Week 12 BlogPoll Ballot — THAT Team… Yuck

LTP UPDATE: With the breaking news of Maryland joining the Big Ten in 2014 and Rutgers next to fall in line, we’ll be offering up a complete SPECULATION post tomorrow morning about why now, what might be next and how it all impacts Northwestern.  You know we’re on it…hang tight. Go ‘Cats. Beat Illini.

PRR’s BlogPoll Ballot

I hate myself. I felt dirty putting Notre Dame so high and many of the commenters have asked why I had them ahead of Kansas State. My eyes told me Notre Dame’s defense was the reason but it still made my heart hurt. With this weekend transpiring the way it did seeing Oregon and Kansas State lose, there is one inescapable conclusion.

The No. 1 team in the country is Notre Dame. And if it isn’t them it is Ohio State. Oh yes, strange times these are.

11-0 will make you do very strange things. This just does not seem to be the right way to start off our “Hate Week.” Luckily Illinois is nowhere near the top. Nowhere near the top 25. Nowhere near anything successful. That is nice to think about at least.

Keep repeating that thought while you peruse my BlogPoll ballot for this week. As always, offer your suggestions and edits and I may include them in future drafts:

1. Notre Dame
Last Week: defeated Wake Forest 38-0. This Week: at USC (7 p.m. CT/ABC)
The Buzz: The Fighting Irish have had their defense carry them all season. And the final home game of the season proved to be a culmination of that defensive effort. Notre Dame pitched the shutout and held Wake Forest to 209 total yards. The win marked Notre Dame’s first undefeated home season since 1998. The Irish continually defy everyone and their own recent history. The program may not be “back,” that is a question for next season, but it has been a special year in South Bend.

2. Ohio State
Last Week:
defeated Wisconsin 21-14. This Week: vs. No. 17 Michigan (11 a.m. CT/ABC)
The Buzz: The Buckeyes survived Camp Randall Stadium with a great overtime escape. The Badgers put together quite the final drive to force overtime. But with the ball first in the extra frame, Ohio State proceeded to score a touchdown on Carlos Hyde’s 2-yard touchdown run. Like in some of Ohio State’s other undefeated seasons, Ohio State had some great escapes. Like this one. The Buckeyes gained only 236 yards and Braxton Miller only had 145 total yards and less than 100 yards passing. That will not win many games, certainly not many in Madison. They did enough though.

3. Alabama
Last Week:
defeated Western Carolina 49-0. This Week: vs. Auburn (2:30 p.m. CT/CBS)
The Buzz: The Crimson Tide won their game in the SEC’s annual collective bye week. There is not much to say from this game except for video game stats that mean very little. There may not be much to say other than that after the Auburn game either.

4. Oregon
Last Week:
lost to No. 14 Stanford 17-14. This Week: at No. 22 Oregon State (2 p.m. CT/Pac-12 Networks)
The Buzz: Oregon has spent so much of this season just scoring at will and not needing a second half that it is somewhat shocking not only to see Oregon lose but not have 40 points in doing so. It turns out Stanford knew how to slow down Oregon rather than keep up with them. Stanford beat Oregon by holding Oregon to only 198 rushing yards and boxing in Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas. Easier said than done. But it can be done.

5. Georgia
Last Week:
defeated Georgia Southern 45-14. This Week: vs. Georgia Tech (11 a.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: Georgia is still sitting and waiting for its date with Alabama at the SEC Championship Game. Of course, there is the rivalry game with Georgia Tech to clean up.

13. Nebraska
Last Week:
defeated Minnesota 38-14. This Week: at Iowa (Nov. 23 11 a.m./ABC)
The Buzz: Nebraska needs a win Friday to clinch a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game. The Cornhuskers cannot overlook the trip to Kinnick Stadium. Nebraska did not overlook Minnesota last week. Taylor Martinez passed for 308 yards and scored 38 unanswered points to open the game. No doubt, Minnesota was not in Nebraska’s league. Will Iowa?

17. Michigan
Last Week:
defeated Io_a 42-17. This Week: at No. 2 Ohio State (11 a.m. CT/ABC)
The Buzz: Ohio State has a chance at an undefeated season. That should be enough to motivate Michigan to go to the Horseshoe and try to get a victory. That and the fact Michigan needs a win and a Nebraska loss to go to the Big Ten Championship Game, a result Michigan will know before taking the field. There should not be a need to get motivated. Devin Gardner looks more and more comfortable as the Wolverines’ quarterback and should prove a perfect challenge for Braxton Miller’s Buckeyes.

