BlogPoll Ballot Week 13: The End is Near

The season is coming to an end.

Northwestern has taken care of its business with a 50-14 win over Illinois (again, I like typing that) and has that impressive win to revel in for the next month as the team prepares for the bowl game. Yes, Northwestern is ranked in the major polls, is back in the BCS at No. 22  and will be ranked in my BlogPoll ballot upcoming.

The bowl picture and where Northwestern might be headed might be as confusing as ever — I certainly have no clue what the rules are where the Wildcats could go except for the fact that it will be somewhere in Florida on New Year’s Day — but the national championship picture could not be much clearer.

At 12-0, Notre Dame will be heading to Miami for the BCS National Championship Game. Joining the Irish will likely be the SEC Championship Game’s winner between the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide. Yes, an SEC team will have a chance to win a another national championship. Blame Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor and others for keeping Ohio State from playing for the crystal football in an all-Midwest national championship game. The Buckeyes are the only other team to finish unbeaten in FBS and get nothing for it.

Those are the breaks, I guess. Not a lot Ohio State can do about it and so a one-loss team will get their opportunity.

So let’s get to the BlogPoll. As always, let me know your thoughts and revisions and I may add them to future drafts.

1. Notre Dame
Last Week:
defeated USC 22-13. Projected Bowl: BCS National Championship Game (Jan. 7/7:30 p.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: The Fighting Irish defense stood tall at the goal line on two occasions to keep the Trojans from sneaking out a surprise victory. USC just did not have the horses to keep up with the physical bend-don’t-break defense from Notre Dame. More importantly, the Trojans did not have the ability to control either line of scrimmage. The defense did its job so too did Theo Riddick, who racked up 146 yards on 20 carries. Riddick got stronger as the game went on and Notre Dame wore down USC’s front seven.

2. Ohio State
Last Week:
defeated No. 16 Michigan 26-21. This Week: Season Complete.
The Buzz: It was somewhat ironic that in Ohio State’s last game this year, the team celebrated its last undefeated team from 2001 and carried Jim Tressel off the field. Ironic since he is the reason the Buckeyes will not be playing for a national championship this year. That should make Ohio State fans relatively upset. As one of two undefeated BCS-conference teams, Ohio State has earned their way into a championship shot. Those darn sanctions got in the way. The Buckeyes’ final game, a victory over the rival Wolverines, will be a good way to end the season.

3. Alabama
Last Week:  
defeated Auburn 49-0. This Week: SEC Championship Game vs. No. 5 Georgia (3 p.m. CT/CBS)
The Buzz: The Crimson Tide nearly had the biggest win over the Tigers in the Iron Bowl’s history — that would be 55-0. Whatever Alabama did, it was enough to get Gene Chizik fired and send Auburn to one of its worst seasons in recent memory. It is always disappointing when this rivalry is this much of a blowout considering how both teams have played a role in the national championship for the last four years. Eddie Lacy had 131 yards rushing and A.J. McCarron had 216 yards passing and four touchdowns to lead Alabama in the win.

4. Oregon
Last Week:
defeated No. 24 Oregon State 48-24. Projected Bowl: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 3/7:30 p.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: Another week, another big offensive performance from Oregon. Albeit a week too late. The Ducks racked up 570 total yards in the Civil War battle with the Beavers. Kenjon Barner had 198 yards and De’Anthony Thomas had 122 yards rushing for Oregon as the team got back to its winning ways. Again, too bad it was a week late. Stanford’s win over UCLA keeps Oregon out of the Pac-12 Championship Game and the team has no more chances to build its resume and sneak into the national championship game. Tough luck, Oregon.

5. Georgia
Last Week:
defeated Georgia Tech 42-10. This Week: SEC Championship Game vs. No. 3 Alabama (3 p.m. CT/CBS)
The Buzz: The Bulldogs had no problem dispatching of the Yellow Jackets behind 215 passing yards and two touchdowns from Aaron Murray. Georgia has really woken up since that early season loss to South Carolina and has run through the SEC. Of course that run did not include Alabama. Both of these teams feature strong defenses and pretty complete offenses. It should be a good matchup in Atlanta in the quasi-BCS semifinal game.

Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images/Zimbio

13. Nebraska
Last Week:
defeated Iowa 13-7. This Week: Big Ten Championship Game vs. Wisconsin (7:17 p.m. CT/FOX)
The Buzz: Yet again, the Cornhuskers needed a second half comeback to secure a win and a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game. This has really become this team’s identity — even needing a 17-point turnaround to defeat Wisconsin earlier this year. No doubt it is a dangerous way to play, but Nebraska has found a way to survive it. So does Taylor Martinez have one more game of magic for Nebraska to win its first Big Ten championship and make the trip to the Rose Bowl?

16. Michigan
Last Week: lost to No. 2 Ohio State 26-21. Projected Bowl: Capital One Bowl (Jan. 1/12 p.m. CT/ABC)
The Buzz: The Wolverines proved to be game against the Buckeyes and had a real chance at winning. Unfortunately the two-headed quarterback monster was not enough to secure the win. Until the fourth quarter though, it seemed to be working fine. Denard Robinson totaled 10 carries for 122 yards as he did not attempt a pass for Michigan. Devin Gardner went 11 for 20 for 171 yards. Michigan just could not come up with enough offense against Ohio State’s defense to ruin Ohio State’s perfect season.

18. Northwestern
Last Week:
defeated Illinois 50-14. Projected Bowl: Outback Bowl (Jan. 1/12 p.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: The Wildcats defeated their arch-nemesis from downstate in a dominating fashion on Saturday. This seemed to be exactly the formula Northwestern needs to use to win. While the defense and offense are struggling, lean on the star players to carry you through until the rest of the team gets into rhythm. A 24-point third quarter proved to be the dam bursting after Kain Colter and Venric Mark did a good job making plays in the first half. The defense overcame a rough start and Illinois could not get out of its own way. Just a great Saturday.

21. Rutgers
Last Week:
lost to Pittsburgh 27-6. This Week: vs. Louisville (Thursday/6:30 p.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: Rutgers welcomed itself to the Big Ten… by tripping over itself at Pittsburgh and possibly keeping the team out of a BCS bowl berth as the Big East’s champion. Whoops.

  • DT

    PRR-
    I like Ohio State at #2… That said, Stanford at 16 is ridiculous as are Florida and Florida State being that low.. Is this some type diss against Stanford given overshadowing Northwestern in the brainiac division? Do you drink with pompous Gator and Seminole alumni in Florida suffering indignity about NU late at night? What gives?
    What I continue to find amazing, is your love for Washington… Did you see UDUB this week against Wazzou? 4-5 in conference? Getting beat by 40+ points in non-conference by LSU? Are you a Washington fan?

    • DT

      Stanford at 14… Still too low… Should be to 10 if not top 8…

      • timc

        Without a playoff it’s all BS. Ducks put 62 on USC-WITH Matt Barkely and ND puts up a whopping 22 against a freshman qb, avoids a conference championship game and goes straight to the party. Ducks got screwed. SEC is always in. And I think NIU ranked ahead of Cats is wrong too. They lost to Iowa and play in a weaker conference. Whole thing’s a mess.

        • DT

          Tim, no sense you and I going on an NU blog having the age old debate about the BCS need for playoff et al… More importantly, I think it is the dysfunction of the business of FBS football that keeps us all interested to a large extent.. Frankly, The Ducks and the gimmick system they run can be stopped with a modicum of prep and athletic ability. The Oregon “D” is depedent on TO’s and has been very fortunate in that area in recent years per adjustments by Aliotti. They are a fun team to watch (as my nephew who recently graduated from Oregon tells me in some way on a weekly basis…) but I’m not buying this speed kills thing out there, be it Mariotta, DAT, or Barner… Plenty of speed on various other teams, particulary in the SEC… All about outcoaching Chip… Lane AND Monte Kiffin were certainly not up to that challenge…
          In terms of NIU and NU? Be a great game to watch… Ton of fun… Would have been cool in the Pizza Bowl! Personally, I think NIU wins in that NU would have no answer for Lynch… Best player in Illinois and maybe, the Midwest… Net/net, forget Iowa, NIU deserves its ranking just like NU… Both teams have had good seasons… Both, with wins in the next games might rate great… Sort it out from there…

      • DT

        To the person signing on in the last 20 minutes putting the negative arrow on all my comments here and the previous thread, what do you find objectionable about Stanford not being in the Top 10 beyond the fact I made the comment? Tough to articulate a thought about that?

