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Our AP Top 25 ballot: Georgia football passes FSU, but who’s No. 1?

We’re bigger believers in the Bulldogs after seeing them crush the Gators in person.
 
Georgia passed Michigan and Florida State on our AP top 25 ballot thanks to the Bulldogs' win over the Gators.
Georgia passed Michigan and Florida State on our AP top 25 ballot thanks to the Bulldogs' win over the Gators. [ JASON GETZ | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ]
Published Oct. 29, 2023|Updated Oct. 29, 2023

After seeing Georgia crush Florida on Saturday, I’m a bigger believer in the Bulldogs. My Associated Press top 25 ballot reflects that.

I moved Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs past Florida State and into second in my rankings. Ohio State remained No. 1 after 14-point win at Wisconsin. That victory gave the Buckeyes four wins over teams ranked in the top 32 in ESPN’s Football Power Index and strengthened the best resume in the country.

I have consistently nitpicked Georgia because of its unimpressive early performances against South Carolina and Auburn. But after seeing the Bulldogs in person in Jacksonville, I feel better about their chances for winning a third consecutive national championship. The Bulldogs are fast and strong enough on defense, have a great offensive line and boast plenty of skill talent. I think they have fewer weaknesses than FSU.

I generally try not to use the eye test as a metric, but I’ve said all season that there’s little separation among the top few teams. I saw the Seminoles and Bulldogs in back-to-back weeks, and I simply came away with the impression that Georgia’s the better team (as advanced metrics have said all season).

Michigan slid down one spot to fourth as Georgia rose. My stance on the Wolverines is unchanged: They’re a very good team, but I need to see them play a good team — they haven’t faced a top-40 opponent yet — before I move them into the top two.

Other AP Top 25 thoughts

Miami beat Virginia on Saturday but didn't score any style points in the process.
Miami beat Virginia on Saturday but didn't score any style points in the process. [ AL DIAZ/ADIAZ@MIAMIHERALD.COM | Miami Herald ]

Miami went from 25th to unranked on my ballot after an overtime win over a bad Virginia team. The competition is fierce for my final few spots, and I couldn’t justify keeping the Hurricanes ahead in my rankings after being outgained 377-276 at home against the Cavaliers.

• Head-to-head wins were a major deciding factor at the bottom of my top 10. Washington has been shaky the last two weeks while Oregon has shined. But I can’t rationalize putting the Ducks ahead of the Huskies after Washington’s Oct. 14 win, which is why Washington stayed at No. 5 while Oregon only rose two spots to sixth. The Ducks’ blowout win over Utah only dropped the Utes two spots to 16th; that’s a product of Utah’s earlier success (wins over UCLA and USC).

• Oklahoma suffered a weird loss, 38-33 at Kansas, so putting the Sooners seventh seems high. But Oklahoma beat Texas on a neutral field, and that’s a trump card with the one-loss teams. It’s the same with Texas staying ahead of Alabama.

• It is not, however, the trump card between Notre Dame and Louisville. I have no idea what to make of the 7-1 Cardinals, who struggled against North Carolina State and Indiana, got blown out by an awful Pitt team but beat Notre Dame and just shut out Duke. The Irish, however, crushed the same Pitt team by 51 points and took the Buckeyes down to the final play. That’s why I have Notre Dame at No. 12 and Louisville six spots lower.

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Oklahoma State trounced Cincinnati to move into our top 25.
Oklahoma State trounced Cincinnati to move into our top 25. [ MITCH ALCALA | AP ]

• Oklahoma State entered my rankings at No. 20 after a 32-point win over Cincinnati. The Cowboys couldn’t figure out their quarterback situation early but have reeled off four consecutive wins, including victories over Kansas State and Kansas. The Wildcats have thumped TCU and Houston the last two weeks by a combined 82-3 and deserve to be ranked. So, too, does the Oklahoma State team with the same record.

• UCLA re-entered my ballot after doubling up Deion Sanders’ Buffaloes in yardage during a 28-16 win. USC slid six spots to 25th and held onto the final spot after a 50-49 victory at Cal. Among the teams I also considered: Kansas, Liberty, SMU and Toledo.

Matt Baker’s AP Top 25 ballot

1. Ohio State

2. Georgia

3. Florida State

4. Michigan

5. Washington

6. Oregon

7. Oklahoma

8. Texas

9. Alabama

10. Penn State

11. Mississippi

12. Notre Dame

13. LSU

14. Missouri

15. Oregon State

16. Utah

17. Air Force

18. Louisville

19. Tennessee

20. Oklahoma State

21. Kansas State

22. UCLA

23. Tulane

24. James Madison

25. USC

AP Top 25

1. Georgia (8-0)

2. Michigan (8-0)

3. Ohio State (8-0)

4. Florida State (8-0)

5. Washington (8-0)

6. Oregon (7-1)

7. Texas (7-1)

8. Alabama (7-1)

9. Penn State (7-1)

10. Oklahoma (7-1)

11. Mississippi (7-1)

12. Notre Dame (7-2)

13. LSU (6-2)

14. Missouri (7-1)

15. Louisville (7-1)

16. Oregon State (6-2)

17. Air Force (8-0)

18. Utah (6-2)

19. Tennessee (6-2)

20. UCLA (6-2)

21. Tulane (7-1)

22. Kansas (6-2)

23. James Madison (8-0)

24. USC (7-2)

25. Kansas State (6-2)

Others receiving votes: Oklahoma St. 77, North Carolina 54, Liberty 47, Fresno St. 16, Miami 11, Arizona 6, Toledo 3, Rutgers 2.

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