Why No Northwestern: Because every time I rank Northwestern they lose. No, actually, I have them 26th at the moment and right outside the top 25. Really they are tied with Mississippi State in my mind. But the win over Michigan State was impressive only in how NU had to grind it out. It still was not a particularly strong game and the Wildcats need a statement game to cement a place in the Top 25.

124. Illinois

Oh yeah, I went there. #BeatIllinois.

  • David

    Did anyone else think that the replay official in the Stanford Oregon game…overturned a correct call on the field. It was a great effort by the TE…but the video pretty clearly showed the ball was still moving after he was out of bounds.

    • UVA Cat

      Yeah, I tend to agree. But at the same time, I think Stanford got robbed on the review in the game vs. ND. Can you imagine what the BCS situation would look like if that call had gone the other way? The only undefeated team would be Ohio State (ineligible) and then a whole mess of 1-loss teams (because, then, ND and Stanford would each have one loss as well). Bottom line: a playoff system can’t happen soon enough.

      • Wildcats99

        The call was debatable, but it was 1st and Goal anyway. Likely would have been the same result.

      • skepticat

        Although Stanford was most definitely and obviously robbed against ND, it would’ve merely re-tied the game and sent it to another overtime.

        Now the Pitt game, on the other hand, was handed to ND on a silver platter by the refs.

    • Mike

      Absolutely agree. He seemed to lose possession when he hit the ground. I was at a bar so I didn’t have audio to listen to. I think they may have been paying so much attention to whether or not he was in bounds that they neglected to look for full possession.

      • Agreed. Shoulder was in bounds, but i’d question possession as the ball started to move as his other shoulder came down. Was positive they were not going to have the proverbial indisputable video evidence. I was wrong.

    • NorCalCat

      Looks like ND is getting all the breaks this year. In their game with Stanford the close call on the field is upheld by replay but Oregon has a close call overturned (that may have been a catch but I don’t think the replay was “indisputable” enough to overturn the call on the field). Now they get to play SC without Barkley….

    • skepticat

      Actually, I thought it was a good catch, and the right call by the replay official. Then again, I didn’t think Michigan State should have been given the hail mary touchdown in last year’s game against Wisconsin, yet everybody lauded that call. But as we saw in the Nebraska-Penn State game, “indisputable” is truly in the eye of the beholder (unless of course you’re a tinfoil hat-wearing Penn Stater).

      That said, I wouldn’t be against a more “conservative” definition of indisputable. The replay official obviously took a long time trying to figure out the right call. Under those circumstances it would’ve reasonable, maybe even preferable, if the play had stood.

    • DT

      Clearly a TD on the replay… Plenty of light between the shoulder and the endline after he had made the catch, came down and controlled the ball in the process… Also, that was first down and they were in four down territory with plenty of time to run 3 more plays in another scenario.. They were ready to go again if the ruling had stood…

  • UVA Cat

    Question: How does Michigan move up two spots by thumping Minnesota while Oregon State moves down two spots for crushing Cal? The Civil War game this year in Corvallis should be a good one…

    • UVA Cat

      I meant Iowa (not Minnesota)…oops.

  • Mark

    @PRR. Don’t worry about Notre Dame. (Worry is not preparation.) NU’s job is to get to that level – one where they are always a point of discussion. Going to the game in East Lansing this weekend made me realize how often the Spartans invoke 1965 and 1966 and NU fans talk about 1995 and 1996. Our job as Cats fans is to fill the stadium (and stand up on 3rd down).
    Maryland and Rutgers – a really bad idea. Makes no sense whereas PSU and Nebraska were in the area and also played great ball. Sorry that Delaney and others only think about $$$$$$$$.

    • cece

      agree. ignore the Domers. play our own game.

  • RG

    So the word is that MD and Rutgers join the leaders and Illini come over to the legends. If thats true who is our “rivalry” game since we will play Illinois every years because they are now in our division??? MD rutgers, penn state????? Worse OSU? Hmmm

    • PaulK

      OSU will maintain its current rivalry game–The Game–with Michigan. No worries there.
      NU v Rutgers would be an interesting protected cross-division rivalry. I suspect the NY area alums would support that.