  • Matt

    Opinions are like bellybuttons, everyone has one.¨ IMO, the team that can best put
    ND´s feet to the fire, what with its speed, is Oregon.

    But under this year´s worn-out BCS system, ND´s opponent is not determined on the field, but by a computer, et cetera.

    Too bad.

    • CM

      Agreed. Would LOVE to see ND’s D go up against Oregon’s explosive offense. Sadly we won’t get to see it. But I also agree with your BCS observation. Oregon lost once. Same can be said for the Bama/UGA winner on Saturday. Yet somehow the Bama/UGA winner is “clearly” the number 2 team. I feel bad for Oregon…a loss to the #8 team in the nation keeps them out of the Championship…but Bama’s loss to TAMU does them no harm.

      • UVA Cat

        Not to mention the fact that Oregon’s loss came on a very questionable call that really could have gone either way…

  • RazzmaChas

    You must have been getting tired once you got down to numbers 20-25. No team ever deserves to be in the top 25 with a record of 7-5. But you have both Washington and Arizona in there. Simply absurd. If you need other options, I would propose Texas, OK State, Louisville, Vandy, Fresno State, Miss St…

    • David

      I have to agree…how does Washington move up a spot after losing to a horrible WSU team…by playing completely undisciplined with 18 penalties….WSU ‘s best player quit the team due to abuse allegations against the coaching staff.
      You had NU 26 last week…if we had lost to IL in OT…would it be correct to assume that NU would have moved up one slot to 25?
      That is the equivalent of what you did with the Huskies. They should be out of the top 25.

  • cece

    the bowl picture is actually confusing. if you read the Chicago papers today, it still sets out the possibility that the ‘Cats could go to Arizona. gotta wait and hope for the best. but Florida would be great for folks who are on the east coast and many who drive to a bowl game.

    • zeek

      Just gotta root for Nebraska to take care of business and make this a very easy decision between us and Michigan for Cap One/Outback

      • Nate

        As much as I’d love to have the ‘Cats in Orlando, the Capitol One peeps would be better-served to take Michigan I believe. The bowl picture is extremely confusing…I’ve heard conflicting scenarios for NU and the B1G regardless if Neb or Wisc win in Indy. I guess the Capitol One peeps wouldn’t want Neb again, and a 7-win Wisc team would drop if they lost in Indy. But, then I hear that Michigan would get the Capitol One slot if Neb lost even if they have 2 less wins than Neb, so I haven’t the foggiest idea as to where NU ends up…I guess somewhere in FL?

    • gocatsteve

      Indeed… Arizona is still a possibility for us if Wisconsin beats Nebraska Saturday. I can’t fathom the Gator Bowl picking Sparty over us when we’re three games up on them, but crazier things have happened. I’d much rather see Wisconsin go to the Rose Bowl (I hate the Huskers), but I don’t think I have a choice to assure a New Year’s Day bowl for us in Florida.

  • Henry in CT

    I think there are five teams in the PAC 12 that are better than Ohio St including 7-5 USC which has great talent but a bad coach. The other four are UCLA, Oregon, Oregon St. and Stanford. With Meyer in control OSU will probably be at the top of the rankings from here on out but it will be because of dominating a weak conference and gerrymandering the out of conference schedule. And interestingly enough if OSU were able to be in the championship game they would meet the only other pretender in the top 10, ND and might win. I think that if a team doesn’t beat a top 10 team and doesn’t even schedule a top 25 team out of conference it shouldn’t be ranked in the top 10 because it hasn’t proven anything. Is it a coincidence that all of the other top 10 teams have played other top 10 teams? I just think it makes the B1G look bad because B1G teams go to such great lengths to avoid difficult out of conference competition. They shouldn’t be rewarded for it.

  • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

    If YOU think the bowl scenarios for NU are tough to follow, just wait til you see the homework Brett Kurland has done. Seemingly every person he asks – from the bowl officials themselves to the B1G, it gets more and more complicated. I’m confident he’s dug as much as anyone. Candidly, it seems the bowl “rules” are intentionally confusing so that the bowls have as much latitude to make whatever decision they please.

