The No. 1 spot is by far the easiest to fill out. Then things get to be a little bit of a jumble
Perhaps it was just the entertainment value of watching Notre Dame get thrashed on national television, but the Crimson Tide's final game looked like a masterpiece to this viewer. Just don't go penciling them in for Pasadena next year until we at least know for a fact who's coming back.
2. Texas A&M
The Aggies closed the year out as perhaps the most dangerous team in America. Historical footnote: If Florida had played in College Station the way it played in New Orleans, it probably would have been Texas A&M routing the Irish on Monday night.
The Dawgs probably would have won just about any other conference in America this year. They might just win the one they're in this fall.
4. South Carolina
Mostly, I just wanted to make sure I had them as high as I could to avoid angering Jadeveon Clowney.
They were up at No. 2 but slid down the ballot at the last minute. (Rim shot, please.)
At the end of October, this looked like maybe the best team in the country. But a lot of things have happened since then, and a power poll is supposed to be based on the teams as they're playing right now, and the Gators have played one good game since the end of October. They will rank higher on the resume-based BlogPoll ballot that I do, but I have no confidence that they would beat any of the teams ahead of them on a neutral field if the game were played tomorrow.
The Commodores have a brutal road schedule in 2013 -- at South Carolina, at Texas A&M, at Florida -- which is about the only thing that will keep them from being dark horse contenders in the SEC East.
8. Ole Miss
Speaking of schedules affecting the outlook for a team, consider the stretch of the Rebels' 2013 slate that goes: at Texas-at Alabama-Auburn-Texas A&M-LSU. That might be the hardest five-game run in the FBS. (At least they get a bye between the Longhorns and the Tide.)
9. Mississippi State
Dan Mullen is making progress. It's just hard to see progress in the SEC West.
Suddenly, those "do they belong" questions at SEC Media Days don't seem quite as ridiculous. Quite.
The question is whether the Joneses can keep up with the rest of the neighbors.
It's hard to imagine Bret Bielema slapping himself in the face. Or doing anything else interesting. Oh well.
Sure, you might have had one of the worst season in program history. And the Tide might have won the national championship for the second consecutive year on Monday. But look on the bri--forget I even started to say that.
And with Kent State's loss in the bowl game removing the Golden Flashes from the Top 25, the last bright spot in the Wildcats' season goes away. Then again, if the bright spot in your season is defeating Kent State, you get what you deserve.