By Hugh Falk, Pollspeak.com
This week Florida received two fewer first place AP votes than in the preseason, but gained three in the Coaches' poll. Florida is playing great and has done exactly what is expected. I understand why they could lose a couple votes in the AP… not for playing badly, but just because other teams have won tougher games at this point in the season. However, I'm not sure why they gained more votes in the Coaches' poll (and without ballots it's hard to guess). One vote likely came from whoever voted Oklahoma No. 1 in the preseason. The other two must have been swayed by Florida's gutsy wins over Charleston Southern and Troy.
It's really too soon to put much faith in computer rankings, but for what it's worth, three of the four BCS computers that currently release rankings have USC ranked higher than Florida and two of them have the Trojans ranked No. 1. Both human polls kept the Men of Troy at No. 3 this week. I was only mildly surprised that they didn't move up to number No. 2 after a road win at then No. 7/8 Ohio State.
In happier news for the Big 10, Michigan cracks the AP Top 25 for the first time since the final poll of 2007. The Wolverines are also on the cusp of the Coaches' top 25, and with another victory, they should jump into that poll as well. Welcome back to the party, Wolverines; try to stay longer than Notre Dame and FSU could manage.
Looking at the AP Poll, which is the only one that releases all of its ballots, at least until SI.com can force the Coaches' to release them, we see that Doug Lesmerises is once again the most extreme voter, and that trend will likely continue as long as he uses his "crazy" method of giving wins more weight than a team's reputation. Not only does he have BYU over Florida like last week … but now he ranks Houston over the Gators as well.
John Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News is probably the next-closest voter in terms of ideology. He ranks three of the same teams over Florida (Alabama, BYU and USC) with only Houston missing.
This isn't the only school of thought, however. Here are the three people still voting Oklahoma over BYU. The Cougars are undefeated and just beat the Sooners last week, but you wouldn't know it by looking at Rich Kaipust of the Omaha World-Herald's ballot. He ranks them furthest apart with Oklahoma No. 8 and BYU No. 15.
Likewise, there are now six people voting Georgia over Oklahoma State. This is a little more understandable since the Cowboys just lost to lowly, undefeated Houston. However, Georgia and Oklahoma State now have the same record (1-1) and the Cowboys just beat the Bulldogs 24-10 the previous week. One of the few AP voter guidelines is "Pay attention to head-to-head results." I know it doesn't say "slavishly follow head-to-head results," but when two teams have the same record and just played each other last week, you'd think the choice is clear. It was clear for a majority of the voters, but certainly not for John Hunt of the Oregonian, who ranked them furthest apart -- Georgia No. 14 and Oklahoma State No. 24.
Finally there are 25 (out of 60) AP Voters who still rank Oklahoma State over Houston. That's nearly half, including five people who ranked Oklahoma State No. 14 or better but left Houston unranked. The most drastic was Teddy Feinberg who ranked Oklahoma State No. 12. If you're a fan of Oklahoma State or Georgia, you should hope that Houston stays ranked. Otherwise, there is a very good case that none of those teams should be ranked right now.
These voters may be right by the season's end, but the season is still young. There is a reason that voters get to turn in a new ballot each week. They should vote based on what they see today instead of focusing on being right in the end. Fans in the future might hail them as a modern-day Nostradamus, but today they will angrily assume voters either: A) Have some bias or agenda to push, B) Didn't watch the games or C) Forgot or made a mistake. Plus Nostradamus died of gout and edema. So I think the right choice is clear.