Pollsters are stubborn folks, aren’t they? They catch an eternal load of grief for their unwillingness to admit error, to integrate new data points into their thinking, to abandon their preconceived notions of what teams ought to be good vs. those that have actually shown themselves to be so.
In a way, you get it — it’s hard to say, “I’m wrong” or to surrender a pet belief. That’s human nature. The only way to mitigate the baked-in biases we hairless monkeys share is to be aware of them, view the matter dispassionately, and then examine the world of is, not the world of ought.
You would think, then, that a poll conducted among what is supposed to be a more sophisticated consumer of the sport, the FanPulse Top 25, would reflect that advanced thinking.
The results have been...shall we say, less than encouraging. And, in many ways, the FanPulse Top 25 results have been stubbornly more resistant to change than even the AP Top 25. It’s as though Joe Fan looked at a copy of Phil Steele in June, saw Clemson No. 2, made a mental note of it, then checked to see if they were still undefeated in October as they checked the FSU score, saying to themselves, “that looks like a Top 3 win to me.”
It has to be that, because otherwise, I have absolutely nothing to explain this week’s results. Societal-wide hangover? Stubbornness? An enduring belief in the world that we want to perceive rather than as it has been borne out? And it’s not just Clemson. Based on resume, you can’t in good faith put LSU behind Alabama; no more than you can put Oklahoma or Wisconsin or Penn State or Ohio State behind Clemson — all having done far more than the Auburn with a Lake team behind whom they are ranked.
Folks, this is pretty terrible (so is SMU being ranked 17, for that matter). Boo your fellow Americans:
(Pop Quiz: What team in the Top 25 has not beaten a team with a winning record? It’s a trick question, of course. There are two — Clemson and Utah.)
Closer to home, Alabama fans aren’t feeling quite so cocksure about the Crimson Tide following its reasonably iffy performance in College Station: the defense still hasn’t figured out a way to spy a running quarterback (and we have more on that in today’s JP), Tua had an off day, Jerry Jeudy couldn’t get going, punting was its catastrophic usual self, and our new normal — a raft of penalties at the worst possible time — was predictably in play.
Yet, for all that, Alabama did get the cover...so, that’s nice. #AlabamaProblems
And, finally, we take you to this week’s discussion question:
The homer in me wants to get angry about Burrow, but I can’t. In the Tigers’ two biggest games of the season, he’s had his biggest games. Jalen Hurts is another matter — in his two reasonably competitive games, he’s completed less than 60% of his passes, turned the ball over four times, and had to scramble to move the offense. Same ole’ Jalen, only in a more limited scheme.
I refuse to get angry about the Heisman in October, though: like the perpetual LSU-Alabama quandary, one suspects this year’s Burrow-Tua debate will be decided in a few weeks on the field. For now though, despite the dubious quality of Texas and a Florida team that can’t tackle on the edge, it’s hard not to give Joe the nod.