Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot
The contradictions are impossible to avoid these days for AP top 25 voters. The days where Team A was ahead of Team B if they had the same records and A had beaten B are over -- the body of work is big enough that a single win or loss can be outweighed by the rest of a season's results, good or bad.
Can't remember a week where I had more second-thought changes to my ballot, making an initial ranking, then making all sorts of changes -- the area from No. 8 to No. 14 can go any number of ways right now.
There are a few clusters of teams that create challenges on a ballot -- say, the Big Ten's foursome of Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State. That's the order I chose to rank them in, even though Wisconsin lost by 10 points to a Michigan State that also has one loss. Iowa has two losses, but I felt like I had to rank the Hawkeyes ahead of the Spartans because they beat them convincingly by 31 points. And Ohio State hasn't beaten anyone in that group -- its best win is a now-unranked Miami team -- so they drop to the bottom of the four.
At one point, I had Oklahoma at No. 9 and Missouri at No. 14, which was hard to swallow, given that both have one loss and the Tigers beat the Sooners last week. Oklahoma's big wins -- Florida State, Texas and Air Force -- all lost this week, making them less impressive. And I still have a two-loss Iowa team ahead of the one-loss Arizona team that beat the Hawkeyes. Arizona's loss is to an now-unranked Oregon State team, and I haven't seen the Wildcats beat anyone else.
I'm not that impressed by the bottom 10 of the top 25 right now -- those 10 teams have combined for just three wins against teams ranked in the current top 25. Two of those are in the mediocre two-loss chain of Virginia Tech beating N.C. State beating Florida State.
As for the new entries in the poll, I considered Syracuse, but the Orange has a pair of 20-point losses to unranked teams (including 3-5 Washington) and hasn't beaten anyone in the current poll. Nevada gets the final spot nearly by default, as the last of the one-loss teams, but they don't have a signature win either -- Cal? BYU? They've lost to two-loss Hawaii, another poll bubble team that doesn't get in because of two losses to now-unranked USC and Colorado teams.
So here's the ballot -- as always, glad to have your feedback and thoughts on who should be ranked where and why ...
2. Boise State
13. Michigan State
14. Ohio State
17. South Carolina
19. Oklahoma State
20. Mississippi State
21. Virginia Tech
23. N.C. State
24. Florida State