Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot
Weird week in the polls -- my top 12 all won, and then eight of the next nine lost, so that wild dropoff that used to be around No. 20 moved up to about No. 13.
You saw Florida State, Clemson, Oregon State and UCLA all lose, but to teams ranked above them, so they didn't really fall, because except for Nebraska, the next four lost, the mildest being Michigan losing close at Ohio State. I nearly moved Michigan up with a loss -- doesn't happen often -- because they showed more in playing an undefeated close on the road than other teams by beating lesser teams.
The other problem is that only one of the top seven teams in "also receiving votes' territory won, so it was hard to move many teams in -- I moved San Jose State and Northwestern, though I'm sure many voters will just slide Boise in.
I made a big switch in my top five -- I've been very faithful to head-to-head competition, but Florida's win at Florida State was enough to make me move the Gators ahead of a Georgia team that beat them 17-9 in Jacksonville. I've also moved the Gators (and Oregon) ahead of Alabama, citing much tougher schedules in arriving at identical 11-1 records.
Let's compare four teams blindly: Team A has two wins against the current top 25, five against bowl-eligible teams, and its I-A wins are against teams that are a combined 59-60. Team B has one win against the current top 25, four against bowl-eligible teams, and its I-A wins are against teams that are a combined 53-66. Team C has four wins against the current top 25, seven against bowl-eligible teams, and its I-A wins are against teams that are a combined 75-44. Team D has one win against the current top 25, seven against bowl-eligible teams, and its I-A wins are against team that are a combined 60-58.
Team C, by these criteria, has easily the best resume, and that's Florida -- the Gators have now beaten four 10-win teams, two on the road. Those four wins are enough to override the head-to-head loss to Georgia, because the Bulldogs' next-best win is Vanderbilt. Alabama (Team A)? I see a team with just two wins that still carry weight -- LSU and Michigan. Mississippi State has lost four of five, so it's barely a quality win. After those three, Alabama can only offer up a 7-5 Western Kentucky team and a 6-6 Ole Miss team. It's just not a deep or convincing body of work. If Alabama beats Georgia in the SEC title game -- especially in convincing fashion -- they will make a more compelling case to be No. 3 on my ballot. (I think Alabama's ranking is largely based on its dominance in margin of victory and having the nation's No. 1 defense; I think those two things obscure the weaker schedule the Tide has played.)
I'm also moving Oregon (Team D) above Georgia (Team B) -- there isn't a single Ducks win as good as the Bulldogs', but I count FIVE better than Georgia's next-best win. Comparing their single losses, an overtime loss to Stanford looks better to me than a 28-point loss to South Carolina.
I thought about moving Stanford ahead of LSU to No. 7 on my ballot -- the Cards have three top-20 wins and can get a fourth this week against UCLA. I kept LSU ahead only because its losses are to Alabama and Florida, teams still ahead of them in the rankings; Stanford has the bad Washington loss offsetting the overtime loss to Notre Dame. I count Stanford with six top-40 wins -- nobody else can match that.
What else? Bottom of the poll isn't real compelling. San Jose State makes its debut -- their only losses are to teams ranked ahead of them, and they've beaten San Diego State and Louisiana Tech, which doesn't seem like much until you try to find another team with two wins against top-40 teams. Northwestern hasn't really gotten any huge wins, but they lost to Michigan in OT and Nebraska by a point. Syracuse and Vanderbilt aren't great wins, but they've gained value as the year's gone on.
Last spots? Came down to Texas, Louisville, Boise and Oklahoma State, but it was hard to keep the Cowboys in with four losses. Oklahoma State has scored an average of 38 points in their four losses, which is amazing. But none of their wins carry any weight anymore. Boise hasn't shown much, and its best wins are perhaps Fresno and BYU, neither of which register on my top-25 radar. So the final nods go to Texas and Louisville, but again, it's nearly by default ...
Here's the full ballot -- I look forward to your feedback, even if there's not as much from FSU fans this week.
1. Notre Dame
2. Ohio State
9. Texas A&M
10. South Carolina
11. Kansas State
14. Florida State
16. Oregon State
18. Northern Illinois
19. Kent State
20. Utah State
22. San Jose State