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Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot

25

September

I don't mind shaking up the top of my ballot based on results, and it's hard to argue with the way LSU has played away from Baton Rouge, including a resounding 47-21 win at West Virginia on Saturday.

LSU has three wins away from home against top 25 teams (that Mississippi State win is looking less impressive each week) and no other ranked team has more than one -- Alabama (winning at Penn State), Oklahoma (at Florida State) and Boise State (winning at Georgia) are among those, as is Oklahoma State (at Texas A&M) and USF (at Notre Dame). So I flipped moved LSU to No. 1 and slid Alabama ahead of Oklahoma -- hardly a permanent move -- and also moved Oklahoma State up above Stanford.

This is a sensitive move for my audience, but I made the decision to slide Florida one spot ahead of USF, seeing the Gators continue to dominate and seeing USF struggle defensively against UTEP. Again, it's something we'll revisit every week -- Florida has Alabama this week, so they'll make a move one way or another from that. It's tempting to move Clemson ahead of both the Gators and Bulls, with solid home wins against Auburn and FSU in the last two weeks.

How far to drop FSU? Losing close to a No. 1 team and losing by five to a team now in my top 15 (with a backup QB making his first start) is only so damning. Problem is, the Seminoles may not play another ranked team until the season finale against Florida. We'll keep an eye on how convincingly they beat lesser ACC competition.

A few quandaries at the bottom of the poll -- Penn State played Alabama closer than Arkansas and has a stronger win on its resume, having edged Temple. Arkansas can move back up quickly just by beating someone of consequence, like, say, Texas A&M this week. I dropped Georgia Tech out even though they beat a previously unbeaten North Carolina team -- was impressed by Arizona State's trouncing of USC and need to keep them below Illinois. The Sun Devils, having beaten Missouri, have two wins against ranked opponents and their only loss was close and on the road.

Georgia Tech would be next on my ballot, but also gave a close look to Washington and Iowa State. Notre Dame, at 2-2, has better wins than FSU does, with close losses to two ranked teams. And I'll be curious to see how Auburn does in its insane next four weeks: at South Carolina, at Arkansas, home against Florida, at LSU. Even two wins in that stretch would be impressive.

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma

4. Wisconsin

5. Boise State

6. Oklahoma State

7. Stanford

8. Oregon

9. Nebraska

10. South Carolina

11. Virginia Tech

12. Texas A&M

13. Florida

14. USF

15. Clemson

16. Baylor

17. TCU

18. Michigan

19. Penn State

20. Arkansas

21. Florida State

22. Texas

23. West Virginia

24. Illinois

25. Arizona State

[Last modified: Sunday, September 25, 2011 10:58am]

    

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