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AP Top 25: Why I ranked UCF ahead of USF and put Miami in my top 10

MONICA HERNDON | Times

1

October

The first month of the season is over, and the two most impressive teams in the state have been ... Miami and UCF.

Just as we all expected.

The Hurricanes look like the No. 2 team in the ACC (behind Clemson) after destroying a Duke team I had ranked, on the road. I wouldn't be surprised if they beat Florida State for the first time in the Jimbo Fisher era this week. Accordingly, I moved Miami all the way up to No. 10 in my latest AP Top 25 ballot.

I thought about ranking the Knights last week after a four-touchdown win at Maryland, but it seemed a little early. UCF had only played two games because of Hurricane Irma, so the overall body of work wasn't as strong as some other teams.
That changed Saturday with a 40-13 win over a good Memphis team in a game that wasn't even as close as the final score suggests. UCF easily jumped into my rankings - ahead of rival USF.

Both teams are undefeated (UCF is 3-0; USF is 5-0), and both have been racking up double-digit wins. But UCF has been doing it against tougher opponents. The Knights have two wins (Maryland, Memphis) that trump USF's best win (Temple, I guess?). UCF's schedule, according to the Sagarin ratings, is No. 65 nationally. USF's schedule ranks 127th. For now, that's enough to put the Knights ahead of the Bulls.

I wasn't sure what to do with the Gators. Two teams they've already beaten (Tennessee and Kentucky) had rough days, and Vanderbilt isn't that good. But Florida also seemed to fix some of its issues (missed tackles, running the ball effectively). That balanced out, so I kept UF at No. 23.

Clemson remains No. 1 on my ballot, even though Alabama is coming on very, very strong. The Tigers have three wins over teams I have ranked (including double-digit road wins over Louisville and Virginia Tech).

There weren't too many changes this week, but I dropped Duke and Mississippi State and replaced them with UCF and North Carolina State.

Here's the top 25 ballot I submitted:

1. Clemson (5-0)
2. Alabama (5-0)
3. Oklahoma (4-0)
4. Washington (5-0)
5. Penn State (5-0)
6. Georgia (5-0)
7. TCU (4-0)
8. Michigan (4-0)
9. Ohio State (4-1)
10. Miami (3-0)
11. Washington State (5-0)
12. Wisconsin (4-0)
13. Oklahoma State (4-1)
14. Auburn (4-1)
15. USC (4-1)
16. Virginia Tech (4-1)
17. Utah (4-0)
18. Louisville (4-1)
19. San Diego State (5-0)
20. Notre Dame (4-1)
21. UCF (3-0)
22. USF (5-0)
23. Florida (3-1)
24. North Carolina State (4-1)
25. West Virginia (3-1)

[Last modified: Sunday, October 1, 2017 10:00am]

    

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