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Monday, December 7, 2009

Mumme Poll Ballot: Week 14

It's the final Mumme Poll before the bowl games, and while the BCS has already made their selections, you still have your chance to vote on how you think the postseason should look. If you haven't submitted your ballot, go do it now. Once you have, let me know how yours stacks up against my picks...

The Top Five

Alabama -- Enjoy that second national championship, Nick Saban. And really, after covering the SEC title game Saturday and being on the field with the Tide players and coaches after the game, it's not hard to see why they're here. That's a talented team, no doubt, but not the most talented in the country. But they're extraordinarily well coached, disciplined and focused. It sounds cliched to say they simply want it more, but I do think there's a bit of that desire that has them fighting harder than most other teams to get to No. 1. This is just a really, really good football team in every sense.

TCU -- If it were just up to me to vote, I'm pretty sure I'd have the Horned Frogs playing Alabama for the national title. No, their schedule in total wasn't as tough as Texas', but they had more big wins and looked more consistent throughout the season. There really weren't many times TCU was even challenged. And maybe I'm reaching a bit here, but I think if you left the schedules exactly the same but simple said TCU plays in the Big 12 and Texas is from a non-BCS conference, things would have played out differently. It's not about the competition, it's about history, and that's a shame.

Texas -- It's very possible that Texas is good enough to win a national title, but when you play back-to-back close games against Texas A&M and Nebraska, I'm not sure why that is supposed to be so impressive to voters. And it might have meant more if the Horns had beaten anyone else of any significance along the way. Instead, their marquee wins this year were over a five-loss Oklahoma team and a depleted Oklahoma State team. The didn't even play a team all year with fewer than three losses (and Okie State was their only three-loss opponent) and their non-conference slate didn't include a single team from a BCS conference. There's absolutely nothing Texas has done to prove they are any better than Cincinnati, TCU or even Boise State or Florida this season other than wear uniforms that say "Texas" on the front.

Florida -- I've been on record all season saying that the Gators were not as good as their record showed. They really didn't get much tough competition throughout the year either, and I had a feeling that when they finally played a team with speed on defense and an offensive line that could handle their pass rush, things could get ugly. That's exactly what happened as Alabama thoroughly dominated every aspect of the SEC championship game. Still, if Carlos Dunlap plays in the Sugar Bowl, I see no reason the Gators can't still end the year with another win. They were a very good team this year, but not the great team they were a year ago. But hey, that's nothing to cry over.

Cincinnati -- There's something to be said for a team that fought back as hard as the Bearcats did Saturday. That was an impressive win, even if it wasn't all that impressive of a performance in the game. But on the road, in the snow with the rumors of your coach's imminent departure swirling faster than the wind in Heinz Field, to gather themselves and march back from a two-score deficit to win by a point against a top-20 team, well, I think Cincy has a real argument to be made about missing out on a chance at a national title, too.

The Next Seven

Oregon -- I'll be honest, I really wanted to move Oregon ahead of Florida. But the truth is, 1.) There's a big difference between three losses and one loss, and 2.) I'm not sure the Ducks' defense is good enough to hold the Gators at bay the way 'Bama did. Still, I think Oregon is pretty clearly the best of the rest, with apologies to Boise State, which certainly has a valid argument for that title.

Boise State -- Their resume isn't significantly less impressive than Texas' and not only were they not even in the conversation for the title game, it was debatable whether they would even get a BCS bowl of any sort. If that doesn't illustrate how flawed the system is, I don't know what does. And now, we'll get Boise State vs. TCU in the Fiesta Bowl, it will get lousy ratings, and neither team will have "proven" anything when it's over. All we'll get is a faux argument from the bleeding-heart columnists about TCU or Boise State deserving a share of the national championship but no real change will have happened. Next year, the system will remain what it is, everyone will have forgotten about the Fiesta Bowl matchup that no one watched, and college football will continue with the same flawed logic that has underscored its postseason since the beginning. It would be laughable if it wasn't so sad.

Virginia Tech -- Let's look at the Hokies' losses: To No. 1 Alabama by 10, to No. 9 Georgia Tech by five, and to an 8-4 North Carolina team that ended its season by winning four of five by a whopping three points. So, two losses to top-10 teams by a total of 15 points and one other nail-biter against a solid opponent by three. VT might be the most overlooked team in the country. I would have happily given them a BCS bid over Iowa.

Ohio State -- Oregon will beat them by 20.

LSU -- The third best team in the best conference in football and their only losses were to No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Florida and an 8-4 Ole Miss team. It's essentially the same resume as Virginia Tech in a better conference. And much like Tech, LSU easily could have won all three of the games they lost. There's something to be said for being competitive in all 12 games, especially when you win nine of them.

Georgia Tech -- It's awfully hard for me to get past the loss to Georgia and not think about the lack of physicality for Tech. It's even harder to ignore the 233 yards and four TDs CJ Spiller posted last week. That Yellow Jackets offense can be intimidating, but this might be the worst defense on a top-10 team in years. Just brutal. They're extremely lucky to be getting a depleted Iowa in the Orange Bowl instead of a high-flying offense like Cincinnati or Boise State.

Stanford -- I really debated whether to put Stanford or Iowa here. On one hand, Stanford has four losses compared to Iowa's two. On the other hand, Stanford plays in a better conference and has the player I think is the best in the country in Toby Gerhart. The tie-breaker for me was the fact that I think Stanford is playing better football right now, and if the two teams played head-to-head tomorrow on a neutral field, my guess is Vegas would have the Cardinal favored by at least 3. I would have called their matchup with Oklahoma the best non-BCS game of bowl season, but it sounds like Andrew Luck won't play, which diminishes the game just a bit.

The Last Ones Out

Iowa -- Again, I have no problem with anyone who thinks Iowa belongs in the top 12, and I applaud the Orange Bowl for taking the Hawkeyes over Penn State, which probably would have been a more marquee opponent. But I just don't have much respect for the Big Ten -- particularly in bowl season -- and Iowa has lost two of its last three and hasn't topped 24 points against a bowl-eligible team since beating Arizona 27-17 back in mid-September.

Miami -- I don't know if we're overvaluing or undervaluing that brutal four-game stretch to start the year for Miami, but I do know that 9-3 against a tough schedule with all three losses being excusable makes for a team that at least warrants consideration for the top 12 and I'll happily load up on the 'Canes to thump Wisconsin in the Champs Bowl.

Penn State -- Actually, I didn't consider Penn State for even a second. I just wanted to mention them here because I thought it would be useful to point out that the best team they beat all year may well have been Temple. Penn State is the perfect example of a team getting by on name-recognition alone.

3 comments:

Mickey Shamrock said...

Competing in the MWC and competing in the Big XII are two different monsters entirely. You're giving TCU WAY too much credit for beating Virginia and Clemson and punishing Texas WAY too much for playing close games against their two biggest rivals, something Alabama also did.

rbubp said...

Ndamukong Suh for Heisman. Toby Gerhart #2.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree about Texas being very unimpressive. I'd much rather see what a TCU or Cinci could do against Bama than seeing a massively overrated Colt McCoy and company get their asses handed to them. And if Mark Ingram doesn't win the Heisman something's wrong.