Advertisement

Our AP Top 25 ballot: Why Ohio State is 1, Miami Hurricanes and JMU in

Here’s how we sorted out the Buckeyes, Seminoles, Wolverines and more after Week 8.
 
Ohio State remained No. 1 in our AP top 25 rankings ahead of Florida State and Michigan.
Ohio State remained No. 1 in our AP top 25 rankings ahead of Florida State and Michigan. [ DAVID PETKIEWICZ | cleveland.com ]
Published Oct. 22, 2023|Updated Oct. 22, 2023

My Associated Press Top 25 ballot felt validated with nice wins by Ohio State and Florida State this week and saw the Miami Hurricanes reenter after a wild victory over Clemson.

I had been the only voter to put the Buckeyes at No. 1, and they remain there in my rankings after a 20-12 win over Penn State. Ohio State has now beaten two teams in my top 15 (plus a win over a solid Maryland team) and has pulled away from its lesser opponents. That’s still the top resume in a bunched field. The Nittany Lions dropped three spots to 10th in the bottom of my second tier.

The Seminoles stayed at No. 2 after pulling away for an 18-point win over Duke. FSU made too many mistakes against a good team and still won by three scores. That was enough to reinforce my belief that the ‘Noles are capable of winning a national championship, if they put things together in December/January. I briefly considered putting FSU first — it now has two double-digit wins over ranked teams — but couldn’t get past the two-point win over Boston College.

Florida State isn't No. 1, but the Seminoles aren't far off, either.
Florida State isn't No. 1, but the Seminoles aren't far off, either. [ PHELAN M. EBENHACK | AP ]

Michigan is still third because the Wolverines still haven’t played a quality opponent. I’m not sure what to make of the NCAA investigation into sign-stealing allegations, so until we get more evidence I’m not thinking about it at all as I compile my ballot.

Idle Georgia inched up two spots to fourth in the crowded top tier. That’s because Washington and Oklahoma struggled against Arizona State and UCF, so they slid one spot each.

Mario Cristobal’s ‘Canes squeaked back onto my ballot at No. 25 after a double-overtime triumph over Clemson. No, these Tigers are not the Clemson juggernaut of 2015-20. But they’re a talented, solid team, just like Texas A&M (which Miami crushed last month). The Hurricanes have handled their outclassed opponents, and one of their two losses was a competitive game at a top-20 North Carolina team. ESPN’s SP+ and Football Power Index view Miami as a top-25 team, too, which helped convince me to start looking past the Georgia Tech debacle.

Miami stuffed Clemson for a double-overtime win to move back into our rankings.
Miami stuffed Clemson for a double-overtime win to move back into our rankings. [ LYNNE SLADKY | AP ]

Other AP Top 25 thoughts

North Carolina is down seven spots to 18th after falling to Virginia in one of the season’s biggest headscratchers. In a move that will thrill Tar Heels fans, I have one-loss North Carolina one spot below two-loss Duke. That’s because I chose not to punish the Blue Devils too much for hanging with FSU for three quarters on the road, and because I think the Seminoles are simply that good. The injury to future NFL quarterback Riley Leonard was a consideration, too.

Utah rose a spot to 14th while USC dropped one spot to 19th after the Utes used a last-second field goal to win. Don’t forget about Utah as a Pac-12 contender.

Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene

Subscribe to our free Sports Today newsletter

We’ll send you news and analysis on the Bucs, Lightning, Rays and Florida’s college football teams every day.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options
Tampa's Jordan McCloud rushed for a touchdown and passed for another in the second half of James Madison's win over Marshall.
Tampa's Jordan McCloud rushed for a touchdown and passed for another in the second half of James Madison's win over Marshall. [ RYAN FISCHER | AP ]

James Madison joined Miami at the bottom of my ballot this week. Jordan McCloud — a former USF quarterback and Plant High product — accounted for two second-half touchdowns Thursday to help the Dukes stay perfect with a win over Marshall. James Madison had been on the cusp of my ballot for a couple weeks, and that was the necessary performance to push them in.

I made room for them by dropping Clemson and Iowa. I also strongly considered Kansas State, Oklahoma State, SMU, UCLA, Toledo and Liberty.

Matt Baker’s AP Top 25 ballot

1. Ohio State

2. Florida State

3. Michigan

4. Georgia

5. Washington

6. Oklahoma

7. Texas

8. Oregon

9. Alabama

10. Penn State

11. Oregon State

12. Mississippi

13. Notre Dame

14. Utah

15. LSU

16. Missouri

17. Duke

18. North Carolina

19. USC

20. Air Force

21. Louisville

22. Tennessee

23. Tulane

24. James Madison

25. Miami

AP Top 25

1. Georgia (7-0)

2. Michigan (8-0)

3. Ohio State (7-0)

4. Florida State (7-0)

5. Washington (7-0)

6. Oklahoma (7-0)

7. Texas (6-1)

8. Oregon (6-1)

9. Alabama (7-1)

10. Penn State (6-1)

11. Oregon State (6-1)

12. Mississippi (6-1)

13. Utah (6-1)

14. Notre Dame (6-2)

15. LSU (6-2)

16. Missouri (7-1)

17. North Carolina (6-1)

18. Louisville (6-1)

19. Air Force (7-0)

20. Duke (5-2)

21. Tennessee (5-2)

22. Tulane (6-1)

23. UCLA (5-2)

24. USC (6-2)

25. James Madison (7-0)

Others receiving votes: Florida 34, Liberty 17, Kansas St. 16, Miami 12, Fresno St. 8, Oklahoma St. 5, Toledo 3, Kentucky 2, Rutgers 2, UNLV 1, Wisconsin 1.

• • •

Sign up for the Sports Today newsletter to get daily updates on the Bucs, Rays, Lightning and college football across Florida.

Never miss out on the latest with your favorite Tampa Bay sports teams. Follow our coverage on Instagram, X and Facebook.