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AP Top 25: A new No. 1 on my ballot, still no Gators or USF




There's a new team atop my weekly AP Top 25 ballot: Clemson.

It's nothing Alabama did wrong. The Crimson Tide has the best win (24-7 over Florida State in the opener). But the Tigers have the best overall body of work (two top-25 wins, including Saturday's dominant road win against Louisville). That's enough for Clemson to move up to No. 1 this week.

What looked like a pretty mediocre slate of games ended up having a huge impact on my ballot. Six teams dropped out (Adios, UCLA, Kansas State, Stanford, Tennessee, South Carolina and LSU). Math tells us that six teams had to come enter. Picking the six was brutal, because there were few good options. The six I chose: Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Utah, West Virginia, San Diego State and Kentucky. Two I didn't choose: USF or Florida.

Let's start with the Bulls. They're 3-0 with an unimpressive win over San Jose State - the same Spartans team that lost to Texas by 56 and Utah this weekend by 38 - an uninspiring win over Stony Brook and a sloppy win over Illinois. According to the Sagarin Ratings, those teams are ranked No. 138, 145 and 81. You can't control how good your opponents are, but you can control how well you play against them. Committing 16 penalties against a bad Lovie Smith team didn't sway me. The first half was one of the ugliest performances I've ever seen...

...until the first 50 minutes I endured Saturday at The Swamp. Give the Gators credit for beating a team I had ranked in the top 25. It beats the alternative. But, as our Tom Jones wrote, that doesn't mean UF is good. It could mean that Tennessee is just worse. After watching the ugliness live, I agree.

So for now, USF and UF remain off my top 25. Florida State and Miami didn't play again because of Hurricane Irma, and I tried not to move either too much; the storm isn't their fault, so I didn't want to penalize them or reward them for it.

Here's my ballot:
1. Clemson (3-0)
2. Alabama (3-0)
3. Oklahoma (3-0)
4. Oklahoma State (3-0)
5. Penn State (3-0)
6. Washington (3-0)
7. USC (3-0)
8. Florida State (0-1)
9. Ohio State (2-1)
10. Michigan (3-0)
11. Georgia (3-0)
12. Wisconsin (3-0)
13. Virginia Tech (3-0)
14. Auburn (2-1)
15. Mississippi State (3-0)
16. Miami (1-0)
17. TCU (3-0)
18. Washington State (3-0)
19. Utah (3-0)
20. Louisville (2-1)
21. West Virginia (2-1)
22. Vanderbilt (3-0)
23. Maryland (2-0)
24. San Diego State (3-0)
25. Kentucky (3-0)

[Last modified: Sunday, September 17, 2017 10:57am]


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