First of all, I know this isn't an original idea, but I want to say that I take back everything I've ever said about Les Miles being a raving madman. Or at least most of what I've said.
Crazy like a fox. Or Tiger, as the case may be. Or Wolverine.
The decisions he made late Saturday, as his team came back to beat Florida, were all right. Every last one of them. He expertly juggled Perrilloux and Flynn. He went for it when lesser coaches would have punted, or kicked a safe field goal to tie the game. When it mattered most, he decided that he would either make an emphatic statement that his team was No. 1 or would lose the game -- and maybe a chance at the championship -- trying.
All of that after the expert decision to fake a FG against South Carolina that, in retrospect, all but ended that game. Miles is as ballsy a gambler as Tuberville, maybe more. And
if when he ends up Michigan, he's going to shake up the Big Ten something fierce.
To the rest of the poll.
Top 3. There are 25 teams on this ballot. There are probably 22 flaws. But I'm pretty comfortable with the Top 3. Cal remains at No. 2, something I'm glad to say I did all on my own last week. Ohio State moves to No. 3 (Heaven help us all), just a hair behind the Golden Bears.
Rest of the Top 10. Boston College is into the Top 5 on the strength of being undefeated in a BCS conference, something the ACC is, whether it should be or not. Oklahoma stays ahead of South Florida after much agonizing, but the Sooners gave me no reason to move them below the Bulls and USF struggled against Florida Atlantic. Missouri is impressing, Oregon might be the second-best one-loss team in the country and Cincinnati has a lot of upside. South Carolina might be underrated at No. 10, but I'm doing my best to keep my homerism in check by putting them a spot or two lower than I really think they should be for now. Besides, I think you have to account for the fact that Thursday's win might be diminished in the future.
Upward bound. Kansas moves onto the poll after beating Kansas State, which is still a good enough team to be ranked. Virginia Tech is up five after dominating Clemson. FSU jumps seven almost by default. Illinois moves into the poll at No. 19 after redacting Wisconsin from the ranks of the unbeaten. Auburn is back in after a couple of strong weeks and Tennessee re-emerges after pounding Georgia.
Sinking fast. Southern Cal, Florida and Kentucky all tumble nine spots, though Florida might have been the least deserving of the fall. Southern Cal got beaten at home, by Stanford, with the Cardinals playing a backup quarterback. Harbaugh does appear to have his team headed in the right direction, but not that fast. Several Kentucky players, namely Andre Woodson, could have been nominated for MVP honors in the South Carolina win. Wisconsin falls 16 after losing its first chance at a legitimate win. Georgia tumbles 10, hanging onto a slot on the ballot mostly because they managed to not get completely demolished after Tennessee punched them in the mouth. Kansas State falls a spot because they lost, but I still think they're rankable, at least this year. Texas goes down 10 and just avoids falling out entirely after playing Oklahoma close.
Out. Miami lost to a UNC team probably playing out of its mind to beat Butch Davis' old team. (I hope.) My experience has been that the players always take these things more seriously than the coaches profess to. Rutgers has no claim on the Top 25 anymore, UCLA really has to stop doing this to itself and Hawaii just seems less and less impressive. (37 points? To Utah State???)
Also considered. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Indiana was in the running, as was Wyoming. Maryland was the first cut, but they floated across my mind. Why not, at this point?
Viewing disclosure: Started out splitting my time between Illinois-Wisconsin and UNC-Miami. Watched the last gasp for Kansas State. Saw a half and then some of Tennessee-Georgia, or basically all it took for doubt to be removed. As the Cubs took the field to get humiliated, I also wandered over to Virginia Tech-Clemson for a few minutes here and there to soothe the pain. I saw the end of Southern Cal-Stanford and a few minutes of Cincinnati-Rutgers, but most of my attention was with LSU-Florida once the Cubs made it clear they were going to be swept out of the playoffs.
I fully admit there are problems with this ballot. So, what are they? Make a convincing case and you can change this, because I'm not at all comfortable with it. Though I doubt, at this point, I'm going to be completely at peace with any ballot I submit right now.