Rankings after Week 2 are terrible by design, the poorly or totally unconfirmed validations of preseason guesswork. They are usually terrible, but this week's are a new level of atrocity. Have you ever made fun of someone who went to DragonCon, but then put Arkansas and Wisconsin on your Coaches Poll top 25 ballot? How you are not dead of hypocrisy is one of the miracles of modern medical science.
By the numbers.
1. Alabama. Yeah, but ... yeah. You really cannot stress enough how little you know about teams after two games against non-conference competition. You also cannot stress how methodical and clinical each Alabama game has been, and how airtight the retooled defense has looked despite a lack of sacks and pressure on the quarterback. The ultimate pressure on a quarterback is having all four or five of your targets disappear on every passing down, and Alabama is in the disappearing business right now.
2. LSU. Washington should have never gotten off the bus, and instead driven the bus onto the field and into LSU's defensive line. LSU 35, Bus 21 would have been far more entertaining than whatever this was, which was a purple and yellow sledgehammer fiesta with a Husky piñata demolished beyond recognition in a matter of minutes. Fact: Les Miles played "Operation" once and only once. The game is not supposed to scream and burst into flames, but Les Miles doesn't listen to your rules or believe your nonsense about a piledriver having no place in medicine.
3. USC. Simply aberrant game all around: on the east coast, fraught with weather delays, misfires by the Trojan offense, and Ryan Nassib turning in an excellent performance for the second week in a row. It felt awkward, jerky, and unsteady for USC, particularly defensively, where Syracuse managed 27 first downs to USC's 17. They still won this weird, forgettable game by a score of 42-29. Good teams do that, and then forget it ever happened.
4. Oregon. De'Anthony Thomas now has five TDs on 18 touches. If Oregon just gave him the ball on every one of the Ducks' 181 touches, Oregon would have scored 50 touchdowns, and Chip Kelly is the worst coach in America. This is the football version of Troll Physics, and believe it or not a talk radio show caller may really say this later today. Good luck, America. Good f'n luck.
5. Oklahoma. This is where the guessing starts, and where you realize how few voters watched Oklahoma struggle for three quarters against UTEP. Coffee and naps and DVR: all three make the magic of late night football yours, Coaches Poll voters. Use them.
6. Florida State. Blind guessing continued, since FSU has played Murray State and Savannah State, the latter with a running clock. A six spot here translates as "we watched neither game, but seek to validate a high preseason ranking's value." This is a ballot based on two games, and this is what happens when you have to make one, and together do we all contribute to a tragedy of the commons. (Teaching Intro to Poli Sci Through College Football: just take that idea and run with it, Professor Who Needs A Last Minute Idea For Tenure.)
7. Georgia. Fine, conference game on the road, resilient defense, and Jarvis Jones just ending several lives in front of your very eyes. Did you make a joke about Old Man Football this week? Good, because like timeouts you are not allowed to take them to the next week.
8. West Virginia. Solid guessing, but aren't we all guessing, baby? [/Dana Holgorsen peels off in Dodge Challenger, skullet waving in the wind.] Do you get the feeling Florida State would demolish Oklahoma, but lose to WVU? We do, and that's why polls are weird, terrible things.
9. South Carolina. Could be ninth. Could be 19th. The most dangerous team in polling because no matter where you have South Carolina, you will always be wrong. Schrodinger's Rooster is always dangerous, but September rankings for the Gamecocks are just insane. (And lovable, just like the erratic but largely successful Gamecocks.)
10. Michigan State. At No. 10 they feel like a blue-chip stock. Putting them at like No. 8 or so, though? Like smoking naked in a fireworks factory. Speaking of dangerous things:
11. Clemson. A win against Auburn looks way more nebulous now than it did in Week 2, because Auburn is losing power in all four engines, and suggests you bypass crash positions and just raid the drink cart before the plane hits the ground. (Auburn takes! Just choose one.) That game against Furman next week will prove ... nothing. Absolutely nothing. Then they play Florida State, and someone's taking the John L. Smith Log Flume straight out of the top 10.
12. Texas. Who the hell knows after games against Wyoming and New Mexico and a game coming up against Ole Miss. They look more efficient than last year, and play Ole Miss, so we can all write the same thing next week before their eventual first real test against Oklahoma State. Blind guessing all the way down, and then turtles, and then blind guessing.
13. Virginia Tech. Frank Beamer owns an apartment at the 13 spot. Sleeps there on late nights in the office. Got an XBox, flatscreen, air mattress, and toaster oven. You can cook way more things in a toaster oven than you think. Bud Foster can cook a whole turkey in one if you give him nine hours, some butane and a hefty knife. Oh, and he needs a turkey, too, and a live one, because Bud Foster only eats what he kills.
14. Kansas State. Beating Miami and a nickel: both things Bill Snyder will complain about not being worth what they used to be.
15. TCU. LIttle to no data, but man, can they beat a Grambling: 56-0. Kansas will probably at least score against them. (Probably.)
16. Stanford. Whoops on that brief "Duke Upset" bubble. It was bold, though, and you have to be bold early because every poll voter becomes more and more robotic with each passing week of the season.
17. Florida. There's guessing, and then there's Florida at No. 17.
18. Michigan. Pros: played defending national champions, did not die. Cons: played Air Force, almost died anyway. Brady Hoke is clearly still making things up--patchwork defensive roster, hybrid offense heavily reliant on one very gifted player--but it's still working for the moment. Hoke fixed Rich Rodriguez's old beater with three slices of pizza and some duct tape. Don't ask questions: just keep driving.
19. Notre Dame. Tommy Rees appeared on the field in the Purdue game, and did so in a win. We have no idea what this means, so don't share drinks with Notre Dame for a while, and wash your hands carefully after contact. We don't know what this is either.
20. Louisville. Deeply undervalued if you watch them play. Probably about right when you notice who they've been playing so far.
22. Wisconsin. Repeat reaction to No. 21.
23. UCLA. BEHIND ARKANSAS AND WISCONSIN NO YOU ARE READING THIS CORRECTLY PEOPLE DO THIS WORK AS PART OF THEIR JOB.
24. Nebraska. Fair enough, but still behind Wisconsin and Arkansas, and then the all-caps and this thing that might be an aneurysm just starts coming back again when I think about this too hard.
25. Arizona. Twenty-five is always the genial pat-on-the-head given to a team displaying newfound competence. If it feels condescending, Arizona, it is. Go kill someone with the anger of being gently approved by a poll with both Wisconsin and Arkansas ranked above you.
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