      • Fiedler

        The NY area alums, particularly those whose fathers are Rutgers grads and season ticket holders, would most heartily support that.

    • BostonWildcat

      That split makes sense. They should then change Legends to “West” and Leaders to “East.” Only slightly inconsistent with actual locations … Wisconsin would be a bit misplaced, but should probably stay for competitive balance reasons.
      Unless the B1G goes to a 9 game conference schedule, I doubt they will keep a crossover game for everyone (would only leave room for 1 other game from the other side). They might keep Mich/OSU if the 2 teams agree to do it (would simply be a disadvantage to them both from a schedule difficulty perspective so not really unfair to everyone else). The only other crossover rivalry even worth considering to keep is Minny/Wisc.

  • RazzmaChas

    Just put Northwestern in at 25. Why do we as fans need to be so critical of our own team? Mississippi St has the same 8-3 record we do. They won all of their OOC games against second-tier opponents (Jackson State, Troy, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee St). They won all of their games against the bottom half of the SEC. They lost all 3 of their games against top SEC opponents. Sounds vaguely similar to what NU has done. However, at least 3 out of our 4 OOC opponents are reasonable. Illinois stinks. We will win. You will already have NU in your top 25. Nice job!

    • Fanaticat

      The top SEC opponents they lost to are way, way better than the “top” B1G opponents we lost to (look what Bama did to Michigan). However, they got blown out in those losses versus us having double digit leads late in all our losses. So perhaps we’re about equal. Our scoring offense and defense statistics match up pretty closely with Miss. St. actually.

      • NorCalCat

        I’m hoping we end up in a bowl against Miss St. They’re about on our level and I think we’d have an excellent chance at beating them. Plus, several of my colleagues are MSU fans so would give me bragging rights around the office if we win.

    • I agree..no offense NIU, but you’re one loss was to the only major conference team you played – and a 4-win team at that…Iowa.

      • Al

        They did play a Big 12 team in Kansas, not that this helps their cause much.

      • DT

        How many wins against the Big Ten does the MAC have this year, LTP? Let me answer SIX/6… The fact NIU pissed away a late lead on a neutral field against Iowa in Game One does not diminish what NIU has done behind a LEGIT, Heisman Candidate and Chicago product in Jordan Lynch… Doren, is going to be coaching in The Ten or SEC in the next two years as well… No fluke here… NONE…

        You of all people should stay out of the strength of schedule rhetoric… Further, it would be Northwestern’s worst nightmare to see NIU in a bowl setting… Unlike the pabulum that will probably come against a loss to an SEC team, ala, “we played the best and lost”, we are building for the future, blah, blah, blah, that would show just where NU is despite the 8-3, or probable 9-3… Maybe, it says just how strong Mid Major FBS is right now, and what the MAC is doing on the positive side of the ledger…

        “No offense NIU”… My ass…

        • NUmanager

          2-9 Army, 1-10 Kansas, 5-6 Central Mich, 4-7 Buffalo, 1-10 Akron, 4-8 West Mich, 1-10 UMass. Give. Me. A. Break. Ohio’s win at Penn St was impressive but the circumstances were at a minimum, unusual. One of their best teams, Ball St., beat a terrible Indiana team 41-39. Beating Iowa is nothing to be proud of this year. They haven’t played Kent St., Bowling Green or Ohio. Safe to say… at a minimum… that Northern Illinois is untested.

        • Exactly…look at what NUManager laid out. NIU hasn’t played Kent State or Ohio…look at the records of their opponents. This isn’t just a smack at the MAC, I challenge you to try and say that NU’s 8-3 isn’t a better overall body of work then NIU’s. Syracuse OR Vandy wins for NIU would be their signature win. That Iowa team was horrendous and even moreso when NIU had them early.

          • DT

            I’d agree with The Manager that beating Indiana and Iowa ain’t no big deal… And what exactly are NU’s signatures wins, guys? Vandy and Sparty? I’d say beating Ball State ranks with those… Fact of that matter, NIU is 10-1, doing it behind the best college QB in Illinois, and have a couple impressive victories in conference, one against Toledo, that was in the BCS Top 25 in the last couple weeks… Don’t get me wrong, I feel NU is deserving of a Top 25 spot, albeit, not at NIU’s expense in this case.. I also think from watching NIU, they are playing the best FBS football in this state currently…
            That said, I think PRR got it right on his ballot..

