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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Ohio State No. 1? Voters just took easy way out

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The great No. 1 debate has begun.

Alabama loses and Ohio State is No. 1? Really? All three human polls (AP, coaches, Harris) said so, but that was just polls being polls. No. 1 loses, so move up No. 2. Boise State has beaten more ranked teams. Oregon has been more impressive. TCU has posted consecutive shutouts. Utah just laid 68 on Iowa State. Free thinking has never been the polls' strong point.

Unfortunately, Sunday was another example of the group think that has permeated the polls since the beginning of (ballot) time. When in doubt, go with the power elite. Only 12 teams have ever been ranked No. 1 in BCS history. Alabama had been No. 1 in the last eight AP polls. It had won 19 in a row. An SEC team has been on top of the last 29 AP polls. The first BCS standings are a week away. The pollsters picked the Buckeyes No. 1, for now. That doesn't mean they're right. Here's why ...

Dodd's Power Poll
1. Boise State
2. Oregon
3. Ohio State
4. TCU
5. Nebraska
6. Auburn
7. South Carolina
8. LSU
9. Alabama
10. Utah
11. Michigan State
12. Oklahoma
13. Arkansas
14. Oklahoma State
15. Stanford
16. NC State
17. Wisconsin
18. Michigan
19. Arizona
20. Iowa
21. Florida State
22. Nevada
23. Missouri
24. Air Force
25. West Virginia

Half a chance: Do you even want to be No. 1 at this point? Only six times (out of 12 BCS title games) has the team ranked No. 1 in the first BCS standings even played in the championship game. It happened five times in a row from 2003-07. Ohio State did it twice in that span (2006-07).

The point is, not to get too cocky C-bus. Here's another ...

Boise State is No. 1: No, really. One week from said BCS standings, Boise and Oregon are 1-2 in the BCS standings compiled by Jerry Palm as of late Sunday afternoon. Ohio State is all the way down at No. 5. That's a reflection of the Broncos' and Ducks' superior schedule strength at this point. Heck, Jeff Sagarin's computer has the Bucks at No. 22.

Those standings will likely change as Ohio State gets into the meat of its Big Ten schedule and Boise continues its WAC schedule. Everything blows up again anyway if Wisconsin beats Ohio State this week in Madison. The Bucks play two teams ranked in both polls this week after the Badgers (Iowa and Michigan). Same as Oregon (Arizona and Oregon State).

Volatility at the top: Another reason not to be too secure: A total of six schools got No. 1 votes in AP, the coaches and Harris this week -- Ohio State, Oregon, Boise State, TCU, Oklahoma and Nebraska. A year ago Florida and Alabama accounted for all 60 first-place AP votes.

The Harris poll failed miserably: For all of you who want to do away with preseason polls, the Harris Interactive poll was your guiding light. One-half of the human component of the BCS debuted Sunday, a week prior to the first official BCS standings. Armed with half a season's worth of information and with a chance to create a new dynamic, the Harris pollsters followed the AP and coaches 1-2-3 -- Ohio State, Oregon, Boise State.

In a week when they had a chance to judge what the teams had done in their entirety, the Harris lemmings mimicked. Unbelievable. Don't tell me these guys are free thinkers. It's clear the majority of Harris voters looked at the two other human polls and phoned it in, both literally and figuratively.

SEC you later: After being No. 1 in those 29 consecutive AP polls, the Strength Everywhere Conference is now out of the top spot. Dramatically. Alabama tumbled from No. 1 to No. 8 in AP and coaches. The last time a non-SEC school was ranked No. 1, Texas was in the top spot on Oct. 26, 2008.

Right now, Auburn is the highest ranked SEC team at No. 7. That means the SEC hasn't been this far away from No. 1 since the eighth week of the 2006 season. Back on Oct. 22, 2006, Auburn was No. 7 in both polls.

Unless LSU or Auburn runs the table, then the SEC is assured of a one-loss (at least) champion. That doesn't mean the SEC is out of it. LSU won a title in 2007 with two losses. It does mean there is a lot of competition and the conference's position is weakened. There are 13 undefeated teams left. There could be as many as seven at the end of the season, five from major conferences -- the Big 12 champion, Michigan State and Ohio State (Big Ten), LSU or Auburn (SEC) and Oregon (Pac-10).

Playoff warning: For those who want a playoff, take the following into consideration ... As of now, Alabama would be in danger of missing a four-teamer, on the edge of qualifying for an eight-teamer and still safely in a 16-team bracket. That said, the only way a playoff makes sense is with that 16-team bracket. Without a playoff, the sport is blowing up today wondering who is No. 1 and if the Tide will be able to work their way back up into the top two. With it, 'Bama could easily suffer a two-touchdown loss to South Carolina and still win it all.

Fair?


Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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