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Who Needs a Blogpoll: Week Two - Why is Tennessee Ranked 4th?

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You can only beat who is on your schedule, and Tennessee and Alabama are the only two programs to beat two teams that made bowl games last season.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Dropped out: Michigan State, North Carolina

Criteria: Best collection of wins, best overall win, competitiveness (even in a loss,) talent level, schedule, eyeballs

Two weeks down and I assiduously applied the above criteria. Note, this is not based on what we think teams will do, or a power poll, or even if they'll remain where they are presently ranked. So, yes, in the early going there are rapid, violent upheavals.

A few notes:

Have the Vols looked good so far? Not especially, but, like Alabama, they are the only team in the country with a pair of wins over returning bowl teams (and, probable bowl teams when the smoke clears.)

There are a group of what looks to be excellent-to-very-good teams in the bottom part of the Top 10 through the mid-teens: Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, Louisville, Stanford, Washington, Florida, Arkansas. The problem is, the quality of competition just hasn't really let us evaluate very much. Of these, Arkansas has a much better win. OSU probably has the best ceiling, but Iowa is looking dynamic for a change; and Louisville is destroying everything in its path. Florida is a definite player in the East with the emergence of Luke Del Rio (you're welcome, Gators.)

Michigan's defense was gashed yesterday for nearly 7YPC, the very failing that led to their decimation against the Buckeyes last year, and, I'm still not sold that Speight is a quality B1G quarterback, but, overall, this team should be able to coast to 11-0 on their defense and and running game before the Buckeyes blow them out.

Is there a worse looking undefeated team in the country than Clemson? The Auburn road win may very well turn out to be a decent one at the end of the year, but for now it's another struggle against a patsy. Given the body of work of the teams above them, and how other teams have fared, there is no justification for calling Clemson a Top 15 team at this team. Are they in the Bottom 5? Probably not, but they're certainly not in the Top 5 either.

There are some one-loss teams in here that are still ranked. Why? Because they were very competitive against ranked teams in losses: TCU (2OT,)  UCLA (OT,) LSU (two-point loss,) ND (2OT,) and Ole Miss (deflating injuries, on the road.) This is where it becomes particularly subjective. Beyond scoreboard, look at the talent and see who you just "feel" is a little better overall. E.G., Ole Miss has some line problems and secondary issues: those look to be a little worse than Oklahoma's. And, Notre Dame, which screwed its offense with rotating QBs avoided that issue yesterday, and only has a 2OT loss to a very good Texas team which finally has some answers on offense.

Toledo, Boise State, and Houston are the cream of the G5 crop. Toledo may even be better this year than they were last season, which is a scary thought for teams who booked them as a MAC gimme' win.

Finally, the LSU Tigers' defense looks so much better this year than last. The conditioning also seems to be a little better. Fournette being nicked up doesn't help, and the rotating door of Danny Etling (Purdue QB) and Brandon Harris isn't sustainable. For a half last night, LSU looked even worse than losing on the road to Wisconsin. It's maddening, this team has so very much talent, and you still have no idea their ceiling (or their floor, for that matter.)

That's all for Week Two: let me know what you think below