This week's BlogPoll speaks to larger uncertainty now that we have hit midseason: A handful of quality data points (wins, "quality" losses, who teams you played beat and lost to), but a big ol' clusterfutz that goes as high as the Top 2 and extends at least through the Top 10.
Who's No. 1? Take your pick. The establishment says Ohio State -- and for pollsters for whom "inertia" is their top ballot criteria, OK (watch out for the trap game at Wisco next week) -- but I think that two of the Top 3 teams in the country are TCU and Boise State, not just for their individual wins, but for the obvious strength of the Oregon State team they both beat earlier this season.
Meanwhile, nowhere will you see inertia in more effect than the rise of South Carolina in the mainstream polls. They only beat the overwhelming No. 1 team in the country -- and they didn't just beat them, but beat them soundly, undisputedly. For me, that was enough of a proof-point to put the Gamecocks at No. 2; I am not fazed by their single loss -- it was on the road to another Top 10 team by a mere touchdown.
For me, the only shame is that at no point this season will we see Oregon or Ohio State or the Big 12 champ challenged in nearly the same way that South Carolina -- or Alabama, actually -- was this past weekend.
(Oregon playing Stanford was tough, but it's not like Oregon showcased particularly tough defense. Ohio State's "signature" win over Miami -- in Columbus -- was debunked by Florida State; Wisconsin is a challenge only relative to the watered-down schedule Ohio State plays. And Nebraska-Oklahoma might be interesting; Oklahoma may be undefeated, but on a neutral field, I'm not sure they beat the Air Force team they edged in Norman last month.)
Here is this week's ballot. Fortunately, there are plenty of head-to-head games remaining -- TCU-Utah (and Air Force may play spoiler in that mix), Nebraska-Oklahoma, Alabama-Auburn (and each playing LSU), the SEC championship game for things to shake out. Can't imagine there are many folks outside of Columbus who wouldn't mind Ohio State getting KO'ed next week.
For the record, I left Florida off my Top 25 ballot entirely, then re-inserted them at No. 25, which has alternated between honoring an underrated team worth the Top 25 prestige and mocking a fallen power. (Call it the "Texas Spot.")