punished Michigan more. We'll see. I do genuinely try to reevaluate each week.
Clemson didn't pass Alabama last week and judging by the way the schedules shake out for both teams, they aren't likely to. They remain No. 1 on my ballot. Interestingly enough, you could make the case that Georgia deserves to be No. 2 ahead of Alabama. They have one better win, though (at Notre Dame) and Alabama hasn't done anything to move down yet. I'm good with the way I have it, but Georgia is pretty impressive too.
Oh and hello, NC State, just steadily moving up. Had Notre Dame or USF had unimpressive performances this week, I would've definitely moved the Wolfpack past them based on their impressive Thursday night win over Louisville. But what the teams do around you matters too. Keep winning, Wolfpack, and you could find yourself creeping towards that top 15 and higher before Clemson comes to town in November.
As usual, the number in parentheses indicates last week's ranking, if it's different than this week's. If there is no number, the team did not move. So here's my ballot:
3. Georgia (4)
4. Washington (5)
5. Penn State (6)
6. TCU (7)
7. Washington State (9)
8. Wisconsin (13)
9. Miami (10)
10. Auburn (11)
11. Ohio State (12)
12. Michigan (8)
13. Oklahoma (3)
15. Oklahoma State
16. Virginia Tech
17. Notre Dame (20)
18. USF (19)
19. NC State (20)
20. UCF (22)
21. San Diego State (24)
22. Michigan State (UR)
23. Georgia Tech (25)
24. Florida (18)
25. Navy (UR)
Movers: Wisconsin is up from 13 to 8, partially because I think I've been a little tough on the Badgers. They haven't really played a genuine cupcake yet, and they are 5-0. That was a pretty solid road win at Nebraska, too. Oklahoma dropped 10 spots. Maybe it should have been more, but the Sooners do still get some benefit from me of that win over Ohio State. Michigan stayed a spot ahead of them because Michigan's loss was not nearly as bad.
Notre Dame is up three from 20 to 17 – North Carolina is struggling, but the Irish went into the game with a backup quarterback and just plugged away until they pulled away for good. They were impressive.
San Diego State moves up three spots for me because the Aztecs were FINALLY able to dismantle a bad opponent in UNLV, winning 41-10. They're 6-0 now and the schedule doesn't give them much of a chance to move up too far, but blow out teams and it will help your cause.
I probably should have kicked Florida out of the poll altogether. But that's with the benefit of hindsight and a fresh pair of eyes on my ballot a few days later. Oh well – next week.
Welcome to the top 25: Michigan State and Navy! Yep, Navy is back in my top 25, which should please the guy who tweets at me each week asking very politely when I might consider ranking the Midshipmen again.
Fringe top 25: Texas Tech (honestly, probably should have ranked them instead of Florida, but they have no real wins of note), West Virginia (their two losses have been their best wins, if we're being real), Stanford, and.....Virginia? Yes, Virginia. What a time.