Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot

23

September

Good morning from Indianapolis -- only have a few minutes before my flight back to Tampa boards, but want to share some of the thought process in compiling another top 25 ballot after another busy weekend of college football.

Driving back from Muncie and USF's 31-27 loss to Ball State, I heard the end of FSU's 49-37 win over Clemson on the radio and thought the show put on by the Seminoles' offense was enough to put them up at No. 2 on my ballot. But Oregon's dismantling of Arizona, shutting out an offense that had scored 59 points on Oklahoma State, bumped them a spot above FSU, and with LSU's lackluster 12-10 win against Auburn, I dropped the Tigers to No. 4.

Notre Dame continues to look impressive defensively -- I took some grief for having the Fighting Irish as high as I did last week, but they validated that ranking by forcing six turnovers against Michigan and winning despite little or no offense. For now, Stanford's win against USC carries a small amount more weight than Notre Dame's two wins over ranked Michigan and Michigan State teams.

I traded around the three SEC East teams in various permutations, but arrived at Georgia-Florida-South Carolina, and it's hard to sweat that, knowing they'll all play each other and sort things out eventually. There are starting to be plenty of one-loss teams in the bottom half of the poll, so it's a matter of deciding which loss is most forgiveable and which teams have quality wins to offset their loss.

The bottom of the poll remains a difficult process -- I had Oregon State ranked already, so that was easy, and I added in Mississippi State and Rutgers for two of the spots vacated by losses. The last two spots weren't easy -- I went with UCLA and Northwestern, giving Arizona a decent look despite a 49-point loss, simply because they have a better win than most teams in contention for the last spot. Looked at Nebraska, but they lost to a UCLA team that barely made my cut and still don't have a solid win to offset that loss.

As always, I look forward to your comments and criticism ...

1. Alabama
2. Oregon
3. FSU
4. LSU
5. Stanford
6. Notre Dame
7. Kansas State
8. Georgia
9. Florida
10. South Carolina
11. Texas
12. West Virginia
13. Ohio State
14. TCU
15. USC
16. Clemson
17. Louisville
18. Oregon State
19. Oklahoma
20. Michigan State
21. Mississippi State
22. Boise State
23. Rutgers
24. UCLA
25. Northwestern

[Last modified: Sunday, September 23, 2012 7:01am]

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