This week's BlogPoll Roundtable is being hosted by Straight Bangin', who asked the members of the BlogPoll to make sense of this crazy season. What? We're supposed to be experts now or something?
1) Coming into the season, many people had October 6th circled on their calendars because it was thought that the LSU-Florida game would be the single match-up that wielded the most influence over the rest of the sport. Now that a singular cataclysm has given way to a weekly series of upheavals, is there a single remaining game that has the greatest potential to deliver on the promise of unique significance foretold in
scripture the preseason blogosphere? Which one is it and why?
I don't know about foretold cataclysm, but I still think the Alabama-LSU clash has the potential to be an interesting game, particularly if LSU beats Auburn.
As far as one game having enormous impact on the national title hunt? Don't think so. It's going to be a series of contests to see who can knock off the remaining undefeated and one-loss teams. Can Arizona State survive the drubbing it's going to take over the next month? Is BC for real? What about South Florida? I don't see a Michigan-Ohio State-esque GAME OF THE CENTURY this year.
2) Bill Callahan's tenure has been so embarrassing for Nebraska fans that the school just fired the athletic director who hired him. Meanwhile, Tom Brady is doing just fine without Charlie Weis, even though he invented offense; Dream Coach Pete Carroll is facing criticism for his team's preparation and attitude; the Urban Meyer Revolution is televised but not as advertised due to an unreliable running game; Mack Brown's players get arrested a lot; and so forth. Don't get me started on Lloyd Carr. All around the country, coaches are under duress, even the beatified ones. Name a coach or two (or three) who most deserves the criticism and explain why.
First, Lloyd Carr. To have his players unprepared to play a
Division I-AA FCS team in Week 1 is just inexcusable. And to then have his team unprepared to play an Oregon team that was ready-made to humiliate Michigan on national TV in Week 2 was also inexcusable.
The criticism of Charlie Weis is also fair. He's had a couple of years to get some players, get his system installed, and he's about to cap off what will almost certainly be the most embarrassing season in Notre Dame history. Sure, there was going to be a drop-off after losing Tom Brady Quinn, but 1-11 or 2-10? Really?
You're all right where I want you. Now, when we go 8-4 next year, I'll be a genius all over again!!!
Finally, Houston Nutt. With the exception of the Auburn game, Darren McFadden has pretty much done all that could be expected of him. And the team is just bad. Mitch Mustain might have been able to at least keep the whole thing from imploding, but Nutt chased him off.
3) With few elite teams, a plethora of pretenders, and the aforementioned steady procession of upsets, filling out a ballot each week can be challenging. What is the single hardest decision you'll have to make this week when voting?
If you mean this past week, it was untangling the LSU-South Carolina-Kentucky-California-Oregon pack, which to me is almost inseparable. Part of this, of course, is because it involves my team, and placing South Carolina is always hard when the season is going well. If there's one thing being a Gamecock fan for almost nine years has taught me, it's that some sort of unfathomable disappointment is just around the corner, and I'd hate to be the guy who wins Coulter-Krugman the week before we lose to Arkansas.
Next week? It'll probably be where to put South Carolina again, and where to put the next team to get upset. I really have no idea until I see what happens on Saturday, given the way things are going so far.
4) This one is similar to the last question: many teams have sent voters mixed signals all year. Is BC really a top-five team? What am I supposed to do with South Carolina? Are there even two good teams in the Big Ten? Borrow a page from EDSBS and give me two teams to buy and two teams to sell.
Hey! We resemble that remark!
Michigan. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I am. If the object is to buy low without throwing your money away, you still have a few short days to get on the Wolverines' bandwagon. I see little but upside for this team, because it is now chugging through the Big Ten, where mobile quarterbacks are nonexistent.
This most assuredly does not happen in the Big Ten.
Rutgers. Call me crazy, but I don't think this team is really all that bad. I think it's still a top-tier Big East program (for whatever that's worth), and I think they will still probably end up in the Top 20 somewhere. A good chance to buy this will likely be right after they lose to South Florida. But be warned: If they manage to pull off the upset, the price will go up quickly.
Virginia. Yup, I put 'em on my ballot, but just because there's no one else left at this point when you get below about No. 20. This is a team that has peaked and is about to go down as it faces the toughest part of its schedule, the "meat" of the ACC slate. Which is really some sort of vegan substitute for meat, the way the ACC is nowadays.
Texas Tech. I'm very skeptical of the Raiders, and if I'm right, it will soon be clear to all. The next five weeks include games at Missouri, vs. Colorado, at Baylor, at Texas and vs. Oklahoma. I see two games where Tech will be favored, with one of them (Colorado) an upset possibility. Sell now.
5) Now that we know the strengths and weaknesses of many teams, explain to me how your team will make out over the remainder of the regular season.
All the remaining games scare me, for different reasons. Vanderbilt usually punks somebody, or comes close to it; the Gamecocks play Tennessee in Knoxville; Arkansas is always a crap shoot; Florida is a cornered, snarling animal right now; and Clemson is a rivalry game and could be the deciding match for Baby Bowden's job security. That said, I think the Gamecocks should win at least three (Vandy, Arkansas, Clemson) and probably four (Tennessee) of those games, giving them a good shot at the SEC East crown. But Florida continues to nag, and unless I see some reason to believe South Carolina will beat them, the Gators are still the favorites to be the peace offering to LSU's national title hopes in December.