Fast-forward to Jan. 4, because the rest of the regular season appears to hold no surprises. Southern California will play Texas in a much anticipated Rose Bowl matchup unless something truly zany happens between today and Dec. 4. Oh, yeah, there is another unbeaten school, Alabama, that receives little respect from voters or the national media.
Not only do few expect Alabama to win out, but virtually no one believes Alabama has a chance to leapfrog Texas if the Crimson Tide finishes the regular season undefeated. What's more, a one-loss Miami team jumped Alabama in two of the three human polls this week. For the second consecutive year, the SEC's best hope for a national title team -- last year it was Auburn -- is either getting dissed or dismissed. Consider this scenario: What if USC narrowly loses to UCLA on Dec. 3 and Alabama wins out with an offense that continues to sputter and stall? Who would voters select as No. 2 behind Texas? Alabama? Or a one-loss team like Miami or USC?
Miami and Penn State made significant jumps in the Harris Interactive poll, but it was nothing compared with the jump Arizona made. Arizona -- yes, 3-6 Arizona -- received one 25th-place vote in the Harris poll. Arizona, of course, is on a USC-esque winning steak, this one all of two games, and last week defeated a previously unbeaten UCLA team that hasn't played defense all season.
In the past, the Harris poll reps have done something called "trimming" to manually alter a vote when it is deemed out of the range of reasonability. We would assume that a vote for a team three games under .500 would qualify as outside the realm of reasonability. But maybe it was cast by that one voter who works for an ice cream company, and all the Harris folks get free sundaes.