Voting in poll no cakewalk

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For a member of the "Rock the Vote" generation, I'm unusually skittish when it comes to elections.

I am, by nature, suspicious of politicians. And I claim no party, so voting along those lines is out.

Yet I cast 16 ballots a year.

I am one of 65 voters in The Associated Press Top 25 college football poll. My third year started Saturday with the submission of my preseason ballot. The poll results will be released Sunday.

Most college football fans will review the rankings and snicker. Maybe their team is ranked too low, or a rival too high.

E-mails will be written and sent. Voters will be abused on sports talk radio shows and Internet chat rooms.

Bring it on.

When I volunteered to be Georgia's one voter - a state gets a voter for every two Division I-A programs within it - in the poll two years ago, I thought the ballot would be easy to fill out each week.

I've followed the college game closely since I donned my first Ohio State T-shirt as a toddler. I have perspective from living in two college football hotbeds, the Midwest and the South.

It took me about a month to realize how difficult the process really is.

Last season was the ultimate example. Six teams completed the regular season with a legitimate claim to the No. 2 ranking behind top-ranked Ohio State.

Michigan was widely considered Ohio State's equal after a narrow loss - on the Buckeyes' home field - in November. The Wolverines won the rest of their games in a respected conference, the Big Ten. Another Big Ten team, Wisconsin, went 11-1 with a loss to Michigan (without playing the Buckeyes) and was also worthy of consideration.

Florida won what was considered the nation's best league, the Southeastern Conference. The Gators lost a game, to Auburn, but defeated top teams including Louisiana State, Arkansas and Tennessee.

Louisville captured a surprisingly strong Big East conference. But like Florida, the Cardinals lost to a ranked league rival, Rutgers.

Oklahoma won the Big 12 and did so primarily without its best player, injured tailback Adrian Peterson. The Sooners lost to rival Texas, but their second loss, to Oregon early in the season, came on a mistaken call from a replay official in the final minute. Throw that loss out.

Boise State finished a perfect 12-0, the only undefeated team other than Ohio State. But the Broncos played in the Western Athletic Conference, considered inferior to the power leagues.

Now you rank them.

For the record, I voted this way: 1. Ohio State, 2. Florida, 3. Michigan, 4. Louisville, 5. Wisconsin, 6. Oklahoma, 7. Boise State.

The poll that was released looked like this: 1. Ohio State, 2. Florida, 3. Michigan, 4. LSU, 5. Louisville, 6. Wisconsin, 7. Oklahoma (Boise State was No. 9).

The most amusing part: The poll's top is always the easiest. Deciding on teams 15 through 25 is the real nightmare.

So get out your pen and paper this week and draw up your own preseason top 25. Compare it with the poll next Monday morning, and my ballot too. You can find it, and commentary on the process, each week on The Pigskinny blog at blogs.morrisnewsservice.com/.


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