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Our AP Top 25 ballot: Where we ranked FSU football, Ohio State, SMU

Rivalry weekend didn’t deliver many upsets but did cause some movement on our ballot.
 
The FSU football team plunged into the top four of our AP Top 25 ballot after the Florida State Seminoles beat the Gators on Saturday.
The FSU football team plunged into the top four of our AP Top 25 ballot after the Florida State Seminoles beat the Gators on Saturday. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]
Published Nov. 26, 2023|Updated Dec. 1, 2023

Florida State is back into the top four on my Associated Press Top 25 ballot after Ohio State’s loss to Michigan.

There are plenty of nits to pick in the Seminoles’ 24-15 win at Florida. The offense was off without star quarterback Jordan Travis — against a shaky Gators defense, no less. A similar performance against Louisville in this week’s ACC championship will be tough to overcome. But my general stance is not to downgrade rivalry wins, especially on the road. The College Football Playoff selection committee might see it differently, but I moved FSU up a spot to fourth without a second thought.

The Wolverines jumped two spots to second (still behind Georgia) thanks to a six-point win over Ohio State. I have consistently been lower on Michigan than my peers because of its soft schedule. That’s no longer true after a pair of top-10 victories.

The Buckeyes tumbled into a clump of very good one-loss teams. I settled on sixth for them. Oregon deserves the fifth spot after blowing out Oregon State in one of the most impressive performances of rivalry weekend. Texas and Ohio State have comparable resumes — their top two wins are about the same, and both have close, last-minute rivalry losses. Ohio State got the edge because advanced metrics have preferred the Buckeyes.

Other AP top 25 thoughts

Louisville's loss to Kentucky caused the Cardinals to slip on our AP Top 25 ballot (and didn't help Florida State's potential playoff case, either).
Louisville's loss to Kentucky caused the Cardinals to slip on our AP Top 25 ballot (and didn't help Florida State's potential playoff case, either). [ TIMOTHY D. EASLEY | AP ]

• Louisville slid from ninth to 14th after a 38-31 home loss to rival Kentucky. That’s probably closer to where the Cardinals should have been, anyway, based on their performances (like close wins over mediocre Georgia Tech and Virginia teams) rather than simply their record.

• I moved LSU up two spots to 10th and past Mississippi (which beat the Tigers by six earlier this season). Though I had prioritized the head-to-head result, I think LSU’s resume is now more impressive. Advanced metrics agree; ESPN’s Football Power Index has LSU at No. 10 and the Rebels five spots back. The Tigers had better performances against three common opponents (Auburn, Texas A&M and Mississippi State). The fact that their September meeting went down to the final minute is relevant, too; LSU didn’t lose on the road in a blowout.

• North Carolina State validated my decision to rank the Wolfpack last week by beating a solid North Carolina team by 19. I moved the Wolfpack up five spots to 20th as a result. I also felt better about ranking SMU when the Mustangs hung 59 points on Navy. I’ve got them up two more spots to No. 18.

• Oregon State was the only team to drop from my rankings this week. The Beavers’ exit made room for 8-4 Clemson, which ends the regular season on a four-game winning streak that included a triumph over Notre Dame, a nice win over North Carolina and a rivalry victory at South Carolina. I considered cutting Kansas State, too, because of a seven-point home loss to Iowa State. I kept the Wildcats in, however, because all four losses are by one score, and seven of their eight wins are by at least 14 points. Among the other teams I considered: Tennessee, Troy, James Madison and Utah.

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Matt Baker’s AP Top 25 ballot

Georgia remains No. 1 on our AP Top 25 ballot after the Bulldogs' 31-23 rivalry win over Georgia Tech.
Georgia remains No. 1 on our AP Top 25 ballot after the Bulldogs' 31-23 rivalry win over Georgia Tech. [ JASON GETZ | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ]

1. Georgia

2. Michigan

3. Washington

4. Florida State

5. Oregon

6. Ohio State

7. Texas

8. Alabama

9. Penn State

10. LSU

11. Missouri

12. Mississippi

13. Oklahoma

14. Louisville

15. Notre Dame

16. Arizona

17. Tulane

18. SMU

19. Liberty

20. North Carolina State

21. Iowa

22. Oklahoma State

23. Toledo

24. Kansas State

25. Clemson

AP Top 25

1. Georgia (12-0)

2. Michigan (12-0)

3. Washington (12-0)

4. Florida State (12-0)

5. Oregon (11-1)

6. Ohio State (11-1

7. Texas (11-1)

8. Alabama (11-1)

9. Missouri (10-2)

10. Penn State (10-2)

11. Mississippi (10-2)

12. Oklahoma (10-2)

13. LSU (9-3)

14. Arizona (9-3)

15. Louisville (10-2)

16. Notre Dame (9-3)

17. Tulane (11-1)

18. Iowa (10-2)

19. Oklahoma State (9-3)

20. Liberty (12-0)

21. North Carolina State (9-3)

21. Oregon State (8-4)

23. Toledo (11-1)

24. James Madison (11-1)

25. SMU (10-2)

Others receiving votes: Tennessee 98, Clemson 57, Kansas St. 41, Utah 40, Troy 7, Kansas 6, New Mexico St. 5, Kentucky 4, Memphis 1, North Carolina 1, Miami (Ohio) 1.

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