2012 Preseason Rankings: USC On Top Of College Football World In BlogPoll

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 19: Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans throws a pass in the fourth quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Eugene, Oregon. Barkley was 26 of 34 for 323 yards and 4 touchdowns as USC won the game 38-35. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Matt Barkley and USC are loaded heading into 2012. And voters reward the Trojans with a No. 1 ranking in the first 2012 preseason BlogPoll.

The point of the BlogPoll isn't necessarily to predict the best college football teams in the preseason; it's much better as a tool that combines the insights of dozens of bloggers that follow the sport obsessively, find the smaller teams that are hidden gems, and differentiate between great teams and overrated outfits. That said, we're going to try something new with the BlogPoll in 2012, putting out a few preseason BlogPolls timed to different portions of the college football offseason.

And in the BlogPoll's first preseason top 25 rankings of 2012, USC takes the No. 1 spot.

In a poll that has a significant bit of volatility thanks to a smallish voter base, the Trojans receive fewer first-place votes than No. 2 LSU and still outpoint the Tigers by .36 points per ballot; that's a much smaller difference than the gap between LSU and Alabama, which falls from the overwhelming No. 1 in the final 2011 BlogPoll to a distant No. 3.

Oregon and Oklahoma round out the top five, and Arkansas, Georgia — which earns the lone first-place vote given to a team that ends up in the top 25 that doesn't go to USC, LSU, or Alabama — Michigan, Florida State, and South Carolina finish the top 10.

SB Nation BlogPoll Top 25 College Football Rankings

Results for Week 17

# School Points/blog SD Delta
1 USC Trojans (7) 22.50 4.60 Arrow_up 11
2 LSU Tigers (9) 22.14 5.70 Arrow_up 1
3 Alabama Crimson Tide (3) 20.73 6.76 Arrow_down -2
4 Oregon Ducks 19.41 5.01 --
5 Oklahoma Sooners 18.91 4.84 Arrow_up 10
6 Arkansas Razorbacks 18.05 6.12 Arrow_down -1
7 Georgia Bulldogs (1) 17.55 6.48 Arrow_up 12
8 Michigan Wolverines 16.18 4.71 Arrow_up 3
9 Florida St. Seminoles 15.00 4.60 Arrow_up 14
10 South Carolina Gamecocks 13.77 5.54 Arrow_down -2
11 West Virginia Mountaineers 13.00 6.63 Arrow_up 7
12 Michigan St. Spartans 11.18 4.98 Arrow_down -2
13 TCU Horned Frogs 10.36 5.97 Arrow_up 1
14 Wisconsin Badgers 9.95 5.15 Arrow_down -5
15 Virginia Tech Hokies 9.23 5.01 Arrow_up 6
16 Clemson Tigers 8.32 6.18 Arrow_up 6
17 Nebraska Cornhuskers 7.36 4.37 Arrow_up 7
18 Kansas St. Wildcats 7.27 5.14 Arrow_down -1
19 Texas Longhorns 7.14 6.41 Arrow_up 10
20 Boise St. Broncos 6.73 5.22 Arrow_down -13
21 Ohio St. Buckeyes 5.82 6.01 --
22 Stanford Cardinal 4.86 4.78 Arrow_down -16
23 Oklahoma St. Cowboys 4.73 5.01 Arrow_down -21
24 Washington Huskies 4.32 6.09 Arrow_up 15
25 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 3.73 4.84 --
Others Receiving Votes: Louisville Cardinals | Florida Gators | Washington St. Cougars | Utah Utes | Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets | Virginia Cavaliers | Miami Hurricanes | Wyoming Cowboys | Auburn Tigers | Western Michigan Broncos | Western Kentucky Hilltoppers | Tennessee Volunteers | Colorado Buffaloes | Wake Forest Demon Deacons | Vanderbilt Commodores | Cincinnati Bearcats | Utah State Aggies | UTEP Miners | Missouri Tigers | UNLV Rebels | Southern Miss. Golden Eagles | ULM Warhawks | UCLA Bruins | Louisiana Tech Bulldogs | Marshall Thundering Herd | BYU Cougars | UAB Blazers | Tulsa Golden Hurricane | Tulane Green Wave | Maryland Terrapins | Northern Illinois Huskies | Rutgers Scarlet Knights | Troy Trojans | Texas A&M Aggies | Toledo Rockets | Baylor Bears | Texas Tech Red Raiders | Ohio Bobcats | N.C. State Wolfpack | Penn St. Nittany Lions | Purdue Boilermakers | Fla. International Golden Panthers | Central Florida Knights
Updated: Jan 19, 2012 12:07 PM EST

Total Ballots: 22

Explore votes by team | Explore poll ballots by voter

Wack Ballot Watchdog

A caveat: there are a lot of BlogPoll voters who didn't participate in this preseason poll because of a variety of reasons. (None of them did anything as funny as Dawg Sports' 2031 preseason top 25, which underrates Starfleet Academy, I think.) But there were some weird things this week: Alabama isn't on two ballots, Black Shoe Diaries has LSU 14th and USC 20th (...and Miami No. 1), and, well, it's the preseason, right?

Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at No. 25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.

# School Points/blog SD
1 Alabama Crimson Tide (3) 20.73 6.76
2 West Virginia Mountaineers 13.00 6.63
3 Georgia Bulldogs (1) 17.55 6.48
4 Texas Longhorns 7.14 6.41
5 Clemson Tigers 8.32 6.18

After a season of hearing USC Is Underrated on repeat (Pitchfork gave it a 8.9, and heard of Marqise Lee before you), it's possible that Alabama is going to be a 2012 version of the Trojans. The Crimson Tide may be returning fewer than 10 starters from their national championship team in 2011, but there's a lot of faith in Nick Saban and his inexhaustible, possibly oversigned store of players that will have the Tide returning strong in preseason polls.

Ballot Math

First up are Mr. Bold and Mr. Numb Existence. The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.

# Blog Team Ballot Avg Error
1 Cowboy Altitude Wyoming Cowboys ballot 11.26
2 Black Shoe Diaries Penn St. Nittany Lions ballot 9.31
3 Team Speed Kills South Carolina Gamecocks ballot 4.08
4 Linebacker-U.com Penn St. Nittany Lions ballot 3.95
5 Building The Dam Oregon St. Beavers ballot 3.84

The preseason is a magical time when ranking Wyoming No. 1, as Cowboy Altitude did, makes as much sense as anything. That will win you some categories, too!

# Blog Team Ballot Avg Error
1 Hustle Belt Ball St. Cardinals ballot 2.30
2 One Foot Down Notre Dame Fighting Irish ballot 2.34
3 Alligator Army Florida Gators ballot 2.36
4 CougCenter Washington St. Cougars ballot 2.72
5 Block U Utah Utes ballot 2.77

Hustle Belt is brand new to the BlogPoll; I vote for Alligator Army, and have voted in every week of the BlogPoll this year. It's good to see that there are divergent paths to boring.

Next we have the Coulter/Kos Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.

# Blog Team Ballot Bias
1 Cowboy Altitude Wyoming Cowboys ballot 23.86
2 Barking Carnival Texas Longhorns ballot 8.86
3 Block U Utah Utes ballot 4.64
4 Mountain West Connection Utah Utes ballot 2.64
5 Smoking Musket West Virginia Mountaineers ballot 2.00

I'm almost sure that this is the highest bias rating in the history of the BlogPoll, but, considering it's a preseason poll and Cowboy Altitude is sort of joking, I'm not sure it counts. Barking Carnival, we should note, has Texas 10th, much as Bill Connelly did in his first preseason rankings for 20112

# Blog Team Ballot Bias
1 One Foot Down Notre Dame Fighting Irish ballot -3.73
2 Bucky's 5th Quarter Wisconsin Badgers ballot -1.95
3 Team Speed Kills South Carolina Gamecocks ballot -1.77
4 Big East Coast Bias Louisville Cardinals ballot -1.68
5 Corn Nation Nebraska Cornhuskers ballot -1.36

One Foot Down doesn't have Notre Dame ranked. The BlogPoll does. Often, this category is as easy as that.

Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.

# Blog Team Ballot Swing
1 Cowboy Altitude Wyoming Cowboys ballot 556
2 Black Shoe Diaries Penn St. Nittany Lions ballot 460
3 Bull Run Buffalo Bulls ballot 270
4 Big East Coast Bias Louisville Cardinals ballot 266
5 CougCenter Washington St. Cougars ballot 232

OKAY FINE COWBOY ALTITUDE YOU WIN.

# Blog Team Ballot Swing
1 Alligator Army Florida Gators ballot 168
2 Building The Dam Oregon St. Beavers ballot 170
3 BC Interruption Boston College Eagles ballot 176
4 Corn Nation Nebraska Cornhuskers ballot 186
5 Linebacker-U.com Penn St. Nittany Lions ballot 188

...and I lose!

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