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Final 2012 college football BlogPoll rankings: Alabama reigns, and 1 ballot breaks everything

The Crimson Tide make a near-unanimous sweep of No. 1 votes in the final BlogPoll for the 2012 season. One holdout voted for Ohio State at No. 1, though ... and another voted for Colorado.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama's resounding triumph in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game on Monday has the world and the BlogPoll pretty well convinced that the Nick Saban's bunch was the best team in college football in 2012. The Crimson Tide claimed 35 of 37 first-place votes in the final 2012 BlogPoll, and hold almost a full point's lead on the No. 2 Oregon Ducks.

Texas A&M makes a huge seven-spot jump up to No. 3, its highest BlogPoll ranking of the season, and Georgia and Stanford both benefit from Notre Dame's no-show in Miami, sneaking into the top five. The Irish fall from No. 1 to No. 6, one spot ahead of No. 7 Ohio State, which claims one of the two first-place votes that didn't go to Alabama. South Carolina re-enters the top 10 with a three-spot bump, while the Florida outfit that hit the Gamecocks like Jadeveon Clowney hit Vincent Smith and got hit in similar fashion by Louisville in the Sugar Bowl falls to No. 9, one spot ahead of the Florida State team it rocked on the road.

Elsewhere, Louisville twins A&M's seven-spot jump, moving up to No. 13, and Kansas State takes the biggest tumble of the week, falling seven spots from No. 5 to No. 12. Texas, Baylor, and Vanderbilt all moved into the top 25 with bowl wins; Michigan fell out with its loss.

And, also, we got one of the most remarkable ballots in BlogPoll history this week.

SB Nation BlogPoll Top 25 College Football Rankings

Results for Week 15

# School Points/blog SD Delta
1 Alabama Crimson Tide (35) 24.32 3.89 Arrow_up 1
2 Oregon Ducks 23.57 0.89 Arrow_up 1
3 Texas A&M Aggies 20.41 3.54 Arrow_up 7
4 Georgia Bulldogs 20.35 3.71 Arrow_up 2
5 Stanford Cardinal 20.30 1.86 Arrow_up 2
6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 20.11 4.09 Arrow_down -5
7 Ohio St. Buckeyes (1) 18.08 7.82 Arrow_up 1
8 South Carolina Gamecocks 16.70 3.39 Arrow_up 3
9 Florida Gators 15.32 3.21 Arrow_down -5
10 Florida St. Seminoles 15.27 3.47 Arrow_up 3
11 Clemson Tigers 14.92 3.29 Arrow_up 3
12 Kansas St. Wildcats 14.78 3.27 Arrow_down -7
13 Louisville Cardinals 14.05 3.08 Arrow_up 7
14 LSU Tigers 12.27 3.19 Arrow_down -5
15 Oklahoma Sooners 10.35 2.52 Arrow_down -3
16 Utah State Aggies 8.27 2.97 Arrow_up 2
17 Boise St. Broncos 7.68 3.79 Arrow_up 2
18 Northwestern Wildcats 7.19 3.12 Arrow_up 3
19 Oregon St. Beavers 5.27 3.72 Arrow_down -4
20 San Jose St. Spartans 5.05 3.27 Arrow_up 4
21 Texas Longhorns 4.68 3.36 Arrow_up 6
22 Northern Illinois Huskies 3.97 3.26 Arrow_down -6
23 Vanderbilt Commodores 2.73 3.25 Arrow_up 5
24 Nebraska Cornhuskers 2.73 3.54 Arrow_down -2
25 Baylor Bears 1.81 3.32 Arrow_up 5
Others Receiving Votes: Cincinnati Bearcats | Michigan Wolverines | Oklahoma St. Cowboys | Tulsa Golden Hurricane | UCLA Bruins | Colorado Buffaloes | Arizona Wildcats | Washington St. Cougars | Arkansas St. Red Wolves | Washington Huskies | Arizona St. Sun Devils | Utah Utes | California Golden Bears | USC Trojans | Wisconsin Badgers | Illinois Fighting Illini | Penn St. Nittany Lions | Western Michigan Broncos | Central Michigan Chippewas | Iowa Hawkeyes | Michigan St. Spartans | Kent St. Golden Flashes | Syracuse Orange | Central Florida Knights | BYU Cougars | Mississippi St. Bulldogs | Louisiana Tech Bulldogs | Rutgers Scarlet Knights | Mississippi Rebels
Updated: Jan 9, 2013 10:01 AM EST

