I feel like I should introduce this. (Looks at ballot again.) I know that I should introduce this. I didn't get a BlogPoll preseason ballot in this year, and what I normally do with my first ballot is a combination of adjustments to the preseason ballot and the beginnings of a resume ballot, upping the proportion that's decided by resume until, a few weeks in, it's all resume.
So I had a decision to make when I sat down to make my first ballot this year. I could create a "power" preseason ballot out of whole cloth and then combine the two, or I could go with a resume ballot from the very beginning. (For those new to the discussions of resume balloting, it means just voting based on what a team has done so far, with the effect of moving your own perceptions one step further away from the core of the ballot. You're still judging a team based on how well they did vis a vis an opponent, which is still a matter of perception, but it's not an attempt to decide who would beat whom on a neutral field.)
I say all of that to say that I know this is a rather ... unconventional ballot. (Looks at ballot again.) In fact, it's probably somewhere between "odd" and "totally freaking bizarre." But keep in mind that (a) any team that lost their only game so far is not eligible because they have not, by definition, achieved anything; and (b) I also decided not to include games against FCS teams because I'm not going to try to parse whether a 53-point defeat of FCS Southeast is more impressive than a 48-point defeat of FCS North. Without further ado:
So, yeah, that's different. I will try to explain.
4 Southern Cal
The first three teams defeated major-conference opponents that were Top 25 or fringe Top 25 at neutral sites. Alabama's win was, of course, the most impressive of the bunch, while Tennessee also won pretty handily and Clemson had a bit more of a contest on its hands. Southern Cal destroyed Hawaii, but it was Hawaii on the mainland, and so I docked the Trojans a bit for that. Oregon just leveled an Arkansas State team that, Sun Belt or not, won 10 games last year. The Ducks were up 50-10 at the half, so I gave them a bit of a bonus for the pre-garbage time score.
8 West Virginia
9 Notre Dame
This largely continues with the destroying potentially decent mid-majors category, which Nebraska and Baylor and West Virginia and Notre Dame all did. Ohio defeated a Penn State team that was something of an emotional basketcase, but it was still a win at Penn State, which counts for something. And would in other polls if the name on the helmet wasn't "Ohio."
11 Michigan State
12 South Carolina
The first four here all narrowly defeated BCS teams (and I count Boise as a BCS team) that are either in rebuilding mode or expected to be mediocre. Or, in Louisville's case, beat Kentucky by three possessions, which is basically the same thing. Texas' win over Wyoming wasn't all that impressive at the beginning, so they lost points for that.
17 Ohio State
Take that, Steve Spurrier! I gave Duke the nod at the beginning here because I like what Mario Cristobal has done at FIU, so I saw Duke's strong win against the Panthers as more impressive than blowing out Miami (OH) or allowing Buffalo to hang around for too long. LSU is next for a strong win over a weak North Texas, and Northwestern gets in for a narrow win at Syracuse. This might actually be a bit low for the Wildcats, but I'm still not sure that the Orange are better than, say, Kentucky.
23 Iowa State
24 Central Florida
At this point, you're kind of reaching for anything that might resemble a rankable win. A team that allows UTEP to hang around that long doesn't deserve to be in the Top 20 until we see more evidence that UTEP is good. The rest of teams were the best defeats of FBS teams that I could find. Yes, I even had to resort to ranking the team that beat Akron.
I'm obviously hoping for feedback. I have a feeling that Mr. Bold could be a lock, depending on what other resume voters do with their ballots, but my purpose is not to be that guy. So if there's a case that can be made based on resumes that I'm way off base here, I'm listening. Trust me, it's not easy to think that I might be the only guy ranking Duke in the Top 20.