ATQ Blogpoll: Oregon jumps BSU, but not without controversy

It's time for another ATQ Blogpoll, and the big talk around national football this week is Boise State's inevitable drop in the polls. We're 5 weeks in, and after putting away Stanford, the Ducks have jumped up to 3rd in the major polls, and have jumped to 2nd in my own Blogpoll ballot.

We've given a lot of time to why Oregon should be ranked higher, but one of our own disagrees. Paul?


PaulSF: Let me start off by saying I'm not a Boise State fan or supporter. I still haven't gotten over last year's opener on the Smurf Turf, nor have I moved on from the loss to the Broncos at Autzen in 2008. My position in regards to disagreeing with moving Oregon up to No. 3 (or No. 2, in Jared's case) has nothing to do with my personal opinion of the Ducks either. I'm a Duck fan through and through, and believe they have earned a top-5 ranking. And I PERSONALLY think they're the second best team in the country right now. But I still wouldn't vote them No. 2.

Why?

Because I strongly believe the Broncos are being punished for a schedule they haven't even played yet. Apples to apples, Boise State's schedule is as strong as Oregon's thus far, and maybe stronger. And they've won in equally convincing fashion. They've beaten a top-10 team. They've hammered inferior competition, and they've played well enough on national TV to earn the respect of the pollsters. The Broncos opened the season No. 3 in both polls, and they deserve to stay there until their body of work compared to the work of other undefeated teams is significantly less impressive. Right now, it is not.

I know you feel differently about this, Jared, so let's hear it.

jtlight: It could very well be the case that voters are punishing Boise for their future schedule, but I'm not doing that, and I think that's evidenced by having them above Ohio State.

But here's my method of thinking. The Stanford win was far more impressive than the Virginia Tech win. Virginia Tech might eventually turn that into a draw, but this early in the season, I can't overlook the loss to James Madison. Also, Oregon was simply more dominant, beating Stanford by 21, as opposed to BSU eeking out a win in the final seconds.

Also, I think that the Arizona State win for Oregon and the Oregon State win for BSU are roughly equal. Oregon went on the road and won by 11. BSU won at home by 11. OSU beat ASU at home by three, meaning those teams are very close to each other. Neither team draws an edge here.

For the remaining games, Tennessee>>>Wyoming and New Mexico/Portland State is roughly the same as New Mexico State.

When straight up comparing the schedules, Oregon's wins are more impressive right now.

PaulSF: We can debate the schedules all day long, but I think we can both agree they're relatively similar. In fact, both probably have stronger schedules than Ohio State's thus far. The issue I have is that Boise State truly hasn't done little enough to warrant a drop in the polls. They're undefeated. They've beaten everyone they've played convincingly. Their schedule isn't that much better or worse than anyone else's in the country at this point in the season, yet they've dropped in the polls. The only explanation is that pollsters have already written them off because their schedule will continue to get weaker. And I think the preemptive drop in the rankings is actually undermining Oregon's accomplishments. I would much rather Oregon jump them later in the year as Boise State continues to play subpar teams. But instead, Oregon jumps them early and, in my opinion, discredits the entire system.

For Boise State fans, this is business as usual. But for the rest of us, this merely confirms that the name recognition of your team and conference plays a much larger role in the polls than the accomplishments on the field, and to me, it discredits Oregon's accomplishments.

jtlight: My main problem with this philosophy is simply this idea that a team has to do something to "drop" in the polls. Oregon is undefeated. Oregon has beaten everyone they've played convincingly (ASU never got it within two possessions during the last quarter and a half). Just because BSU is ranked higher at the beginning of the season, doesn't mean they should be now. When I put together my poll, I do not look at where I had any teams ranked the previous week. I re-evaluate each team based on its current resume. That can lead to some volatility, but I think that's good. To me, it's clear that Oregon has the superior resume, and I'm glad that the coaches (and media) rewarded that. It gives me a small bit of hope that they'll pick the final two teams correctly this season.

Also, I don't really think the BSU drop was a preemptive strike on the rest of the season. Oregon has a superior schedule, and deserved the jump. I think Boise State is an example of how pollsters didn't write them off. They have a superior schedule to a number of teams with better name recognition: LSU, Auburn Nebraska, Oklahoma, for example. All are undefeated, and are still sitting behind BSU. The simple explanation is that their resumes aren't as good. But all will eventually pass BSU if they stay undefeated.

Obviously, teams are going to pass BSU. That should happen when they have a better resume than BSU. In my mind, Oregon's resume is significantly better than BSU's. And when it reached that tipping point, they passed the Broncos. I don't believe that this discredits Oregon's accomplishments. I believe this ranking is reflective of what they (and Boise State) have accomplished through 5 games.

PaulSF: I guess we differ in opinion in that I think a team is innocent until proven guilty, for lack of a better way of putting it. You could go apples-to-apples with Boise State and Oregon's schedules and out of 100 people, a majority of them will think they're relatively equal. I agree you're being consistent with your ballot, because you've put Ohio State below Boise State. That, to me, shows your consistency.

But what about the rest of the country?

jtlight: I can't make that judgement for the rest of the country. I'd like to think that they're not just dropping BSU because of what may or may not happen the rest of the season, but I guess you never really know. Name recognition can play a big roll in rankings, as evidenced by tOSU retaining their #2 spot despite less than stellar play this weekend, and a less than stellar resume. Then again, Oklahoma beat Texas and didn't get a huge bump from that.

To me, it seems that polling has grown better in recent years, as voters face increased pressure every single week to do a decent job. And many voters have seemed to move away from the normal inertia of polls that was the norm for so long. But this season proves to be one of the closest we've seen since 2007, with multiple teams vying for the BCS title game. At the end of the season, we'll see just how far the voters have come.

What about the rest of you? Should Boise State begin their inevitable slide this early? Does this move discredit Oregon's accomplishments? Leave your opinions on these questions and the ballot in general below.

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