Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot
Another interesting week deciding the bottom five spots on my Associated Press Top 25 ballot -- with still so few head-to-head results, there's lots of indirect comparisons -- lots of "Team A beat Team B, who beat Team C," which lends weight to Team A's victory.
I dropped five teams out of my ballot after losses this weekend -- seems like a harsh drop for Michigan State, which was No. 15 on my ballot and nationally, as well as Ohio State (17 in both cases), but both lost badly to unranked teams that had already lost to unranked teams. That opened up five spots for newly ranked teams on my ballot, and there are plenty of unimpressive 3-0 teams to wade through to find the best candidates.
I moved in Clemson after its convincing win against Auburn, then USC, whose win against Utah carries much more weight after seeing the Utes destroy BYU as thoroughly as they did. And even though Texas won convincingly this week, seeing how the Longhorns barely beat BYU, I feel compelled to at least rank USC ahead, and Utah makes a compelling case to be on the ballot with only a road loss at USC. Michigan, with two dominating wins to go with its Notre Dame thriller, also makes the cut.
Which one-loss teams deserve to go back in the poll? Penn State beat a solid Temple team and its only loss is to Alabama; Utah, as we mentioned earlier. The fresh losses, like Michigan State and Ohio State, just seem too damning right now. Auburn is tempting, but I'm not sold on its defense.
Georgia Tech? They've dominated all three wins, including a 42-point thrashing of Kansas, but Kansas looks like a bad, bad team. My initial read is to wait a week and look close at the GT-UNC winner. Houston? They've barely beaten mediocre competition, and Cal hasn't played anyone. Vanderbilt is tempting, but Iowa State got the same win against Connecticut on the road that Vandy got at home.
Now you're comparing chains: Illinois beat Arizona State, which beat Missouri. Iowa State beat Iowa, which beat Pittsburgh. I'm very tempted by Florida International, which beat Louisville on the road last week, then beat a Central Florida team that was nearly ranked a week ago.
It's hard to rank a team from the Sun Belt -- you recognize what FIU has done, but it's hard to imagine the Panthers holding their own against, say, Auburn or Michigan State. After putting Utah in there for a second, and looking at a logjam of Big Ten options, I'm going with high-scoring Georgia Tech, anticipating that its offense will validate the ranking against North Carolina next week.
5. Boise State
7. Oklahoma State
8. Texas A&M
9. Virginia Tech
10. Florida State
13. South Carolina
15. West Virginia
25. Georgia Tech