We’ve railed against the silliness of preseason polls and early September polls. Everyone understands that sweeping generalizations and rankings only have merit after four weeks of play. With that in mind, here is what our ballots would look like if we had a vote.
Kyle: The Cougars’ season-opening victory over Oklahoma was great. The only problem is that it is diminished with the realization the Sooners aren’t the team many were expecting. They’ll get Louisville at home in November for another chance to jump in the poll. Until then, though, there isn’t a win on the board that will suddenly convince the nation this is a playoff-worthy team. Perhaps this is unfair but it’s a reality Houston will have to live with for another month-plus. Simply put, I’d give the advantage to the six teams ranked above them on a neutral field. Stanford and Texas A&M don’t inspire as much confidence.
Ty: I have Houston, Clemson, and Michigan in the same tier. Houston has the most impressive win of the bunch. I love their offense. I love their run defense. Clemson’s offense has still looked out of sync against FBS opponents. Michigan has played well, but still hasn’t played anyone. So, I give an edge to Houston right now.
Kyle: A neutral-site (technically!) victory over LSU and a road rout of Michigan State make for quite an attractive body of work. Both wins could lose some shine as time goes on, but to out-muscle two historically powerful squads on the line of scrimmage is damn impressive. If the selection committee were to convene today, the Badgers would merit entry into the playoff. This should be rewarded. Reality will soon set in with three monster matchups with Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa looming.
Ty: I don’t know how good Wisconsin is yet. They beat an LSU team, barely, that just got its coached fired. They capitalized on turnovers at Michigan State on the road. How good are the Spartans? The Badger defense looks legit. Let’s see how they fare the next two weeks against Michigan and Ohio State before putting them in that category.
Kyle: You play to win the game. The Rebels have accomplished this goal in half their attempts. Hanging with Alabama was noble. Jumping out quick against Florida State shouldn’t be seen as an otherworldly event considering how poor the Seminoles defense has looked since then. Now, to be fair, this is a team capable of beating anyone in the country. They just … haven’t.
Ty: I give Ole Miss credit for playing two very tough games and being competitive in both. Yes, their defense fades a bit. Yes, they are one dimensional. But, oh what a one dimension. I’m not sure there are 10 teams I would pick to play with them straight up.
Kyle: Nice home wins against Texas Tech and California. If this team finds a defense, it could be formidable. Will give an undefeated squad some credit, but let’s not go crazy.
Ty: Arizona State is undefeated. They have two double-digit shootout wins with Texas Tech and California, which is no small feat. I’m not sure they are a juggernaut. I’m not even sure whether the screws are on. But, their résumé right now holds up as much as the teams around them.
Kyle: This was the most difficult block of teams to slot. Stanford has won ugly and perhaps in spite of David Shaw’s conservative game plans. Tennessee has risen to the moment and played down to competition. Washington struggled with Arizona a bit in its only real test. With that in mind, I gave the edge to Texas A&M and its two quality victories over UCLA and Arkansas but any order would be reasonable.
Ty: Stanford has looked solid, against a tough schedule. Not sure they are playoff material, but they are winning, which is what counts. Texas A&M’s defensive line is nasty and they have played well against multiple reputable P5 teams. Tennessee may have a higher ceiling than either two, but the consistency isn’t there. I had Washington in the playoff preseason, but they didn’t show much in their first true football contest of 2016.