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Week 4: Pollin’ and Trollin’

Hey Georgia... don’t screw up.

Mississippi State v Georgia
State enjoyed their brief flirtation with competence
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Another week, and somehow the SEC manages to look even worse. You would think that you could excuse some sloppy games as early season jitters, but now we’re almost out of September, and we still have teams going to the wire with Louisiana Tech.

It was another inauspicious week for every team in the conference not named Bama. So, of course, they kick off our SEC rankings.

1 Bama. No, you do not want Bama.

2 Georgia. Now, Mississippi St might not be a good team, but this is one of the biggest tests an SEC team is going to get this year, and the Dawgs passed with flying colors. We are on a collision course for December, so long as neither team screws it up. And by that, we mean Georgia.

3 Auburn. Blew the doors off of Mizzou and manage to keep climbing these rankings by virtue of not doing anything embarrassing.

4 Florida. I don’t think the Gators are a particularly good team, but credit where credit is due. Thanks to a miracle final play against Tennessee and Kentucky deciding that covering wide receivers is optional, the Gators have raced out to 2-0 SEC start and are in line for 10-win season despite not having a functional offense.

5 Mississippi St. Got their doors absolutely blown off in their first road game, but hey, they have a doors blowing off of someone else to hang their hat on.

6 Kentucky. I still think Kentucky is a better team than Florida, but Kentucky’s Kentucky-ness allowed them to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.

7 LSU. This isn’t so much an endorsement of LSU as a condemnation of every team behind them. The Tigers lack any sort of quality wins, but they have looked better than the bottom half of the conference, and that is saying something.

8 Vanderbilt. I don’t think anyone expected a Vandy win, but we did expect a better showing than that. A lot of teams are gonna lose to Bama, but most will keep it within 50.

9 South Carolina. That NC State game looks a lot better, but it’s also fading further into the recesses of memory. Needing a last second field goal to beat La Tech will do that.

10 Texas A&M. Showing a bit more life since the middle fingers that shook College Station. I’m standing by that as the obscene gesture which changed a season… until they play someone good.

11 Ole Miss. Team Chaos hasn’t been very chaos-y yet, but they get their chance this week.

12 Arkansas. To their credit, they haven’t been blown off the field or anything. The Hogs were tied with TCU late and forced OT against A&M. So there’s some fight in those Hogs. The problem is that they’re not very good.

13 Tennessee. Things keep getting worse for the Vols, but luckily they have a home game this week against Georgia. I’m sure that will turn things around.

14 Mizzou. There’s no way around it. They suck.

ACC

1 Clemson
2 Virginia Tech
3 Miami
4 NC State
5 Duke

It doesn’t feel right to make a top 5 in the ACC and not include Florida St, but I don’t see how you can include them right now. Now, they will probably be back as the season wears on, but there is a bit of comedy in the fact Florida St is one of only two Power 5 teams without a win, the other being Baylor. Kansas has a win, for godsakes. I don’t think this means Jimbo Fisher is suddenly a bad coach, but it means he’s seen his layup games washed out by the weather and his team lost to two pretty good teams in Bama and NCSU. Losing his starting quarterback didn’t help. Florida St is still Florida St, it’s just going to be one of those years in Tallahassee. Though it does show there’s no sure things in college football. Well, except Bama and maybe Ohio St. Other than that, no sure things.

Big 12

1 Oklahoma
2 TCU
3 Oklahoma St
4 West Virginia
5 Kansas St

I’m not quite ready to put TCU on top of the Big 12 just yet, as OU’s win over Ohio St is still the better resume line. However, OU did give me pause, struggling with Baylor before putting them away late. Good teams should not be tied with Baylor in the fourth quarter. But TCU is either the real deal or Oklahoma St is a total paper tiger. Given how I’ve ranked the Pokes third, you can see which theory I subscribe to. TCU dominated that game every which way a team can dominate a game and best yet, they did it on the road. Stillwater is a tough place to play, and TCU handled it without a problem. They get a week off to enjoy their victory, and then immediately have to play a tough WVU team followed up by a trip to the Little Apple. If they can get through that stretch with two more wins, TCU has relative smooth sailing until that 11/11 trip to Oklahoma. Things are lined up nicely for the Frogs right now to have a monster year.

Big Ten

1 Penn St
2 Wisconsin
3 Ohio St
4 Michigan
5 Minnesota

Finding a fifth team to rank is difficult which speaks to some serious depth issues in the Big Ten, though I’m not writing off Sparty just yet. I’m not entirely sold on the top of the conference either while we’re at it, but I am sold on Penn St. Kinnick is a tough place to play and Iowa has a track record of dragging you into the muck and beating top tier teams at home. Penn St had to rally in a tough road venue and find a way to score in literally the final moments of the game. That was an incredibly impressive win, even if it might not show up as one on strength of schedule spreadsheets. Saquon Barkley is the truth, but the real impressive thing about that win was that they won it on the arm of their quarterback, not Barkley’s legs. They can beat you in a multitude of ways.

Pac-12

1 Washington
2 USC
3 Washington St
4 Utah
5 Colorado

I guess we can press pause on the Oregon is Back stories. It’s one thing to lose, but Sparky? Arizona St is not a terribly good team, and Oregon needed to win their conference opener. Sure, it was a road game and weird things can happen in the desert, but that’s still a bad loss. Stanford also quietly started salvaging their season after losses to USC and San Diego St by beating UCLA by 24 points. That was the Cardinal I was expecting in the preseason and while it may be too late to make a Rose Bowl run, the Pac-12 season can still be salvaged. UCLA can play spoiler by virtue of having Josh Rosen, but Stanford is a dangerous unranked team right now, hunting for a big win to get back in our good graces.

Current Playoff Ballot

Alabama
Clemson
Washington
Oklahoma

The margin between seeds 3-5 is razor thin, and I feel bad leaving Penn St out right now after raving about their win. It’s not a hill I’m willing to die on, and if you have Penn St in on your mythical ballot, I’m not going to argue with you. I know Baylor played OU close, but everyone is entitled to space out, so long as they take care of business in the end. I still love their win in Columbus. It’s close. The only thing I would object to is if you left out Alabama or Clemson, who are the top of the college football mountain until further notice.