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My AP Top 25 ballot: Miami at No. 2, USF reenters and UCF rises

The Bulls are back in my Top 25, and the Knights are in the top 10.

Let's table the discussion about whether The U is back. Not even Miami players can agree on it.

"The U is back," receiver Braxton Berrios said.

"We've got to get a ring first," linebacker Shaq Quarterman said.

Regardless, here's what I know after Saturday's destruction of Notre Dame: Miami is really, really good. Like, top two in the country good.

The Hurricanes moved up to No. 2 (behind Alabama) on my latest AP Top 25 ballot, which I submitted Sunday morning.

UCF keeps rising, especially after such a big win in the heated rivalry known as the Civil ConFLiCT. I've got the Knights in my top 10 for the first time this season. You can argue that Scott Frost's team is too low at No. 10, but the strength of schedule isn't there for me to move UCF ahead of Notre Dame or Ohio State.

Speaking of strength of schedule…welcome back to my top 25, idle USF. I've been lower on the Bulls all season, but considering the chaos everywhere else in the country, an 8-1 record is impressive and worthy of being ranked. I've got USF at No. 23 this week.

The final few spots on my ballot were tough. South Carolina, West Virginia, NC State and San Diego State were among the teams I considered. I decided to keep the 7-3 Hokies in the mix largely due to the neutral-site win over West Virginia, and Northwestern makes an appearance thanks to a five-game winning streak that includes victories over Michigan State and Iowa. Stanford also reentered my rankings as Toledo, Iowa State and Iowa fell out.

Here's the top 25 I submitted this week:

1.       Alabama (10-0)

2.       Miami (9-0)

3.       Oklahoma (9-1)

4.       Clemson (9-1)

5.       Wisconsin (10-0)

6.       Auburn (8-2)

7.       Georgia (9-1)

8.       Ohio State (8-2)

9.       Notre Dame (8-2)

10.   UCF (9-0)

11.   TCU (8-2)

12.   Oklahoma State (8-2)

13.   USC (9-2)

14.   Washington (8-2)

15.   Penn State (8-2)

16.   Washington State (9-2)

17.   Michigan State (7-3)

18.   Stanford (7-3)

19.   Mississippi State (7-3)

20.   Memphis (8-1)

21.   Michigan (8-2)

22.   LSU (7-3)

23.   USF (8-1)

24.   Virginia Tech (7-3)

25.   Northwestern (7-3)