Sunday, December 17, 2017
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My AP Top 25 ballot: Miami Hurricanes in the top five, USF, UCF up

After a predictably unpredictable weekend of college football, filling out my AP Top 25 ballot took a lot longer than usual.

I'll let a fellow AP Voter, also awesomely named Matt B., explain:

So yeah, my ballot doesn't make perfect sense. It can't, because this weekend was ridiculous. Fun, but ridiculous.

Before we dive into the ridiculous, remember the criteria: The rankings are based on results, not reputation. They're reactionary, not predictive. I put a significant emphasis on quality wins, and I highly value head-to-head wins (as the voting guidelines say).

Miami jumped all the way to No. 5 on my ballot. The Hurricanes have a solid, but not great, resume, and winning all your games is kind of the goal. Georgia Tech was a tricky spot - a pretty good triple-option team coming off a bye and facing a UM team banged up after beating Florida State. To come out with a win was impressive.

Clemson is no longer my No. 1, of course, after a perfect-storm loss at Syracuse (Friday the 13th, at a weird place to play, starting quarterback injured, missed field goals in a three-point loss). It didn't help that two nice Tigers wins (Auburn, Louisville) look worse after those teams were defeated this weekend. I flirted with putting the Tigers everywhere from fifth to ninth. I settled on sixth.

Wisconsin continues to befuddle me. A 6-0 start is great. But a pretty lame schedule means a weaker resume than Miami. The Badgers have the same number of wins as Clemson - minus the quality ones. Wisconsin's best win might be a 38-17 win at Nebraska. That wasn't as impressive as what Ohio State just did at Nebraska (a 56-14 demolition), especially when you look beyond the final score. A better performance against a common opponent means the Buckeyes are ahead of Bucky on my ballot. Oklahoma must be, too, because the Sooners beat Ohio State in Columbus.

Another confusing team is Washington State. I have no explanation for a 37-3 loss at meh Cal. But the Cougars still have a solid resume, and they have to be ahead of USC (remember: I really value head-to-head wins when possible). So Washington State only fell one spot on my ballot, to No. 11. I told you this week was ridiculous.

UCF moved up two spots to No. 17 after destroying East Carolina. USF is up two, too, to No. 20. That's two spots ahead of another Group of Five team, San Diego State. The Aztecs have much better wins than anything USF has (Stanford, Arizona State), but a 31-14 home loss to a down Boise State team bumped them to No. 22.

My new No. 1 team is no surprise. Texas Tech and Georgia Tech both dropped out. West Virginia and the Fightin' Will Griers reentered, along with Memphis.

Here's the Top 25 I submitted Sunday morning:
1. Alabama (7-0)
2. Georgia (7-0)
3. TCU (6-0)
4. Penn State (6-0)
5. Miami (5-0)
6. Clemson (6-1)
7. Oklahoma (5-1)
8. Ohio State (6-1)
9. Wisconsin (6-0)
10. Oklahoma State (5-1)
11. Washington State (6-1)
12. USC (6-1)
13. Notre Dame (5-1)
14. Washington (6-1)
15. Virginia Tech (5-1)
16. North Carolina State (6-1)
17. UCF (5-0)
18. Michigan State (5-1)
19. Michigan (5-1)
20. USF (6-0)
21. Auburn (5-2)
22. San Diego State (6-1)
23. Stanford (5-2)
24. West Virginia (4-2)
25. Memphis (5-1)

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