First, let me admit that I didn't devote as much time to my BlogPoll ballot as I usually do. I can blame it on moving and long-winded politicians -- and I do -- but the results are still, I believe, close to what I would have come up with had I taken the usual amount of time.
I'm not going to reprint the whole ballot beyond simply the rankings, but it's here for those who want to look at it before reading more.
My attempts to justify:
5 Southern Cal
Most of this is self-explanatory. I did consider putting the Utes first, but that really wouldn't have been fair to Florida. You can say what you want about Utah having beaten everyone they played or "done everything they could do," and that's true. But, in my mind, they didn't accomplish as much as Florida. Sure, their best wins stack up against Florida's best wins, but get below the first four or five and the Gators' victories are far superior. Good enough, in my mind, to erase a one-point loss to a team that ended up in my Top 10.
Texas ahead of Oklahoma -- there, Longhorn fans, ya happy? And there's Southern Cal, down at No. 5. Take that, Musberger! But why, beyond my previously stated distaste for the Trojans? Here are the losses of the Top 5 teams: Mississippi, none, Texas Tech, Texas and Florida, Oregon State. Which of those things is not like the others? Southern Cal did have some good wins -- they are, after all, in the Top 5 -- but their best wins are arguably against two teams whose most challenging game not involving Southern Cal came against each other, and was far from a model of well-played football. Does that mean Penn State and Ohio State might be overrated? Maybe so. But it also means I'm not putting USC-West above two teams who made it through the Big XII maelstrom, the only remaining undefeated FBS team and the team that spent its last seven games turning every non-Top 2 opponent it faced into flambe.
They crushed, if that word is strong enough, your #8, #9, and #14 teams and their lone loss was substantively the same as Florida’s. Finally, if USC’s victory was impressive enough to knock Penn St. 4 spots down below a team with one more loss that PSU actually beat, I can’t quite understand why the Trojans would only move up to #5 behind a 2-loss Oklahoma team.--Nashville
This is an argument I'm willing to grant, up to a point. But, by that same measure, Oklahoma defeated my No. 7 by 25, my No. 11 by 44 and my No. 17 by 41. And while the arrows mean something, they don't mean everything. For the most part, I don't move teams up or down by going, "Well, they were at this ranking last time, so they have to move up x number of spaces or down at least y places..."
8 Ohio State
9 Penn State
The Tide's only losses were to the No. 1 and No. 2 teams on my ballot. I can't dock them too much for that. TCU now looks like they should be considered a one-loss BCS conference runner-up, so they belong about here. Why put Ohio State ahead of Penn State? That might be one I'd like to have back, but Ohio State's three losses look better than Penn State's two losses -- if Ohio State doesn't make that late-game turnover against Penn State, who would you put here? Mississippi is a lot better than anyone gives them credit for, and for all those who put Texas Tech ahead of them, I don't get where you're coming from. I mean, I guess I can see another resume voter docking Ole Miss for its losses, but have you seen Texas Tech's early season "schedule"?
11 Texas Tech
13 Virginia Tech
15 Florida State
See above on Texas Tech. Georgia closed with a pretty good win over Michigan State, and had a good season if they don't play Alabama, Florida or Georgia Tech. I know, if and if and if. Virginia Tech and Oregon defeated some impressive bowl opponents and Florida State made the Badgers wish they'd declined the invitation to Orlando.
18 West Virginia
19 Oregon State
20 Michigan State
Iowa and Missouri -- two sides of the same coin. The Hawkeyes started unranked and didn't get much attention until they defeated Penn State; they took that chance and did well with it. Missouri started ranked high and ended up here; when they got the spotlight, the Tigers collapsed. Welcome back, West Virginia; congrats on the Pat White-inspired win over the Tar Heels. Oregon State suffered a de facto loss, and Michigan State really did lose, but none of the other teams impress me, so there they are.
21 Georgia Tech
23 Boise State
24 North Carolina
Four bowl losers here, including one that displacedute says I punished too severely.
I hate their stupid blue turf and their fans are like BYU fans only less-knowledgeable and more annowying, but they lost by 1 to your #7 team and they beat your #14 team.
True. But outside of Oregon, their best win is -- what, Louisiana Tech? And they lost by one -- but they lost. Margins matter less for the losing team than for the winners. And that one-point loss came in a game in which the Broncos were outgained 472-250, ran the ball just 28 yards and were almost doubled up on first downs (28-15).
But wait, there's more -- the Bottom 5 were very controversial, as Nashville's comment pointed out.
Cal had a better record in conference play and overall, though admittedly, they did lose to Arizona. Even though Arizona finished strong, there are enough quality 4 loss teams that a 5 loss team need not be included.
I don't necessarily set a bar on "this number of losses disqualifies a team." Arizona was someone I picked more out of desparation than anything else. However, Cal's best win is arguably against Oregon, then Miami, then it deteriorates rapidly. Arizona's best wins are against (ahem) Cal, BYU and then a schedule almost as good as Cal's. It's a close call; I went with Zona.