Total Ballots: 37 | Votes by team | Ballots by voter

Wack Ballot Watchdog

The one Ohio State No. 1 vote is a really obvious one: it belongs to Land-Grant Holy Land, which didn't even have to change its top two from its pre-bowl ballot. (You can go read old justifications if you want.)

But the single most extraordinary ballot I have seen in two years of running the BlogPoll (and maybe the most extraordinary one in BlogPoll history) is the one that Craig Powers submitted for CougCenter. It has Colorado -- 1-11 Colorado, Jon Embree-was-fired-for-this Colorado, ran-a-QB-sneak-on-first down Colorado -- No. 1, and has Alabama No. 25. And it makes the most infinitesimal bit of logical sense, because it relies on the transitive property of college football.

You see, Colorado beat Washington State, which beat Washington, which allowed for Colorado to be transitively ahead of all of the Pac-12, which is ahead of most of the Big Ten by virtue of Arizona State's win over Illinois. Illinois allows for a chain that winds its way to Louisville, then Florida, then Texas A&M, then Alabama. It's a staggering work of flipping convention on its ear, and if there's any justice in college football balloting, voters in the AP, Coaches, and Harris polls will remember this ballot every time they cast theirs next year.

But that doesn't mean it's not wack: Colorado is not just the worst BCS league team in FBS, it's probably the worst team in FBS, ranking dead last in yards per play allowed (by almost a foot per play), No. 121 of 124 in yards per play gained, and No. 123 in F/+. Colorado lost all but two of its Pac-12 games by 25 or more points, allowed 47.9 points per game (not a typo) to conference foes, and beat Washington State for its only win by staging a 21-point rally in the fourth quarter. And the only team that can really challenge Colorado for Worst Team Ever of 2012 status is fellow 1-11 squad New Mexico State ... which beat the Sacramento State team that Colorado lost to at home.

So: yes, Colorado at No. 1, even as a great and telling joke, is wack. So is ranking teams based on the transitive property alone, which gives CougCenter a No. 1 team that its Nos. 3-5, No. 7, and Nos. 9-12 teams all beat and reshapes some of the top 10 in the actual BlogPoll: Stanford should probably be behind the Notre Dame team that beat it, except Notre Dame's not on CougCenter's ballot, while Stanford is No. 4; Georgia not being ranked while Texas A&M is was enough to break the tie in the Aggies' favor, while both teams received 753 points each on the other 36 ballots.

Powers' CougCenter ballot is extraordinary in good and bad ways, and would not have been quite so extraordinary had it been cast earlier in a season, when it makes a slight bit of sense to use the transitive property as a guiding factor.

But it wouldn't have been as fun, either.

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 (almost) everyone agreed were terrible (say, Colorado) would all be at the top.

# School Points/blog SD
1 Ohio St. Buckeyes (1) 18.08 7.82
2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 20.11 4.09
3 Alabama Crimson Tide (35) 24.32 3.89
4 Boise St. Broncos 7.68 3.79
5 Oregon St. Beavers 5.27 3.72

I'm tired of pointing out that a No. 1 vote for Ohio State and votes not being cast for Ohio State (five of 37 voters left the Bucks off their ballots, though CougCenter has an excuse: it's impossible to build a transitive chain from the bottom up and include an unbeaten team) inflates the standard deviation of that distribution. It's more fun to point out that CougCenter's single No. 25 vote for 'Bama got them the No. 3 spot here. One weird vote can swing many things in the BlogPoll.

