This week's BlogPoll Roundtable was generated by Joey of Straight Bangin'.
1) Coming into the season, many people had October 6th circled on their calendars because it was thought that the LSU-Florida game would be the single match-up that wielded the most influence over the rest of the sport. Now that a singular cataclysm has given way to a weekly series of upheavals, is there a single remaining game that has the greatest potential to deliver on the promise of unique significance foretold in scripture the preseason blogosphere? Which one is it and why?
I can't pick just one, so here are the seemingly obvious ones.
- Boston College versus Virginia Tech. Even though the Hokies were pantsed with extreme prejudice by LSU, winning against them is no picnic. If BC can win there, I think they have a legitimate shot at playing for the MNC.
- Ohio State versus Michigan, assuming that tOSU remains undefeated to that point. As tOSU has been working its way through the soft underbelly of their schedule, Michigan has overcome their early bed-crapping and is continent in-conference. A Michigan win would spare us from a tOSU team that's doing better than expected, but not fully convincing neutral(ish) observers that they are the real deal.
- If Oregon beats USC, and ASU beats Cal, then Oregon versus ASU. Regardless of Karl Dorrell's insistence that a PAC 10 title is still on the cards for UCLA, if Oregon and ASU come into their game having beaten USC and Cal, I tend to think that this game will decide the PAC 10. Even if it doesn't the possibility for offensive mayhem is too compelling to ignore.
Well, the likes of Callahan and Dorrell have earned their criticism and there's little need to further explain that. The specific amount of criticism that Pete Carroll should get will depend on 1) how the season goes, and 2) his capacity to make changes in the wake of a bad season, if that's the way it pans out.
I would suggest that there's a separate group of coaches who could be criticized for getting close but not quite, for the same reasons each time. The prime example of this, at least in my opinion, is Frank Beamer... with a defense that's been getting back to the norm for the Hokies and is good year in and year out, he should be hanging his head at the tediousness of offense under Beamer Ball. Get a better Offensive Coordinator, and balance the team better. (Sort of like how Lloyd Carr (or whoever replaces him) could do to recruit some defensive speed and not run the ball in the face of a deficit that needs to be closed fast.)
(For what it's worth, I have very little interest in seeing Coach Beamer follow this advice - I am surrounded by Hokies here in NoVA, and they really don't need any further encouragement to get goofy about their team. I can't imagine what it would be like if they were top 5 material consistently...
3) With few elite teams, a plethora of pretenders, and the aforementioned steady procession of upsets, filling out a ballot each week can be challenging. What is the single hardest decision you'll have to make this week when voting?
Well, Paragon fields the ballot, but I'd say the hardest decision is to proceed with ranking 11 - 20 without just giving up and drawing the names out of a hat.
4) This one is similar to the last question: many teams have sent voters mixed signals all year. Is BC really a top-five team? What am I supposed to do with South Carolina? Are there even two good teams in the Big Ten? Borrow a page from EDSBS and give me two teams to buy and two teams to sell.
Sell: Notre Dame. I actually don't want to kick them when they're down (not least because they might pop back up and beat SC) but barring some kind of late season miracle, their rebuilding project looks to the outside observer as if it might not come to fruition through 2008.
Sell: Nebraska. They are done this year, and probably next year as well as they try to dig out from underneath Callahan's Cultural Revolution.
Buy: Arizona State. I might put them on lay-away until I see how they do against Cal and Oregon, but it looks like Erickson might be overcoming the easy rap on ASU: good talent but indifferent coaching and inconsistent execution.
Buy: Kentucky. I have a history of generally making good buying decisions and then once in a while getting something that looks good for about 20 minutes before becoming dramatically out of date or breaks. Kentucky may well be that team, but Les Miles or no Les Miles, if'n you've gone from being ho-hum to beating LSU, that's worth looking into for purchase purposes.
5) Now that we know the strengths and weaknesses of many teams, explain to me how your team will make out over the remainder of the regular season.
It really beats the shit out of me. I doubt that SC will win out against the rest of the PAC 10, at the rate we're going... I could cope with losses to Oregon and ASU as they seem best situated to take advantage of USC's weaknesses. Cal's a push - they should be able to beat SC with their passing game, but I've been saying that ever since the last time they beat us, to no effect.
Losing to Oregon State and UCLA on the strength of their capacity to generate defensive disruptions would suck to no end: we know how that tune goes if you don't stop them singing it early and often. Overall 9 - 3 is within the ream of possibility, but 7 -5 is also achievable but very much undesirable.