    • CM

      Definitely excited to see BK’s homework. Today, the Cap One threw out yet another twist by saying a Wisky CCG win gives them ONLY Nebraska and NU to choose from. Apparently their thinking that they could still take Michigan is no longer correct. Can’t keep all the “rules” and “kind of rules” straight!! I’d agree that giving the bowls more freedom is most likely an intended consequence of the rules mess…

      • Alaskawildcat

        Is that the latest? Over on the earlier thread it is claimed that CapOne got “clarification” they could pick Michigan regardless of who wins the B1G Conference Championship game. It sounds like the CapOne’s first choice is Michigan, second Northwestern as they don’t want a repeat with Nebraska.

        • CM

          Yes that is the latest. Their correction was corrected (haha). If Nebraska is available for Cap One (i.e. – if they lose CCG), then Cap One cannot select Michigan. It would be Nebraska or NU.

      • NorCalCat

        I think that’s because Neb would have 2 more wins than Mich (10 to 8) that would prevent them from taking Mich. But they could take us and our 9 wins over Neb.

  • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

    My two cents include Stanford being way underrated. They got screwed on the OT TD vs Notre Dame in my objective opinion (I dislike both programs) and have been very good against a very good Pac12.

    • David

      But they received a gift against Oregon as well. Now they might have scored on 2nd, 3rd or 4th down. That was a very controversial overturn.

  • http://www.northwesternmix.com/ NUMBSpiritLeader

    Watching All-B1G Team announcements on BTN. Not a lot of love for Wildcats.

    • David

      How is it that Wisky has three of five offensive linemen All conference (2 1st team, 1 2nd team)..plus Pedersen 1st team TE and Ball 1st team RB and running back of the year…while having the 23 ranked rushing attack in the nation…NU has Mark as 2nd team RB and Mulroe 2nd team OL. NU ranks 14th nationally rushing. Montee Ball gained 1500 yard compared to Venric Mark’s 1300…but it took him an extra 100 carries to gain the extra 200 yards. NU’s O-line was the most severely shorted unit in the All Conference voting. Bar None.

  • UVA Cat

    Nebraska higher than Stanford? I find that tough to agree with. Stanford is definitely a Top 10 team. Look at their resume.

    Also, Florida at #7 is way too low. They are definitely Top 5.

    Arizona shouldn’t even be in the Top 30.

    I think Oregon State should be right about where we are. They lost 3 conference games, although they probably should have beat Washington, but then again we should have beat PSU, too. Their other 2 losses were against Top 10 teams (Oregon and Stanford) so I don’t know why they are 6 spots below us? My impression is that NU and the Oregon State would be a very interesting game this year.

    Finally, Washington shouldn’t be in the Top 25. NO WAY. Losing to Wazzu is a huge blemish for that team this year, not to mention their rather pedestrian 7-5 record.

  • socalscott
    • Jimgocats93

      Would like to see the BIG rankings and the BCS poll re-ranked by this metric.
      Thanks for sharing!

      GoCatsGo!

  • Mark

    Whoever the Cats end up playing is going to be a very good team. Since none of us were absolutely sure when the season began whether this team would be 3-9 or 9-3 I’m not sure our prognostication powers are great. This team has shown an ability to play very good to excellent football. We have at least two playmakers on offense at all times and a 1B QB that has shown the ability to make big plays. The defense is much better with excellent DL and LB play, especially speed at the LB positions. Our safety who is a playmaker does not have to play the role of leading tackler as was the situation over the last few years; the LBs have him covered. If we get Van Hoose back for the bowl game I believe the Cats can play with anyone.
    The Alabama blowout of Michigan did reflect which was the better team, but I also believe that Borges was mistakenly trying to funnel Denard Robinson into Borges’ system rather than continuing to use Robinson’s vast talents. As the season progressed Robinson was allowed to play the type of ball he is best at. (No, I don’t believe Michigan would have beaten Alabama but don’t believe they would have been blown out.) I have to believe that Alabama, Georgia, or South Carolina will be at least a 10 point favorite but I’m betting on the Cats to pull off their upset of the season. Go Cats!