Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot
Really tough calls at the top of the ballot, with so much change this weekend, seeing four of the top seven teams losing, all to teams I had outside the top 20 on my ballot a week ago.
My first question -- how do you compare Oregon and Stanford? Stanford has the better record and beat the USC team that beat Oregon, but the Ducks beat the Cardinal by 23 points. Given that Oregon's second loss is to LSU (and Stanford would lose if they played the Tigers), I give Oregon the nod, keeping them at No. 4 despite their home loss.
I initially sent in my ballot with Stanford ahead of Oklahoma State, but in comparing them, I sent an e-mail to the AP at 11:07, asking if I could tweak my ballot and move Oklahoma State ahead. By record, Iowa State is a bad loss, but Oklahoma State's collection of wins is much more impressive -- Kansas State and Baylor, then a ton of second-tier teams that have been ranked this year: Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Texas Tech, even Tulsa. Stanford? After USC, their next best win is UCLA, Cal or Washington, all 6-5. (AP wrote back at 11:15, confirming the change to my ballot. I feel much better about it now.)
From there, the only challenge was deciding how much to move up the weekend's big winners. Baylor now looks like the best three-loss team, and I moved them up seven spots to No. 18, one spot below a Kansas State team it lost to. I moved Michigan up four spots, USC up five, and I dropped Clemson a full 12 spots after an embarrassing 24-point loss to N.C. State. Save maybe Clemson over Auburn, none of the ACC teams have quality non-conference wins. I feel like Boise State and Virginia Tech are in the top 10 without a lot of quality wins, but hesitate to drop them much lower.
Penn State managed to drop three spots for beating Ohio State -- just felt like Michigan, Baylor and USC showed me enough to move them ahead. With Virginia's win against Florida State, I decided to move them ahead of a Georgia Tech team the Cavaliers beat -- Tech's Clemson win doesn't carry nearly as much weight as it did a few weeks ago. Slim pickings for No. 25 on my ballot -- Nebraska stays on by default, despite a 28-point loss to Michigan. My alternatives? Blecch. Southern Miss hasn't beaten anyone. Tulsa's only losses are to great teams, but they're all by at least 20 points, and they haven't beaten anyone. The Big East doesn't have a clear-cut team that should be ranked, either.
So here's the ballot -- as always, I look forward to your feedback and criticism. Fire away ...
5. Oklahoma State
7. Boise State
8. Virginia Tech
10. Michigan State
14. South Carolina
17. Kansas State
21. Penn State
22. Notre Dame
24. Georgia Tech