        • Bostonwildcat

          Have you even looked at niu’s opponents? Unmanager beat me to it on the response.

          To disagree is one thing, but to do so indignantly and derisively without even doing basic research first is … well, deserving of a response like “my ass…”

          In total fairness, niu did beat a pair of 8-3 mac teams, but id take our wins over vandy/syracuse/sparty over those any day of the week.

          • DT

            Thanks so much for your altruistic gesture acknowledging the record of those 8-3 MAC teams… They pale by comparison to those juggernauts at Syracuse and Vandy not to mention that team led by rifle armed Maxwell in East Lansing.. Please…
            Also, how many bowl games did the MAC win last year?

            Go to bed… Late on the East Coast…

          • BostonWildcat

            I’m assuming your post contains some strange combination of sarcasm and candor. That aside, do you honestly think 8-3 in the MAC is better than 7-4 in the SEC? Really? Not sure you’re going to build much consensus around that.

            As for some objective information, the Massey computer poll composite (an aggregate of all computer polls) has both Sparty and Vandy over Ball State and Toledo (the heralded 8-3 MAC teams you reference). I’m sure those computers just give Sparty credit for their rifle armed QB and have an SEC bias, though.

            It’s early in whatever coast you’re on … hope you’re resting up so you can think logically and not sound like a teenager who’s trying to punk someone.

          • DT

            Is it insomnia with you or the night shift? Man… The Voice Of Reason never sleeps… In terms of your question, yes, in the case of Ball State and Toledo I’d say they are playing a brand of football equal to or ahead of Vanderbilt… I give Ball State a ton of credit for not scheduling an FCS opponent ala Presybyterian, who Vandy hammered 52-0 or some such thing as well… Toledo did much better against Arizona for instance than a BCS conference team by the name of Illinois… This BCS vs. “other five” conference stuff means less and less and requires more attention to the team itself… In my opinion, the top teams in The MAC are playing to a level allied competitive teams in BCS conferences… Saw it with the WAC for many years, ala teams like Boise, Fresno, Hawaii, etc. Very cool our Midwestern Mid Major has 5-6 teams playing at potential Top 25 level.. My bigger point…
            Finally Mr. Logical, the whole debate centers here on the human element of a poll…Obviously, some consensus exists that in the case of Northern Illinois, they belong in The Top 25 and NU does not… Personally, from a standpoint of on field performance and quality, I could care less what some geek served up, cooking the books via SOS… Then there are folks like yourself skipping down The Yellow Brick Road that see Massey or others like The Wizzard Of Oz… Never did like that movie by the way, even before my teenaged years..

          • DT

            In the interest of accuracy, Toledo lost in OT to Arizona, while Illinois got beat by Arizona State… Different team, same point..

          • BostonWildcat

            I’m the night manager at Wendy’s, so I have lots of time on my hands in the wee hours. I’m heading to my daytime factory shift now but have a little time in between to squeeze out a response. Then have bartending after where I’ll be able to memorize the 2012 schedule and results for every team in the MAC, B1G, etc.

            Do you also give Toledo a “ton of credit” for scheduling FCS opponent Coastal Carolina (who is in Presbyterian’s conference!). You can poo poo logic, reason, and facts all you want (many college football fans do, although I would like to hope that the NU fan base does so less), but I think we’d both agree that’s the only way to objectively look at things.

            Otherwise, well, it’s just, like, your opinion man…


          • DT

            Good to see you always have time for YouTube! I like that Coastal Carolina program by the way.. Good upside…

          • BostonWildcat

            I’m the night manager at Wendy’s so have a lot of time on my hands in the wee hours. About to head to my daytime factory shift, but have a bit of time here to squeeze in a response. Then heading to my bartending gig, where I’ll have plenty of time to memorize the opponents and results of every FBS team.

