Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Power Poll ballot, Ohio St. thoughts

One thing before I get to this weeks' ballot: The OH NOES OHIO STATE SO UNDESERVING AAAAHHH paranoia that seems to have swept SEC country over the past few days needs to get reined in just a bit.

For starters, the Buckeyes still have a long, long road to travel before they limp their way into the national title game and it's highly unlikely they reach the end of it unscathed. Yes, the Big Televen makes a gauntlet of beaded curtains and those doors to restaurant kitchens that swing open at a touch look like the Eliminator. (SEC road games in this analogy = those freaking hand cranks.) But even last season OSU nearly stubbed its toe against Illinois and Michigan and that bunch of Buckeyes was a much, much better team than this year's model. Meanwhile, its opponents (with the exception of the Wolverines) have gotten better and its schedule (this year at Michigan and with Wisconsin included) has gotten worse. And, of course, any top-five ranking thus far this season has a curse on par with the monkey's paw's. In short, I'll believe the Buckeyes will go undefeated when I see it and not a moment before.

Second, would a one-loss SEC champ really wind up behind the Buckeyes in the polls come season's end after the Buckeyes' de-pantsing in Glendale? Probably, but I think a careful evaluation a la Brian's this week would give the Harris voters, in particular, a lot to think about.

Lastly and most importantly, yes, yes, it's very, very difficult to get through the SEC with a perfect record and yes, many other teams have it easier. But as an SEC fan, would you trade the season's first month-plus--and Arkansas-Alabama, Georgia-Alabama, Auburn-Florida, Florida-LSU, LSU-Kentucky, Auburn-Arkansas, and another half-dozen thrilling games--for that colossal waste of time Ohio St.'s season-to-date has been? For South Florida's midseason back-to-back Florida Atlantic-Central Florida snack break? For the Big 12's endless series of Nebraska, Baylor, and Iowa St. beatdowns? The JCCW, for one, will gladly accept going from "possible mythical national title shot" to "unlikely mythical national title shot" in exchange for the week-in, week-out Shakespearean-quality drama the SEC and the SEC alone provides. We have it better than fans of any other conference in the country, without argument, and whether or not one of our own happens to parachute into the Fake Sugar Bowl this January won't do a thing to change that.

Of course the system needs an overhaul. We've known that for years. It's just not reason enough to start gnashing our collective teeth in the middle of the most exciting regular season, SEC or nationally, I for one can recall.

On with the ballot!

1. LSU. Looked like someone forgot to refill the gas tank on the (in the words of SMQ) high-octane, two-stroke genitals after the Florida game. No matter, as far as this poll is concerned; array of victories still much better than Carolina's or their recent conquerors.

2. South Carolina. Something tells me Carolina isn't really quite the second-best team in this conference and that we'll find that out as they enter the poisonous meat of their SEC East slate, but then again that same something told me to keep Kentucky, like, sixth two weeks ago. It's not a something to be trusted.

3. Kentucky. That they did it without Little is the most amazing thing of all. Wait, except for holding LSU's line to zero sacks. That's not even amazing ... that's beyond it, like, finding out that unicorns are real, and that their horn keeps a store of Jim Beam inside or something.

4. Florida. Come back from Lexington with a win, or into the muddled middle you go, likely never to return. If this team is as good as they appeared to be those first few weeks, facing the exhausted (physically, mentally, emotionally ... and any other "-ally"'s you'd like to mention) 'Cats it's a mission they should accomplish.

5. Auburn. Oh, yes, I would so love to move them up over the team they beat. So, so tempting. But for all the good work done by Kansas St. and USF on Auburn's behalf, that loss to Miss. St. isn't really looking much more explicable, and the Gators don't have a loss even remotely comparable. A win this week, however, (however terribly unlikely said win is), and then ...

6. Tennessee. Still worth repeating: their two losses are on the road at Cal and Florida. Get past Alabama in T-town this week, and it's home cooking up until a potential division-decider against the 'Cats at year's end.

7. Georgia. Just as solidly mediocre as last year, evidently. The only difference is how much luckier they are, or it'd have been two-in-a-row to the 'Dores.

8. Alabama. The price of heart medication in Tuscaloosa has tripled over the last three weeks, and doesn't look likely to drop with the Vols coming to town. A must-win if 'Bama wants to be taken seriously in 2007.

9. Arkansas. Call me Nutts (har har har) but this team is going to beat someone it's not supposed to in a fashion no one sees coming. The karma of enduring three straight heartbreakers is going to pay off at some point ... just not soon enough to save Nutt's job.

10. Miss. St. Likeable program, always the bridesmaid save for the occasional lightning strike, looks like progress might be being made but who really knows ... if they got their academics totally up to snuff, why, they'd be the Vanderbilt of the West.

11. Vandy. In the meantime, the title "Vandy of the East" is still firmly controlled by Vandy. Remember when Phil Steele said Vandy was going to be better than Kentucky? Remember when some of us believed him? Remember how I told you to never bet on any advice I have to offer?

12. Ole Miss. If they'd taken Vandy as seriously as they took Florida, Georgia, and 'Bama, they'd have an SEC win by now.

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