Matt Baker’s AP Top 25: Florida Gators slide, Fresno State and BC rise to top 15

The Florida Gators hung in our top 25 ballot thanks to some nice wins earlier in the year ... and the fact that a lot of other comparable teams lost, too.
Florida couldn't stop Missouri on Saturday, which is why the Gators nearly fell out of my AP Top 25 ballot. [ AP PHOTO ]
Florida couldn't stop Missouri on Saturday, which is why the Gators nearly fell out of my AP Top 25 ballot. [ AP PHOTO ]
Published Nov. 4, 2018

The Florida Gators looked bad for the second week in a row, this time in a 38-17 homecoming loss to Missouri. It wasn't good.

So why are the Gators still in the AP Top 25 ballot I submitted Sunday morning? Because teams that were No. 13, 15, 16, 18, 19 and 21 on my ballot last week also lost. Rankings don't occur in a vacuum. For someone to move down, someone has to move up. Given UF's overall body of work (including wins over LSU and at Mississippi State), I couldn't find 25 teams to put ahead of the Gators. They came in at No. 21 on my ballot, although I understand arguments for putting them lower or dropping them out entirely.

The only other state team in my top 25 is still UCF, of course. The Knights remained at No. 8 after the home win over Temple. That means 7-2 LSU stays ahead of them, even after getting destroyed by Alabama. That's because everyone is getting destroyed by Alabama, and the Tigers' 20-point win over Georgia remains one of the most impressive victories any team has this season.

I thought about moving Michigan ahead of Notre Dame because of the Wolverines' demolition of Penn State. But I didn't, even after the Irish had to hold on to beat Northwestern. Michigan, too, played a close one against the Wildcats, and the Irish's head-to-head win over Michigan is still the trump card.

Fresno State jumped to No. 12 after a 48-3 win over a bad UNLV team. The Bulldogs' schedule isn't good, but they've pummeled everyone since losing to Minnesota by a score in Week 2. Boston College (7-2) is also in my top 15. One of those losses, remember, came against a good North Carolina State team and with standout running back AJ Dillon injured.

Jimbo Fisher's Aggies, Utah and Houston all dropped from my rankings this week. Syracuse and Michigan State both came in and jumped into the top 20, thanks to the many defeats ahead of them.

Purdue took the final spot on my ballot. The Boilermakers were awful early (losing to Eastern Michigan is inexcusable) but look like a different team after making the quarterback change to David Blough (who, once upon a time, replaced Austin Appleby as the Boilers' starter, before Appleby became a Gator). Purdue has big wins over top-15 Boston College and Ohio State teams plus Saturday's 38-36 win over top-25 Iowa. That's enough for the Boilers to earn the No. 25 ranking in my eyes. Among the other teams I considered: A&M, North Carolina State, Cincinnati, Army, Duke, Auburn and Wisconsin.

Here's the AP Top 25 ballot I submitted Sunday morning:

1.       Alabama (9-0)

2.       Clemson (9-0)

3.       Notre Dame (9-0)

4.       Michigan (8-1)

5.       Oklahoma (8-1)

6.       LSU (7-2)

7.       Georgia (8-1)

8.       UCF (8-0)

9.       West Virginia (7-1)

10.   Washington State (8-1)

11.   Ohio State (8-1)

12.   Fresno State (8-1)

13.   Kentucky (7-2)

14.   Boston College (7-2)

15.   Texas (6-3)

16.   Syracuse (7-2)

17.   Washington (7-3)

18.   Michigan State (6-3)

19.   Utah State (8-1)

20.   Penn State (6-3)

21.   Florida (6-3)

22.   Mississippi State (6-3)

23.   Iowa (6-3)

24.   Iowa State (5-3)

25.   Purdue (5-4)