            Do you also give a “ton of credit” to Toledo for their win against FCS Coastal Carolina (who is IN Presbyterian’s conference!). You can poo poo logic/facts/reason all you want (most college football fans do, although I’d hope fewer NU fans do), but it’s the only way to have an objective conversation. You saying “NIU has a Heisman candidate” and “The MAC has 5-6 teams playing at a top 25 level” doesn’t really mean anything unless you back it up with facts or reason. Rationale is especially helpful when making assertions that most would consider laughable (like the two just used as examples).

            Otherwise, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.


        • skepticat

          What the? Not sure where you’re getting these 6 (six) wins from, but the MAC is 3-9 against the Big Ten. That’s 3 (three) wins to 9 (nine) losses. 2 of those wins are against teams that will be sitting at home for the holidays and the 3rd is against a team that was playing their first game under a new head coach while also dealing with a substantial attrition of starters in the weeks leading up to the season. We all get it: it’s a down year for the Big Ten. But let’s take a deep breath and put down the bowls of cyanide, shall we? The sky’s not _quite_ falling yet.

          • DT

            Fair enough… Heard a talking head on BTN mention six MAC wins against The Ten, and took it literally… If indeed it is 3 wins in 2012, my bad…

    • I am afraid to rank Northwestern. I am 0-3 this year when I do.

  • BG

    BTW – Stewart Mandel predicts NU vs. Georgia in the Outback Bowl. Quite honestly, that is our worst possible outcome, as Georgia’s offense is ridiculous. I’d much rather face S. Carolina, Mississippi State or Florida. So in this case I’d almost rather go to the Gator Bowl…

  • Alaskawildcat

    It is hard to hate Notre Dame this year with their star player and potential Heisman candidate being such a great kid. Just heard about how he had sent a letter to a child dying from Leukemia prompted by losing his own family member(s) from it. Also heartwarming to see how the Catholic student body has embraced him and his Mormon Faith.

  • BostonWildcat

    It baffles me that we never rank NU in this poll. We have to be the only blog in the nation that wouldn’t rank NU in the current situation. Some thoughts/comments to chew on:

    * We’ve beaten 3, likely 4, bowl-bound teams this year (with no bad losses). Mississippi State has beat ZERO. That’s right, zero. And they haven’t even come close vs. ranked teams.
    * Northwestern is the ONLY team from the big 5 conferences with 3 or fewer losses that you do not have ranked. You have 4 teams ranked with 3+ losses from these conferences.
    * LTP has talked quite a bit (and convincingly) about the importance of being ranked and how that will continue to change people’s perception about NU. Now, I realize ESPN’s not going to show the SB poll ranking on their scoreboard, but lots of people see the results of this poll across the internet. Why would we not try to at least place NU at the high end of the justifiable range so as to make at least a small contribution to making this happen. I guarantee you other affiliated blogs are ranking their teams at the higher end of the justifiable range (if not higher).

    I understand the imperative from Medill for bias-free, independent reporting. But this is not the NY Times. And even if it were, the above snippets demonstrate that there is PLENTY of validation for having this NU team ranked. There may be other times when there is no way to validate it (e.g., all of last season). Let’s take advantage while we have the chance and recognize that we are a solid team that the fan base can be proud of. Let’s rank NU here just like the many coaches/press members have ranked NU to put us at the verge of entering the top 25.

  • Henry in CT

    As usual you grossly over rank the B1G. OSU at #2? Put them in the SEC, BiG XII or the PAC 12 and see how many losses they would have or have them play even one good out of conference opponent. They haven’t played a non-B1G opponent that has even received votes let alone be in the top 25. The best win they have is Nebraska and they are not a legit top 20 team either. The only decent non-B1G team Nebraska has played was UCLA and UCLA dominated them. I would say if you are going to have OSU #2, Nebraska #13 and Michigan #17 you ought to have NU which with a little better game management could be 11-0 somewhere around #12 because that is about as much sense as the rest of it makes. The point is that NU could beat any of them with the possible exception of OSU but that doesn’t mean we are any good because we still haven’t beat a legit top 20 team either.

  • DT

    I think where I differ in the last 3 is the inclusion of Washington. Sure, I get the win over Stanford as a strong signature… Still, they are 7-4, and The PAC-12 does not have that kind of weight to justify that… I’m still looking at that pasting they took in Baton Rouge, giving up 49 points..
    So I don’t get further tried and hung here, I’d have NIU at #23, Northwestern at #24, and Miss. State at #25… Washington would be odd man out of the last three..