Preseason polls matter far less than in-season polls, and far more than they should, but one of the great things about the BlogPoll is that it surveys plugged-in college football observers — the kind who know which team's linebacker is suspended, which school pulled in the most blue-chippers, and which running back tore an ACL, even if you ask them in the second week of May — and produces their collective pulse on the sport at any given moment.
That might explain why LSU moved past USC in our second preseason BlogPoll for the 2012 season.
The Tigers take the top spot back from the Trojans, who were No. 1 in our January BlogPoll, despite getting 13 first-place votes to USC's 14. Maybe the stink of Alabama's BCS National Championship Game shutout of the Tigers has washed off for long enough for bloggers to see that the Tigers return most of their fearsome defense, and will no longer have to play pick your poison with Jordan Jefferson or Jarrett Lee at quarterback.
Alabama, Oregon, and Oklahoma round out the top five, in the same order as in January, but the loss of Bobby Petrino to an Arkansas career-ending brain injury drops Arkansas four spots from sixth to 10th, and bumps Georgia, Michigan, Florida State and South Carolina up one spot each.
Wack Ballot Watchdog
The blog that gave Oregon its only first-place vote, The Unbalanced Line, describes its BlogPoll ballot as an "unbiased, uneducated, lowball expectation of teams that typically occupy top 25 lists," so that's good.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
|3||Ohio St. Buckeyes||6.32||5.56|
|4||TCU Horned Frogs||11.50||5.31|
|5||Michigan St. Spartans||11.85||5.30|
Stanford lost maybe college football's most polished player from 2011; Arkansas lost its coach/spittle-flecked spirit animal; Ohio State has the Urban Meyer Express rolling into town and a team that lost its way in 2011 getting older and stronger. I get all of the disagreement on those teams. But are we really conflicted about how much losing Kirk Cousins means to Michigan State?
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.
|1||House of Sparky||Arizona St. Sun Devils||ballot||4.78|
|2||Lake The Posts||Northwestern Wildcats||ballot||3.60|
|3||SOX & Dawgs||Connecticut Huskies||ballot||3.55|
|4||The Unbalanced Line||Army Black Knights||ballot||3.40|
|5||BCS Guru||USC Trojans||ballot||3.38|
Michigan fourth, Wisconsin fifth and Kansas State ninth? Yes, House of Sparky, that is guano-crazy enough for this award.
|1||A Sea of Blue||Kentucky Wildcats||ballot||1.54|
|2||Card Chronicle||Louisville Cardinals||ballot||1.67|
|3||Block U||Utah Utes||ballot||1.74|
|4||Tomahawk Nation||Florida St. Seminoles||ballot||1.85|
|5||BCS Know How||USC Trojans||ballot||2.03|
I'm honestly just surprised that A Sea of Blue turned in a ballot, because (insert joke about Kentucky not having football fans) and (insert joke about riots in Lexington setting back Lexington 100 years to 1843).
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.
|1||Block U||Utah Utes||ballot||6.12|
|2||Frogs O' War||TCU Horned Frogs||ballot||3.50|
|3||Smoking Musket||West Virginia Mountaineers||ballot||1.44|
|4||Card Chronicle||Louisville Cardinals||ballot||1.29|
|5||Crimson and Cream Machine||Oklahoma Sooners||ballot||1.18|
|1||One Foot Down||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||ballot||-2.74|
|2||Corn Nation||Nebraska Cornhuskers||ballot||-1.76|
|3||Bucky's 5th Quarter||Wisconsin Badgers||ballot||-1.09|
|4||Team Speed Kills||South Carolina Gamecocks||ballot||-0.21|
|5||The High Porch Picnic||Iowa Hawkeyes||ballot||-0.21|
One Foot Down doesn't have Notre Dame ranked, and when you don't rank your own ranked team, you usually show up in this here table.
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.
|1||Hammer & Rails||Purdue Boilermakers||ballot||108|
|2||Smoking Musket||West Virginia Mountaineers||ballot||94|
|3||Team Speed Kills||South Carolina Gamecocks||ballot||88|
|4||Building The Dam||Oregon St. Beavers||ballot||82|
|5||Tomahawk Nation||Florida St. Seminoles||ballot||78|
For the record, Hammer & Rails did turn in a January preseason ballot, but while moving Arkansas seven spaces was among its biggest drops, it wasn't nearly as big as the 12-spot penalty Kansas State got.
|1||Bucky's 5th Quarter||Wisconsin Badgers||ballot||14|
|2||Corn Nation||Nebraska Cornhuskers||ballot||50|
|3||Block U||Utah Utes||ballot||56|
|4||One Foot Down||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||ballot||76|
|5||Alligator Army||Florida Gators||ballot||78|
Bucky's 5th Quarter kept the top 14 teams from its January ballot, moved Wisconsin up three spots, dropped Notre Dame four places ... and that was about it.
What do you think of the BlogPoll Top 25 for the post-spring portion of the 2012 offseason? Is LSU overrated? Did Arkansas get penalized too heavily? Is there a team outside the Top 25 that is getting slept on?
Let me know in the comments; I'll be there to answer any questions and talk a little college football with all of you.