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Full disclosure: My latest AP ballot

27

November

During his recent visit to Tampa, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock -- the "traffic cop" in the room when the committee selects its top 25 -- said the group essentially starts its rankings from scratch each week.

Which is to say, it doesn't work off the previous week's rankings as a reference point. It simply picks the teams it deems the nation's 25 best at that moment.

After 10 of the 25 teams on my most recent ballot lost during the holiday weekend, I was forced to adopt a similar stance: Blow up the ballot and start from scratch.

Well, at least 60 percent of the ballot. Only one team in my previous top 10 -- Michigan -- lost, and that was in double-overtime on the road at Ohio State. It was No. 11-25 where I struggled mightily.

I deliberated, dissected, even doubted. The result was a considerable shakeup.

This week, I have three American Athletic Conference teams ranked, one fewer than the number of SEC teams on my ballot. One can argue ad nauseum about the order in which Navy (No. 16), Houston (No. 18) and USF (No. 21) appear, and more than one argument may be valid.

My thought process: Navy (9-2) is a division champ averaging 49.1 points over its last seven games (including 75 against SMU on Saturday). And while Houston (9-3) lost Friday at Memphis, its victories against Oklahoma and Louisville (yes, Louisville's still a good team) can't be ignored.

Elsewhere, Iowa makes the biggest leap, re-entering at No. 15. Why? The Hawkeyes (8-4) have won their last three -- against Michigan, Illinois and Nebraska -- by a combined score of 82-23.

At this moment, I think the Hawkeyes are among the nation's 15 best teams. Similarly, I feel Stanford (9-3), which has won five in a row and owns a victory against USC, is among the 20 best.

Finally, Pitt (8-4) makes its '16 debut on my ballot because it has averaged 58.3 points in consecutive victories against Clemson, Duke and Syracuse. That early-season 42-39 win against Penn State doesn't look shabby either. 

1. Alabama
2. Ohio State
3. Clemson
4. Wisconsin
5. Washington
6. Oklahoma
7. Michigan
8. Penn State
9. USC
10. Colorado
11. FSU
12. Oklahoma State
13. Western Michigan
14. West Virginia
15. Iowa
16. Navy
17. Florida
18. Houston
19. Virginia Tech
20. Stanford
21. USF
22. Auburn
23. LSU
24. Louisville
25. Pittsburgh

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[Last modified: Sunday, November 27, 2016 11:18am]

    

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