Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot
The big question for voters this week is how far to drop Alabama after what was the most excusable of losses -- in overtime to the No. 1 team in the nation in a battle of field goals.
For me, No. 2 wasn't an option -- Oklahoma State has beaten more ranked teams than Alabama, so the Cowboys have the right to move up to right behind LSU and play for a national title if they win out. The question is whether to let Stanford and Boise, the remaining elite unbeatens, move up ahead of a one-loss Alabama team. After a lot of thought, I decided to put Alabama at No. 5, with Stanford and Boise staying ahead. If Alabama wins out, I'll still consider moving them up if the others win unconvincingly against a lesser schedule.
With that out of the way, the impossible challenge remains ranking Michigan State, Wisconsin and Nebraska, now with identical 7-2 records and interlocking wins and losses against each other. It seems hard to rank Nebraska two spots lower than a Michigan State team it recently beat 24-3, but Nebraska's loss to Northwestern is the worst loss of the lot. Michigan State has the best wins in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State. I've also opted to keep Houston behind all three for now -- the Cougars, while prolific on offense, still don't have a win to validate their record. UCLA?
After 13, it's a bunch of teams that don't have elite wins, so much as good records. I struggled with the last spot on the ballot -- still think Southern Miss has played nobody, with Virginia as its best win. Looked at Iowa, but the loss to Minnesota looks bad, and Notre Dame remains just good enough not to be on my ballot. So I went with Auburn, which hasn't been close in their three losses to top 10 teams but has a decent win against South Carolina. I think if Southern Miss and Auburn met in Atlanta, the Tigers would have a double-digit win.
So here's the ballot. Crazy turnaround -- got back to my hotel at 2, caught a 6:45 flight back to Tampa and now will try to get to Big East soccer quarterfinal at 1, then practice tonight. ...
2. Oklahoma State
4. Boise State
10. Michigan State
14. Penn State
15. South Carolina
17. Georgia Tech
18. Virginia Tech
20. Ohio State
22. Kansas State