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Ballot Type: human

Overall Rationale:
The idea of this ranking is that I would pick higher-ranked teams to beat lower-ranked ones on a neutral field. I care more about peripheral statistics than about resume alone; I also ignore head to head where I have any alternative. I take injuries into account -- a team that was missing a key player for a certain game or that has made a personnel change since a big game could get a bump, or a team that lost a key player long-term might get docked. I care about roster talent less than computer rankings do, but I do give more talented teams a longer leash after an uncharacteristic performance or show more caution about moving up a team with limited roster talent.

Rank Team Reason
1 Georgia Bulldogs Georgia is No. 1 in virtually every computer ranking. There are plenty of things I could nitpick, but I'm not gonna make a contrarian case for someone else this week.
2 Michigan Wolverines Passing offense is the big weakness here. Nebraska has a quality defense, but the Wolverines finally ran into a team that they couldn't push over, and it did not go well.
3 Cincinnati Bearcats I think Cincinnati is probably the best non-AQ team we have seen in the playoff era.
4 Iowa Hawkeyes Iowa's offense sort of runs in fits and starts, but when they needed yards down the stretch, they got them. I am not sure they would have beaten a healthy Sean Clifford, but the teams behind them have plenty of similar questions.
5 Alabama Crimson Tide Bryce Young is all right, but TAMU correctly identified that he struggles against an aggressive pass rush, and they came after him something fierce. He'll get better but a playoff bid is definitely not a sure thing.
6 Oregon Ducks Oregon's resume and Alabama's are similar (Bama has two good wins in Florida and Mississippi, but Oregon has one of the country's best wins, and the losses are at least comparable). I think Bama is the better team in a vacuum, based on total scoring margin and roster talent, but it's not as far apart as some assume.
7 Oklahoma Sooners Texas ran roughshod over them in the first half, and the fact that they showed the capacity to come back does not win me over. They deserved to lose, and that's something that I've said about them two or three times already in just half a season. Unimpressive.
8 Ohio State Buckeyes Ohio St has not played a strong schedule, and they failed their only real early test, but they look better and sounder structurally than they did early. They are not out of the playoff race, let alone the Big Ten.
9 Penn State Nittany Lions I think Penn State is an elite football team with Sean Clifford, and I had them in my playoff last week. But he may be on the shelf for an extended span, and the backup is not up to scratch.
10 Oklahoma State Cowboys /bye
11 Pittsburgh Panthers /bye
12 Arizona State Sun Devils ASU threw Stanford a beating on Friday, and I think Stanford is solidly top-40 nationally. Should be 6-0.
13 Kentucky Wildcats I had Florida over Kentucky last week, but then UK blitzed a mediocre LSU, and Florida hanging around with Alabama lost a little bit of clout. I don't give them much of a chance of beating Georgia in Athens, but I can very plausibly see 10-2.
14 Michigan State Spartans As I said last week, I think the computers have collectively overrated MSU's opponents *cough* Miami *cough*, which is propping the Spartans a little higher than I would otherwise have them.
15 BYU Cougars BYU had been the beneficiary of a crazy dose of good luck against their early-season opponents, especially Utah and Arizona State. They were due for some bad bounces, and they got all of them at once against Boise.
16 Texas Longhorns
17 San Diego State Aztecs FPI no longer favors them to beat Boise, but that's a home game, so I think I do. Outside shot at the G5 bid if something happens to Cincinnati.
18 Florida Gators See my entry for Kentucky. Losing close to Bama has lost some luster.
19 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Winning close is still a win, but Notre Dame is strangely beatable on the offensive line, an area I thought they would be really sturdy and able to coast to wins on. 
20 Ole Miss Rebels Won a coin-flip with Arky at home, but I don't really have any reasons I can articulate to rank Arkansas over them either, so we'll tiebreak on head to head.
21 Arkansas Razorbacks See above.
22 NC State Wolfpack No idea what to think. Is Miss State good? Is Clemson bad? Not enough information.
23 UCLA Bruins UCLA has good line play and skill talent, but their scheme is leaving them really vulnerable to good vertical passing attacks. That is not likely to get better any time soon. Also, DTR is bad and not the name brand that ESPN so badly wants him to be.
24 Iowa State Cyclones Iowa State has an FCS win and two wins outside the top 100. If this were a resume ranking, they would be down outside the top 40, but I think they have a little more upside than that.
25 Clemson Tigers I don't have a ton of teams clamoring to be in this spot, so what the hell. This offense is really, *really* bad, but they have a win over a certain bowl team in BC and a possible second one in GT. They have a really easy stretch run, though, so they really cannot afford another loss to stay ranked. Even a ranked loss would drop them from my ballot.

Submitted: Mon 11 Oct 2021 00:11