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Our AP Top 25 ballot: Ranking Florida State, Texas and Alabama

Here’s how we sorted through the FSU/Texas/Alabama debate. It wasn’t that hard.
 
Florida State football star Renardo Green and the FSU Seminoles were in the top four of our AP Top 25 ballot.
Florida State football star Renardo Green and the FSU Seminoles were in the top four of our AP Top 25 ballot. [ ERIK VERDUZCO | AP ]
Published Dec. 3, 2023|Updated Dec. 3, 2023

I don’t know how the College Football Playoff selection committee handled its rankings, but mine (via my Associated Press Top 25 ballot) were relatively easy to come up with.

My top four, in order: Michigan, Washington, Florida State and Texas.

The Seminoles might not have passed some eye tests, but the results on the field trump (or should trump) everything. FSU beat a top-15 team (Louisville) at a neutral site by two scores in Saturday night’s ACC championship. Again: it was a two-score victory over a top-15 team away from home. I don’t know how that doesn’t qualify as a quality win.

The offense deserves to be nitpicked, but the defense has held back-to-back Power Five opponents to negative yardage in the fourth quarter. That’s astounding.

FSU has as many wins over teams in my current top 25 (three) as Texas and Alabama. FSU beat LSU by three scores at a neutral site; Alabama beat the Tigers by two scores at home. The undefeated Seminoles were easily in my top four.

Florida State's Week 1 win over LSU is a point in the Seminoles' favor.
Florida State's Week 1 win over LSU is a point in the Seminoles' favor. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]

The next few spots were easy, too. Texas beat the Crimson Tide by 10 points at Alabama. With comparable resumes (both are one-loss conference champions), I don’t see a reason why the Longhorns should be below Alabama. Georgia is sixth at the end of this head-to-head train.

Other AP Top 25 thoughts

Oregon's only two losses were to Michael Penix Jr.'s Huskies.
Oregon's only two losses were to Michael Penix Jr.'s Huskies. [ SEAN MEAGHER | oregonlive.com ]

• Oregon dropped three spots to eighth after its close loss to Washington. The Ducks blew out almost every team on their schedule but just couldn’t get past Michael Penix Jr.’s Huskies. I slotted Oregon behind one-loss Ohio State and ahead of two-loss Penn State.

• Louisville stayed 14th on my ballot. That’s a reflection of the teams around the Cardinals more than what I saw in person at Bank of America Stadium. My rankings usually end up falling into unofficial tiers. Last week, Louisville was at the bottom of a bunch that included Mississippi and Oklahoma. The next cluster began with Notre Dame — a team Louisville beat by 13. I didn’t see any other teams worthy of jumping both of them, so Louisville stays 14th while sliding from the end of one tier to the top of the next.

• SMU rose one spot to 17th after a 26-14 win at Tulane in the AAC championship. The Mustangs are my top Group of Five team, one spot ahead of Conference USA champion Liberty.

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• Toledo, Oklahoma State and Iowa dropped out after losing in conference title games. The Cowboys and Hawkeyes weren’t competitive, either, which is why I couldn’t justify keeping them. I replaced them with James Madison, Troy and Oregon State. Among the teams that just missed: Tennessee, Utah and Miami (Ohio).

Our AP Top 25 ballot

1. Michigan

2. Washington

3. Florida State

4. Texas

5. Alabama

6. Georgia

7. Ohio State

8. Oregon

9. Penn State

10. LSU

11. Missouri

12. Mississippi

13. Oklahoma

14. Louisville

15. Notre Dame

16. Arizona

17. SMU

18. Liberty

19. North Carolina State

20. Kansas State

21. Tulane

22. Clemson

23. James Madison

24. Troy

25. Oregon State

AP Top 25

1. Michigan (13-0)

2. Washington (13-0)

3. Texas (12-1)

4. Florida State (13-0)

5. Alabama (12-1)

6. Georgia (12-1)

7. Ohio State (11-1)

8. Oregon (11-2)

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. Notre Dame (9-3)

16. Louisville (10-3)

17. SMU (11-2)

18. Liberty (13-0)

19. NC State (9-3)

20. Iowa (10-3)

21. Oregon State (8-4)

22. Oklahoma State (9-4)

23. Tulane (11-2)

24. James Madison (11-1)

25. Tennessee (8-4)

Others receiving votes: Clemson 87, Troy 65, Utah 39, Kansas State 38, Miami (OH) 31, Toledo 22, Kansas 8, Kentucky 4

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