I usually do this after bowl season is over, but my interest in college football, particularly the post season and the BCS, has waned badly and I want to move on to basketball. So I have listed my rankings with an explanation of why I put each team where they are. Agree, disagree, that’s fine. Post your comments. But this is my poll.
1. Stanford. I’ve stayed up late on two occasions to watch this team play. If Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN’s College Game Day is really serious about the national title game being between the two teams who are the best in the country, then in spite of its two losses, Stanford should be included. They’ve made adjustments after each loss that have strengthened their team, and if we had a playoff, they’d be one of the last teams left standing.
2. Michigan State. After knocking off unbeaten Ohio State, the Spartans proved they are the real deal. The only reason they weren’t in the BCS mix, in spite of their record, is that they aren’t SEC, and their conference has two less voters than the SEC, so they didn’t get the pre-season, and during season rankings they needed to be in a position to get the points to unseat someone.
3. Florida State. I have my doubts, since they play in the weakest major conference in the country, but they did win every game they played. Did they play a ranked team this season? Oh, yeah, #12 Clemson. If they were in the Big 1o or the Pac 12, they’d be 7-5 at best.
4. Baylor. I don’t really have an explanation for their meltdown at Oklahoma State, but they rebounded nicely, won 11 games in the tough Big 12, and the conference title, and I think they belong here. If they’d beaten OSU, there would be no argument about their belonging in the title game.
5. Auburn. This is actually a concession, because I don’t really think the Tigers and their collection of close wins, lucky wins, and one lost, qualifies them for the national championship game, and I think they lucked out in the SEC championship. I don’t believe the SEC title should be an automatic BCS berth, either. I don’t think Auburn could go to East Lansing, or Columbus, and come away a winner.
6. Ohio State. Losing once in 2 seasons doesn’t really mean much, and the Buckeyes belong here.
7. Oregon. There are nine teams in the Pac 12 that provide tougher competition, and a tougher environment in which to play, than any other conference. The Ducks stumbled twice, once to a better team, Stanford, and once to a team that represents the toughness of the conference, Arizona. It is really a league in which any team can beat any other team on any given day.
8. Alabama. Only because I have to. I would love to see the Tide go up against Ohio State. In Columbus. In December. Or against Michigan. In Ann Arbor. In December. They got Oklahoma in their bowl game, which should be a delightful day for Bob Stoops and Co.
9. Arizona State. Two of their three losses are to Stanford. The other one was an early season, neutral field stumble to Notre Dame.
10. Tie, Oklahoma/Oklahoma State. Yeah, I know the Sooners won the head to head, but if they played again, it could go the other way.
11. Missouri. One of the SEC newcomers, winning the east and getting into the championship game irked a lot of SEC boosters. It should have. The Tigers are new, they did this in the vaunted SEC in just their second year, they came from the much-maligned Big 12 in which they hadn’t been a serious contender since 1960 when it was just the Big 8, and it irked the SEC heads.
12. Rice. The Owls won CUSA. That’s not a huge prize, but they really put together a great performance, got better as the season went on, and should get some recognition.
13. Central Florida. Another major conference champion which has come a long way and deserves the recommendation.
14. Fresno State. One loss conference champion, the Bulldogs are going to get a shot at USC in a bowl game.
15. Notre Dame. With the exception of Temple, and Purdue, there are no slouches on Notre Dame’s football schedule. They beat Michigan, Michigan State and Arizona State, and were competitive in losses to Oklahoma and Stanford.
16. South Carolina. Eh. Gotta put them somewhere.
17. Washington. This team did very well, wound up losing their coach to USC, and finished 8-4 in the toughest football conference in the country.
18. UCLA. Likewise, a team from the Pac 12, which is the toughest football conference in the country, that did well.
19. Tie, Michigan/Wisconsin. A pair of Big 10 teams that were good. Overshadowed by greatness in their conference, but deserving of recognition and a ranking.
20. Duke. For the sake of argument, they did win their half of the ACC. Actually, they’re a pretty good football team, for the first time in quite a while.
21. Clemson. An also ran in the ACC, their record warrants their ranking.
22. Tie, Western Kentucky/Georgia Southern. Two schools with directions in their name which beat SEC schools this season.
And since that’s 25 teams, that’s all I’m doing.