Here’s our final Top 25 for the regular season, and this time, I put a little more thought/research into it than usual. I actually went through and listed every Division I-A team with a winning record, then looked at each team’s entire résumé, eliminating teams as I went until I had only 25 left. The last few cuts were difficult, as very little separates a team ranked 21st from a team ranked 28th.
The California Golden Blogs Top-25
I also spent more time looking at the top 10, which is what everyone really cares about on these things. If I could pick the national championship game, I’d pit LSU against Oklahoma. They’ve both had off days (as has everyone this year, Hawai’i included, but they’ve also put up the most impressive résumés and the most dominating performances. Ohio State had a nice year, and they’re clearly the class of a very weak Big 10, but I just don’t think they had a single win as impressive as several of LSU’s or Oklahoma’s.
Georgia and USC come up next, as both are playing their best football at the right time of year. The Trojans, in particular, are not the same team that lost at home to Stanford. You can’t take the loss off their résumé, but you can say they came out on top of a *very* tough Pac-10.
Missouri’s only losses were both to Oklahoma, and that win over Illinois to open the season looks really good right now.
Virginia Tech is another team that has come on strong. They’ve certainly come a long way from an uninspired opener against East Carolina and an embarrassing whitewashing at LSU.
Kansas drops 6 without playing? Sure. Last week, they lost a close game to Missouri and ended up several spots behind them. This week? Still several spots behind Missouri. See how that works?
West Virginia drops 10, and honestly, I was tempted to drop them further. A very disappoint performance against Pittsburgh aside, I took a look at their season, and of the teams listed here, they have wins over…Cincinnati? That’s it? And we were going to send them to the national championship game? Well, to be fair, they have looked like a *very* good team this year, even if their schedule was rather soft. I think they could beat Boston College, and probably Illinois too, although the Illini have a much better win vs. Ohio State.
Further down, the rankings get murkier. Is Clemson really better than Auburn? Without a single common opponent, it’s hard to tell. Fortunately, we have the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve to answer that very question!
Hawai’i is the best team in the WAC, and Boise State is second best, but their collective performance against the only BCS conference school that either team played, Washington, is uninspiring, to say the least. I’m glad we get to see Hawai’i take on a real team, but I’m betting that Georgia blows them out of the Superdome.
New to this final poll are Oregon State and South Florida. We’ve seen USF before, and their late losing streak has let us forget about their rather impressive season as a whole, with wins over both West Virginia and Auburn, which I think merits inclusion on this list. Oregon State used a victory in the Civil War to cap what has actually been a fairly impressive season, and I think they deserve better than the Emerald Bowl.
Oregon still gets to be in the Top 25? I think so. They still have wins over USC and Arizona State, and while they’re not the team they were with Dixon, the fight they put up to take Oregon State to overtime tells me that they’re not done yet, either. The Sun Bowl vs. South Florida should be fun.
So who’d I get rid of? Neither Virginia nor Wisconsin played last week, but I didn’t think that either warranted inclusion on the list in the first place. Their collective wins over teams on this list? Zero. Both have been suspect against inferior competition all year (see: Wisky v. The Citadel tied at halftime), and the only thing approaching an impressive win is UW’s win over Michigan, who was battling injuries and you’ll notice isn’t on this list either. In taking a final poll for the season, I couldn’t justify ranking either team.