Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot
In an effort to make sure I'm looking as closely as I can in filling out my Associated Press ballot, I added two criteria this week, at least for the 13 remaining undefeated teams: opponents' record and overall score.
It really didn't make me tweak anything in my top 10 beyond what Saturday's results already did, but it gives a better context for a team's record beyond my initial concern -- who of relevance has this team played? As you can imagine, the undefeateds whose I-A opponents have the best records are LSU (18-11) and Alabama (20-15) -- remember that those LSU opponents are 0-5 against LSU, so they're really 18-6 in their other games. Illinois is 16-13, though it's only so impressive to see Arkansas State and Western Michigan both 4-2 this season.
Most of the undefeateds have fairly middling opponents' records: Oklahoma is 13-13, Clemson is 14-14, Michigan 17-17, Oklahoma State 13-14, Georgia Tech 13-14, Boise State 13-15, Wisconsin 10-12. Kansas State is 9-12, but the least impressive opponents in the group belong to Houston and Stanford, whose opponents are each 9-18. Stanford's only opponent with a winning record is a 3-2 Duke team, while Houston can't even muster that, offering up a 2-3 UCLA or 2-3 UTEP (which was a completely unimpressive 49-42 win at that).
I'm also looking at each team's total overall score -- points for vs. points against -- and Stanford looks good there, having outscored its opponents 231-53. The only teams allowing fewer points? Alabama is 226-42, Wisconsin is 242-51. (I'm not ranking Michigan State, but they would be there at 140-51.)
At the other extreme, which ranked team has allowed the most points? It's Nebraska, which is at 222-163 -- a red flag for sure. Giving up 48 to Wisconsin is not a huge deal, but giving up 38 to Washington or 27 to Ohio State is more problematic. Others with defensive concerns: Georgia Tech has allowed 145 points, Baylor 141, Oklahoma State 138, Houston 136.
Inside the rankings: After Oklahoma's pummeling of Texas, I jumped the Sooners back up ahead of Wisconsin. Texas' best win is Iowa State (meh) or a one-point BYU victory (double-meh), but there are a bunch of one-loss teams without a real impressive win. Being in the bottom 10 of the top 25 isn't necessarily a huge accomplishment.
Only trouble I had was the last spot in the rankings -- I initially had Notre Dame in there, with the Irish getting the head-to-head nod over the top remaining one-loss team, Michigan State (because ND beat them 33-13). But upon review, I decided to acknowledge Houston's 6-0 start -- the Cougars have played nobody of consequence, but in doing so, they've scored 282 points, which edges Georgia Tech (279) for the most points scored by any team on my ballot. Houston won't likely be challenged anytime soon -- their next four opponents are a combined 6-16 before they face SMU (4-1 right now) on Nov. 19.
So here's this week's ballot: Your feedback is appreciated, as always:
6. Boise State
7. Oklahoma State
13. South Carolina
15. Georgia Tech
16. Arizona State
17. West Virginia
19. Kansas State
20. Penn State
22. Texas A&M
24. Virginia Tech