USAFL Top 20 Poll VIII: Crows Hold, LA Breathes Fire

As the rocking and rolling regular season enters its final turbulent end, the battle for the top of the USAFL Top 20 Poll has become an aerial dogfight, with a couple of upsets throwing oil into the engines of the highest flying teams.

Despite falling to the Dallas Magpies in the Red River Cup, the Austin Crows remained in the top spot for the second poll in a row.  The team that had occupied that top spot for nearly five months, the Orange County Bombers, however, would not be so lucky; a huge loss to their arch rivals from L.A. would make see them fall to #3 for the first time.  The Magpies, the other Magpies, and the Dragons would all benefit, just three of the teams who would jump up the ladder with three weeks left to go before the seedings for the 2015 National Championships are announced.

Last Rank Club (1st Place Votes) Points
1 1 Austin Crows (5) 174
3 2 New York Magpies (3) 163
2 3 Orange County Bombers 158
5 4 Los Angeles Dragons 152
4 5 Denver Bulldogs 141
7 6 Dallas Magpies 133
6 7 Calgary Kangaroos 128
8 8 Minnesota Freeze 117
9 9 Golden Gate Roos 103
10 10 Houston Lonestars 102
t-11 11 Columbus Jackaroos 97
t-11 12 Nashville Kangaroos 81
t-13 13 Chicago Swans 62
t-13 t-14 Sacramento Suns 61
15 t-14 Boston Demons 61
16 t-16 Quebec Saints 36
17 t-16 Philadelphia Hawks 36
18 18 Portland Steelheads 27
19 19 Ft. Lauderdale Fighting Squids 18
-- 20 Tulsa Buffaloes 10

Also receiving votes: Baltimore-Washington Eagles 9, North Carolina Tigers 8, San Diego Lions 5, Ohio Valley River Rats 3, Kansas City Power 2, Atlanta Kookaburras 1, Baton Rouge Tigers 1, Des Moines Roosters 1.

That the Austin Crows would fall to their in-state rival from Big D would not trouble the expert panel, who still gave them five 1st place votes and just one less point from the last poll.  The Magpies would be rewarded by moving up one spot from seventh to #6, swapping places with the Calgary Kangaroos, whose standing in the poll remains among varied dispute among the nine panelists.  Dallas continues to put in strong performances and have gone from the Division 1 bubble to a legitimate contender for the Grand Final come October.

Spots 2-through-5 would be affected by Los Angeles, who also announced their status as Grand Final contenders with a 56-point cruise over Orange County.  The win was enough to bounce them up a spot to #4 and the Bombers down to #3, their lowest spot on the poll all season.  The benefactors of all of this would be New York Magpies, who despite having an inconsistent season were still considered strong enough by the panel to get three 1st place votes and move up into a solid #2 ranking.  Denver moved down to #5 after going 1-2 during the period.

Minnesota, Golden Gate, and Houston, who were all idle, remained locked into their spots to round out the top ten.  Columbus used their convincing road win over Philadelphia on August 29th to wrench themselves out of that tie for #11 with Nashville.  The Kangaroos dropped back to 12th.

Out west, the Sacramento Suns lost to Denver and Austin while in the Centennial State, which saw the Chicago Swans move ahead of them into 13th.  Matt Bishop’s side would have to settle for a 14th place tie with the Boston Demons; the three teams just separated by all of one vote.

Despite getting buried at home to the Jackaroos, the shifting of votes above and below them saw the Philadelphia Hawks draw up a spot into a tie for 16th with the Quebec Saints.  Portland, still riding from the comet trail of their Stumptown Throwdown performance remained a solid 18th, and Fort Lauderdale hung in at 19th.

For the second poll in a row, however, there was a debutante in the ladder, this time at the expense of a team which has slowly slid down the charts since round one.  The Tulsa Buffaloes, despite being completely overmatched in Dallas to both the Magpies and Crows, put in a good enough performance to make their debut at the bottom of the poll, pushing out the Baltimore-Washington Eagles by a single point.  The Eagles and North Carolina Tigers found themselves within two points of getting a number next to their name, but neither would get enough love from the panelists for that to happen.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: FINAL POLL, SEPTEMBER 30th

After six months of football, the final poll is in sight.  While every single vote cast has been important in tracking the teams’ progress during the regular season, the last ones to be cast will be the ones to assist the seeding committee when they pull the names out of the sorting hat ahead of Nationals, which is neigh a month away.

September 12th will see the Kangaroos and Jackaroos renew “pleasantries” at Elmington Park, where both teams are jostling to be at the top of Division II when the seedings are announced.

The following Saturday, the scene shifts to Reston, Virginia, on the outskirts of DC, as five east coast teams stage one last rumble before Nationals.  Columbus, Boston, New York, Baltimore/Washington, and Philadelphia are scheduled to appear in the Eastern regional gathering, which could have a good deal of effect on where teams end up at the end of the season.

Two big gatherings end the poll period on September 26th; the final round of the Texas Cup in Houston may determine who ends up #1, with Austin trying to exact revenge on Dallas and the Lonestars attempting to hold serve on home field against two of the strongest teams in the country. 

Out west, the L.A. Dragons, who have gotten out their slaying swords for the stretch run, will face three California invaders in two weeks; Sacramento and Golden Gate on the 19th, before concluding their season series with O.C. on the 26th.

The summer she draws to a close across the nation.  Fall, and footy’s Fall Classic looms right behind it.  We’re getting to the nitty gritty.

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