Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot
The top three teams in the polls were off this weekend, but I was busy, trying to make sure I was evaluating the four undefeated teams as accurately as possible. Crunched a bunch of numbers, looked at scores, strength of schedule, ranked opponents, bowl opponents, all kinds of things. I use my previous ballot as a starting point each week, so I worried I was too dependent on previous observations. And the result is a big shakeup at the top of my ballot.
When I looked at the criteria and how each team ranked within the foursome, Oregon had the worst aggregate score of the group -- they had seemed the most dominant of the four, but that's barely the case, if at all -- they're averaging 50.7 points per game, but Boise is right there at 47.9, while allowing six fewer points per game. Strength of schedule, which I knew would work in Auburn's favor, was more telling than I expected -- Auburn's I-A opponents are 64-46, with TCU's at 56-57, Boise's at 50-58 and Oregon's way down at 42-58. If you look at how many bowl-eligible teams each has played, Auburn and TCU have beaten six each, Boise four and Oregon just two -- Stanford and USC.
Ranked opponents? Oregon has a strong win against Stanford, but its next best is USC, which was barely ranked then and isn't close now. TCU technically has a dominant top-five win against Utah, but they've fallen off the wagon since. Boise has a solid win against a Virginia Tech team that looks to be a champion of a BCS league, but little else. Auburn, of course, has LSU, Arkansas and South Carolina. It's Oregon, rather than the non-BCS teams, that has the weaker schedule, with little to show outside the league besides a trip to a mediocre Tennessee team. They can help themselves with solid wins in their last two games against Arizona and Oregon State.
So with all that, I'm moving Auburn up for the second week in a row, with Boise next, and Oregon barely ahead of TCU for third.
Bottom of the poll continues to be a mess,with five of the bottom seven teams losing this week. I was going to drop Iowa out and put Northern Illinois in, but opted to keep the Hawkeyes in, considering it was a last-minute loss to a top-10 team.
2. Boise State
8. Michigan State
10. Ohio State
12. Oklahoma State
13. Virginia Tech
17. South Carolina
18. Texas A&M
20. N.C. State
21. Florida State