Ballot Math

First up are The Chip Kelly Award for Boldness and Jim Tressel's 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 CougCenter Washington St. Cougars ballot 12.80
2 Frogs O' War TCU Horned Frogs ballot 3.19
3 Hammer & Rails Purdue Boilermakers ballot 3.17
4 Team Speed Kills South Carolina Gamecocks ballot 2.49
5 Black Heart Gold Pants Iowa Hawkeyes ballot 2.39


# Blog Team Ballot Avg Error
1 Card Chronicle Louisville Cardinals ballot 1.24
2 Pacific Takes Washington Huskies ballot 1.27
3 Block U Utah Utes ballot 1.32
4 A Sea of Blue Kentucky Wildcats ballot 1.39
5 Subway Domer Notre Dame Fighting Irish ballot 1.53

One might have figured that a Florida blog would have won the Numb Existence bit after that Louisville beatdown in New Orleans, but I'm the voter for Alligator Army, so, uh, no. Numb Existence winners often match a swath of the BlogPoll's order exactly, and Card Chronicle's no different, getting No. 10 through No. 15 "correct."

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 CougCenter Washington St. Cougars ballot 23.35
2 Land-Grant Holy Land Ohio St. Buckeyes ballot 6.92
3 Alligator Army Florida Gators ballot 4.68
4 Corn Nation Nebraska Cornhuskers ballot 4.27
5 Subway Domer Notre Dame Fighting Irish ballot 3.89

One single No. 2 vote for Washington State was the only one the Cougars got, so of course CougCenter's on top here, followed by the only No. 1 vote for Ohio State.

As for my No. 3 ranking for Alligator Army: I stared at my ballot for a long time while trying to figure out how to drop Florida, and I ended up with the Gators at No. 6, which ties SEC blog Team Speed Kills' ranking for Florida's highest. But I moved Louisville up into the top 10, because I think Florida lost to a really good team, and moved Texas A&M up to No. 3, which means Florida has the best win (and one of just two on the road at a top-five team in my ballot) I'm factoring it. If you think it's impossible to figure out how good Florida is based on their topsy-turvy year against good teams (beat: Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina, Florida State; beaten by: Georgia, Louisville), try factoring in the close calls against Missouri and Louisiana. I'm just happy I no longer have to vote on how good Florida is, and can focus on explaining it.

Besides, ranking Florida No. 6 is neither as dumb or homerish as Subway Domer keeping Notre Dame at No. 2 after the Irish's turdulent effort against Alabama.

# Blog Team Ballot Bias
1 Card Chronicle Louisville Cardinals ballot -1.05
2 Team Speed Kills South Carolina Gamecocks ballot -0.70
3 Pacific Takes Washington Huskies ballot -0.62
4 Block U Utah Utes ballot -0.51
5 BCS Guru USC Trojans ballot -0.41

Louisville's big win over a top-five SEC team got Card Chronicle to move the Cards all the way up ... to No. 13. In fairness, it's basketball season.

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 CougCenter Washington St. Cougars ballot 538
2 Frogs O' War TCU Horned Frogs ballot 142
3 Smoking Musket West Virginia Mountaineers ballot 134
4 Hammer & Rails Purdue Boilermakers ballot 120
5 Alligator Army Florida Gators ballot 118

Again, duh.

# Blog Team Ballot Swing
1 Voodoo Five South Florida Bulls ballot 80
2 Team Speed Kills South Carolina Gamecocks ballot 88
3 Crimson and Cream Machine Oklahoma Sooners ballot 90
4 The Champaign Room Illinois Fighting Illini ballot 94
5 Card Chronicle Louisville Cardinals ballot 98

Voodoo Five dropped one team entirely out of its ballot (Kent State, which was No. 20), and just moved the rest around. It's hard to have the lowest swing without largely keeping the pool of teams to be ranked the same, but not having Florida, LSU, or Oklahoma (three teams that had bowl flameouts) high before the bowls helped, too.