(And no, your eyes are not doing tricks on you. It does say No. 1 TCU.)
Last week's ballot
Dropped Out: Wisconsin (#15), Rutgers (#19), Arizona (#20), Stanford (#21).
With more than a dozen teams already finished their respective schedules, it's appropriate to look at the ballot in the totality with respect to the season. After taking a good look at the credentials of the teams at the top, I came to one inescapable conclusion:
TCU should be No. 1.
Why not? The Horned Frogs are the only teams in the nation ranked in the top five in total offense (fifth) and total defense (fourth). They're the only team among the unbeatens to have defeated three ranked teams (Clemson, Utah, BYU), and by a combined score of 107-45. Two of those wins were on the road. And one is over potentially the champion of another BCS conference.
That should be the barometer, going down the line. Have you beaten the champion or runnerup of another BCS conference? For both Cincinnati and Boise State, that's in the affirmative. The Bearcats won at Oregon State while the Broncos beat Oregon. The Civil War will decide the champion of the Pac-10, the best conference in college football (I'm not going to belabor this point). Cincy's road win nudges it ahead of Boise.
And then you have the big three that have dominated the top of the traditional polls for much of the season. But take a closer look, what have they done, really, to deserve their perch?
The answer: Not much.
Alabama is the best of the trio, having beaten Virginia Tech, a ranked team but not good enough to play for the ACC championship. The Tide have also won the SEC West, which is considerably better than the SEC East this year, with wins over LSU and Ole Miss.
Texas is next, and its only victory of note is over Oklahoma State, the second best team in the Big 12, which isn't saying much this season. Florida checks in at No. 6. Let's face it, the Gators beat LSU - the only ranked team on their schedule - and their next best win was over ... Troy?
Thanks to Clemson's resurgence, Georgia Tech is moving up as the best 1-loss team in the nation - though now it must beat the Tigers again in the ACC championship game. Oregon, without a doubt, is the best two-loss team and checks in at No. 9.
The rest of the ballot is pretty standard fare. Each 2-loss team made the list, along with the best of the 3-loss teams. The team that won the head-to-head battle against another that has the same record, naturally gets the consideration.
One last word, on Temple. This team went 4-42 between 2003-2006 and got kicked out the Big East. Today, as a member of the MAC, the Owls have finally ended two decades of futility by recording their first winning season since 1990 and will play for the conference title against Central Michigan. They make my ballot for the first time, at No. 24, thanks to a victory at No. 25 Navy.